Monday, November 24, 2008

The Ioka Theater in Exeter is being closed by its current owner on the 24th of December after a run of Tchaikovsky’s perennial holiday favorite ballet, the Nutcracker. I had been scheduled to do pre-performance talks for the opera series through February at least, but the last one will be this Wednesday, a single screening of Gounod’s intensely lyrical and very beautiful Romeo et Juliette. I got the word yesterday when I did the talks for Verdi’s Otello.

The owner and I spoke via email afterwards. He’s thrown a lot of himself and his own resources into creating what might be called the entertainment version of a mutual fund—a list of offerings so varied that if one or two faltered at the box office, others would be able to carry the whole. He threw his lot in with a group called Emerging Cinema for the opera and ballet series (which wound up being the financial engine that kept the theater going) as well as a variety of movie selections from first run Hollywood and indies through cult and classic cinema and various community events to live music in a nicely appointed club venue downstairs.

And it could have worked but for the fact that building inspectors unexpectedly mandated an updating and extension of the sprinkler system that was estimated at $100,000. There was insufficient cash on hand and I can only imagine how hard credit would be to get in the current economy for an arts venue that was just scraping by.

I always worry about these old theaters that have managed to survive, by sheer luck for the most part. The Ioka isn’t one of the elaborate movie palaces that might attract angels to save it for its Beaux Arts ornamentation. In fact, it was built at the moment in time that the Beaux Arts style was being radically simplified into 1920s reserve but not yet what is now so very fashionable again, the bold exuberance of Art Deco that might have attracted far more attention. A couple of potential buyers have looked at the property but made no move to acquire it.

Anyway, the owner sounded exhausted to me, mentioning that the town and particularly the state had defaulted on promised support, which I can understand whether I like it or not, which I don't. Massive state budget cuts were announced a week ago here with an admission by the governor that more will probably have to be cut shortly. There will be hard times in New Hampshire whose state government and towns are supported by property taxes and fees alone, in a culture that has never imposed a sales or income tax. With house values down and new building at a virtual standstill, there’s going to be little money for essential services, let alone for a charming little venue that brings art to the people.


Barack Obama’s press conference at mid-day today was interesting for a number of reasons, among them that it was so beautifully conducted in a calm, professional manner meant to inspire confidence and a lack of panic as the financial/economic crisis worsens by the day. In light of the incompetence and current ineffectiveness of the Bush administration, Fritz looked at the lectern behind which he spoke, with it’s simple legend, “Office of the President Elect” and commented that Obama’s in some very real ways already president.

He’s making moves to hit the ground running in January by getting down to business during this transition period as I can’t remember any other president-elect ever doing. As I listened to him today I got angry all over again at John McCain, the Alaskan Bimbo, and their hangers-on for their “Not ready to lead” campaign against him. Rotten bunch of losers and liars—he’s got more ability to lead than the lot of them put together.


From internet news:

Could four more New England states get marriage equality by 2012?

The group that helped legalize gay marriage in two New England states wants to do the same in the other four by the year 2012. GLAD -- which stands for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders -- announced the campaign Tuesday, the fifth anniversary of the key court decision legalizing gay marriage in Massachusetts. GLAD also backed the case that led Connecticut to start allowing gay couples to marry this month. Executive Director Lee Swislow says that by using know-how and experience from those fights, it wants to bring around Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island by 2012. GLAD says it will work in the courts and with groups that support gay marriage in each of those states.

In 2000, Vermont was the first state to offer civil unions. New Hampshire followed in 2007.


Today’s serving of our European trip—our last stop in Amsterdam where we visited Fritz’s niece and family:

They have their own boat and took us out on a tour through the city's many canals on a quiet Sunday morning. Amsterdam is a lot of fun to walk, strolling along the canals, but nothing beats exploring the city by boat and getting a special perspective on the many house boats and barges in many styles that line its waterways:

This jail cell built into a bridge is not in use any more but must have been a chill and damp place of confinement.

The Netherlands Opera rises from the city's big central canal

A canal-side cafe. We tied up there and sat for a coffee break before setting out again

Canal-side parking for a smart car parking the narrow way . . .

. . . and something even smaller, the smallest closed vehicle I've ever seen on a city street. This is an electric-powered "car" especially for the handicapped. It travels the city streets but is restricted to bicycle lanes whenever possible, and never over 45 miles an hour.

Ahh, such a shame that our history is disappearing before our eyes. I love old theaters and such. We've got a few here... and they are the only places we'll go for a movie. I love the Smart Cars... Portland is filling up with them fast!
cute little cars!

I see the Nutcracker this season for my 2nd time in life. Last season's mice were really big sewer rats - they were quite a sight.
Sorry to hear about the theater closing. This seems to happen all too often.

As for N.E., I think Rhode Island will be the last holdout. It's a very Catholic state, though a friend thinks it will be Maine, because they in some ways are even more conservative than N.H.

If I had to get a car at this point in my life, it would be a Smart. Thankfully, that is not something I have to worry about at the present. 33 blissful, carless years and counting.
Isn't it refreshing to see a smart, educated man taking the reins?

And thanks again for continuing to share the photos!
Have a fun and tasteful Thanksgiving!
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