Foreclosure frontline

Letters to the Boston editor, April 16, 2010
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  April 15, 2010

The 72 Hours project, which I and others have been developing in the effort to help those fighting eviction in Boston, uses video projection to bring public awareness to the struggles of those undergoing foreclosure. (See “Fighting Foreclosure, One Home at a Time.") However, it is really a collaborative enterprise; it’s a point of intersection between our efforts as artists and the larger platform set forward by City Life/Vida Urbana. Through diverse strategies of legal aid, community support, public protest, and direct action, the organizers and volunteers at City Life have succeeded in blocking an overwhelming majority of eviction proceedings in neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan that have been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. They believe that housing is a human right, not a commodity.

The fact that they’ve adopted such diverse and alternative strategies is part of what makes them an innovative activist organization. Every Tuesday, there is an open meeting at the Brewery Complex in Jamaica Plain, 284 Amory Street (first floor), from 6:30 to 8 pm. Anyone seeking information about a foreclosure issue or wishing to contribute or volunteer is welcome to attend and receive information concerning tenants’ and homeowners’ rights. More information is also available online at clvu.org and on their Facebook page.

John Hulsey
72 Hours Project

Fair or foul play?
We cannot be too conscious of subtle racism seeping out of the bedrock as it does in Carolyn Clay’s review of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (“Endgame”). This 1987 play is still produced, she claims, because it offers talented African-American singers/actresses a chance to sing jazz. Imagine casting Blithe Spirit, another perennial, in the same light: that it is staged because it is a vehicle for white comedians to show how funny they can be.

Billie Holiday’s songs are the centerpiece of this show, but her recollections of her life are not incidental patter between songs, mere “ramblings” about a “rough life.” They add up to a penetrating portrayal of a survivor of institutionalized poverty and segregation, a portrayal that moved me.

Bill Himelhoch
Jamaica Plain

CAROLYN CLAY RESPONDS To compare as perfunctory a dramaturgical effort as Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill to Blithe Spirit seems spurious to me. The former does cobble together some of the sad facts of Billie Holiday’s life, but it’s hardly a great play. Its shelf life, I would proffer, is based on its value as a vehicle for the singer/actress playing Lady Day and as a frame for the wonderful songs associated with her. Blithe Spirit survives because it is delightful — and it need not be played by Caucasians. Barbara Meek, who is African-American, made a terrific Madame Arcati at Trinity Rep a few seasons back.

Related: Boston theater season announced, Play by Play: March 19, 2010, Flashbacks, April 21, 2006, More more >
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