Friday, February 18, 2011

18 FEB 11: Give Me Liberty or....

Three stars have been on the sidewalk along Eighth Avenue since November 2008. There were supposed to be more by now -- and there was even talk of building a museum across the road from them. But in the theatre world, acting involves much more than merely saying good lines.

Today is a deadline day for supporters of the Liberty Theatre. They hope to accumulate 100 letters explaining why it should stay open, amid hints it might close for lack of funds. You know things are bad when Liberty convenience stores won't even sponsor your productions.

While the Springer Opera House and RiverCenter get all sorts of publicity, the Liberty Theatre puts on its own productions aimed at the African-American community. It's also the home of events such as "Summerfest" and a community Kwanzaa celebration -- although so far, no one's developed a "Tuna Kwanzaa" comedy script.

The big recession apparently has reduced attendance at Liberty Theatre performances. A lack of publicity hasn't helped, as the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau calendar doesn't mention any upcoming events there. If "Co-Ed Dodge Ball" at a recreation center can be listed there, the standards can't be that high.

So volunteer supporters of the Liberty Theatre want fans to write letters explaining how valuable and important it is. The letters will be sent to potential celebrity benefactors. And if that doesn't work, lists of paying customers might be taken to The Courier to see which local officials never have been there.

A list of possible celebrity endorsers was given to WTVM. It includes....

+ Ellen DeGeneres. She'll be a lot more interested if the theatre throws dance parties.

+ Tyler Perry. At least he's performed in Columbus in recent years -- but he may have missed the Liberty, while driving down Veterans Parkway to the Civic Center.

+ Oprah Winfrey. Talk about thinking big - a little check from Gayle King probably would be welcome right now.

It will be interesting to see if the 100-letter goal is met - especially since the Liberty Theatre has only 120 Facebook friends. That's another example of poor publicity hurting the cause, as that page mentions a performance of "High School Musical" that's almost two years old. Why, those Springer rip-off artists....

The Liberty Theatre also doesn't seem to have a presence on Twitter, which has a large percentage of African-American users. The staff might not want to be connected to Thursday night's trending topic "RIP Black Folks" - but they say any P.R. beats no P.R.

-> We had a heartbreaking moment at the poker table Thursday night. Read it and weep at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: The man who may be "Al from Dadeville" appeared in Lee County Court Thursday, on charges connected to the poisoning of the Toomer's Corner trees. Harvey Almon Updyke was arrested at his Dadeville home around 1:30 a.m. -- as if authorities feared he'd race to Columbus and do something rash on Veterans Parkway today for Georgia Arbor Day.

WTVM reports Harvey Updyke admitted calling warm Cinnabons Paul Finebaum's radio show in late January. But he denied actually spraying a large dose of herbicide at Toomer's Corner. Updyke may be using a "trash talk" defense - and come to think of it, he does look a little like the head coach of the New York Jets.

Various reports indicate Harvey Updyke is a former Texas State Trooper - and is such a big Alabama fan that he named his children Bear and Crimson. If I ever meet Columbus Police officer J.D. Hawk, I'll have to ask if his parents grew up in Kansas.

Harvey Updyke could face ten years in prison, on charges of first-degree "criminal mischief." Muscogee County parents should remember that - and mention it to their children, if they get restless over President's Day weekend.

But Auburn University is trying to seize on the attention over Toomer's Corner, by selling packages with oak seedlings from the two trees. Promoters even are throwing in a roll of toilet paper! The spirit of Cam Newton's father truly lives on....

(Hmmmm - come to think of it, how many rolls of toilet paper can you make from two large oak trees?)

Meanwhile, all seemed peaceful inside Auburn Arena during Thursday night's basketball showdown with Alabama. The Crimson Tide women won 59-51 - and some people were surprised when there was NO moment of silence before the game for the Toomer's Corner trees.

Other suspicious cases top the review of other Thursday news....

+ LaGrange Police reported Dennis Yi was arrested on charges of growing marijuana in his apartment. So is that last name pronounced "Yi" as in high?

+ WRBL visited a new "Business Center" on Buena Vista Road which claims to sell office supplies - but people were shown sitting at computer screens, playing slot machine games. I'll assume the highest scores win the biggest desks....

+ Georgia Freight on Box Road began a "quitting business" sale, on the heels of a sale to mark the owner's retirement. If he's got to go, the beds and sofas might as well go with him.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported a Bonefish Grill will open in Columbus Park Crossing. The managers will have to be careful with their promotions - and explain to police "Bang Wednesday" is not aimed at promoting gang membership.

+ Georgia Senate leaders announced a bill allowing local votes on Sunday alcohol sales in stores is probably dead for the session. It's a come-from-behind win for the Georgia Christian Coalition - and I'm sure members will celebrate by holding an ice cream social and checkers tournament in an Atlanta park.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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