Mayor Fenty’s Free Movie Theatre

Major Hat Tip to Marc Fisher of the Post for this fun tidbit: “D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office has invited 120 homeless people to a screening of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the Hollywood flick about a homeless man who becomes a fancy stockbroker. The homeless people will gather tomorrow morning to see the Will Smith vehicle at Union Station.”

So, is Mayor Fenty’s idea of handling the homeless problem to provide free motivational services? Really? Personally, if we’re going the motivational speaker route, I think there are perhaps other speakers that might do well. Maybe this google search is where the Mayor should start his next project?

2 Comments so far

  1. Tiff (unregistered) on January 26th, 2007 @ 5:38 pm

    I hear he no-showed, but I haven’t been able to find any reports that substantiate that claim.


  2. Black Press Magazine.com (unregistered) on January 26th, 2007 @ 7:25 pm

    DC Mayor a “No Show” for Homeless Day at the Movies
    by DC Livers for BlackPressMagazine.com

    January 25, 2007 – Washington, DC – (BlackPressMagazine .com) – It was supposed to be an inspiring day filled with hope and opportunities, but instead the mayor’s day was full of mixed emotions and disappointments.

    About 100 people attended the private screening of the feel good movie, “Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith that was held at the Phoenix Theater in Washington Union Station. Sponsored by the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Department of Health and Human Services, the movie is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a working class father and husband who later became homeless along with his young son. Gardner managed to become a stockbroker and sold his firm for several million dollars a few years ago.

    The press release issued by the Mayor’s office stated that Whole Foods Market on P Street NW and one of Chick-Fil-A’s Maryland locations would provide breakfast. Instead, the homeless were given bagels and lemonade. I didn’t stay for lunch because midway because somehow, it just didn’t feel right.

    The bagels were hard as rocks, the drinks tasted like the water you get when the nozzle is shared with pink lemonade and on a day where temperatures measured in the 30s, the theater was barely heated. Even the HIV van that was scheduled to provide free testing arrived nearly two hours late. The testing, conducted by Unity Health Care, was originally scheduled for 8 a.m.

    What’s worse, the mayor was a no show.

    As the television crews filmed their every move and print journalists snapped photos of the homeless interacting with the executives at the event, several people in the audience discussed why the mayor hadn’t shown up and why they had to wait so long before the film started. Throughout the movie, journalists nursed their ringing cell phones and darted out to take important calls, evidence that we weren’t there to help, just to work.

    “The goal of an event like this is to continue to make inroads into the homeless population and given them access to the tools they need to overcome homelessness,” Mayor Fenty said in a printed statement issued to the media at the event.

    It would have been an incredible inspiration to see the new mayor address the city’s homeless in this setting, but it was one of many things that would have made the event better.

    Some slept as the movie played, but most were actively engaged. Every time a homeless person was shown in the movie, the audience moaned. They talked to the screen in hopes of giving the character advice. They even laughed knowing laughs when the character had to resort to creative means to acquire things without money. But, the theater grew eerily quiet when the character lost his home and experienced other hardships. It was like they weren’t watching a movie but reliving their lives on the big screen.

    Since I had already seen the movie, I knew what was coming next: The scenes of the soup kitchens, sleeping in bathrooms on floors soaked with urine and worse. I couldn’t watch people living the experience just for the sake of watching to see how they reacted. It just didn’t feel right.

    Oddly, although the Mayor didn’t show up for the homeless, he is confirmed to attend and speak at tonight’s swanky reception for the launch of the Africa Channel at which gift bags filled with goodies from Tyler Perry, Discovery Channel and others will be handed out to the upscale guests.

    But some feel this could be a new beginning for the homeless in Washington.

    “We thought this was important not because of where it is, but because of what it is,” said Phil Zacheretti, who owns the Phoenix Theatre. “That area of the public is overlooked quite a bit. It’s just something small that we can do, but I’m awfully glad that we can help in this way.”

    The agencies plan to use today’s event as a jumping off point to tackle the heavy issue, which will deeply affect the 18,394 homeless people living in Washington, DC, according to a DC Department of Human Services report issued last year. The agencies provided literature on upcoming job fair for the homeless and health options. Nearly all of the attendees were men in their 40s and 50s, and all but a few where African American. They represented the Dwelling Place Shelter for Abused Elderly, the Blair Shelter, the New York Avenue Shelter and La Casa Shelter.

    While it’s too soon to tell if the mayor’s plan to eradicate homelessness will be successful; one thing is for sure: Nothing will get done unless he decides to show up.

    Copyright D. Livers 2007 All Rights Reserved.
    Source: http://www.blackpre ssmagazine. com



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