Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson
President Dudley Thompson opened the 5,379th Civic Thursday meeting by summarizing the Club’s 113 plus year history. The joy of those members who could attend in person was palpable throughout the Ballroom. However, Pres. Dudley reminded everyone of the Club’s policy that masks must be worn in the Ballroom except when eating or drinking.
Thought For The Day - Liz Ortega
In her inspiring thought for the day, Liz Ortega reminded us that women still face various forms of gender discrimination, which have been aggravated during the Covid pandemic. Following her remarks, Pres. Dudley led us in reciting the Club’s Mission Statement.
Visiting Rotarians and Guests
Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced two distinguished guests: Past Pres. Jon Gresley and Past Pres. Gudrun Dybdal, who are both prominent members of the Truckee Club. We also were favored with the presence of C J Hirshfield’s guests Gary and Kathy Meyer who attended in person. Sandeepa Nayak introduced Ruth Stroup’s online guest, Edie Zusman, MD & MBA (Director of the Piedmont Neuroscience Center on Grand Avenue).
Self-Introduction – Clive Worsley
Clive Worsley thanked us for the warm reception he has received since joining the Club in January. Clive informed us that he is the new Executive Director of the Junior Center of Art and Science; that he is a native of Glasgow, Scotland; that after emigrating to the U.S with the rest of his family, Clive’s father designed the audio public address systems used by BART, Fantasy Records in Berkeley, The Grateful Dead, and other major organizations and artists; that Clive himself enjoyed careers in Rock N’ Roll and on the stage as an actor and as the Artistic Director of the Townhall Theater in Lafayette and the Director of Artistic Learning at Cal Shakes; that he was the acting coach for the prominent actor Zendaya Marie Stoermer Coleman who is up for a Golden Globe award; that his passion for acting was united with a passion for helping youth, which motivated his move to the Junior Center; and that with the help of member Isaac Kos-Read, he is in the process of leading the Junior Center to a full recovery from its recent tragic fires. Pres. Dudley presented Clive with his blue badge and other new member materials whereupon all present gave Clive a standing ovation.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day
After a nod to our longstanding Leprechaun-in-Chief Ed Rorke, Pres. Dudley asked Ralph Sklar (dubbed “Ralph O’Sklar” for the day) to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day by leading us in singing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”. Only a few notes and lyrics were mangled in the rousing rendition.
Oakland Marathon and Running Festival. Pres. Dudley announced we need five to ten more volunteers for the Club’s hands-on project of staffing water stations for this coming Sunday’s Oakland Marathon. If you can help, just email Pres. Dudley.
Business Development Margarita Mixer. Jesse Schmidt invited everyone to attend the Business Development Committee’s Margarita Mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on March 23 at Nido’s Backyard. Appetizers are gratis courtesy of Jain Williams of State Farm who is sponsoring the event. There will be a cash bar. Bring a friend! Pre-register on the Club’s calendar website.
Pres. Dudley announced next month there will be more opportunities to volunteer at Club hands-on projects:
Lake Merritt garden clean-up on April 16,
KinderPrep book packaging on April 23,
Enterprise Institute Leadership Academy training for camp counselors on April 23 as well,
KinderPrep field trip to the Oakland Zoo on April 26.
Pres. Dudley strongly encouraged everyone to attend the Rotary District 5170 Convention on April 22-24 in San Ramon.
Last, but not least, is the Club’s Gala scheduled for April 28 at the Sequoyah Country Club.
Oakland Rotary Endowment Campaign
Past President Lorna Padia gave a moving pitch for the Club’s annual campaign for the Oakland Rotary Endowment (ORE). She recited a few examples of all the good works the Endowment has funded ranging from KinderPrep, numerous Community Service Committee grants, to Saroni-Lena scholarships. While she emphasized the rewards of taking action to help build our community, she reminded us that we need to invest in ORE to make that happen.
Lorna was followed by Pat Williams who told us the remarkable history of the Club’s Saroni-Lena scholarship program, celebrating its 60th anniversary and one of the oldest and most successful college scholarship programs in the Bay Area. Since its inception, the Saroni-Lena Committee has awarded more than $1.7 million in numerous scholarships to Oakland high school graduates. It began as a bequest from former Club member Al Saroni. The first scholarship went to a kid named Harold Lincoln who later became the CEO of Nintendo America and then CEO and Chairman of the Seattle Mariners. The program expanded and was renamed Saroni-Lena in 1978 when it received another major bequest from the estate of former member Matt Lena. When the funds donated from the program’s founders eventually ran out, the Club kept the program alive and growing with annual allocations from the ORE budget. Whereas only one scholarship was awarded in the first year, now the program awards six to ten scholarships each year. Recently the program partnered with the City’s Oakland Promise program to administer the scholarships. Saroni-Lena Committee members still play a vital role in mentoring the beneficiaries as they navigate their way to college degrees. (Many are the first in their families to attend college.) Pat made a compelling case for why all of us should donate generously to ORE!
Lorna returned to the podium to announce that she and all of the ORC and ORE Board members have contributed to the ORE campaign but it is still about $50,000 short of reaching its $100,000 goal. So please donate. To pay online go to www.oakland-rotary.org/donate . Choose Oakland Rotary Endowment for your donation.
Speaker for the Day
C J Hirshfield, a confessed film noir addict, introduced our keynote speaker, Eddie Muller, film director, author, and the host of Turner Classic Movies’ popular weekly “Noir Alley” TV show. This month, he is also moving his annual Film Noir Festival from San Francisco to Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater.
Here are the highlights of Eddie’s talk:
– He wrote the book on film noir titled Dark City, The Lost World of Film Noir, which led to his being asked to head film festivals at Los Angeles’ Egyptian Theatre and the Castro Theater in San Francisco. This experience introduced him to some of the original film noir producers and screen writers. He now does eight festivals around the country and constantly receives requests from other cities.
– “Film noir” refers to a U.S. film movement that spanned the 1940's and 1950's. This was America’s only organic artistic movement, that Eddie calls the “anti-myth of American life”. The films portray the hard knocks reality of life and its unexpected turns versus the “live happily ever” myth of traditional American culture. The films were written and produced by artists, and not the money driven Hollywood studios. Many of these artists were emigres from war torn Europe. The scripts are especially attuned to the American vernacular. (C J recited one: “I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you’re a full 20 minutes!”) Having experienced the horrors of the war era, the emigres were pessimists about life in general. The films tried to warn us about racial injustice, police brutality, sexual assault, and immoral politicians running amok. A striking irony is that nowadays some people watch noir films as comfort food because they remind them of a better time.
– Eddie has lived in Oakland for 30 years. He decided to move his Bay Area Film Noir Festival to Oakland when the pandemic prevented continued filming in Atlanta. The new Oakland festival begins next Tuesday at the Grand Lake Theater, which Eddie’s neighbor, owner of the Grand Lake, offered to him. Eddie is happy he moved the festival to Oakland. He thought it was about time that a popular institution go in the reverse direction taken by the Warriors. He has found Oakland to be very welcoming, more so than San Francisco.
– If you want to learn more, attend the Festival. You can also read the new edition of Eddie’s book which has a lot of new material.
– In response to Robert Kidd’s question: The conventional characterization of film noir as a genre that depicts victimized, ruined women is inaccurate and the result of poor scholarship. In fact, more women were involved in the films than early film noir critics realized. All the films have a good woman who is the right answer to men’s problems; but the men go for the bad femme fatale; e.g., the movie Angel Face where the ambulance driver who is better off staying with his nurse girlfriend, instead falls for a demented heiress. Also, many women wrote the books on which the films were based: e.g., Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy B. Hughes. But more attention has been given male writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. In addition, there were excellent female film producers such as Joan Harrison, Hitchcock’s protégé.
– In response to Bob Barth’s question: Eddie’s favorite boxing subgenre film is The Setup.
– In response to Stephanie Casenza who asked how Eddie compared the remake of Nightmare Alley with the original, Eddie answered they’re both good. The main difference is that the new version is more faithful to the novel by keeping its “bleak” ending.
– In response to Allison Bliss’s question: Yes, the German film school known as “expressionism” had a big influence on film noir. The German movement is based on the idea that what you see in a film is a reflection of the actor’s inner emotions). It occurred during the “silent film” era of the 1920's when Berlin was the center of film making. The German films often disregarded realism and had realistic but distorted and stark black and white scenes that accentuated the war-related pessimism of that era. See, e.g., the film called The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
– In response to Steve Lowe’s question: Yes, Eddie has been slipped a mickey but not at waterfront dive; It happened at a bar in Salzburg, Austria at the hands of locals who didn’t like Eddie’s loud-mouthed American companion.
Lorna Padia Markus rang the bell for Jesse Schmidt, who recently sponsored a club meeting resulting in Lorna becoming a satisfied client.
President Dudley adjourned the meeting at 1:33 pm as he reminded us to Serve to Change Lives and Don’t Keep Rotary a Secret!
Next Meeting, March 24 – Gary Meyer
C J Hirshfield announced next week’s meeting will feature Gary Meyer, Founder of the Landmark National Art House Theater Chain and the former Co-Director of the Telluride Film Festival. He will discuss nominees for the upcoming Oscar awards and the glamorous new Academy Museum in Los Angeles.