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His name is Michael O'Malley.  He's the director of Parks and Recreation in the city of Taylor, south of Detroit.  And he's the one-man-morality-band that has capsized a $10,000 production that kids were proud of and looking forward to presenting:  The School version of Jonathon Larson's Rent.

Nick Thornton, Rick Chavez both 15, rehearse fated play

I don't even know where to start to explain the outrage I feel when some arrogant, ignorant Barney Fife fools his way into a place of power, probably with some Harold Hill-like, fraudulant portrayal of himself upon enough citizens to win favor, and ends up making unbridled policy that harms so many in such a short span of time.

In the more sophisticated circles of academia around the Metro Detroit area, some refer to this little downriver community as "Taylor-tucky."  No offense intended to our progressive friends from either Taylor or Kentucky.  It's just the truth.  I'm sure the Detroit area gets used comparitively to describe ills in other places for various reasons.  The name of your state is just how we have come to cope with the presence of pockets of sick, backward thinking in our area.  And the examples of that are many.

Mike O'Malley becomes one more.

Taylor officials say their decision in early January to halt the production stemmed from a misunderstanding in the selection process, and that city-sponsored programs should be geared toward families.

"There's always a point where you have to wonder about appropriateness," said Mike O'Malley, Taylor's executive director of Parks and Recreation. "We've received feedback from people who said it's a good decision not to continue with this and other people who said the arts should push the envelope ... there's a fine line."

Usually when someone says, "there's a fine line" it generally means they are thrown into the tough task of being the spokesperson for a topic in which they have absolutely no business speaking.  And when some liar says "We've received good feedback" it's as suspect as a republican Senator telling his house that his office has recieved thousands of calls to not support the Obama legislation.

It's not clear to me which "Taylor Officials" are at the pinhead of this decision, because when you ask actual city council members what is up with pulling the rug completely out from under a group of kids' hard work and passionate vulnerability to bring one of the country's most popular libretto's to life they seem confused.

"It's news to me. I've never seen any mission statement that says it (the youth theater) is created for the sole purpose of putting on family-type productions," he said. "I have concern over limiting that type of production. As if these feelings or these areas of our society and our culture don't exist."

That's right, one of O'Malley's reasons for stomping on this project is because he feels it isn't "Family Friendly".

Have you seen rent?


Well I can tell you that practically every single person in my FAMILY has.  Some of us, twice.  One of us went back this past week to see the Detroit Opera House version that brought original cast members Adam Pascal (Roger), Anthony Rapp (Mark) and Gwen Stewart ("Seasons of Love" soloist) back from Broadway.  It's a stunning work of brilliance and celebration of life amid the horrors of drug abuse, HIV and other challenges that rack urbanae's sense of self.  


The director of this schooled down version of Rent, Dione Carrico vows to carry on without either the City of Taylor's money or venue.  But the ignorance that we have to raise ourselves above every single day sometimes just becomes so much it pushes me right to the edge of reason.

There's nothing in O'Malley's bio that would ever suggest any kind of political bent.  But, as is so pointedly illustrated in this morning's passages from DHinMI ... sometimes you can just spot where their ignorance and bigotry came from at 90 paces.


Originally posted to Detroit Mark on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 05:07 AM PST.

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