Grand Lake Theater owner Allen Michaan and his latest message for the marquee. Credit: Darwin BondGraham

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Just before 4 p.m. yesterday, Allen Michaan, the owner of Oakland’s iconic Grand Lake Theatre, climbed up a tall ladder to post a new message on the marquee: “America just told Donald Trump, you’re fired!”

We spoke with Michaan after he climbed down. “I’ve been waiting four years to put that message up,” he said.

Our arts and community reporter Azucena Rasilla reported earlier this year on the history of 20 years of political messaging from the theater’s marquee. “The first marquee went up the day that the Supreme Court stopped the counting of the votes in Florida, in December of 2000,” Michaan told us, referring to that year’s contested presidential election. “I was so furious. I was having lunch with my ex-wife, and I said, you know, I need to do something, and I came upon the idea of putting that first message up.”

That first message read, “This is America, every vote should be counted.”

Oaklandside news editor Darwin BondGraham captured video of yesterday’s momentous message going up.

And here’s Oaklandside contributor Sarah Belle Lin with an evening shot of the marquee in all its neon glory:

While movie theaters in Alameda County have been allowed to open at either 25% percent capacity or less than 100 people per screen since late October, the Grand Lake remains fully closed for now, though it’s hard on employees and on the theater financially. “We just put solar panels on the roof, and we haven’t paid them off yet and can’t use the electricity,” said Michaan.

But Michaan said staying closed is the right thing to do. Among Trump’s biggest faults, he said, is the outgoing president’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ll reopen when it’s safe.”

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