Michael Moore discusses activism, new autobiography at Sixth & I Synagogue

WASHINGTON- Supporters welcomed filmmaker and author Michael Moore at Sixth & I Street Historic Synagogue on Sunday, an event sponsored by local bookstore Politics & Prose. Moore is in D.C. to call his supporters to political activism and promote his new autobiography “Here Comes Trouble: Stories from my Life.”

“We live in a liberal nation,” he said. “Most Americans are liberals but don’t call themselves that…we ran away [from the word] and made other words so people wouldn’t hate us.”

He referenced opinion polls, such as one taken last month where “54 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legalized,” and liberal candidates winning the popular vote in presidential elections as evidence. Moore called for “the majority” of Americans, who want to “end wars now, implement strong environmental protection laws and ensure women are paid the same as men,” to own the word “liberal.”

Despite his support of the political left, Moore criticized President Obama.

He recalled the 2008 presidential election and how impressed he was that Obama’s middle name, Hussein, was included on the ballot.

“That took guts,” he said. “That was the right thing to do in post-9/11 America.”

Now he feels that the president has conceded to the opposing party too much, moving toward the political center out of either “fear or a belief in what he’s doing…which is depressing.”

“What happened to [Obama]?” he asked. “I want him back now.”

Moore also voiced his support for the recent Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, a result of “the rich overplaying their hand.”

In his autobiography, Moore recalled his childhood where one wage supported a household; his father received four weeks of paid vacation as a factory worker and his family was fully insured.

Moore told the audience that since then, the middle class has weakened as a result of the rich’s greed.

“‘Enough’ is the dirtiest word in their vocabulary,” he said. “More than a thousand [protestors] were arrested on Wall Street this weekend and none were bankers. I’ve never seen anything more disgusting in my life.”

The event took a lighter turn as Moore read the audience a chapter from his book. “Bitburg” described the author’s trip to Bitburg, Germany in 1985 with a Jewish friend, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, to protest former President Reagan’s decision to lay a wreath at the graves of Nazi soldiers.

After working for hours to obtain press passes and get through security, he and his friend unfurled a banner reading “They killed my family” when Reagan’s motorcade passed by.

This is just one of many eye-opening accounts in Here Comes Trouble, a book of “non-fiction short stories” which chronicles Moore’s life from birth to the production of his first documentary, “Roger & Me,” in 1989.

Moore then answered questions and told one audience member that he planned to join protestors at Freedom Plaza downtown this weekend.

“We have the people and the moral and spiritual value of who we are,” he said. “Don’t despair-get involved.”


Off-Campus Story on Taylor Gourmet in Bethesda

Taylor Gourmet: Bringing Philadelphia cuisine to Bethesda 

Casey Patten, co-owner of Taylor Gourmet, crafts one of his signature hoagies at the Bethesda location. Christyn Enser / Reporting Fall 2011

The red Phillies baseball cap gave him away.

Casey Taylor Patten, 31, co-owner of Taylor Gourmet Deli, was working alongside his employees during the busy lunch hour. He took some time to sit outside at the corner of Woodmont Ave. and Elm St. in Bethesda and share his story during a lull in the afternoon rush.

“I grew up working in restaurants all my life,” he said. “My business partner (David Mazza, 33) and I bought a building over on H Street in Northeast D.C. back in 2006. We decided that we needed a good old sandwich shop like we had in Philadelphia.”

Patten relocated to D.C. over a decade ago after growing up in Philadelphia and attending Pennsylvania State University. After seeing a need for a “hoagie” shop, a term coined in Philadelphia to describe a submarine sandwich, he and Mazza did market research on the area to open their own establishment.

Since opening their first shop on H Street, they have expanded their business across the D.C. metro area with three current locations and two more in the works.

Patten’s efforts to satisfy customers have impacted his decisions as a businessman.

Until recently, Taylor Gourmet did not offer mayonnaise or mustard as condiment options for its sandwiches. After customers requested them, though, Patten was flexible.

“We put the flavor combinations together…without overpowering them with mayonnaise or mustard. But customers asked and we wanted to give them what they wanted.”

This approach in Bethesda appears to be working, along with Patten’s simple economic philosophy involving fiscal responsibility and self-funding all projects.

“It’s been going phenomenal,” he said. “Just like our other outposts, this operates the same way.”

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