“He thinks things through very carefully and when he figures it out, he acts on it,” said Arthur Strimling, 76, late last week in front of city hall. Arthur was referring to his son, Ethan, who is Portland’s Mayor. Arthur, who lives in Brooklyn, NY., was in town visiting the younger of his two sons when mhn.com encountered him at the Mayor’s Thursday – “Strimling on the Street” listening post in front of City Hall.
The Mayor was listening to constituents who dropped by his post in front of city hall, so Arthur and mhn.com had a chance to visit, but it was not long enough to talk to this delightful man with a similar sense of humor.
Arthur confirmed that at one time Ethan did want to be an actor and attended the prestigious Julliard in New York City toward that goal. But after two years there, he realized that he did not want to be an actor; but preferred politics. Ethan lived with a family up in Penobscot while earning a living working with his hands. Soon thereafter, he attended the University of Maine from which he graduated with a degree in history.
It’s not at all surprising that Ethan wanted to be an actor at one time. He is descended from a long line of actors. His grandmother was an actress and his grandfather a scientist. Arthur was an off-Broadway actor as well. One of his proudest achievements was his involvement with public theater. Roots & Branches, an inter-generational theater Arthur founded, encouraged senior actors to pursue their passions along with college age actors. “It was bridging the gap between generations,” said Arthur. “It didn’t matter that they were not related. The younger generation “learned seniors had a lot of life on their back,” a quote from King Lear he said. The younger generation became more dependent on the older generation rather than the other way around.
These productions appeared in public theaters in New York City, Boston, Ohio, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas as well as other major cities in the US. Grants were received from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts as well as private sources to finance the productions.
His wife, who is not Ethan’s mother, is Lisa B. Segil. She is a cantor at the couple’s synagogue in Brooklyn – Kolot Chayeinu – which translates to – Voices of Our Lives. She went to seminary for six years, part-time, to become a cantor. “Lisa is my last wife because I finally got it right,” he said laughing.
“Yes. We do talk about the politics here in Portland,” said Arthur. But he didn’t go into any detail on what advice, if any, he offers to his younger son. (Eric, the older, lives in California.) “Ethan is here to stay,” he offered before taking his seat next to his son – his turn at “Striming on the Street.” Who was listening to whom is not clear!