Sunday, February 27, 2005

Friday night at the movies

Since we all felt better by the end of the week and can now spend several hours in public without having to stop and cough up a lung every 15 minutes, we spent Friday evening in Minneapolis. All four of us. SETU drove, which meant that Leland "Buzz" and I sat in the backseat shrieking and hollering directions and repeatedly stomping our right feet on imaginary brake pedals.

No, I exaggerate. SETU is actually a very good driver. Very steady; very confident; very careful. And I'm sure SYTU will be equally good when he gets his driver's license next year. I have much to be thankful for. Later this weekend I will sacrifice a Gold n Plump three legged fryer from Cub on the altar grill to propitiate the gods.

I really should stop calling them the Surly Elder and Younger Teenaged Units, because they are really not surly very often, if at all anymore. So, what adjective to use instead? They are both taller than their parents, and have been for quite a while now. Their current heights are hovering around the 6'4" mark, more or less, depending on hair length and what degree of teenage slacker slouch they are affecting this week. I think I'll refer to them as the Towering Elder and Younger Teenaged Units -- The Two Towers -- until something better comes along.

They each have their own crowd of peeps, buds, friends, what have you, and their own social lives, so we hardly ever go out to the movies like this anymore - - not all together, and not on a Friday night, but Leland "Buzz" made the admirable suggestion that we go into town and see "National Treasure" at the Riverview, and that sounded like a great idea to all four of us, so that's what we did.

Leland "Buzz" and I saw "The Incredibles" there last month, and I've been raving about the Riverview ever since. It is now officially my Most Favorite Movie Theater of All Time. Click on the link and take the Quicktime virtual tour of the lobby and the auditorium. This is Movie Heaven, imho. The movie-going experience could not possibly get any better than this.

My favorite movie house for many years was the Uptown, because I lived in the neighborhood for a decade, and had so many memorable times there...

In '77 I introduced my sister and brother in law [the ones who are now Limbaugh-tomized and worship at the Church of Dear Leader] to the joys of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Uptown. They hadn't drunk the rethuglican koolaid back then, altho in restrospect I can see why, when it was offered to them, they gulped it down with gusto. My brother-in-law: a straight-arrow, Navy ROTC-bred, decorated Vietnam vet nursing a simmering hatred for all those lazy, undeserving, liberal-coddled welfare cheats and dope-peddling hippie freaks he saw everywhere when he returned home from his tour of duty. And My sister: the classic obedient wife, taking all her cues for social interaction and all her talking points verbatim from her husband.

Oy. I suppose I should be concerned that they're going to read this post, but I know they never will. After all, these are the people who bought a desktop PC a couple years ago and hardly ever turn the thing on, much less read email or surf.

I had been going to RHPS about once a month, with a different friend or group of friends each time, and finally I decided it was time I coaxed my sis and her hub out of their suburban sanctuary and got them to take a little 'walk on the wild side' in funky boho Uptown. Ooooooooh. Jebus. Remember, kids, this was nearly thirty years ago. Anyway, so sis and hub agreed to meet me at the Uptown, and showed up looking exceedingly tense and uncomfortable; sneaking peeks at the black bustier and fishnet stockings- clad Frank N Furters in line; sis clutching hub's arm in the viselike Honey Get Me Outta Here death-grip.

I remember commenting to my boyfriend at the time "Look! Brad and Janet have arrived!" *snigger snigger*.

During the movie I had no idea how sis and hub were faring. They sat stock still and in silence all through the brazenly naughty behavior on display onscreen and in the aisles. Throwing toast in the air!? Zounds, what debauchery! Afterwards, as we walked to the car, brother in law chuckled and then started singing "What a guy. Makes you cry. Unt I did!" and sis asked me, with a tiny hint of lust-tinged tremolo in her voice "So, who is this Tim Curry anyway? Has he been in anything else?" ...And I knew that everything would be OK.

Fast forward several years to New Year's Eve 1981. I had just broken up with a bf whose style was to waltz into my life and remain there intensely for several months, then disappear for the next six months, then re-appear. I got sick of it eventually, and the next time he appeared on my doorstep I sent him packing, never to return. It was the right thing to do, and I kept telling myself how mature and wise I was being, and how my unwillingness to tolerate being jerked around in such a manner demonstrated an admirably high level of self-esteem on my part... But, damn! I was hurting, and feeling very lonely in my bed, and it was New Year's Fucking Eve, and I didn't know what to do with the honking great shitload of pain, and then I got a phone call from another former bf.

[... this being the first big Relationship of my life ... the person I'd lost my virginity to... the guy I'd lived with for 4 years ... the guy who, after 3 years of living together sat down with me and carefully informed me that, altho he loved me, he had another side that he needed to explore and learn about and try to understand, and suddenly I realized why he had started going for walks around nearby Lake Calhoun at three in the AM.]

So. Former bf, to whom I referred always by his initials DAPJ, or just "D", had just been dumped by his lover, the guy he'd been living with for the past two years. He was, like me, feeling lost and hurt and alone. D and I were friends before we were lovers, and when we split up we re-affirmed our eternal friendship and love, and vowed to always be there for each other whenever the need should arise. Now, here it was New Year's Eve 1981, and the need had arisen.

We decided to go eat chicken almond ding and mooshu pork at Port Arthur and then go see the double feature at the Uptown: the 1939 "Lost Horizon" and "It's A Wonderful Life". This was at the time when the craze for "It's a Wonderful Life" was just starting; I remembered reading a New Yorker article about people who were having "It's a Wonderful Life"- viewing parties and I'd never heard of the movie before.

So, first came "Lost Horizon", which was swell. Still eerie after all these years; and still a thrilling moment when Ronald Colman finally makes it back to the pass high in the Himalayas and crosses over to blissfully disappear forever back to Shangri-La. You could hear a collective, satisfied sigh from the Uptown audience. It was a full house, with a palpable feeling of shared joy and camaraderie. It felt like the whole place was filled with like-minded kindred souls, society's orphans on New Year's Eve, banding together for warmth on a cold winter's night.

Then came "It's a Wonderful Life" and it was a revelation; we'd never seen it before. Everybody laughed during Uncle Billy's "I'm all right, I'm AL-L-L RIGHT" and then recognized with delight that Bert the cop and Ernie the cabdriver were, of course, BERT and ERNIE! Many of us wept as Jimmy Stewart stood on the bridge crying "I want to live again! I want to live!"
Afterwards we emerged from the theater to find that a beautiful light snow was falling. As everybody in the audience lived in the neighborhood, there were a couple hundred of us walking home together, on the quiet, snowy sidewalks in the moonlight at 2 AM on New Year's Day. As we walked D and I linked arms with three other people and we all sang:

"Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight,
Won't you come out tonight,
Won't you come out tonight.
Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
Dance by the light of the moon"

We felt whole; we felt healed; we felt bathed in warmth and fellowship and love.
And that's why I'll always love the Uptown. But, here in the year 2005, I'm telling you: if you're in the Twin Cities and you want to go to a movie -- go to the Riverview.

The cost of a ticket at the Riverview is $2 for shows before 6 PM. After 6 the price soars to an astronomical $3. Still, throwing all economy and prudence to the winds, a full house showed up Friday evening for "National Treasure". A lot of diversity: families; little kids; couples on dates; old folks; goths; bikers; people of all gender preferences and orientations and a multitude of ethnicities. Everybody friendly and out for a good time, and that's exactly what was had by all.
Big comfy seats, lots of legroom, state of the art sound system, carefully preserved original 1948 decor -- to quote the immortal Wavy Gravy: "We must be in Heaven, man!"

When the credits started rolling at the end of the movie, the entire audience applauded, and the applause was for having had a couple hours of pretty good entertainment at a great old movie house on a Friday night. When was the last time you experienced that at the local cineplex?

--Tild Dallelie

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