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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Saturday Matinee at the Byrd

Here is my proposal for a new film series at the Byrd. The Byrd Theatre if you don't already know is a relic from a bygone era that has somehow survived in these days of muli megaplex theatres. It had stadium seating generations before these new monters came along. The place is the real deal with a balcony, a gigantic chandolier, a Wurlitzer theatre organ and the cheapest, some say most uncomfortable, seats in town, only a $1.99. It is such a cool thing to see hundreds of people lined up on a Saturday night, winter, spring, summer and fall to get it to see a second run movie. For a $1.99, not only do they get to see a movie in the coolest theatre anywhere, they get a free organ concert before the show. This place has a living beating heart. I don't have the talent to describe it properly. Check out their webpage for details, but you really just have to be there to fully appreciate it.

I have had this idea in the back of my mind for years. My parents and others have told me what the movies were like, way back when. A parent could drop off their kids at the local theatre, give them a quarter for tickets and a quarter for snacks. For two bits they were treated to a cartoon, a cliffhanger serial, and maybe a Roy Rogers western, then if they wanted to they could stick around and watch the whole thing again. I know these stories because I am of an age where my parents and others still have a living memory of this. I am sure most kids don't have a clue about this. I would like to bring this tradition back. I don't know how hard it would be to put together a show like this, but I think people would eat it up. The only differences would be the price would be higher and parents would attend with their children and that can't be a bad thing.

I believe Hollywood had a golden age. The movies weren't fantastic in most cases, but people knew what they were getting. Movie theaters were the new marketplace where people would come and share a common experience. Men would wear jackets and ties and ladies would wear dresses. They weren't assaulted by profanity and violence, there were lots of happy endings and sometimes they were challenged ever so slightly in their view of the world. Look, there were lots of things wrong with the world back then, in particular legal segration and discrimination, but this is one of the good things we could pass to our children and they to their children, a sense of community, optimism and shared values.

Wish me luck. I don't know exactly how I'm going to go about this, but I think it would be ever so cool if I did.

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