So as I mentioned before, Monday kind of got away from me. So did the entire weekend. How did it fly by like that? I've been meaning to mention my last visit to the Beekman Theater and the gorgeous night in Prospect Park
seeing hearing Stars and The New Pornographers. Plus all the stuff I somehow managed not to get to last week. (sigh).I don't even feel like I had a lazy day, yet I don't think I was all that productive either. But I was busy. Maybe the weather did it to me. I went to a meeting just as it was starting to rain, and I was asked if it was raining outside, I said, "It's kind of a heavy spitting!" You know what I mean, somewhere in between that annoying misty drizzle and actual rain?
But I digress:
Do you want to know what the Stars look like in Brooklyn? How about some Pornographers? Well, the former is on the left; the latter on the right. Yeah, they look pretty similar, no? I've never seen the bandshell area this crowded, and granted, I've only been to the Celebrate Brooklyn programs two or three times before, but this was crazy. It was nice sitting on the lawn, but our placement sucked. Even though we arrived around 7:15, the place was totally packed, and people kept flowing in, eventually deciding to make the outdoor space like any LES club with the walkway becoming standing room only, thereby blocking the view of those of us who were taking it all in with a slightly more relaxed attitude. (Yeah, crappy camera, it was dark, you can't see anything anywhere, but ahhh ... there's the point.)
You know what would have been really cool? Instead of The Interpreter, a final screening at the Beekman Theater of Annie Hall. Or, if they wanted to be super-smart and cool, Clearview Cinemas might have thought it clever to show Ingmar Bergman's Face to Face -- the film Woody Allen's Alvy was waiting to see except Annie showed up late. Maybe even in a double bill. That would be the way to send this lovely single-screen theater -- which still retains a sense of the '50s era when it was built -- off to its doom in style. Maybe even a double-bill of Bergman and Allen. It might have made the place a bit more lively.
Sure Saturday was a sunny day, and I went to an early show, but talk about dead. When I got there, they didn't even have enough staff on hand with one woman manning both the box office and the concessions stand, which are not close together at all. It's hard to bemoan the Beekman's departure when the replacement will me an outpatient center for breast cancer patients, among other Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center operations.
The loss of another single-screen movie house in New York saddens me, but it's what's happening all over the country. My pilgrimage to the Beekman was really more to represent my mourning of the closing of another favorite movie theater. Earlier this year, the Coronet on Geary Blvd. in San Francisco was shuttered, to be torn down in order to build a parking lot or retirement community or something. All I know is the Coronet was my favorite theater growing up. One of the largest in San Francisco, it's where all the big Hollywood blockbusters played. It's where I saw the first Star Wars when I was still just six years old. It's where I remember seeing a rerelease of The Sound of Music. I waited in line for Batman there, and so many other movies while growing up in San Francisco. Like the Ziegfeld and the Beekman in Manhattan, it was separated into an orchestra section and a mezzanine, and I remember back in the '70s and early '80s, the mezzanine was the smoking section. You had to pay extra (I don't remember, 50 cents or $1?) to sit in the mezzanine, and ushers would stand guard, but we'd still sneak our way up there when we could. And of course, in the mid-'80s, there was no better place to hide and smoke.
Those were the end days of movie theaters being thought of as theaters. Where movies were an event and the theaters a destination. When pre-show entertainment was disappearing and wasn't as focused on advertisements for anything other than hot dogs, popcorn and candy. I love the modern stadium seating theaters for their comfort and the advanced technology of their exhibition, but theaters like the Coronet and the Beekman had a personality and a character that is all too quickly being cleansed from the world of cinema.
Clearview thinks it's maintaining a sense of history by moving the name up and across the street to the virtually hidden, underground New York One & Two theaters. The exterior of the Beekman certainly isn't any marvel of architectural design -- it's very much in the square, modular, "modern" mold of 1952 when it was built -- but it's at least its own space and more interesting than its cousin which will soon bear its name.
So farewell Beekman. And a belated farewell to you oh beloved Coronet. For some reason, in 20-40 years when they're tearing down the current multiplexes for whatever the new kinds of movie theaters will be (I'm hoping for the theaters that have ejector seats for people who don't think the "quiet your cell phone" notices apply to them), I don't think anyone is really going to be all that sad about the demise of the Loews EWalk or the Regal Union Square.
The old: RIP
I also wanted to take a moment to congratulate the winners of the 2004 ECNY Awards, especially my friend Catie Lazarus who won the vote for "Best Comedy Writer." Also major props to my all-time favorite Gothamist Interview subject -- Jessi Klein. Together with partner Nick Kroll, Jessi took home the award for "Best Host of a Variety Show or Comedic Event," for their weekly show "Welcome to Our Week." If you've never been, you should definitely check it out on any Thursday at 8 PM at Rififi/Cinema Classics (332 E. 11th St. btw 1/2 Aves). It's hilarious and well-worth the FREE admission price.
By the way, if you're not watching Family Guy on Fox at 9 PM Sundays, you are missing some damn funny television. This week's episode featured Brian (the talking/drinking dog) appearing on The Bachelorette and winning, only to have his poor puppy heart broken. But the highlight for me -- the thing this show does so well -- were the two indescribable moments of baby Stewie questioning Brian about his long-in-the-works novel. I can't recreate it; it's the kind of comedy that's hard to describe and even harder to do, yet weekly this show does it effortlessly. I was a fan of the series when Fox first aired it years ago; I'm so happy they brought it back.
Meanwhile, if you're watching American Dad -- from the very same creative minds as Family Guy -- you've likely had the misfortune to see some of the most painfully unfunny comedy on the air. I can't even put my finger on why I think American Dad is so bad -- the humor is similar in tone as Family Guy -- but it just is. I keep trying to watch it, and every time I do, I find myself turning to other things because I just don't care and, more importantly, don't laugh.
I know this doesn't work business-wise, but I only wish that Lisa Kudrow's own lack-of-laffer The Comeback could swap time slots with Entourage. That way, Family Guy at 9 on Fox followed by Entourage at 9:30 on HBO would be a wonderful laugh-filled Sunday. Until then, thank god for DiVo!