a few days back, my home away from home held quite the monster mash with a screening of frankenstein (1931) and abbott and costello meet frankenstein (1948) and the blasphemous assemblage of not-even-cold-yet bits and abnormal brains wasn't the only thing to be resurrected that evening.
this evening also put a few thousand volts through the memory banks and gave new life to what might be my favorite moviegoing experience, certainly one of the most important. i grew up in a small town in southwest oklahoma. apache, oklahoma, to be exact. the population was probably around 1500 at the time. my high school graduating class had about 52 people in it. when you live in a town that small, with a school that small, you may not have the resources of the average teeming metropolis but you can also get away with things that larger schools can't. my favorite of those things revolved around a simple, old movie projector. up until i was in the fourth grade or so, my elementary school would regularly have a couple of days a year when they would turn the cafeteria into a theater and show the entire school a movie.
hit the bricks, sister! it's movie time!
over the years we saw everything from the heart-rending where the red fern grows (1974) to countless exploits of herbie and everything shaggy that disney could throw at us. one was special, though. one stands out above the rest and has lodged itself so firmly in my brain that i will always be able to see it just like i was six, just like i was sitting in that tiny chair. that was the first one - bud abbott and lou costello in hold that ghost (1941).
this cafeteria and i already had a history, as it was the spot of my greatest triumph to date. my kindergarten graduation took place on the stage in that room and that had been the most momentous day in my life up until that point, and not just because of the sweet suit (powder blue with a rayon shirt covered with tigers, you should see the pictures). something different was happening here, though. we were at ground zero of li'l cole on this day. so much of what i appreciate about, and how i watch, movies can be traced back to this exact day - sitting near the back so i can take in the venue as well as the film, how much i love to just barely be able to hear the sound of the projector, the old dark house conceit, how perfectly funny and innocent everything ever made in the thirties and forties was - it was all there on that perfect spring day in early 1977. and, on 1.22.11, it was all there again, just like i remembered. i hadn't seen abbott and costello on a big screen for over thirty years but it was like nothing had changed from that day. it was just as funny, just as exciting as if i had gotten the day off from school. i might as well have been wearing garanimals. i didn't run all the way to coblake street this time, waving at my grandpa jim on the way as he mowed the lawn, so i could tell my mom all about the great day i just had, but i could have.
this is not actually my grandpa jim. do you know how you can tell? because my grandpa jim wouldn't use a candyass riding mower!
i can't emphasize enough how lucky we are here and how much you austin folks should really take advantage of one of the last true movie palaces left. at the paramount theater you always get a great film out of the deal but sometimes you get a whole lot more. now, what does a guy have to do to get some half pints of milk and graham crackers at the concession stand?