Thursday, March 19, 2009

Story Time: The Parkway

RIP Parkway: you rocked the hizzazzle.* Very sad for Oakland. (Update: Councilwoman Pat Kernighan is seeing what can be done to keep it open.) At City Homestead it was observed that visiting the Parkway is a bit of a rite-of-passage for those of us coming in from less culturally gifted parts of the world - "Wow! It's a theater, but you can drink beer! And they have couches!"

And now, story time:

- The only time I've seen a Godzilla movie on the big screen was there. This is easily the Parkway's strongest endorsement.

- One of their filmed announcements made clever use of perspective with a cocktail glass that appeared to be close to the camera but, when the announcer drank out of it, revealed itself to be in fact about the size of a toilet bowl. This was perhaps inspired by the fireplace scene in Citizen Kane. Or, was it the other way around?

- It was during their showing of Trekkies that I had the epiphany that George Takei was gay. That this should have been the mode of revelation is in direct contradiction to the theory of the Howard Stern show's Artie Lange, who instead informed George on the show that everyone knew he was gay when he told a prank caller that his dog was named "the White Queen". In French. To be fair, we should consider Artie's argument to have some merit.

- I saw Cannibal Holocaust there. And participated in one of the more fascinating impromptu psychology experiments of my life. There was a mumbling, flailing woman in the (crowded) theater whose process was obviously not intact, and during the film she kept standing up, pointing and talking at the screen, and in general making a nuisance of herself. Finally one guy had his fill and began a campaign of ridicule, prompting her to head for the exits. The tone in the murmuring theater was confused - some combination of trying not to laugh openly at this person who'd gone out of her way to make a spectacle of herself, plus feeling sorry for her, plus fear that she would snap and open fire or something, plus just plain wanting to watch the damn movie undisturbed. Then came a (to put it mildly) shift in attitudes: the wingnut in question stopped at the exit and shouted to her oppressor and to the room in general: "I hate this place anyway, it's run by a bunch of (n-word)s!" There was an extended pin-drop pause and the temperature in the room dropped noticeably, and there rose a low collective "ooooooooh". The guy who had before been making fun of her shouted back "You can't talk like that! Now get outta here before I beat the s*** out of you!" She ran.

The reason I found this so interesting is that here was a roomful of people who had paid for the explicit service of having their taboos systematically violated (at least visually), but who were collectively reduced to silent disbelief by a single earnest racial slur.

- Having fallen asleep during video presentations of Rocky Horror Picture Show at I don't know how many high school cast parties, I was dragged as a "grown-up" to one of the live-action showings Parkway to finally get me involved for real. I still fell asleep. My lack of endorsement should not be cause for distress, as I once slept through a performance of The Merchant of Venice in Stratford, England at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theater. I'm told I snored loudly at both RHPS and RSC. Please note that Riffraff's performance in the Spice Girls movie is much better than in RHPS. (Yes. Really.)

RIP Parkway!

*From Elamite hizzazzl, "grand house, palace". Thought by overenthusiastic historical linguist Shevoroshkin to be descended from proto-Dravidian *hutata, "Snoop Dogg".

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