Comments from TheaterBuff1

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TheaterBuff1 on Aug 10, 2007 at 4:18 am

You’re absolutely right, Melders, all those politicians — not just Obama — can, and should be, held responsible for what went down in Lombard. Literally. But only one of them is running for president. And at that level, I don’t want to see what happened in Lombard become standardized all throughout the entire U.S. For I DO think the last standing movie palaces our nation still has at this stage are very special — as in, they don’t build ‘em like that anymore! — and thus should be preserved at all costs.

Meantime, what happened in Obama’s district was not the loss of a local movie palace, but one of international stature. So much so that it was like how, how, HOW did this happen?!! And the answer is Obama left it totally up to locals of a very small and isolated — and apparently not very well educated — community to handle when most clearly it was far over their heads to do so. By his not intervening, it was like a confirmation to the locals of there from someone in high standing and authority that it was not of very much importance after all. For without that needed intervantion, how much did they in themselves know?

And keep in mind it was not simply a building that was lost, in this case a full blown movie palace, but a livelihood for a great many people plus Lombard’s rightful claim to being on the world stage. And now what does Lombard have to contribute to that? What?!

And I’m not just coming down on Obama exclusively in this. Because anywhere that a politician fails to intervene when it’s necessary, and where they have the power to do so, they should be condemned. For I fully agree with some of your criticisms of Giuliani, for instance. That Beekman in NYC was a classic. And when I say intervene, I don’t mean for any and every trivial and minor little thing, mind you. But geeze, when we’re talking about a Rapp & Rapp theater! That’s what really gets to me in this. A Rapp & Rapp theater in a small village — as opposed to a major city — that had nothing going for itself otherwise.

TheaterBuff1 commented about MobMov on Aug 10, 2007 at 1:00 am

Seeing a movie on a big screen out under the stars I can readily understand. It’s just seeing a movie through a windshield from the confines of a car that I don’t get. I know that outdoor movies are popular in Australia, but of those I’ve seen — in TV coverage — everyone’s sitting in chairs out in the open air and there’s not a car in sight. And watching a movie from the viewpoint of sitting in the grass or sand it seems could be even better. I know they’ve done that sort of thing on the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey using a giant inflatable screen, but I haven’t been to any of those showings as of yet. In that case I’m not real keen on the idea of a public beach being momentarily roped off and privatized and turned into a business. But in regards to legality in showing copyrighted material, so far as I know they’re in the legal clear on that front, fully licensed to do so as it were, and Hollywood fully getting the royalties it’s entitled to.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Author Seeks Info RE: 1977 theater operation on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:19 am

That is an excellent rundown from a managerial view, AlAlvarez, and I hope Slayzak makes good use of it!

The only commentary I could offer for that same time period was that of a young consumer, which I hope factors into the book — and the equation — somewhere. My having been spoiled by supurbly run local neighborhood single-screen theaters such as — View link — and the grand movie palaces downtown when I was growing up in Philadelphia, PA in the 1950s and ‘60s, in my late teen and early adult years (the 1970s disco era) I was sadly wanting for what once had been a major mainstay of my life. My reasoning back then was, I’m a civilized human being who knows how to behave properly in a well-run theater setting, I have the money in my wallet to pay for the experience, but what the heck became of all the great neighborhood theaters and downtown palaces? And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in my age group who saw the situation the same way. But in my coming up against those who ran the theaters by that point it was like people such as me “didn’t exist.” I guess you could say it was the whole “Teenage Wasteland” thing. We all were “trash” whether it was true or not. And all the theaters started being run as though that was the “reality.” Which was why I didn’t go to theaters much in the '70s. But I certainly was keenly attuned to how they were being run at that time. Which was exactly WHY I DIDN’T go to them. As I say, I was too spoiled by how they had been run in the 1950s and '60s.

TheaterBuff1 on Aug 9, 2007 at 10:59 pm

I see where you’re coming from, mp775. But you’re totally off the mark in this case because of the fact that the DuPage Theater was the ONLY movie palace Lombard had to speak of, in combination with the fact that it was a matter way over the heads of tiny Lombard to handle strictly on its own. I mean, talk about an ant carrying a rock on its back the size of a basketball! To save it definitely called for intervention from the national level, and international, too, I might add. But when it came to that Barack Obama was neither here nor there…other than he fully knew about it but chose to do nothing. And there’s no excuses for that, none whatsoever.

If he chose to ignore the issue as a matter of political strategy, oh yeah, great political strategy all right! Er, if his aim was to create a skeleton in his closet that will now cost him the presidency.

When others and I brought the DuPage to Obama’s attention we were doing it for his sake as well as the theater’s. But either this went straight over his head, or his inaction revealed who the real Barack Obama is. But either way, I sure as heck don’t want somebody like that as president, believe me!

Long live the DuPage Theater, which had been a movie palace of palaces. And now it’s gone, and Lombard has now become a very dark place because of it. Do you think I wanted that for Lombard do you? For Obama did.

TheaterBuff1 commented about MobMov on Aug 8, 2007 at 1:35 am

I seriously hope no one feels I was stealing anything that time way back in the early ‘70s when I was out hitchhiking somewhere in the Midwest and took a break from hitchhiking to watch EASY RIDER from start to finish (without sound) on a distant drive-in movie screen from the viewpoint of standing on a gravelly highway shoulder. For it just seems to me that back then if you wanted to see EASY RIDER or any other movie at that time without paying for the experience, that was one perfectly legitimate way to do so — the price being, you didn’t get to see it with sound, with the screen close enough so that you could make out every essential detail and nuance or from the comfort of sitting down. And just to follow through on that story, not long afterwards I saw EASY RIDER in a regular theater — the Crest Theatre in Philadelphia, PA (and with sound this time around!) — and was most happy to pay to see it.

But now as for somebody creating a makeshift drive-in movie set-up, and showing copyrighted movies to people for free in this manner, and without permission from the copyright holder to do so, that is clearly wrong and should be corrected. But corrected how? For what Catherine DiM suggests is a bit too austere if you ask me. Particularly when on one level it should be viewed as very flattering to the makers of the movie that people actually want to show and see it. And however they do.

For keep in mind that in the realm of REAL filmmaking — and I do stress that word REAL — there’s other payoffs besides just making money. Sometimes much much bigger payoffs are to be had. With REAL films, that is. At the same time, with REAL films, just as it’s true with all others, they, too, DO cost money to make, and makers of REAL movies have to eat just like everybody else. And it was through my own recognition of this back when I was younger that I was most happy to later pay to see EASY RIDER, rather than in a way that, if everybody did the standing on the shoulder thing, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson would’ve starved (hey, it was bad enough they didn’t get served in that redneck diner!)

But in terms of how REAL filmmakers can get the money they’re entitled to, when it comes to these MobMovs keep this in mind: Money IS being spent to make these MobMovs possible. Somebody has to pay for the projection equipment. Somebody has to pay for the electricity — even when it’s from a car battery — to run this equipment. Somebody has to pay for the gas to get the projection equipment from Point A to Point B plus the cost of the vehicle used. And if it’s a makeshift drive-in movie set-up, those coming to see the movies in their cars have to pay for gas to get from Point A to Point B. So money IS being spent in the course of this. And add to this the hassle of the do-it-yourself aspect, which entails those putting on the show for free not getting paid. And in today’s economy how many people can afford to keep that up for long? To which I say, well then why not find a way to redirect all this money being spent somehow, plus cut out the do-it-yourself hassle, to come up with a much better movie experience for all?

As I said earlier, I’ve never been to a drive-in movie, but just in imagining it it hardly seems it would be the best way to see a movie. And these days, with the astronomically high cost of gas, including all the senseless wars with people needlessly dying to acquire more of it, our own U.S. soldiers getting killed particularly, how meaningful could it be going to a drive-in movie in today’s world with that reality as the backdrop — whether we’re talking an established or a makeshift one? For why not think in terms of money now being spent on gas to go see a MobMov for “free” being redirected so that it goes into the pockets of the filmmakers instead. How to do that? Run movies in regular movie theater settings where people don’t have to spend money on gas to get to them. And where, for just a wee fraction of what they otherwise would spend on gas, they can spend to see that movie instead, AND….with additional money left over to spare to spend on popcorn and other snacks. How revolutionary!

For as I see it, with this MobMov business, sooner or later those putting on these exhibitions for “free” are going to find themselves begging for donations to keep them going. And those going to see them for “free” (particularly in the case of makeshift drive-in movie set-ups) might come to the realization that what seems “free” really isn’t after all…

TheaterBuff1 commented about Author Seeks Info RE: 1977 theater operation on Aug 7, 2007 at 2:14 am

I did a considerable amount of travel in California in precisely that year — 1977 — and to be sure it was not the best era for movie theaters in general wherever you went in the U.S. Even Grauman’s, which I visited that year, was showing a bit of age for wear. (Or is it wear for age?)

Remember, to really judge if a theater is being run well, you have to look at it strictly from the consumer viewpoint. You can’t say, “Well, I managed a theater that year and did all the right things, and if it seemed bland it was the consumer who was off base, not me.” For no, that’s not how it works. A great theater operator has to step outside of the theater and see how it looks from the outside. They have to get to know what the consumer is going through to know how to make the most appealing. Otherwise, who are theaters for?

If you go back to the Golden Age of cinema you’ll see where theater planners did just that. There was much more — MUCH MORE — of a connectedness and respect for the clientele. There was nothing like the generation gap that was so intense all throughout the 1970s.

My love of theaters was born in the 1950s and early ‘60s when all theaters I can recall were being run very well. I cannot think of a single one that wasn’t. And they did so well because they were run so well. But in the '70s, as I recall, most if not all theaters stopped being run well. And not because the market for well-run theaters had disappeared. The whole thing about how they couldn’t compete with TV was just a lot of crap. For I remember in the '70s really wanting to see movies in well-run theaters and having the money to pay for such. But to those in my age group such well-run theaters seemed to be prohibited due to a type of prejudice that now, as I look back, probably should’ve been illegal. Had we been more attuned to, the theaters of that era would’ve been run much better I feel.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Author Seeks Info RE: 1977 theater operation on Aug 6, 2007 at 4:00 am

My memory of 1977 was that it was a time when the prevaling presumption, at least among American consumers if not theater operators, was that all movie theaters in existence at that time would always be around. Sure, many of them might’ve been looking quite saggy by then, but that really didn’t change this perception. If they looked saggy it’s because we took them for granted. And if we took them for granted it’s because we presumed they’d always be around. Who knew in 1977 that a day was coming when they’d be vanishing from all over the American landscape?

And though I could be wrong, as I think back it seems the theater operators themselves took for granted their always being around moreso than anybody. For they ran them as if that was the case, or that’s how it all looked from the consumer viewpoint.

Today we think of movie theaters as being very special, or at least if they’re run really well we do. But shameful to admit now, but unless it was really a movie palace of movie palaces, in 1977 we didn’t think of movie theaters being special anymore than everyday things at that time such as phone booths, newsstands, motels, bus stations or whatever. We didn’t think we had to…since they’d “always be around.” As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

And just to give a good illustration of how movie theaters typically looked by the 1970s, this photo — — is so typical of what I remember so many theaters looking like by then. And seriously, does that look like a theater that the operator is pouring his heart and soul into? Or that he’s just taking for granted, as if, no matter what, it would always be around? For I look at that photo, and I think back to how that era was like, and all that registers with me is the latter.

…Just like that car you see parked in front of it, which no doubt would turn heads today, was totally taken for granted back then.

TheaterBuff1 commented about MobMov on Aug 6, 2007 at 12:57 am

As a lifelong theater buff I have a confession to make, and that is that I’ve never been to a drive-in movie, EVER. The closest I ever came was when I was hitchhiking somewhere out in Middle America back in the early ‘70s, and took a break from hitchhiking to watch EASY RIDER from start to finish that was playing at a drive-in somewhere, without hearing the sound of it, of course, and from the discomfort of standing on a gravelly highway shoulder.

But now as I think back, I can’t picture enjoying a movie very well when viewing it through a windshield from the confines of a car. I mean, talk about a really misanthropic way to view a movie! Seeing a movie sitting in the grass or on sand out under the stars (that is, the REAL ones in the sky) I could readily understand. But from inside a car? Ugh! How awful that must’ve been like!

But, like I say, I never actually was to a drive-in, so I can’t say that for a fact — while I do feel oddly nostalgic about the first time I saw EASY RIDER and how I did.

TheaterBuff1 on Aug 4, 2007 at 1:21 am

Melders: I was not able to post comments at Cinema Treasures' DuPage Theater page, because by the time I found out about what was going on there in Lombard, Ill, Cinema Treasures had shut that page down because the commentaries had gotten way too out of hand. To the best of my knowledge it is the ONLY time Cinema Treasures has ever had to shut a page down. And if I’m not mistaken, the only other CT theater page to have that many commentaries was for its one for Radio City Music Hall.

The DuPage Theater story first came to my attention when CT’s Brian Krefft posted a news story about its proposed demolition on December 8, 2006, which you can see at the following link:

And there you most certainly WILL see MY commentaries!

Ray Mazzolini: Because of the fact that the DuPage was designed by the legendary theater architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp, ranked by many as the greatest there ever was in the world, and one which most likely will never be rivaled, it was hardly classifiable as merely a “community internal affair.” Rather, it was a building of international significance, albeit one which in many ways the world was unaware of due to its very isolated location. As I say, I didn’t know anything about it until seeing that Brian Krefft news article, and I’ve been an avid fan of classic theaters for many years now.

The great tragedy of the DuPage Theater is that it was allowed to be treated strictly as a “local issue” despite the many facts that qualified it as being of international significance. Obviously. Obama most certainly knew about this and all these facts pertaining to it, and that it was a case where he could’ve rightfully intervened on its behalf. In fact, I would say such intervention was obligatory in this case. But yet he totally refused to — despite the facts of the matter. Why? Why? Why?! For it’s what I call destruction through inaction, plain and simple. And now this once marvelous movie palace is gone because of this.

TheaterBuff1 on Aug 3, 2007 at 4:23 am

At this link — — you can see photos of what Melders describes as being a theater that if identified as being in poor condition would even be a stretch.

But just to push all the noise of Melders aside and cut straight to the truth, as you can all see from the photos shown at this website, this had been a beautiful movie palace of the highest caliber, which, tragically, just happened to be located in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Melders is clearly one of those who wanted it done in. And as you can see, even though the beautiful palace is now fully gone, he’s still not satisfied. He tasted the blood from it, loved what he tasted, and now he wants to taste more. In normal times someone such as he would be in prison or a mental institution. But these are not normal times.

TheaterBuff1 on Aug 2, 2007 at 3:16 am

In his case, with his having the full authority as a U.S. senator, it wouldn’t have been any fight at all on his part, but simply a matter of issuing a U.S. senatorial decree immunizing efforts to restore the DuPage from any further attacks. He couldn’t take such action in the case of just any theater, he would’ve been accused of overstepping his authority if he tried to, and rightfully so, but in this case it was a palace designed by the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp no less, and thus was of global significance therefore, rather than merely something “local.”

But please take special note all theater lovers everywhere: He deliberately failed to act in a way that he very easily could have. And that deliberate inaction on his part, needless to say, made him a key player in the DuPage’s eventual demolition. It was clearly a deliberate strategic political move on his part. I know because I was one of many in direct communication with him at the time. And there’s no question that if he becomes America’s next president he’ll carry that same principle to the national level. It’s a political tactic known as destruction through inaction, which Richard Clarke and others have suggested happened back on 9/11, and which happened with the Katrina Disaster in New Orleans in 2005, etc. In any event the DuPage Theater is gone now, certain people in Lombard are enjoying the blood they’ve tasted, and Obama’s still in the running. But he sure as heck won’t be getting my vote!

TheaterBuff1 on Jul 31, 2007 at 2:21 am

In my case, and it is based on this story alone — and it happened in his district and during his watch as a very influential U.S. senator no less — that I would not even begin to consider casting a vote for Barack Obama in the presidential election come next year (2008.) For this was not simply a flub in historic restoration we saw take place in Lombard, but rather, was carried out with the greatest most intentional deliberation. And I would hardly say that what took place there in Lombard is now end of story. There will come massive ripples from this, while I just hope the world is prepared sufficiently enough when they do, snd not be like it was on 9/11. For if you ask me, when it comes to what happened there in his district and while on his watch, I think U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has some very serious explaining to do. And he hasn’t so far. Nor was he was either here or there when the DuPage Theater was still standing and he was called on to intervene on its behalf, while let it just be said that he fully knew about it. And he had it in his power to intervene on the basis that it was a Rapp & Rapp theater no less — truly a world treasure, and not something merely “local.”

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Jul 29, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Thanks for telling us, since I and many other Northeast Philadelphia residents didn’t receive that edition of the Northeast Times. That’s how it often is with that particular newspaper. Sometimes it gets delivered, sometimes not. Go figure. Maybe it’s local politics or something, I don’t know, but the only way I found out about this newest leg in the Devon saga was by visiting the Northeast Times website where they only provide the text of their articles and not the accompanying photos that often go with them. So regarding the photo that goes with this article, perhaps you can scan and post it so all can see it? Thanks

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Jul 29, 2007 at 4:32 am

This article appeared in the Northeast Times for July 26, 2007, telling the latest on the Devon restoration:

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Jul 17, 2007 at 4:17 am

While most people would identify that as a movie palace auditorium in today’s world, I never saw it that way in all the years I was growing up. To us it was just our local theater and very much an everyday — and you could even say “ordinary” — thing in our lives in that regard, just to really drive home what Philadelphia was like over all back then. I mean, we all loved it, but we never thought of it as being special beyond what it was to us personally. So it truly is an eye opener when you look at that photo now.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Concession History on Jul 17, 2007 at 3:54 am

I fully agree, dinner and movies don’t mix. But popcorn is something else. For how anyone can watch a movie on the big screen while not inhaling popcorn at the same time and feel they’re getting the full movie-going experience totally escapes me. And while it might well be possible to sneak in a bag of popcorn bought at a nearby 7/11 beforehand, to me the popcorn you consume at the theater must have that special fresh warmth to it, an experience you can only get by purchasing it at the theater’s in-house concession stand moments before. But part of the good experience also is not having spent an arm and a leg for that bucket of popcorn. And alas, therein lies the current dilemma…

TheaterBuff1 commented about Ritz 5 Theatres on Jul 16, 2007 at 12:13 am

At least it’s A theater in a city where there once were many. Meantime, has anyone noticed that Michael Moore’s SICKO, which should be being exhibited at EVERY Philadelphia theater right now, is being only shown at certain Philadelphia area theaters selectively? That’s pretty creepy if you ask me.

TheaterBuff1 commented about UA Grant Plaza on Jul 15, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Of all movie theaters up in Northeast Philadelphia, this theater by far is the most mysterious I’ve ever come across. For example, how come no marquee? How are people supposed to know what’s playing there (other than from the newspaper listings, of course)? But to give credit where it’s due, I am very impressed by the meticulous way it’s maintained. But to help keep it that way I get the sense they prefer nobody comes there, hence the lacking of a marquee. But how does it manage to stay afloat when operating like that? One theory I have — and please correct me anybody if I’m wrong — is that because it’s part of a publicly traded corporation it’s able to make money via shareholder investments rather than via customers. In other words, some investor out in Santa Barbara, California or wherever considers investing in REG, but to do so they want to see growth, or broad market exposure at the very least. So they say, “Oh look! This chain has theaters all over! (the UA Grant Plaza 9 being listed as one of many.) So given that, it’s in an excellent position to absorb the lion’s share of the movie-going market and turn an excellent profit therefore!” So they invest on the basis of that perception, and countless other investors do likewise. Yet while it is true REG has these theaters all over the place like this, it’s not to say that any effort is being made to run them profitably. Rather, the way the corporation is making all its money is through these investors pouring their dollars into the company, while photos of the meticulously maintained UA Grant Plaza 9 and countless other well maintained theaters it has like that look mighty nice in the annual reports.

And as a disclaimer I’m not saying that is the case, of course. It’s just my theory. For I see no indicators of any strong efforts on the part of that theater’s management to build a strong customer base, the biggest giveaway in this regard being the lack of a marquee. Contrast that to Northeast Philadelphia’s AMC Orleans 8, which could not possibly look more desparate in its trying to lure more customers to it, in its case not only having marquees on the theaters themselves but another big stand-alone one out at curbside.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Holiday Art Theatre on Jul 13, 2007 at 3:45 am

I just got wind (call me slow) that the Holiday Art, or “Art Holiday” as it’s better known, is either now offically closed or about to close soon — View link

TheaterBuff1 commented about Palace Theatre on Jul 12, 2007 at 11:53 pm

The early 1970s was a very tough time for movie palaces, and probably a great deal of it had to do with the political shifts that were going on at that time — the way America was changing by that point under Nixon, and, in Philadelphia’s case, the mayoral rise of Frank Rizzo. While can you imagine a movie palace falling on so desparate times that it believed exhibiting porno was a logical way to remain afloat? And by that I mean actual, straightforward porno, not serious-minded films that the less educated branded as such. Case in point, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, which hit the theaters just two years before the Palace closed, bore an X-rating at that time.

Demographically, in 1971, the baby boom generation, a very sizeable majority, was just starting to come of age at that point. And so there was a mad political scramble as to who and what would have the greatest control over it from that point forward. And though the babyboomers had been weaned on movies exhibited in movie palaces among other things, in the early ‘70s all efforts were made to knock that influence out of the picture completely — a full undoing, if you will, of what FDR and others had helped bring into prominence many decades before.

Of all types of artistic expression, there is nothing more powerful, more potent, then a well-crafted movie exhibited in a well-run theater, and if that theater is a palace this is true even more so. And it’s not something that politicians weren’t aware of in 1971. For it was an awareness that had been strongly in place ever since the time of FDR.

And I believe that had it not been for a few key assassinations that occured not all that long before 1971, there’s a very strong possibility that when 1971 rolled around movie palaces such as the Palace, the Boyd, the Fox and so forth would’ve received an all-new shot in the arm, rather than forced on hard times the way they were. And the hard times they’ve pretty much been on ever since.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Fox Theatre on Jul 10, 2007 at 3:49 am

The movie going experiences I remember the fondest were those where the theater itself added a dimension of reality to what was happening on screen. For instance, I saw DiPalma’s THE UNTOUCHABLES at the Strand Theatre in Ocean City, NJ in 1987 at a time when that town was crawling with mob figures. As a small child I saw MOBY DICK at some theater at the shore where you could actually hear and feel the vibrations of the ocean washing up under the theater’s floorboards. I saw BEN HUR at the Boyd, and for that movie it felt like being in an enormous Roman palace. And when I saw SUPERMAN at the Fox, it was the perfect setting to see a movie such as that, smack dab in the middle of the big city where all the tall skyscrapers are.

Meaning that when it comes to a movie like THE EXORCIST, isn’t this the very sort of movie where you want to feel somewhat annoyed and put off? I mean, I think of THE EXORCIST and what comes to mind is people behaving rudely and out of control. So it sounds like the audience you shared seeing that movie with was perfect for it, the “full movie-going experience,” as they say. And just think, you got all that for free atop the basic ticket price!

TheaterBuff1 commented about Fox Theatre on Jul 9, 2007 at 12:32 am

And a Godfather couldn’t hurt.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Fox Theatre on Jul 9, 2007 at 12:22 am

Er, speaking of which, this city could really use an exorcist right now, plus a Superman…

TheaterBuff1 commented about Joseph H. Lebowsky Center on Jul 7, 2007 at 1:09 am

That does sound like a pattern there, Gary, while let me ask, is any new type of industry about to be introduced there, such as a gambling casino or something? Or, has there been a sharp new change in political leadership perhaps? I have seen this type of pattern before, such as in the New Jersey seaside resort of Ocean City (10 miles to Atlantic City’s south) when Atlantic City went the way of casinos and Ocean City was targetted to be a bedroom community for it. I also saw it in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the time its highly corrupt political machine — the one that’s in place today — rose up. And fires related to that are still going on in Philadelphia, which is soon to be getting casinos.

On the other hand all the fires you list might be totally unrelated, especially if there’s no sort of singular catalyst to tie them all together that way. And in Owosso’s case the burned structures ARE getting rebuilt, which totally contrasts the patterns I’ve seen. But that in itself is a pattern; first a fire, and then the building gets rebuilt. Of the one or two times I have seen that, it was clearly a case of ownership arson each time.

In any event, if they do eventually catch whoever torched the Lebowsky Center, maybe then they’ll find out if there was link between all the arsons or not.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Strand Theatre on Jul 6, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Does he recall when actor Erroll Flynn and other famous celebrities at that time stayed there? For myself not being around yet back when the Flanders was in its heyday, such were the stories I grew up hearing in relation to how glorious it once was. But by the time I came along the Flanders had become a grand old seaside hotel that didn’t know it was dead yet. Far from being rundown — luckily it never got to the point of becoming this — still, by the late ‘60s/early '70s it became the type of place only an old lady would want to stay at. While to be sure it made a magnificent comntribution to the Ocean City skyline over all — it, too, having been designed in the style of Spanish Revival architecture — so far as grand hotels go it had one of the worst main entrances I think I’ve ever seen, with no real way it seems of ever being able to correct that. Contrast that to the Port O’ Call, whose main entrance was a thousand times better. So given the way the main entrance of the Flanders was, it would be interesting to be able to go back in time to see how that particular detail was handled when it was in its heyday.

According to things I’ve been told, back in an earlier era Ocean City was so strict that you weren’t even permitted to stroll the boardwalk in the evening if you weren’t wearing a dinner jacket! Any man caught doing this was automatically ordered to leave. And all ladies had to wear formal dresses on the boardwalk in the evening hours, of course. And even during the day bathing suits were NOT permitted on the boardwalk, by either men or women, or children. So it appears against that backdrop the old Flanders, with its poorly planned out main entrance, was made workable. But when times changed it carried on by means of inertia only. Its regular clientele just got older and older till it just came down to old widows staying there, and ones with mouths agape in horror, as I found out when I walked into its lobby in 1974, that any young man would DARE walking into the Flanders' lobby not wearing his proper dinner jacket. And no one had the heart to tell them, not even me (though my words would not have done any good) that the world had changed by then. So by 1974 the Flanders' lobby had become a fascinating time capsule of stepping back in time.

And in its last days as a single-screen theater, the Strand’s lobby had become this as well. Though you didn’t have to dress formally to be admitted, inside the lobby there were these long sofas and end tables with large, living room style table lamps, as if to say, what was any of that for? For nobody used them, they were just there as some sort of additional but totally needless decor. And quite detracting if it was meant to be a classy theater.

In its last days as a single-screen theater clearly the Strand was in need of a massive overhaul. And all sorts of wonderful things could’ve been done with it had Ocean City not suddenly changed the way it did, taking all good people there by surprise as it were. And the Strand Theatre could still be brought back as a really great single-screen theater, but it would require the right management. And by that I don’t mean theater management, but over all resort and state of New Jersey management. The old Flanders Hotel on the other hand, though it complements the Ocean City skyline beautifully, would be quite a challenge, even with that change.