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You’re off to a really great start with what I feel is a really great slogan. So congrats on that! But in looking ahead I’ve been saying for the longest time now that we need a Marshall Plan for the U.S. while I feel restoring the Beach Theatre the right way would fit in very well with that. If we somehow can get that momentum of a Marshall Plan going.
Meantime, my own personal exposure to Cape May has been very minimal. But the best memory I have of it ties in with that song, “On the Way to Cape May.” In the summer of 1971, while staying with my family in Ocean City, on one particular day we followed the “Gull Route” down to Cape May, and the experience was every bit as dreamlike as in that song. There were no development booms going on back then, everything was in perfect balance seaside town after seaside town after seaside town. No poverty, no despair, nothing ugly. Just all this littoral beauty and celebratory sense of freedom every mile of the way. The great state of New Jersey with its greatest seaside resorts in the world. But I’d dread to see what that run looks like now. As I say, we need some sort of a Marshall Plan for the U.S., and desperately. For without that I hesitate to say, “Oh yes, the Beach Theatre could easily be brought back to what it once had been if not even better.” I would certainly root for anyone who would try to. But short of that needed Marshall Plan? Schwew!
Interesting. While I think most people would be happiest just to see theaters run in accordance with how they perceive common sense. For how are they to make head or tails of how the relationship between Hollywood and the theaters has become so politicized these days? Maybe there’s some rational explanation for the way things are being run now, but. I think the public is entitled to something that makes perfect, down-to-earth sense when it comes to theaters, that is, if “we the people” still means anything at all.
Back when I was a kid, and long before the multiplexes, when movies were first released they’d get shown at the big city downtown movie palaces first. And later, of course, once they’d completed their run there, they’d come to the small neighborhood and the small town theaters. And it all fit the pattern of common sense beautifully. For at least on the moviegoers' side of things I don’t remember a single soul being unhappy with that arrangement.
Later, when the multiplexes first came into being, they were relegated to the same role as the small neighborhood and the small town theaters. But no one thought anything wrong of that either. For it continued to fit the pattern of common sense.
But then in the 1980s we see Carmike Cinemas introducing what they did. That is, something that might’ve made perfect sense from the cold and impersonal business side of things. Supply side economics I suppose. But for moviegoers? I think that killed off a great deal of the specialness that going to the movies once held.
Multiplexes by their very nature are divisive. Which might fall in place fine for second run movies. When it comes to things second hand, some people want for this while others want for that, and really, who cares when we’re talking second hand? But it just seems so totally weird to me to be seeing first run movies being shown at them. I feel cheated. And I think it’s more than my personally being conditioned to how things were run before.
For the first time I’m seeing a movie, and anyone else is, it should really be special, in a place that’s really special. The only movie being shown in that moment, and in that place. And that’s just how it was under the old arrangement. And it was perfect. But now it’s the single screen movie palaces that have to wait till the movies get done being shown elsewhere, in this case at the divisive multiplexes? For what buffoon can get excited about that? It’s demeaning. But from the purely money-making perspective it’s, “Who cares?” But of that latter perspective why should THAT matter most? Other than an iron fist, I see nothing that says that outlook should be the most dominant. That is, I’d like to see common sense once more. The other’s had its run far too long now.
With all the bad news coming out on theaters these days — the DuPage in Lombard. Ill, the Boyd Movie Palace in Philadelphia, PA, etc., etc., etc. — we too often tend to overlook the good news. And this is fantastic news, and will become even greater news if Carmike voids the contract as you say! For what the heck kind of contract was that anyway?
In any event, with Michael Moore on board this could be a great basis for his next documentary, focusing much needed attention on the loss of classic public movie theaters everywhere. For America is clearly not a better country for that loss we’ve seen.
When FDR set out to lift America out from the Great Depression he made movie theaters a top priority. The mark of a great leader and visionary clearly. For in terms of bringing this country up to a higher level than it had ever been before, it worked. And Michigan’s seen an awful lot of hard times starting with when Michael Moore first raised our awareness of its struggles with ROGER & ME and so much that it’s suffered since. But great movies, shown in great movie theaters, have the power to make the case that good can triumph over evil. So kudos to Michael Moore, John Robert Williams and Doug Statton for this latest venture!
Imagine if after the Parthenon in Athens was greatly destroyed when Greece was under Turkish occupation during the 1700s the Greeks all looked at the building afterwards and said, “Well, that’s it; it would be too costly to restore, so let’s tear it down and rush something else up in its place,” how that would’ve played out in history. For that’s essentially what we’re looking at here. For you can’t just tear down a Rapp & Rapp movie palace and rush something up in its place and hope to be respected. And those who pushed for its demolition are now logged in history for all eternity as total idiots. And what just happened in Lombard is a real disgrace to America at large.
Now I don’t expect idiots to understand that. But above and beyond what idiots can comprehend, that’s how big a matter this is.
When I say that was a Rapp & Rapp theater I’m not just talking to move the wind around. And right now, given his total silence on the matter so far, it is a huge skeleton in Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s closet. Anybody with even just the slightest degree of culture would know that straight off. For this is the kind of theater that I and many others would travel a long distance to come see. It would be no more unusual than someone traveling from Kansas City to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, France. Which happens all the time. And Lombard had that. And it threw it away.
And now, whatever Lombard puts up in place of where the DuPage Theater stood is going to be an eternal testament to how stupid certain people in Lombard were.
For I and others are certainly not going to travel from all points on the globe to Lombard to see a stupid commuter parking lot, or a hidious condo highrise or whatever other crap is going to rise up there now. Nothing can be built there now that will ever take the place of what stood before — other than that which totally doesn’t matter, and for a people who no longer matter…
What’s going to become of Lombard now that the DuPage Theater has been torn down? What comes next now? Let’s hear all the “wonderful” things that are supposed to happen now that this has been done. Anybody? Anybody?
All of South Jersey right now is in a funny way, so it’s hard to say what the best angle is for saving Cape May’s Beach Theatre, or if it even can be saved at all, given that. And the funny way that South Jersey is currently in has been going on for a long time now.
The basic wisdom that God so much as gave geese tells us that Cape May’s Beach Theatre should be saved, given how it was designed by William Harold Lee no less. But good luck trying to find that basic wisdom in South Jersey these days. Ocean City to Cape May’s north is now even heavily fining people for feeding the seagulls, though I don’t know if that insanity has reached as far south as Cape May yet.
As for finding William Harold Lee architectural plans regarding any theater he designed, that is no easy undertaking, let alone finding those specific to the Beach Theater. They might not and probably don’t exist at this point. I know the folks who restored his Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania have his architectural plans pertaining to that. But that’s a real exception given how it’s a theater President Eisenhower attended regularly, plus it’s in a town where all historic records are carefully kept. Cape May is known for its history, too, but, any architectural records kept would’ve been for its older structures, whereby only now can Cape May’s Beach Theatre be looked upon as historic. But maybe with enough intense searching the architectural plans for it will turn up somewhere. So I wish you the best of luck with that.
The fact that the DuPage Theater was in bad shape in any way ultimately sidesteps the major point, and that is that certain people intentionally and deliberately wanted this theater torn down. And I believe these same people would’ve wanted that theater torn down even if it was in tiptop condition. And the most disturbing detail of this saga is that those people GOT THEIR WAY. And the fact that they got their way and are now walking free and clear is why this story is FAR FROM OVER.
One could look at this country of ours as it is right now which has much to be criticized and see all the negativity. For instance, I can point out so many places in the U.S. at this point in time that once were magnificently beautiful but that are no more. And I’m sure I’m far from the only one here who can do the same thing. But on that premise could we all then agree, “Well, time to bomb the U.S. to kingdom come now, given how crappy so much of it has gotten”? I’m sure that our going next step would sound reasonable to the terrorists overseas. But for any of us Americans to hold that view fully brings into question where our truest loyalties are.
Some might suggest that during a wartime such as this that an endangered American movie palace greatly pales in relation to whatever is ultimately most important, “Senator Barack Obama has far more important things to think about than a theater,” and all that.
But I say no.
I say that if we’re going to allow our country to be trashed in this way then what the heck are we fighting a war for?
When we look back to World War II — which in my opinion was the last truly just war — there was a great deal of good going on in this country at that time. And it was during that era when our nation’s movie palaces were at their utmost magnificance. At that time there was no question at all what we were fighting to defend.
Meantime, not all that long before World War II America had been in the deep dregs of the Great Depression. But with hard work, faith and steadfast determination to rise out of it America had remarkably succeeded in doing so — only to then come under attack by the Japanese from one side and Nazi Germany to the other. When America found its way out from the Great Depression, it didn’t do so by relying on brutal tactics the way Nazi Germany, the Japanese Empire and Fascist Italy did. Rather, it did so by way of fairplay and reason. And in using this approach America became a greater country than it ever had been previously. And far too great to allow for any disgruntled foreign interests to bring it all down. When American soldiers during WWII were here in the U.S. — either before or after serving overseas — they saw firsthand here what it was all about they were fighting for. But how many of our soldiers today get to see that same thing?
So many of our U.S. soldiers in today’s all-volunteer military come from impoverished ghetto areas all throughout the U.S. And when these soldiers are visiting back home it’s very ofttimes to neighborhoods where especially high homicide rates are not unusual in the least — not to mention images of blight that just as easily could be in war-torn Baghdad or somewhere. They return to neighborhoods where, if there’s any movie theaters left at all, they’re either all boarded up and rotting away, their marquee signs in scattered pieces of broken glass upon the cracked and weed overgrown sidewalks out front, or converted to a run-of-the-mill Dollar Tree Stores, or remade into a Section 8 housing complexes or whatever. Contrast that to what soldiers in WWII got to see and experience whenever they were back home. Even in some of this country’s most dreaded areas, such as the Bowery in New York, the movie theaters were at their best.
The money that President Bush currently commits towards today’s ongoing and never ending war effort totally dwarfs the amounts of money his administration spends in this country to make it a half-decent nation worth fighting for. Unlike how it was with FDR, you don’t see any Federal Theater Project type program being championed by the Bush administration. But Senator Obama assures us he’ll be different if he becomes our country’s next president. Yet he doesn’t have a single thing to say about the current state of the movie theaters here.
As for the question I put forth to him concerning this, I do put that same topic before all the other presidential contenders as well; I’m not just picking on him alone. Absolutely I want to know what Clinton’s, Juliani’s, McCain’s, Biden’s, etc., positions are on this as well. In brief, since I’m a New Deal Democrat by nature and a Dwight David Eisenhower style Republican, I AM looking for that next FDR or DDH. And at the same time I don’t want the next president to be there just for the benefit of those who want the worst for our country, in particular the type who deliberately and intentionally wanted the DuPage torn down — and who very tragically got their way. With “Americans” like that rising to the fore, WE become the nation that must be brought down.
The thing that made America great was its wide open frontiers that made it possible for those with a different way of doing things to just go ahead and do them without any real hassle. That is, they didn’t have to explain and get clearance and approval every minute step of the way before then going the next step. Or fully have to scrap what they sought to do due to a failure to get the higher ups and/or the citizens right around them to understand. Rather, they could just go ahead with the obvious, or at least what was obvious to them. The Wright brothers at Kill Devil Hills, NC for instance. Or the early pioneers in movies when they first got out to Hollywood when it was all somewhat still just a big no man’s land.
But nowadays so much of the U.S. has become a world where when people try to do things a certain way they either get obstructed by a whole bunch of naysayers saying it can’t be done that way, or when they attempt to do something a certain way that they know will work, they get stopped by a bunch of bureaucrats telling them, “It doesn’t work that way” — meaning that they have to play by the established rules, such as, being born into a certain family line that holds such privileges, or have such and such college degree so as to qualify to go the next step, or whatever other crap.
And my guess is that some of that was in effect in my trying to get a better grasp on how the DuPage Theater met its demise when certain well-meaning individuals set out to bring it back and breathe all new life into it.
For instance, I criticize Senator Obama for his failure to intervene on their behalf. But then when I think about the fact that he holds a degree from Harvard, well, what do those with high fallutin' college degrees understand about the fly by the seat of the pants approach?
Back when the race was on to invent the world’s first airplane, the world’s most highly respected contender at the time was Samuel Langley, head of the Smithsonian Institute and with every “qualifying” college degree imaginable. The “comic relief,” meantime, was those two silly brothers from Ohio with their bumbling bicycle shop in Dayton being their only “credentials.” Fortunately, with America still high levels of frontiers at that time, they could skirt around all the naysayers and bureaucrats to follow through on what they knew inside they had the capability to do. And at a wide open frontier called Kill Devil Hills, NC they did just that. And today’s history has Samuel Langley down as the comic relief.
When that race was on to invent the airplane, Langley was freely provided every government grant imaginable. The Wright brothers, meantime, had to scrimp and save and budget every way possible. But at least the great frontiers that existed at the time understood them and what they knew inside they could do, if nothing else did.
And the great tragedy of America today is that we don’t have that frontier factor now. And we saw that firsthand in why the DuPage Theater ultimately came down. Maybe if it had been some Samuel Langley type proposing to restore the theater Senator Obama and everyone else in “authority” would have been there with their full support, and all the well-to-do citizens of Lombard giving their full approval as well. But in today’s America not only do we lack the great frontiers of yore, but we lack those in authority with great vision as well. For I look at Obama and I think, if he didn’t know the massive importance of saving this theater, that’s as empty a future leader this country could ever hope to get.
My hunch is that certain people there in Lombard know just what I’m talking about. Sadly though it is not the privileged ones. In a healthy society the cream rises to the top. But in a very unhealthy one, such as the one we have right now, the best among us get ushered to the bottom-most dregs, and the great theaters such as the DuPage all get torn down as well.
If I might step in temporarily here to serve as referree, even though DuPageDude has been accused of having political aspirations and that that is ultimately his agenda, every message he has posted here so far appears to be 100% true from what I can determine. And I think it is fully possible for one with political aspirations — which in itself is not a crime — to have a deep love for theaters as well. Several of our country’s greatest presidents — Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower, etc. — certainly did.
Meantime, just to give you all the latest update on presidential contender Barack Obama and the inquiry I sent to his campaign team about a month ago with regard to where he stands on the future of theaters in our country and their well-being, I have not heard a single word back, and I think that says a ton of bad things about him.
When FDR became president and was faced with lifting the U.S. out of the Great Depression, one very special thing he did toward this effort was prioritize the importance of American theater. He created the Federal Theater Project (FTP), which became an integral part of the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration.) And the strategy worked beautifully. In reverse fashion, if anyone sought to bring on depression-like conditions for the advantage of a small privileged few, they would downplay the importance of theater. And I have seen case time and time again where theaters folded and ghetto-like conditions followed afterward. So I believe my theory holds some merit therefore. As for Obama, no way would I vote for that man based on the non-response I’ve gotten from his campaign team regarding my inquiry. Behind the cleancut facade I think he means this country harm for the sake of a small privileged few, and I think what we saw in Lombard was a first beginning of that.
When faced with the challenge of lifting America out from the depths of the Great Depression, FDR made theaters and their well-being a top priority — the Federal Theater Project (FTP) as it was called — which was an integral part of the W.P.A.
But I suppose that if a leader wanted to do just the exact opposite, to steer the country into a deep economically depressed state, save for a small select privileged few, they would make a special point of neglecting the theaters. Which clearly does appear to be the aim here in Philadelphia. Although this city — ironically — is predominantly Democrat (the same party as FDR), any vestiges of anything New Deal like are long missing from here these days.
Meantime, Philadelphia is home to several magnificent performance venues at the present time — the Kimmel Center, the Pennsylvania Academy of Music and so on. But the Boyd is the only one of all that holds — or that ever did hold — the distinction of being “The Peoples' Palace.” And when it was operated at its best it was a magnificent palace indeed.
But the most predominant political trend now appears to be to not have anything uplifting for the people at large in that way. Right now that seems to be viewed as the “wisest economic strategy.” For example, Illinois' U.S. Senator Barack Obama (who’s currently running for president of the United States) recently allowed a magnificent movie palace in his home state — and one designed by Rapp & Rapp no less — to be torn down. After I learned about this I wrote to his campaign team inquiring how this could have happened while under his watch — the theater in question being the DuPage in Lombard, Illinois — while also requesting greater clarification on where exactly he stood regarding America’s many endangered movie palaces on the road ahead. And the response I got was no response, which I guess says it all really. Contrast that to last November (2006) when I inquired of a candidate running for U.S. representative here in Philadelphia what his views were regarding the revival of Philadelphia’s classic theaters, and how I immediately got a warm reply back full of tremendous enthusiasm for the idea. Sadly, that candidate — who clearly shouldn’t have — lost.
So maybe that partially answers your question regarding finding out where various candidates stand on this issue, or for this election year at least.
John, you left out the important detail that Hoyt’s is ultimately an Australian-based corporation. And if there is a link between Hoyt’s and Ocean City, NJ’s Strand the way it’s been run since the late 1980s onward it’s not to their credit and both Ocean City and Australia were harmed by the relationship.
International conglomerates like Hoyt’s tend to have a high degree of diplomatic immunity. And it’s a shame they don’t use it for good rather than bad, as Ocean City’s Strand sure could have used such an advantage over the past 20 years. That is, if there was a Hoyt’s connection as you’re still trying to find out. Let us all know when you find out for sure. Thanks!
Just to clarify, I have never ruled out the importance of artistry and never will, no matter how great the movie’s message.
And no matter how much I support the message of “An Inconvenient Truth” I would be deeply offended if it got an Oscar, due to what it greatly lacks in artistic merit. As an artist myself, there’s nothing more offensive to me than anyone thinking they can step up to the plate of being artistic. Hey, I’m still getting over John Tesh! A very gifted artist can make it look like what they do is very easy, Michael Moore an excellent example. But it’s not easy in the least. And if someone doesn’t have that artistic touch they have no business being up for an Oscar. In Moore’s case with “Fahrenheiit 9/11” both the artistry and message were excellent, for time itself has now proven that the message part was right, while starting with “Roger & Me” Moore established that he was a very gifted artist, and he didn’t let us down with “Fahrenheit 9/11.” But as you so well put it, Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” was nothing but a PowerPoint presentation. And as great and urgent as its message was, please, anyone, don’t try to call it “art”! And no matter how right on target the message, it has no business being considered for an Oscar.
As for “The Deer Hunter,” its main reason for getting five Oscars did seem to be motivated more by message than artistry, but at least there was artistry there. The same with “Platoon” (which won four), “Full Metal Jacket” (which was nominated for several Oscars), and “Apocalypse Now” (which also was nominated for several.) “All Quiet On the Western Front,” meantime, I must concede, I’ve never seen. But in reading the reviews of it I can’t see where it has an anti-American slant the way “Letters From Iwo Jima” does. If anything, it expresses a German soldier’s disillusionment with his own country’s government and his reasons for being there. If there were a film about Vietnam told from the Vietnamese viewpoint with a strong anti-American slant regarding America’s government, I don’t think any American could be justifiably offended by that. But “Letters From Iwo Jima” crosses the line. I don’t deny the film’s artistry, but message-wise absolutely there’s a goal there to usurp America’s greatness that right now is hanging by a very slender thread. Right now, as I say, the Academy Awards is like the last smokestack sticking up through the water from a sinking Titanic while trophy hunters are everywhere. They almost got Gettysburg last year, and they’re getting Philadelphia this year like taking candy away from a baby. And they would love to ring down the Academy Awards if they could get away with it, either by “An Inconvenient Truth” getting an Oscar despite its fully lacking artistic merit, or “Letters From Iwo Jima” getting an Oscar based on artistic merit but with a horrible message.
Ultimately you could say that anything is “just” this or “just” that. But I personally have always felt the Academy Awards was a cut above being just another “just” because it’s always rubbed me the right way personally. Sadly though, right now it’s looking like the last smokestack sticking up out of the water of a fast sinking Titanic. Not meaning to sound so negative, but I’ve always had a thing about being perfectly honest. And you just saw a nice healthy dose of it right there.
And if a movie about the Japanese right now should be up for an Oscar it should be one that depicts the traditional honor contained in Japanese culture that has it so corporate heads and other leaders resign in total disgrace of their own willingness when they screw things up big, rather than be greatly rewarded for having failed, as it’s been for corporate heads and other leaders in this country, the U.S., for the past 39 years or so. The Japanese as they became in the years right before and culminating with World War II is the only time I really know of when that country historically faltered. And leave it to Clint Eastwood to make a movie about that particularly low moment in Japanese history when the U.S. could really do with something very learningful to look to right now in terms of how to change if it’s ever going to be great again.
But is this what I’m advocating a politicizing of the Oscars? No. Politics is inherently there already, in every single film ever made. And you can’t just rule out message completely. For in terms of artistry I can name some horror films that were very well crafted — “Dead and Buried,” “Bullies,” etc. — but which would have cost the Academy Awards all respectability if they were even so much as considered for Oscars. Underlying message absolutely has to be factored in. Which is why I don’t think anyone would object if Leni Riefenstahl’s film of the 1936 Munich Olympics would raise any serious objections if a posthumous Oscar were granted for that. But “Triumph of the Will”? The day the Academy Awards gives a posthumous Oscar for that I feel would represent the end of all civilization completely. And Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” cuts very close. So if it gets any major awards, indeed, it will be a big step towards reducing every last thing we value and cherish and hold sacred to “just” this and “just” that. And do you really want to live in a world like that? Would it even be categorizable as “life”? And in time, if humanity did somehow come back from the dregs of that, the Academy Awards itself would be on record thereafter the same way Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” is. And it hasn’t made that blunder yet, and I hope it never does.
If “Letters From Iwo Jima” gets any awards at all it would indeed totally seal it that our country has totally lost it in terms of any sort of greatness. I’m not saying it’s not a great film. As movies go I’m sure it blows all the others away in terms of artistry and so on. But then in terms of artistry it can be said that Leni Reifenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” is one of the greatest cinematic works of all time. So imagine this is 1935 if you will, and the Best Picture award goes to….“Triumph of the Will”… [Loud, thunderous applause; Wagner music suddenly flaring up as Leni and her small team of cameramen go up on stage to proudly accept the Oscar.] Is that really what we want? For it’s exactly what it will symbolize if that movie gets any awards this year. It will really drive home the fact that America is now officially dead in terms of anything worthwhile about it at all, when all we see is artistry, but nothing else.
For the several weeks that “Letters From Iwo Jima” has now been being exhibited at theaters all around the country it’s fared very poorly at the box office, and that’s actually very reassuring I feel. Not that box office figures should influence the judges' decisions in any way. But in passing ultimate judgement message should count as well. And the ultimate message of “Letters From Iwo Jima” is: “Oh those poor Japanese soldiers and all the hardship they went through at the hands of the evil U.S.” It’s like these newly built American houses that rise up in what for thousands of years had been bear country, and when the bears put up resistance, the new housing residents and the local media combined put forth the message, “Why don’t those bears go away? What is wrong with those crazy bears?!”
If we can look past what happened at the micro level, Japan was damn lucky it had the U.S. to put it back in its place again. And if only the U.S. of today could be so lucky. But instead we see the U.S. of today — in many ways following the same path that Japan once did — conceding with films such as “Letters From Iwo Jima” that Japan was “right after all.” For this movie certainly serves as an official apology to them. And if it gets any Oscars that will really seal it.
But given the Academy Awards' track record of getting it right so far, I trust that won’t happen. But then, we’ll see…
Oh there’s no doubt the folks of Catalina Island are good people. It’s just that so much of the rest of the U.S. has forgotten that it’s supposed to be great, too. Right now it’s all turned inside out from what it’s supposed to be. But then again, what do I mean by “right now”? For it’s been that way since the 1970s. Too much emphasis on people while everyone’s forgotten that the land’s supposed to be the ultimate star. Next, the buildings and other infrastructure built in homage to that land. And then maybe, maybe, some of the people if they’re truly worthy. But right now we’ve got so much land across the U.S. that once was beautiful but is no more, nonstop urban sprawl in place of once great architecture and other wise planning, and people seated atop that hideous, man-created crown in me! me! me! fashion who we’re praising when we should be cursing, people now heading towards their cushy retirements as if they actually deserve them. It’s what I call the “You blew it” generation in need of a serious makeover of becoming the “give it all back” generation. If nature had her ultimate say I wonder what kind of retirement she would give them? The finale of the 1950s movie “War of the Worlds” comes to mind…
If the question were put forth here and now, “Why did the Titanic sink?” the answer I’m sure we could all universally agree upon is: “Because major mistakes were made.” And the same could be said as to why the DuPage Theater met the demise it did. And in finding other similarities, based on my own research of the Titanic’s sinking, as it was with the Titanic and the fact that there quite a few people aboard that night who wanted it to sink, we appear to have the same situation in the DuPage Theater’s demolition as well. My saying that might not make any sense when you look at it from the long term view. But if you think of what it was like in the context of being onboard that ship during its three-day maiden voyage, all that wealth aboard, a sizeable number of passengers not wealthy in relation to that, and isolated out at sea the way it became, where resentment and jealousy could come to the fore with nothing to stop it, and the wealthy aboard oblivious to this, accustomed as they were to protections being in place on their behalf but which weren’t around that fateful night, then we begin to see the deliberations of how it was that “major mistakes” were made that night. And did the same thing happen in the DuPage Theater’s case?
In getting to the bottom of that, there’s one good thing that can now be said of the DuPage Theater’s being demolished, and that is that no one has to be especially careful now with what they say lest it result in the DuPage Theater’s being torn down. Prior to its being torn down those who wanted it saved didn’t have that same freedom. They had to be cautious not to step on certain toes. But now it’s just like Dylan sang, “When you ain’t got nothing you got nothing to lose.” That theater, while it was still standing, was the bad element’s bargaining chip. It was like the kidnapper’s still-alive hostage. But then the “kidnapper” made the dumb stupid mistake of killing off the “hostage.” So now what does it have to bargain with? Nothing. And thus no one should have any fear of offending that bad element now. Truth that could not quite be said before can be fully said now. And DuPageDude, in line with that, I think you’ve given us a lot of truths. For one thing you most definitely had right was when you said that the DuPage Theater’s mishandling taught us all a whole lot of what not to dos. For yeah, if that wasn’t true the DuPage Theater would be still standing right now.
As for who’s to ultimately blame for its demolition? Well, the answer to that is simple. Who held it hostage while it was still standing? That’s your answer. And whoever that was, they don’t have any bargaining chip now. That is, talk about America’s dumbest criminals. And what would a dumb criminal like us all to do after he gets caught in the act? To back off and forget what we saw, of course. He would say, “What’s done is done, it can’t be undone. So let’s all forget it now and move on.” And um, that sounds reasonable and logical, you can’t bring back the dead after all. But then, not as reasonable and logical as justice.
Although I’ve never been to the Capital Theatre and the only thing I know about Mr. Klieman was what appeared in his obituary, I was aware that the area around where it was located was impoverished as I used to pass through it en route to Overbrook by way of the Market Street El and then some local bus at 52nd Street I used to take, my traveling originally from Northeast Philadelphia — which, of course, had its own abundance of local theaters at the time. And let me just say there’s no shame at all to poverty, only shame to those who impose it — most particularly those who amass wealth as a result of doing this. And Mr. Klieman’s obituary just didn’t strike me like he was that kind of guy, which is why I presumed you were putting us all on when you posted what you did. For seriously, how is a series of exploitational Kung Fu movies supposed to turn life around for the better in the ghetto? With Mr. Klieman’s association with Coretta Scott King — the widow of a man most noteworthy for his non-violence stance — he had to know firsthand that the exhibition of violent movies in ghetto theaters was in no way helpful to the ghettos' dwellers. So if he did exhibit a long rash of violent Kung Fu movies at his Capital Theatre as you say, he knew exactly what he was doing in terms of something to be greatly ashamed of. And here you are singing praises of the guy and the movies he subjected you to while growing up. That’s why I had to assume you were putting us all on. Either that, or the obituary got it all wrong. For this is America, and there’s no excuse why anyone should have to be poor. And by that I’m not condemning those who are poor, only those who derive their wealth by making them so. And we’ve had way too much of that now. The time has come for those who make their wealth in that way to pack it in and to give back every last thing they’ve wrongfully acquired. If Dr. King were here today he would announce that that way over-extended run has expired and the bill has just come due. And the longer that bill isn’t paid the worse it’s going to be. So it’s best to pay up now.
As for Kung Fu itself, it was an ancient art of self-defense developed by Bhuddist monks for when traveling through hostile territory, and it was far from anything they were proud of. And they would’ve been horrified that anyone would’ve seen it as a source of “entertainment.” You, growing up in the ghetto, might not have known that, but given Mr. Klieman’s background he had to. So what you’re ultimately telling us all here is that the obituary got it all wrong. And if what your telling us is true I sure wouldn’t want to be where Mr. Klieman is now.
I came down really hard on the people of Lombard when I first got wind of this story and I shouldn’t have, except for those who took pleasure in seeing this great theater meet its final demise and who actively campaigned to bring it to that Only problem was, in practically all the last of the many commentaries that had been posted at Cinema Treasures' DuPage Theater page (before Cinema Treasures had to finally step in and shut it down), from looking in from the outside I couldn’t tell who was who really, at least in terms of who the truly good citizens were in this dispute. Only that there was this back and forth arguing that made little if any sense while the theater itself was experiencing the wrecking ball. And that’s all that mattered to me, the theater itself, at least in this case, since this website is about theater conservation after all.
But now that I know the story much better, while maybe this theater could’ve survived had their not been for the intense local efforts to get it demolished, my feeling is that it was ultimately not the people of Lombard to be blamed, but those whose responsibility — and power — it is to save significant theaters such as these.
For that IS a major problem all throughout this country right now, not just there in Lombard.
To have restored a theater such as this, indeed it would’ve required a sizeable fortune, and far in excess of what the village of Lombard could realistically afford. And I certainly didn’t mean to imply to all the citizens of Lombard, “Well gee, that’s too bad you folks of Lombard can’t afford it, but since this is a Rapp & Rapp theater you’ve got to cough up the money to save it anyhow.” For this theater was too big for that. But from what I can gather, before I came on the scene somebody did tell the village of Lombard just that. That is, somebody who’s entrusted to rescue theaters such as these, who has the power to, but who is choosing not to due to a little something known as embezzlement, or more specifically, fraud. I’m not saying that was the case with Illinois' U.S. Senator Obama. I haven’t heard what his side of the story is yet.
And melders, while I hear what you’re saying, how the state of Illinois was in a state of financial crisis when this tragedy took place (and I don’t dispute that), could that state of financial crisis have been any worse than when the U.S. fell into the dark recesses of the Great Depression? FDR was the man who brought this country out of the Great Depression. But in his doing so, did he tell all the theater operators, “Sorry, but you folks are on your own”? Quite the contrary, in bringing America out from the Great Depression he made theaters a top priority. And every American president (until perhaps recently) has always recognized the importance of the theater to our country’s well-being and was fully supportive of them. And right now, where theaters have been saved and are currently being managed well, they’re lifting up everything around them also. Because that’s how it works. On the other hand I’ve seen theaters forced to fold in efforts to try to make the economy around them better. But did it ever pan out that way? Nope. I can point out to you theater after theater that is now folded or demolished, and what is right around them? Ghetto.
The mark of every great leader — which FDR clearly was, and so, too, Lincoln, Eisenhower and so on — knows the importance of the theater to the nation’s well-being. It’s almost a litmus test of who’s going to make a great president and who isn’t. And I’d say that holds true in Obama’s case as well. Where was he, what was he doing when this particular theater — a bona fide movie palace of national and international scale — went down?
Ah, April Fools Day came quite early this year I see! A good one, carnitaw32! But tell me, did Howard Haas put you up to this by any chance?
On the one hand I totally agree with your point, CrazyRay, that the DuPage Theatre is gone and that now it’s time to move on. But on the other hand — as a true dyed-in-the-wool theater buff — I have to consider if this is the start of a trend that threatens the future of classic movie palaces all throughout the United States. For what we just witnessed there in Lombard, was it a “krystal knacht” of sorts, a harbinger of how the U.S. is to become over all next? Or just a onetime incident? While there might be other cases, though I don’t know of any specifically, it’s the only one I know of where a sizeable number of people actually actively organized in getting a beautiful historic movie palace torn down and made no secret of the elation they felt in doing so.
People are entitled to their hatreds, their prejudices, their hostilities, even their jealousies. But when they are allowed to act on them unchecked, as appeared to be the case here, what ultimate good can possibly come from that? Historically, we’ve seen this type of incident before, with krystal knacht just being one example. And as for presidential contender from Illinois Barack Obama having bigger things on his mind, Kofi Annan, the former head of the United Nations, which represents the whole world, said in his closing remarks of the U.S.: “When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.”
When the United States rose up to take down the Nazi Third Reich, the Italian Fascist government and the Japanese empire in the course of a single war, it could not have done so had it been a carbon copy of those it brought down. It had to totally distinguish itself from all three. And it very much did with FDR as Commander-In-Chief. But will Barack Obama seek to apply the same strategy should he get elected in 2008?
For under his watch as a U.S. senator of Illinois, a group of people in the Chicago suburb of Lombard were allowed to act on their hatreds, prejudices and even jealousies unchecked — in this case, against a people whose whole lives center around theaters.
Had this been the act of the Ku Klux Klan burning down a Negro church in Illinois, and Barack Obama failed to intervene — because he has “bigger things on his mind” — how would that play out in the press I ask you? And is this a case similar? That’s all I’m now trying to determine.
The big mistake in how this matter was handled is that it should’ve been treated as a national and even international concern, not merely as something local. For it’s quite true that Rapp & Rapp, the architectural firm behind the DuPage Theatre’s design, is ranked as having been the greatest movie theater designing firm in the world of all time. Yet this cannot be expected to be common knowledge at the small town level. And when it comes to restoring a Rapp & Rapp theater properly, such undertaking is so massive that there’s really no way a small community such as Lombard could have handled such a task alone, short of it being an absolute miracle. With the full restoration costs being expectedly high while at the same time in a community of just over 40,000 people, and the local taxpayers expected to pay nearly the full cost of its restoration, the math simply isn’t there to make such a business plan feasible.
What I can’t understand, meantime, my having found out about this story only relatively recently, is why wasn’t this issue brought to national or international attention? Or if it was, why was it ignored? How much did Illinois' U.S. Senator Barack Obama — who’s just announced his bid to run for president of the U.S. in 2008 — know about this, for instance? Also, how many at the local level there in Lombard itself knew of its national and international significance but held their silence? For we’re not talking about just a simple building here, but of a whole cultural sector of society whose fate is inexorably linked to a building such as this. For the attack on this building was not just on the building itself but on that sector of society who relies on such a building as this in order to be. And it’s there that this matter takes on a very criminal dimension, something which could even be likened to krystal knacht itself — the knocking down of what some need in order to be and that they have a full right to. This matter should’ve been handled nationally and even internationally, and why it wasn’t needs to be gotten to the bottom of. Again, what did Barack Obama know about it, and what were his actions taken regarding it?
This is truly amazing, schmadrian! There was a time when regular neighborhood theaters and movie palaces were in top form and plentiful all throughout the United States and attendance was high. And then there’s now, 2007, when we can hardly make that same claim. Something had to have happened between the two time periods to cause that sharp downward transition. Something truly major. And while we can be quick to cop out and say oh it was the advent of TV or whatever, my having lived through much of this stretch between the two time periods firsthand I’ll be just as quick to say, no, it wasn’t that. But if somebody says the baby boom generation brought the great neighborhood theaters and palaces down, well, suddenly it’s BINGO! So much so that with your quick but very baseless defense of the baby boom generation — as one who’s a member of it — I feel it best at this point to advise you of your Miranda rights.
Meantime, from my side of things, right now I feel as if you and I are Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando in the back seat of that cab, with you, the older brother, deflecting all blame elsewhere when I try to pinpoint what it was exactly that prevented me from being the contender I was meant to be in life. But as I look at you directing all blame away from yourself I can only reply, “No, it was you Charlie, remember?” My memories are of what I saw. And there’s no crime in seeing. But your memories, as one who’s a tad bit older, are of what you did that I merely saw. And that you’re now denying. Like me, you can bear witness to what happened in that stretch of time also. But in your case, unlike it is in mine, it is so self-incriminating that I do indeed have to advise you of your Miranda rights at this point — while if it were me and I were you I would just come totally clean. I would do just as Burt Lancaster did in “Judgement at Nuremberg,” just to highpoint the difference in character between you and I.
And sure, we could take this discussion private by e-mail exchange as you suggest. But need I remind you, schmadrian, the title of this CT page is “Survey reveals new factors in moviegoing decline,” just to do the big reality check. And when in that survey I don’t see the reason that I know why movie theater attendance is down — way way down from what it once was — then if this isn’t the right place to publicly state what the actual reason is then what place, pray tell, is?
I post here publicly to expose what the actual reason is. And you post here to publicly deflect from what you know to be true. And why would you do that? What would your motive be?
Oops! Great, great, great granddaughter of Joanna Pacitti I meant to say. Reading about the Devon Theatre and all we’re supposed to be excited about makes me sleepy, very very sleepy. So just pardon the barely awake typo. I’m certain I got the year right, though.
Also, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, who I believe is also credited with the Devon’s ongoing restoration (though I’m not 100% sure about that), just officially announced that she’s going to run for yet another term rather than retire as she originally planned.
As for Perzel’s still being a “leading member of the state house,” at this point that is totally questionable. The title he now holds is “speaker emeritus.” But is that actually an official title? Or simply a fabricated-on-the-spot one laced with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, a consolation prize as it were?
In any event, rumor has it that the great granddaughter of Joanna Pacitti (who hasn’t even been born yet) will officiate the grand ribbon cutting when the Devon finally reopens to the public, sometime just after the year 2500 I believe…
Pining away for what never was? Oh-ho, that’s a good one! What a convenient lie that is for you to hide behind rather than coming totally clean. And it places you right up there with the Holocaust denyers and those who theorize that the whole astronauts landing on the moon bit in 1969 — right before those in your generation acquired the reins — never happened, was totally faked.
As for greater generational clarification regarding myself, I’m in that age group right between the babyboomers and the gen-Xers, which I suppose we could classify as the “firsthand eyewitness generation.” For I saw all the wonderful things your genreration was given firsthand, okay? For I experienced these things to a degree, too. Firsthand. And I saw your generation destroy them firsthand — like that child hiding in the closet of a house where there was supposed to be no eyewitnesses. I saw the beautiful seaside resorts that once had been, and the magnificent movie palaces that YOUR generation brought down, and I saw the great universities our nation once had crumble in your generation’s hands. Before your generation came into a position of decisionmaking we could put a man on the moon. But now? Take a good hard look at the timelines, schmadrian. How life went from everything is possible — which is where things stood in 1969 — to how nothing is now. Your generation took it upon itself to knock everything beautiful down and to make sure it stayed down. And your generation did a good job of that, I will say that much. And your generation also wants to knock down all truth of what I’m saying here. Make it the “perfect crime” as it were. But the TRUTH isn’t going to go away that easily. For there were firsthand witnesses, and I was one. One of many.