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Since the Philadelphia Inquirer’s architectural critic Inga Saffron apparently saw fit to omit my commentary from the following link where people are invited to express their comments on the latest regarding the Boyd — View link — here is my commentary that due to whatever misguided pressures she wrongfully decided to omit:
As I recall how the Boyd Theatre was back in the 1950s, which I regard as when it was at its absolute height of glory, it was a movie theater only, and specialized exclusively in premieres and epics. And though it was far from being an upscale entertainment venue only for the elite, it was always well understood that whoever went there had to be on their best behavior or be assured of quickly being ushered out. And not with any sort of pleasure, mind you, for the ultimate ideal at that time was to grant those from every walk of life the opportunity to experience life at its absolute best. In brief, that had been the way of the United States of America as it was in that very optimistic period following World War II.
Of course, the Boyd’s great success at that time hinged on the fact that Philadelphia was a thriving industrial mecca and major global seaport, too, and all efforts made to ensure that people from all walks of life had an abundance of opportunities to make very good money while living here.
But alas, such a stark contrast is that to the way Philadelphia is now. And nowhere else in this city do I believe this is revealed more than the current state of the Boyd Theatre. When I listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “My City In Ruins,” the Boyd Theatre as it is now is what comes to my mind first and foremost. And the greatest tragedy of all is that those who love it the most are the least financially able to contribute towards its restoration, with the only possible exception being if it somehow could be made into an investment that would allow them to see a sizeable cash return on the money they invested.
The other alternative to that, of course, would be to bring Philadelphia itself back to being the city where people from all walks of life can look to to make good money.
But to both of these solutions all that’s given back is one big scoff. Either that, or opportunities to make money that only bring the city down even further.
And upon the latter premises the Boyd Theatre is supposed to rise up again? In a very fake way it could I suppose, to become a sunny entertainment venue of sorts for shady people. And what’s saddest of all about that is that we have a whole generation of people who’ve grown up never knowing that the much better alternative to that is possible. That is, they never got to see the Boyd Theatre as it was in the ‘50s and all that it represented/proved, just an iron booted leadership quick to stomp upon anyone who dares to think that way in this “far more advanced” day and age, and oh so anxious to wipe out all last traces of what once was. Whether it be the Boyd Theatre, Gettysburg Battlefield, Burholme Park, what wee little good is left of old Ocean City, NJ or what have you.
As you all can see, I said nothing offensive or out of line in this commentary, but it’s just to show how corrupt Philadelphia has gotten.
This theater does indeed sound very beautiful going by all your descriptions of it. And I found out about it today because I got one of those Cinema Treasures e-mails sent to me today saying “Somebody just replied to your comment” (or something to that effect.) Needless to say, I never posted any comment at this page, but that technical glitch happens once in a while.
Anyway, now that I’ve learned of this beautiful theater — located 22 (or 26!) miles out on California’s scenic Catalina Island no less! — while I’m greatly enamored of the surface things being said of it, at the deeper level I’m wondering, is this yet another one of those sunny entertainment venues for the pleasure of shady people? For there seems to be an awful lot of that these days. Since it’s assumed we’re all movie buffs here, we all remember that movie “The Dirty Dozen,” right? Particularly that scene where the Nazi officers and their associates, wives, mistresses, etc., are in attendence at that gala ball that the dirty dozen are assigned to target? If you recall, without their awareness, everyone inside the bunker (or wherever the ball is being held) is sealed in and then a series of explosions is set off once they’re fully trapped. What follows next could be described as a scene of great horror. But we hardly view it that way, given how it’s Nazis plus those who religiously support the Nazi cause being killed. In brief, it’s a sunny place for shady people that suddenly becomes a not very sunny place for anyone to be trapped inside of.
Now I’m not saying that a dirty dozen be newly formed to do in the many sunny places for shady people that are in such vast abundance throughout the United States today. But I am greatly troublied that in today’s America there are scant few (indeed if any) sunny places for good people, while at the very least I would like to think that the Avalon Theatre on Catalina Island is such.
Catalina Island is uniquely beautiful, and certainly there’s no practical way to bring every single spot throughout the U.S. to being just as beautiful. However, there’s no intelligent or morally right excuse for not having theaters every bit as beautiful as the Avalon easily accessible by good people all throughout the U.S.
As some of you reading this might know, I myself reside in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where over a year now I’ve been campaigning heavily to bring at least one or two of our historic cinemas back to life as full scale movie theaters once more, but have been slammed hard in my efforts at every single turn, even by those allegedly trying to bring the Boyd Theatre — Philadelphia’s last standing movie palace — back to life. For around here the thought of having anything uplifting for good people — as opposed to those who are shady — is treated as if “unthinkable,” and to many privileged folks in these parts, even as “offensive.” Such is the new America, or this part of it, at least.
Anyway, over a year into my campaign, maybe it’s desparation, I don’t know. But I do have to wonder, is it more than mere coincidence that by some technical glitch my attention was brought to the Avalon Theatre on Catalina Island?
You’re right about what you say about the Eagles and Phillies, while in Philadelphia’s case it’s very much the whole “bread & circuses” thing. That is, this city used to be a thriving blue collar mecca with its major seaport and manufacturing, which concurrently was when the Boyd was at its peak.
The previous blue collar population is still very much in place today. But instead of blue collar opportunities, these days the only blue collar outlet to speak of is cheesesteaks and major sports events, and, of course, the enormous slots parlors to come next. And right now the plan is to place the slots parlors where the blue collar moneymaking opportunities used to be — four sites along the Delaware River waterfront being looked at plus the fifth site being strongly considered where the enormous Budd plant used to be. And community protests against all sites being considered is starting to grow, and it’s primarily blue collar groups doing the protesting.
As for what you say of Atlantic City and its movie theaters prior to casinos, absolutely true. And I’ll go even further and say that the whole city with one or two exceptions was on life support by that point. But rather than that which was on life support getting a huge lift when the casinos came, it was the exact opposite. That’s like the patient is lying sick in bed, and when the “doctor” is called in to help, the so-called doctor just takes out a gun and shoots the patient instead, and then bills those who called him for “services rendered” while the dead patient gets carted off to the morgue. I.e., I think there was a much better way Atlantic City could’ve solved its problems. And if Philadelphia were on the right track right now it would be doing everything to bring blue collar industry back — since Philadelphia’s previous blue collar population is still very much here — that is, all new blue collar industry befitting of the 21st century. But instead of that our city is overshadowed and being run by Nero, so to speak, not to mention how the state of Pennsylvania at large is on the same wrong track.
For movie theaters can’t stand on their own. They need to be in combination with people making good money doing what they’re best at — and that, needless to say, won’t be their pulling the handles of slot machines. But try telling that to Nero.
A John Eberson designed theater seeing the wrecking ball?! That is outlandishly surreal that I don’t even know how to begin the fathom that! Earlier tonight I caught the second half of Ric Burn’s “Andy Warhol,” a PBS American Experience TV documentary, and when focusing on his assassination attempt in 1968 — which happened right before Bobby Kennedy was assassinated for — when Andy Warhol was rushed to the hospital, the doctors and surgeons were ready to write him off for dead, when some of Warhol’s followers pleaded, “No, no, you don’t understand! This is Andy Warhol, a world famous artist!” (Or something to that effect.) With that a specialist surgeon was rushed in, and though Warhol was declared clinically dead, the surgeon cut open his chest and actually manually massaged his heart till it started pumping again.
And you feel, what’s different between 1968 and now? For if a human being with all its complexities can be brought back from being clinically dead, then why the hell can’t an historic theater — especially one designed by John Eberson, who even designed theaters as faraway as far off Australia — be stopped from facing the wrecking ball for chrissakes?! Was it because those who comprised the human race in 1968 were a much higher race of people than any of us of today are? Did that race all suddenly die off when Bobby Kennedy did? For I think this theater’s demolition should come as a major wake up call for everybody! For as I see it, America’s Taliban just struck again.
The September 15, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer article stated that Philadelphia’s Regional Performing Arts Center, which operates the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music not far from the Boyd, vigorously fought a $6.4 million city subsidy of tax breaks to offset the expense of restoring the theater to its original grandeur and adding a larger backstage area, arguing that a large new theater competitor threatened their survival. But I argue that that could only be the case if the Boyd tried to replicate what the Kimmel and Academy of Music now offer, which I’ve said all along the Boyd shouldn’t try to do. And both the Kimmel and Acad. of Music have far more to worry about with the casinos still to come than any possible threat the restored Boyd would pose. For casinos, as we all should’ve learned from Atlantic City, have a funny knack for offering a lot of wonderful things for free, or at prices so ridiculously low they no independent entity could possibly begin to compete with them, whether it be nearby restaurants, nightclubs, hotels….or large scale entertainment venues. There is a way out of that, of course: Stop the casinos from coming to anywhere near Center City Philadelphia period. And if that isn’t possible, then push to have it so the casinos subsidize rather than compete with the Boyd, etc., though I don’t particularly like the word “subsidize” in this case. For it makes it look like without the casinos Center City couldn’t have these wonderful things. So “compensation for damage caused” would be far more fitting.
Though it hasn’t been publicly stated as of yet, I suspect that the gambling casinos to be coming to Philadelphia soon had far more than just a little to do with Live Nation’s decision to abandon restoring the Boyd. Meantime, though there are no movie palaces left in Atlantic City, for live performances there is Dante Hall – Theatre of the Arts. Just a block and a half from the casino strip, it appears to be surviving well. Then again it’s seating capacity is small — only 243 seats — and is Atlantic City’s only fine performing arts theater to speak of. Add to this that it’s heavily subsidized by the Atlantic City Casino Re-Development Authority (CDRA) a fund that all the casinos there are required to pay into, while to the best of my knowledge Pennsylvania has no plans of creating anything equivelent. And right now, although the mayor of Philadelphia and others are trying to get it changed, Philadelphia at this moment has no authority in being able to set any clearcut guidelines on the casinos to come, based on the premise that Philadelphia’s government is too corrupt to be able to do this. So yeah, if I was Live Nation I guess I would have second thoughts on following through with restoring the Boyd, too, given all that.
For me it was never a choice between Ocean City and Atlantic City, or Ocean City and Wildwood, but at all times for me it was Ocean City or nothing. And if I ever visited Atlantic City or Wildwood or even Cape May for that matter, it was just to appreciate Ocean City all the more in such stark contrast. But then came the big blood transfusion so to speak, that is to say bad blood fully displacing the good blood that had given life to Ocean City before. And so long as that bad blood continues flowing through Ocean City’s veins, I and other good people who used to go there regularly every summer won’t go anywhere near there now — while Atlantic City, Wildwood and Cape May continue being held in the same perspective as before. Prior to the casinos Atlantic City was bad in that so much of it had become rundown and impoverished, but after the casinos it became an equally undesireable place to go for totally different reasons. And Wildwood in my views remained the same as always — an always dirty looking oversized boardwalk plus that constant “Watch the tram car, please” business. As for Cape May, it always struck me as way too cramped. But Ocean City in all respects was always just right. Then came the bad blood. Some from the outside, and some from Ocean City’s own pores. And it lost its soul accordingly. Alas, will there ever be another Ocean City? I think of those who have their pets dry freezed. Which is how Ocean City seems to me now. Glad I got to know it while it was still alive though.
That’s what I assumed, too, Mike. But with this current state of PA government we have (2006), if the Donald says he’s open to building one of his big casinos at the Franklin Mills site, why do I get a sense that the existing regulations can get changed in a Staten Island minute? I could just see it now; they’d say technically Philadelphia Park is a racino not a casino, giving Trump the full green light to plow ahead if he so wishes and decides he does like that site. But other than you I haven’t heard anything to the rumor since, so I don’t know. But if by chance you hear anything let us all know. Thanks!
The Premiere was a really great theater when it first opened and was single screen. It was also the first theater I remember with surround sound.
Far beyond simply being bad, casino gambling coming to Pennsylvania is unconscionable. Till now, casino gambling has only been located in remote places where most people don’t really live permanently, because trying to combine the two is totally impractical. And it’s not like Pennsylvania somewhere along the line completely lost it’s ability to provide people with a main place of residence. Or, its ability to be prosperous without the need to introduce gambling. I think, though, that it is very fair to say that Pennsylvania is now under a leadership that’s totally out of control, a renegade state government that is. For it’s not as though casino gambling is being debated on in Pennsylvania right now. Rather, it was voted into law two years ago by the state legislature with the citizens of Pennsylvania having no say about it whatsoever. Er, I believe that’s called “despotism”?
Now as for Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I wasn’t aware that it had gotten as bad as you describe, but at the same time I am not shocked at all at this point. In my mind I think of Lancaster being synonymous with the Pennsylvania Amish as seen in that Harrison Ford movie, “Witness” — which for the most part is just to show how much the media does create its own reality. Meantime, to the best of my knowledge, no casinos are being proposed for that vicinity. Rather, they seem only to be targeting spots in Pennsylvania that are doing very very well and where the thought of introducing a casino is proposterous. One of the most notable places currently being targeted is Gettysburg, home to the historic battlefield as well as the recently restored Majestic Theatre. The Majestic Theatre is where President Eisenhower went regularly whenever at home at his farm there. Of course there’s national outrage against a casino coming to Gettysburg, even drawing Walter Cronkite out of retirement, and the local citizens there are up in arms, but with the new Pennsylvania law saying a casino can be built there, it’s like there’s no law. That is to say, that is the new law, that and that alone.
Of course, the question, though, now is, how is New Jersey going to be impacted by this? For most of the casino-going traffic it gets now does indeed come from Pennsylvania. And it is that, moreso than anything else, that caused the Jersey Shore to change as much as it has since you were there last, and for it change for the worst the way it did, and which has firmly held it in that greatly worsened position ever since. But it could well be that Pennsylvania’s gambling, once it gets into full swing, could cause New Jersey’s currently thriving gambling industry to collapse completely. In combination with this, in today’s world there are those who for many years now have held onto the belief that one day the Jersey Shore could restore to what it had been previously — in many many ways it being the same as refuges from Cuba living in Florida today awaiting the death of Fidel Castro and the collapse of his regime so they can return to restore Cuba to its onetime glory once more. But whether that’s just wishful thinking on their part or realistic I don’t know. I know that for myself personally I gave up on Ocean City, New Jersey after everyone else did. But now with gambling coming to Pennsylvania I’m being forced to take a second hard look at it. For at least shell-wise, both the Surf and Strand Theatre buildings are still there.
As for Ocean City’s Village Theatre, I never went to it, while I see Cinema Treasures has it down as having burned to the ground in 1990. And from the looks of it it apparently was but yet another of the many arsons I mentioned in my previous commentary. And till now, seeing CT’s description, I never knew it was that historic! Aside from that, though, I still believe the Strand and Surf were Ocean City’s best theaters, and like I say, shell-wise at least, they are still there. But, where’s Ocean City itself going from here? For that’s the big question. And nobody knows the answer to that yet I don’t think.
I saw “Dr. Zhivago” at the Premiere soon after it opened sometime in the ‘60s, and you’re right, NortheastPhilly, it was a really great theater! The one feature of it I remember the most was its quadrophonic sound system with speakers at the back at the theater as well as up front. There’s that great scene in “Dr. Zhivago” where he’s in that isolated house in winter up on the Siberian plain and there’s howling wolves off in the distance all around him. And there in the Premiere Theatre during that one scene you could hear those distant wolf howls coming at you from all directions, and it was just so cool!
I saw “The Devil’s Brigade” there soon after it opened in the mid-60s and was under a different name, while I’m pretty sure the last movie I ever saw there was “Carrie,” which was likely sometime in 1974 or ‘75. And at the time it was up and running it was a pretty good theater. Though not a palace, in a streamlined sort of way it did have some class to it. I can remember seeing its green neon sign at night when passing by on the Boulevard which always was very inviting. But when it folded, and I never understood fully why it did, whatever class that theater building had went with the management when they vacated it. And the last time I went to see it, at that point a burnt-out hulk, I found it all but impossible to even begin to match up how it looked at that point with what I remembered it to be in the mid-70s. For what I saw wasn’t sad, it was far beyond anything sad. In studying its architecture I had hoped to pick up at least one or two good ideas. But I remember how very let down I was. For what inspirations are to be found in looking at very basic cinderblock walls? Still, why did it fold, why did it fold, when it seems it had been a very well managed theater? They always say of older theaters that they can’t compete with the newer multiplexes. But in this case it was one of the newer multiplexes! So clearly something strange had to happen there to cause it to fold the way it did, some strange thing that politicians and other sinister types of today tell us we have no need to know about. Still, I would like to know what exactly forced it to fold so abruptly. Just for reference sake that is.
I remember 13th Street very well, MT! For between 1978 and 1982 (inclusively) several other guys and I rented each summer at a beautiful old house at 13th and Asbury owned by an elderly widow named Mrs. Bove. We had the whole second floor which had a porch toward the front and another in back. And I can remember that walk between 13th and Asbury and the beach at 13th Street very well because we did it every day! St. Augustine’s Church, the Shannon boarding house, the Outrigger, the Stingray Inn, and yes, where that bike rental place was there at 13th and the boardwalk. And while I well remember the great guitar players up on the boardwalk at night, and some great singers, too, I never once saw anybody doing it for money. And I always figured that was the deal; so long as no panning took place the boardwalk cops would allow it to be without interference. That really changed drastically later though when the boardwalk cops began cracking down on everything and anything. As for the poor choice of movies they ran at the Surf Theatre when you worked there, yes, it seems that the Strand Theatre up at 9th and the boardwalk got all the best ones. And if I remember correctly, wasn’t “Jaws” the hot movie the summer you worked there? For I so remember the name “Jaws” on the Strand’s marquee! But whether it was ‘75 or '76 I can’t distinctly remember now. But I can remember it giving a lot of folks jitters about going in the water! Ah, the power of movies!
As for Ocean City itself, because it was founded by progressive Methodists in the late 1800s for the common man, I and my friends always assumed it was always going to stay that way — carefree, safe, scenic and always easily affordable. And it did straight up to the time Atlantic City got its casinos. And then suddenly everything in Ocean City changed very very quickly. And regretfully I did see a lot of that, most particularly by 1987 when the biggest string of demolitions — and God knows how many arsons — began. All to make way for the new element coming in, as they say. And, of course, rents there just went straight through the roof thereafter. And of course the beachtag program rose up and went into full swing and has been ever since.
Surprisingly, now into 2006, Ocean City still survives as a seaside resort, and believe it or not it’s still “dry,” but geeze, I don’t know anybody who still goes there now or especially why they would. The last time I was there, 1995, I spent more money to be there than I ever had before in my life, and after just those three days I was there, returning back home to Philadelphia was what felt like going on vacation! For it had been so hectic, and so grimy, and so crowded, and so hustle hustle at every turn, that I’ve never had any desire to go back since, at least not to that “all new and improved” Ocean City. But if I could go back to the one in ‘75? Oh-ho! In a heartbeat!!!
On the road ahead, with it still uncertain what impact the legalization of gambling in Pennsylvania is going to have on Atlantic City’s (no casinos have opened up here in Pennsylvania yet but will over the next several years), Ocean City may be in for another major transition again, but no one knows yet what that transition is going to be. I myself, of course, would like to see it get back to being the good old down to earth Shore again. But who knows? So much of the old Ocean City was torn down since the mid-80s onward. But, both the Strand and the Surf Theatre buildings are still there. The Strand got chopped up into a multiplex, and the Surf the last time I saw it had been made into a big open mall. But the good news is that at least they weren’t demolished completely! And as Springsteen sang in that song of his, “Atlantic City”: “…Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact; But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” So that’s one way of looking at it anyway!
Now that’s a bit of nostalgia! For how long has it been since youth went to Ocean City, New Jersey during the summer season to earn money for college? For today, of course, rents are so high in Ocean City — driven up primarily by its serving as a bedroom community to provide housing for Atlantic City casino workers, which occured from the late 1980s onward — that any summertime job a young person could get in Ocean City today wouldn’t even begin to pay what the astronomical summertime rents there are now, let alone there still being any money left over to pay for college! So ah, what a totally different world it was way back then, ay MT? For 1975… I was there in 1975 for the whole summer. Stayed on the 2nd floor at 816 Wesley. And that whole summer — from June to September — couldn’t have cost me more than $400, and that was for rent, food and clothes! And it was a time in Ocean City when you could actually be lodging that many blocks back from the beach and boardwalk yet still fully feel that you were at the seashore! And if at that time the Surf Theatre was getting someone rundown as you describe, no one going there would’ve even noticed it. Back then it was a whole different world, and people didn’t think that way. We were sooooo free from that! And even back in 1981 or whenever it was when I saw those two rock movies there (see my comment above) I don’t recall once thinking, “Hey, why are they letting this theater go to pot this way?” (No pun intended.) All I can remember thinking is just what a great theater it was to be in and how super great the sound quality was as I watched the bigger than life images of Neil Young, and Stephen Stills, and Jimi Hendrix and so on on screen! For as long as that much was good, that was all we theater goers back at that time cared about. So for the theater operator it was a far freer experience as well. And I hope they appreciated it. For we sure did! And then came the big nightmare which fully wiped out THAT Ocean City to bring us the one that’s there today. But as they say, MT, guys like you and I got the gravy, huh? For 1975 in Ocean City. All I can think now as I look back is, “WOW!!!”
Jim, I just knew — I just KNEW! — I was going to hear your commentary on that last post I made on this State Theatre page! So it’s great to hear from you again, my man, and hope you’re doing well since the last time we corresponded!
Meantime, I didn’t know about the warning you posted at the Cinematour forum till now, only that you had posted a comment here at the State Theatre page back on June 10, 2005 combined with my remembering the religious beliefs you hold. And only after I posted what I did did it then cross my mind, uh oh, Jim’s going to jump on me for that! So in preparation I discussed the matter with my brother who’s a real scholar when it comes to the King James, and he said to tell you that in Samuel I that King Saul conjured up the spirit of Samuel, plus there are other instances where ghosts are spoken of in the Bible, and they’re not always bad.
As for me, although I’ve always had a curiosity about ghosts — and seriously, what human being doesn’t? — I’ve never actively sought out proof of such, only tried to find rational explanations for occurances I thought might’ve been such. As you can see in the questions I posted above regarding Freddy. For seriously, what am I going to do with a ghost, Jim? For my interest is in the State Theatre and its beautiful design, while at the same time I was curious what caused some to believe it’s actually haunted by the ghost of J. Fred Osterstock, a former manager, or who many now refer to as “Freddy.” As you likely know, the State Theatre now has an annual award named in his honor — that is, in honor of its former theater manager, now deceased, who had been very dedicated to his craft — and I see nothing wrong with that whatsoever, anymore than if we were talking about the Oscar here, the Emmy, the Tony or what have you. For the award is not named for the ghost but the former and very dedicated manager, that’s how I see it. The “ghost” bit, is just a touch of humor. For all throughout the theater’s over all design I see a lot of tongue-in-cheek humorous touches to it. On the one hand the theater was designed to look very regal, but it’s done in a way that’s just a tad slightly comical, as if to say William Harold Lee and others who were involved in its design were having a bit of fun with it at the same time to show that they weren’t taking themselves too seriously. For don’t you pick up on that when you visit the photo link Agilitynut gave us back on August 5, 2006 and look particularly at the middle photo he has for the State Theatre of the motif to the theater’s frontside depicting those phoenixes (or whatever they are) pawing that coat-of-arms? It’s impressive art on the one hand — looking very British or European — yet there’s a distinctive air to it of Americans poking fun at that sort of thing, too. And it’s the same with the ongoing joke about Freddy, that is Freddy the Ghost, I feel. It’s just an ongoing joke about a ghost nobody truly believes exists, nothing more. Not this people going there to specifically communicate with the dead as you suggest.
Will do, while I have no plans of getting up to Easton, PA anytime soon. Meantime, it would be interesting to learn just how many of the older theaters are haunted — or at least alleged to be haunted — by spirit presences similar. For seriously, talk about dedication to the craft!
Really great photos of a really great theater, guys! But, uh, any that prove once and for all that there really is a spirit wandering around inside that beautiful theater by the name of “Freddy”? Or is that just one of those things you have to go there firsthand to see? And have either of you ever seen him?
Right now much of Holmesburg’s future fate hangs on Independence Pointe and its getting developed the right way. And that right way could be one of two things — either its returning to be a riverside shipping terminal (which is what it was last) or developed with housing and other things in such a way so that the end result isn’t a Katrina/Love Canal disaster combined. And likewise the Holme Theatre building’s future fate hangs on how Independence Pointe gets developed. And with Independence Pointe’s future fate on hold for now, so, too, is the Holme Theatre building’s, which is why the Holme Theatre building is being allowed to serve as a mini mall for now. And the upcoming election between Schwartz and Bhakta (November 2006) has a great deal to do with things as well. Schwartz (who’s the incumbant) fully supports the current plan for Independence Pointe, which will end up being a Katrina/Love Canal disaster when all is said and done, whereby Bhakta is a candidate of real substance and vision. Bhakta actually thinks.
In Holmesburg? Hmmmm…
Ah! I know what you’re referring to now, as my great grandfather worked there when it opened circa 1894 and it was all new and state of the art. And I’ve often said I’d like to see it reopened so we could finally have someplace to put all those outsider folks who come to Holmesburg seeking to do it harm, to reopen it as a real Bastille kind of thing, as in “Off with their heads!” (Uh, not that anyone who wishes Holmesburg harm has one.) Meantime, to all you reading this who haven’t a clue what Howard and I are talking about, just rent the movie “Up Close & Personal” starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer and it will all come ringing home, or “Holme” I should say. And by the way, Howard, Redford loved Holmesburg when he was here. And that state of the art playground across the street from what you’re referring to was his parting gift to it.
Meantime, since the Mayfair Theatre is off the table — at least for now, and other than what remains of it in great memories — shouldn’t this discussion move to Cinema Treasures' Holme Theatre page? The link for that is: /theaters/9141/
Though I myself am not a lawyer — obviously! — one of my best friends is, and I discussed with him the Mayfair Theatre’s potential to be brought hack as a classy community neighborhood when he was home from Italy last February (2006) to renew his bar license, or whatever you guys call it. He has both a brother and sister who live in Mayfair now, plus he himself grew up there, so he knows Mayfair very well. For he also was a committeeman there back when he was in college. And here’s exactly what he said: “There’s no reason why it couldn’t be brought back as a movie theater again except for the fact that there’s not enough good people living in Mayfair now to make it possible. And people get what they deserve.”
See, one real advantage you had with the Boyd, Howard, was that when its future became uncertain, a lot of good people stepped forward in defense of it, yourself included. But there was nothing like that with the Mayfair Theatre, other than me — my one lone voice — ranting and raving. And so given that, had I tried to force through what I would’ve liked to have seen happen there, then it would’ve been me in the Mussolini role. That is, I probably could’ve used the same sleazy tactics the bank did to get its way with that building. But for who? But for what? Just as it now is with that bank. In other words, I didn’t have that angle with the Mayfair Theatre that you had with the Boyd — a sizeable number of good people turning out to say they wanted to see it reopen as a theater once more. Of course, there wasn’t a sizeable turn out of people demanding it be made into a bank either. But that bank and me are two totally different creatures. That bank doesn’t care what people want. I do. That’s the fundamental difference.
As for the Liddenfield Housing Projects, which I assume is what your referring to up here in Holmesburg, this is not something that Holmesburg can be blamed for. Rather, it’s a leftover from past misinterpretations of what Holmesburg’s best potential is. People who had absolutely no regard for Holmesburg’s beauty and history pushed to have that thing built there. And it’s the same exact type of people keeping it afloat there now. And there’s absolutely no love or ideals that motivated the creation and the perpetuation of that housing project. This in no way is “noblesse oblige.” Rather, it’s a little concentration camp of sorts, to keep a certain group of people — namely those that are uneducated, unconnected and African American — in an ever ongoing cycle of always being down on their luck so that welfare bureaucrats can exploit them for selfish gain generation after generation after generation, squandering our taxdollars, of course, to do so.
But Howard, let me just ask you, if somebody takes a handful of mud and throws it at the Mona Lisa, are you in the habit of saying in response to such acts, “It’s not the Mona Lisa now, it’s just a lot of mud”? For as a Holmesburger I’m telling you what Holmesburg is, but to you the reality seems only to be that of the outsider mud-slingers, that is, those who don’t know squat about it. Obviously, and with Liddenfield being good proof of that.
Ah, you caught that, ay? It’s just I wasn’t too sure you knew that or not, Howard, because on several occasions now you’ve said “Holmes” with regard to the Holme Theatre rather than “Holme,” Thomas Holme being William Penn’s top surveyor when Philadelphia was planned out. And needless to say, Holmesburg, which is to the north east of Mayfair, and where the Holme Theatre building is located, was named after him, this being the land that William Penn granted him in exchange for his services. Mayfair, meantime, wasn’t named after anything. Back when my father was growing up here it had all been open farmland. Must’ve been really beautiful, as it had all been part of the sizeable estate of 19th century world acclaimed stage actor Edwin Forrest — who the Forrest Theatre down in Center City Philadelphia was named after.
Back in the early 1980s when it ran a series of rock concert films I saw Neil Young’s “Journey to the Past” there plus a Jimi Hendrix concert movie and I thought it all was pretty great!
Yes, the Mayfair Theatre building is a bank now, yet another in an area where there’s already too many, yet too few things to uplift and inspire people to let them know that they’re still human beings. All told, it’s all very surreal to those of us who vividly Mayfair back when it was great, and I myself won’t go anywhere near there now if I can help it, not even to pass through. Too depressing. Maybe at some future date, if Mayfair’s current direction fails, it will get another golden opportunity like it had last January (2006) to make the Mayfair Theatre come back to life as what it’s meant to be — a classy neighborhood movie theater. But that theater building has been so mutilized now that it would have to be restored almost completely from scratch. Which wouldn’t be completely out of the question. For I don’t know if you’ve ever been up to Pennsbury Manor in Bucks County, Howard, this being the historic estate of William Penn (who Pennsylvania was named after), but that was completely restored from scratch (the original having completely burned to the ground) and they did a beautiful job of it, just to show what can be done if intelligent thinking is brought into play and applied. Mayfair’s biggest movers and shakers right now, though, are all bent on proving that stupidity is king, and right now they have all factors working in their favor in that regard. It’s a real, “Mayfair today, tomorrow the world” kind of thing. It has a lot of Mussolini-like overtones to it. But while that’s taking shape I’m wondering what the potential is for building a very nice movie palace in Havana…
To Howard and all others in charge of various operations in Center City Philadelphia, the fact that several sizeable slots parlor complexes are going to be coming to Center City shortly absolutely cannot be overlooked in however you plan things out. For you’re right that things go slow in Center City ordinarily, but I assure you that’s not the case with new casinos. Not only do they rise up very very quickly, but the impact they have on everything around them is every bit as sudden.
And in Atlantic City’s case what I just described above was nothing short of a total disaster, except for the casinos themselves. On the other hand, the Crown Casino Entertainment Complex in Melbourne, Australia does not appear to have hurt other businesses in Melbourne that also offer food and entertainment the way Atlantic City’s casinos did. According to this Cinema Treasures website Melbourne has some really great movie palaces to speak of. And the huge Crown complex does not seem to be having any dent on them watsoever. But whether that success can be repeated in Philadelphia’s case is hard to say. But all you down there better be planning for it is all I can say, and don’t let yourselves get sucker punched the way Atlantic City’s non-casino business owners did.