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Monday, June 30, 2008

General Cinemas Eastgate

Shot some pictures at what is left of Eastgate Consumer Mall today. The six screen GC still stands in the out lot and one of the emergency exits was open so I managed to get a couple of shots in one of the auditoriums. However, not feeling like stumbling around in a pitch black abandoned movie theater with air so dusty it set off my allergies almost instantly, there's just a couple of quick shots. Maybe some other day I'll brave the elements and go back with a flashlight (and risk getting pinched for trespassing, I guess.)

Anyway, the shots are here. They're not fantastic and they're all pretty self explanatory. You can see all the dust that got on my lens just from opening the door. For the good of the order, here's shots around Eastgate itself. There's some demo work going on and sadly everything is boarded up. I wish I could have gotten up the main stairs, but I was too late for that.

A little more on the Esquire Theater

I was doing a little research in to the theaters of my youth and found out a little info about the Esquire. It was part of the Jerry Lewis (yes, that Jerry Lewis) chain, which was designed as a family friendly franchise. From what I've read, the idea was to create a turnkey chain showing G rated movies that all someone had to do was pony up the money and open the doors.

Well, it didn't quite work like that. The chain started in the early 70s, which wasn't exactly a good time for G rated pictures. Additionally, the idea that you didn't need to know anything about running a movie theater to get in this turned out to be fatally incorrect. A lot of people lost their investments as they had no idea how to run a movie theater and set up shop in poor locations.

Rumor has it, many of the theaters tuned into adult houses as a reaction against the strict rules on what type of movies could be shown. I don't think the Esquire ever showed porn, but I think it became a second run house as I'm pretty sure the last thing I saw there was Return of the Jedi in the mid80s, after it had it's first run.

The Esquire was at the end of the Esquire Plaza strip mall on Pendelton Pike. As such, it was sandwiched between two other theaters, the Eastwood, which was a really nice place, and the Pendelton Pike Drive-In. I don't know for sure when it stopped showing movies. My guess is it didn't make it to the 90s as neither of the other theaters on Pendelton Pike did. The building still stands and today houses a Pip Printing.

(Sidenote, the anchor store for the strip was a Zaires, another long gone relic. I'm pretty sure it became an Ames, like most of the Zaires in the area, and then closed up for good. Currently it houses a cut rate furniture store.)

The reason I mention all this is I found a pretty interesting YouTube video of a Jerry Lewis in Frankfort prior to being demolished. This one was a standalone, so the building itself isn't much like the Eastwood, but the inside and auditorium are a lot like what I remember.

I know of at least two other Jerry Lewis Cinemas in and around Indianapolis. Both of them still show movies, which seems to be kind of a rarity for this former chain. One is the Greenbriar Cinema Grill on 86th st. The other is now Key Cinemas on west Keystone.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Addendum to my Theaters post.

First off, I got so swept up in my General Cinemas love, that I totally forgot the last theater I was going to talk about. That would be the Loews Cherry Tree Plaza theater. Here's a picture of what it looked like before it got flattened:

Not my pic, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I really can't remember how many screens this had, I'm pretty sure it was six just like the General Cinemas Eastgate theater that opened a little later, if I'm remembering correctly. There wasn't a whole lot special about this one. It looked pretty much like every other Loews in the area, with the kind of olde timey paintings of famous movie people at the top of the entrance. To me, this had less character than the mall General Cinemas I remember so vividly.

Anyway, I think it closed for a while, reopened as a Sony theater then went back to being Loews. Now it's just a lot next to a strip mall that itself is decaying on a side of town that has some pretty bad rot itself. There's a nearly identical theater to this one on the northwest side that is still operating, I think. I used to work up there, but I only paid passing attention.

I only mention the Loews as I saw a ton of films there as a youth, though I don't have the affection for it that I do for the ones I mentioned in my last post.

I snagged the picture from a site called Cinema Tour. Another one I've used for some nostalgia tripping is Cinema Treasures. Both of the sites are kind of light on the information about theaters I was looking for. Treasures had more than Tours, but Treasures doesn't even list the Washington Square GC or the Cherry Tree Loews. Still, I'm throwing these out there as I know Koven mentioned in the comments a place he used to see some movies and maybe it's listed at one of those sites.

And, in case anyone was wondering if I was going to do a follow up post on the theaters of my driving years, the answer is no. Really, there's the Cinemark Movies 8, which was manna for a poor high school student, the Loews and the Eastgate GC, which I may touch on if I do another GC post, and the random mall GCs that were left. That's about it. Movies 8 isn't quite interesting to devote a post to, but I will leave you with this, which if you were there will bring back some memories:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MST3K does General Cinemas

One of my favorite MST3K host skits, for obvious reasons.

(PS- I'm using this clip for non-commercial purposes under what I believe to be Fair Use. Thanks.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Theaters I have known and loved

I haven't done a DVD review in forever, and I'm not quite ready to kick one out there, but I wanted to write about a bit of a nostalgia trip I've been on as of late. For some reason, I've really been interested in the places I used to see movies, especially in my pre-driving days. The kicker of it is, I just realized that none of them show movies anymore. Most don't even exist today.

Let's take the Pendelton Pike Drive-In. This was the first place I ever remember seeing a movie. For my folks, this must have been a godsend as it was five minutes from where we lived and, being as it was a drive-in, they could bring me along with no problems. I remember laying in the back of their Monza station wagon with my sleeping bag usually watching a bit of the movie but falling asleep before the second feature. (Though I distinctly remember seeing Stripes there. And I'm pretty sure I saw Star Wars there, not on the first run, more on that in a moment.)

As I recall, the Pendelton Pike was a very old school drive-in. One screen, speaker boxes, rusty playground, kind of scary concession stand. I can't remember if they had double or triple bills. I suppose it may have varied. Strangely enough, I seem to remember the intermission clocks more than anything else.

We still went there occasional after we moved from that side of town. I don't remember how often though. I'm sure we went to some of the other drive-ins around town, none of which, except for the Tibbs are still running. The Pendelton Pike shut down in 1993 and all that stands is the screen.

There are two other places on Pendelton Pike I remember seeing movies. One was the Esquire Cinema in Esquire Plaza. Another single screen relic, the building still stands, but I don't know what is in there these days. I really don't remember too much about this place except going there once for someone's birthday to see Return of the Jedi and we all were kind of nonplussed as we'd each seen it about a dozen times by then.

The other is the mighty Eastwood Theater and this place I have vivid memories of. I mentioned Stars Wars earlier and there's a good chance I may have seen Star Wars there as it had the exclusive on the first run. In fact, Star Wars seems to be one of the only reasons anyone mentions the Eastwood on-line.

OK, let me tell you what I remember of this place. It was located in kind of a sketchy part of Pendelton Pike, adult bookstores and whatnot. It looked like a barn on the outside, but inside it was totally cool. Again, this was a single screen, but it was a huge curved Cinerama screen! There were mechanized curtains that opened up and the whole nine yards. In fact, the place reminded me a little of the Seattle Cinerama, though I may be imagining things.

Mostly what I remember seeing at the Eastwood were Disney flicks. Pretty much all of them came around in the early 80s and we went to them. Specifically, I remember Fantasia making a huge impact in that theater with the surrounds (back when not all theaters were even stereo, let alone Dolby,) and that massive curved screen. I might have seen Star Wars there, but I'm not going to lie and say I remember it. (I'm still convinced I saw it at the drive-in, somewhere.)

The Eastwood went downhill in the late 80s. If I recall correctly, it may have been showing porn for a while before converting to a music venue and then folding entirely. Now there's a Menards where it used to be. Shame, as that was a movie theater with soul.

So, to the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a huge amount of nostalgia for the old General Cinemas. Specifically, the twin at Washington Square, though I know I saw stuff at Glendale, Eastgate and Castleton Square. Those old GC theaters in the mall were pretty funky and soulless, but I still have some nostalgia for them. I remember them being kind of squatty and ugly. In fact, I know one of them had a screen split into two very long and narrow rooms, which always kind of freaked me out when we saw a movie in one of those.

Still, I have a lot of stupid good feelings for those ugly things. And aside from a lot of red and orange carpet, what do I remember most about General Cinema? The intro bumpers!!! w00T!

I know I've had that one on the blog before, but you know, for years that thing was impossible to see and it was driving me crazy. Then there was this later one which, for some reason, I don't remember liking as well:

Then there's this one, which I remember very fondly:

And then there's this popular one, though now we're well into the multiplex era:

I still dig the psychedelic projector one the best. The fact that the music (which I believe is from an Optigan) is all jacked and out of time just adds to the charm and funky feel I remember those little shopping mall theaters had.

So that's what I've been thinking about as we prepare ourselves for drive-in season (though daylight savings time plays hell with that.) Even though I don't get out to see movies as much these days, I still miss the old theaters I used to visit, back when there weren't a dozen screens and the sound systems didn't move your bowels. I wish I had more pictures to go with this, but there just isn't a lot out there. If anyone know of anything, or wants to share some memories of these theaters, leave a comment.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Score, So Far.

Well, the Man Moat is not a moat any longer, but it sure feels naked without anything in it. We decided to toss all the carpet in there and the fancy title stuff didn't seem worth putting back down as it would need to get pulled again if we had another flood.

I have about 80 some odd records with covers that are in various states of disarray. I think the actual records are going to be ok, but the covers are pretty trashed. Among the losses were titles by James Brown, John Coltrane, Sunn0))), Jesu, Albert Alyer and Ornette Coleman.

Because I needed to pull some files off my laptop and decided I had nothing to lose, I just checked out one of my drives. This one was a little USB drive that was completely submerged and discovered on the other side of the room from where I left it. It worked fine. This gives me hope for the other drives, though my backup drive that didn't get flooded decided to work finally and I have early April images if need be.

The computers themselves are still untested. I'm not feeling that brave yet. I'm also unsure about a handful of power supplies and a fancy schmancy Monster power strip which were completely submerged.

My Grestch bass drum seems to have dried out fine and obviously the Vistalites are ok.

That's pretty much it right now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Man Lair, Flooded.

I am a very sad panda this morning. After valiantly fighting torrents of rain on several occasions, the elements finally caught up with us last night while we were sleeping. Ironically, I'd been checking the flood situation all through the day and was lulled into thinking everything was ok.

When I went into the basement this morning (ironically to try and coax a backup image out of my submerged Windows XP machine that was giving me headaches yesterday,) the carpet squished. I looked over at a copy of Gato Barberi's Chapeter One I'd just bought two days prior and noticed the bottom corner of the gatefold was sticking out at a 90 degree angle, throughly saturated. The entire basement had flooded.

Before when we'd had problems, it was just isolated to a small area. Judging by the waterline on my PC, we got about three inches all the way to the back wall last night. Several things floated away from where they were, waiting to be found in corners were I hadn't put them.

The good news/bad news is that most of what I had was off the floor. The bad news is that I now have a crate of records throughly waterlogged.

So far, that seems to be the biggest loss, though I have two computers whose conditions are as yet unknown. The bass drum from my vintage Grestch kit got a bit damp as did the amber Vistalite bass drum, which is at least the second time that poor drum went in the drink.

Anyway, I'm a bit numb at the moment. It could have been much worse, and it still might be. I guess I'm hoping at least I can salvage the drives from the computer and maybe insurance will cover some of the records. I hope.

Monday, June 02, 2008

UPDATED: Fire at Universal Studios

UPDATE: False alarm. Nevermind. Thanks to Idolator for the tip.

However, reports of Bo Diddly's death are sadly accurate.

It's kind of old news now, but in case you didn't hear, there was a fire at Universal Studios over the weekend. This wouldn't be news except this wasn't just a small fire somewhere on the property, this was a big one which, apparently, started on the back lot and ended up in the vault.

What got damaged? Well, they aren't exactly saying yet, but the reports I'm seeing look as is music masters stored in rented space in the video vault. (Uni Records is a separate organization from the film and TV Universal but were renting vault space from them. Confused yet?) According to this report, they managed to save the video backups but lost the music masters, which, apparently hadn't been backed up.

I know it's popular to pile on Uni and Doug Morris, I've done it here, and they usually deserve it. But, depending on how forward thinking they were about making safety copies, this could be a devastating loss for music lovers.

Anyway, I'll be curious to hear what the official statement is on this and what was lost.