Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh, how the great have fallen

I really wish I could find someone to explain to me why it is that San Francisco feels this ever growing need to destroy and forget its past.

One of the most disturbing trends that has swept San Francisco in recent years is the snowballing closure of local single screen and small scale theaters. The Coronet, The Alexandria, The Metro, The Royal, The Alhambra...the list goes on and on.

These are the places we visited as children and again as young adults; it was where we got a glimpse at diversity and culture, while already growing up in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. These landmarks were historic treasures built with craftsmanship and beauty. How and why did this happen?

Overdevelopment happened. People decided they needed BIGGER and BETTER...LOUDER and FLASHIER. In gaining these things we have lost pieces of our past, replaced by mega-gyms and parking lots. They really DID pave paradise....

Luckily, there are organizations that work to fight such abominations, such as the Friends of 1800.

But look on the bright side!!! Many of our classic theaters remain. At last glance, the list included the Presidio, the Marina a.k.a. Cinema 21, the Clay on Fillmore,the 4 Star on Clement (running Asian films now), the Red Vic on Haight, the Roxie on 16th, the Lumiere on Polk, the Empire on West Portal and a handful more. Get out and about in your neighborhood to see which ones are near you!

As far as historic movie houses go, only one true "palace" remains, and that is the one and only Castro Theater. This theater has been completely restored and kept so beautiful...the orchestra pit even still has a Wurlitzer organ which still plays pre-show (as far as I know)! I was lucky enough to see a few great films here such as Casablanca, Yellow Submarine, and one of the infamous midnight showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Please do your part to keep these important pieces of San Francisco history alive and thriving! Instead of heading to the Metreon this weekend with the masses, how about a cozy independent/foreign film at your local neighborhood movie house? Isn't that what being a San Franciscan is all about?

Here's to the ghosts of yesteryear. Cheers.

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