Over the course of my life, I’ve wanted to do a lot of things. In preschool, I recall an interest in becoming a dinosaur scientist, but wearied of that long before I learned they were called paleontologists. Other prospective career paths included filmmaker, rock star and probably cowboy and fireman.
In the end, of course, I became a writer, a job I’ve held, in one form or another, for nearly 20 years. I have no plans of quitting. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have yet another when-I-grow-up dream job.
I’d love to run a movie theater.
Now I’m not talking about any mall multiplex, selling popcorn to masses and screening whatever Hollywood’s rom-com of the week might be. I want to be a curator, showing those films that I feel have something to say. Hollywood classics and current arthouse fare. Cult movies and independents. I want to be in a position to champion significant cinema and, more importantly, a position to champion the experience of going to the movies.
For me, sitting in the theater is almost as important as the movie I see. I love the communal nature of it and the permission it gives an audience to engage in cinematic storytelling for an hour or three. I also love how different theaters offer different experiences. How a small room can feel intimate and a grand old palace can make a movie feel more significant.
But there’s no movie experience quite as affecting as a drive-in theater.
According to family legend, my first movie experience was Planet of the Apes at a drive-in near Los Angeles. I like to believe that’s true because there’s no movie-going experience as singular, and singularly American, as the drive-in theater. Now, when I had my date with Charlton Heston and his simian friends, drive-ins were still pretty ubiquitous. Every town had at least one and Augusta had several.
But today, they are an endangered species – and becoming more endangered by the day. By this time next year, every drive-in interested in screening current releases will need to have converted to a digital projection system. And because drive-ins require very bright lamps and the ability to project on a very large screen, that can be an expensive proposition, with prices starting at about $65,000 and escalating quickly.
Currently, the closest drive-in to Augusta is The Big Mo in Monetta, S.C. For those who haven’t experienced its simple pleasures, I highly recommend it. I also recommend taking some time to help ensure this unique cultural institution continues in it’s seasonal movie mission.
The Big Mo is one of the drive-ins participating in Honda’s Project Drive-In. Online voting will ensure five drive-ins receive the equipment needed – all on Honda’s dime. It’s a worthy cause and an outstanding example of a large corporation using its bully pulpit for all the right reasons. Vote for the Mo at projectdrivein.com. And take a look at thebigmo.com to see what’s playing this weekend.
PEOPLE WHO (STILL) MUST. It’s been an awfully long time since we heard from People Who Must. The Augusta band, which recorded and toured extensively throughout the 1990s, has remained relatively inactive since playing in the New Year in 2000. There have, of course, been occasional sightings, including high-profile gigs at Arts In the Heart of Augusta and 12 Bands of Christmas, but People were still referred to mostly in the past tense.
That seems to be changing.
Not only will the band be performing a set of Bruce Springsteen hits with a selection of guest artists, including Tim Brantley and Roger Davis, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Imperial Theatre, but the band is using the show as a springboard for its first recorded output since the Clinton administration.
Titled The Silver Screen EP, it’s a collection of new songs and songs the band never quite got around to recording in its heyday. It’s an interesting collection, as it both recalls the music produced by a much younger act while displaying a certain maturity, both in terms of songwriting and performance. It’s an interesting contrast made more meaningful by the artistry on display.
It’s no secret that there was, and is, a certain formula followed on most People Who Must tracks. It involves developing an emotionally engaging verse that segues into a beautifully extended bridge and a wide-open chorus held in place by hard hooks. It’s a formula – a really effective and successful formula. I hope People adhere to it some more.
Check out People Who Must’s Born to Run in the USA show, featuring both a People set and the tribute to the Boss. Tickets are $15-$35 from imperialtheatre.com. Proceeds benefit Golden Harvest Food Bank, The 12 Bands of Christmas, Child Enrichment and Fisher House, and each ticket purchased will include a download code for The Silver Screen EP.