The Forgotten Cinema

Sandwiched between a fifties style café and gourmet bistro, stood the mighty cinema. Its tower had distinct turquoise bay windows. Its façade was pinker than a flamingo.

In fact, the whole shopping center was pink. It represented the highest in late 80’s architectural sophistication. Inside the Canyon Springs Cinema, great films of 1989 and early 90’s played.

Moviegoers stood in line for such classics as Wayne’s World, Addams Family Values, My Girl, Clueless, Too Wong Foo, The Lion King and (dare I say) Titanic. It was a gathering place for the community, which included many workers from the nearby, March Air Force Base, and students from UCR.

In the late 90’s, Riverside had a movie theatre boom. Theatres were easily found in two-mile radius. The Canyon Springs Cinema stood strong. Then pinker than a flamingo shopping center began it’s gradual decay.

Soon competition from nearby theatres finally hit Canyon Springs, like an incurable virus. The cinema and its mighty tower eventually faded away.

Once a beacon to mainstream cinema, where tears and laughter filled tacky red seats, neither emotion was ever felt again. Rather than being torn for a more modern structure, the cinema has remained abandoned. It’s interior, emptier than the Great Plains.

The shopping center did have a beacon of hope, curry. The neighborhood’s most delicious Indian restaurant livened up the bland scape. At least one can still have a spicy and delicious Chicken Tikka Masala, in the shadow of an abandoned shrine to film.

The Road Trippin Beatnik

Driving in through the Arizona desert in a 50’s Chevrolet while Buddy Holly’s voice echoing through the rugged terrain. Dressed in all black with cigarette smoke drifting into the bright blue skies. Destination: New York City. The penance for taking such a trip is driving through endless scenery of great boredom. Pressing on, means I’ll soon be trading in the desert, cornfields & waffle houses for Greenwich Village.

This is how a road trip fantasy plays out in my head. It’s a bohemian expedition, which exposes one to fly over state America also known as those on the fringe of New York & San Francisco culture. Sure, it’s a fantasy of mine to see those unexpectedly on the fringe places. Jack Kerouac’s ” On the Road” & Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” are two of my favorite books. Though some language is outdated, the stories haven’t lost what makes them interesting.

I love the beat movement in literature. Sure, it could be translated as the hipsters of the late 50’s/early 60’s. Unlike hipsters, the movement gave way to boat loads of wonderful modern literature.

I’m no beatnik. However, the idea of driving across country has always tickled my fancy. Honestly, driving is not one of my favorite forms of transportation. That’s why I loved living in New York. I could take the subway, read my paper & listen to the iPOD sans the stress of looking for a parking spot or sitting in gridlock.

In California, I’m no stranger to the car culture. As a youngster, my family & I took magnificent trips up the Central coast. We visited such charming places as Solvang, a Danish inspired town close to Santa Barbara. Cambria is the most memorable destination for our family. I haven’t been in seventeen years, but remember it well.

The pebbles on the beach, chicken fried steak with mash potatoes for lunch & the struggle to find cassette tapes that weren’t Country music still make me smile. After Cambria, we didn’t road trip much. I learned to drive, but hated it even feared it for a while.

When I moved back from New York, the moment of truth presented itself. I had to drive a car again. At first it was quite terrifying after being a subway & bus kind of guy. Back on the East Coast, my road trips revolved around the Chinatown bus, which took me from Manhattan to D.C., which were fun, but long.

To my surprise, I picked up driving again rather quickly. I drove my car from home to office without an issue. My various trips to such exotic destinations as Riverside & Palm Springs felt bohemian thanks to my very coffee house friendly iPod playlists. My favorite for road trips to Palm Springs include music by Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, Simon & Garfunkel, Rufus Wainwright, just to name a few.

If it’s an early morning trip back to the city, I love new wave 80’s music, which wakes me up like black coffee. I like to make my driving experience euphoric. Finding street parking, getting tail gated & sitting in gridlock are pitfalls of living in car centric California.

I wouldn’t call myself a beatnik, although being around the East Village during that time seems fascinating. I do love wearing black & especially interested in our country’s collage of different cultures. Driving is a fear, I’ve overcome thanks to making it a creative experience. Listening to cool tunes, reading the funny billboards & admiring architecture + nature along the way make it a Polaroid photo for my eyes.

Wallflower On The Dance Floor

As a young lad nothing gave me the freights more than a conga line. My eyes grew wide at the flowery dresses and men in suits who were shaking their conga to Gloria Estefan. Literally, as the procession grew, more unsuspecting victims were picked up along the way. I looked like Edvard Munch’s “Scream” painting as I pulled a Californian, ducking under the table at whatever event I was at.

The thumping of feet had passed me. I peeked my head to survey the damage & smiled, no conga line for me. However, I did feel a certain amount of sympathy for the conga line victims. I blossomed into the most highly regarded of flowers, the wallflower.

Us, wallflowers decorate nightclubs, bridal parties & family reunions from New York to Timbuktu. I have danced a couple times in my lifetime. I shook two hips in Sydney with the Aussie boys. At various graduation, office & birthday parties, I’ve bopped my head back n’ forth. However, the ultimate in cool was line dancing at the Catholic Church’s old people’s party. I must’ve been a cowboy in another life, since I had a swell two step.

These days, I’d rather just hang out with a glass of wine/my signature Jameson on the rocks and watch people. I don’t wanna go on the dance floor. A few weeks ago, something earth shattering came over me.

I love music, and have it blasting while I write & walk. It’s always a must. Walking & listening to groovy tunes always clears up my head & makes me walk faster. However, when I came home from one of my many walks, it happened. This really fun Squeeze song came on “another nail in my heart.” It has this fun uber 80’s beat to it, which makes it quite danceable.

Surprise, I came out of the wallflower closet. Soon, my arms were in full swing and hips were moving. Oh no, I am dancing. There goes my wallflower card, oh well.

Certainly, I won’t be mastering the art of flamenco or the tango. I do allow myself a good dance. Dancing is about letting loose. Even if one is not Fred Astaire of Ginger Rogers, it’s still an art form. The conga line, that’s not an art form. However, to someone out there, the conga line is what tickles the fancy & that’s okay.

A Quirky Brain & The Archaelogical Expedition

Digging, digging, digging for a special archaelogical expedition. Unlike most archaeologists, I am not out in the desert of Egypt trying to uncover King Tut’s hidden family. Rather, I am digging deep for the treasures that lay beneath my brain cells.

When writer’s block hits the terrain, it’s as dry as the Eastern desert. When an idea strikes & I find my treasure from days of digging. The terrain evolves from the Eastern desert to Downtown Manhattan. Lively, bustling & bursting with stimulation is what my imagination becomes.

My most amazing ideas usually arrive in life’s my offbeat moments. Laying in bed listening to 80’s music, suddenly this amazing idea arrives. So, I quickly turn on the lights or even type it on my iPHONE, assuring it will not be forgotten tomorrow. Looking for an idea is the equivalent of looking for love. When you don’t seek love , it will find you.

However, I  do keep a list of things & experiences which inspire me. Most prominently, I’m heavily influenced by my life in both California & New York, being gay, my strict Catholic school upbringing, the many adventures I’ve had abroad (spent time in Tokyo, London, Paris, Madrid, Sydney, Buenos Aires, etc), quirky life experiences, music ( love 80’s stuff i.e. 80’s new wave & 90’s alternative rock) & my curiosity about the world.

So far, I’m well lived for a twenty-something. The yearning for more life experiences fuels my imagination. I’m still very curious to see more of the United States, since I’ve spent my life in Blue state America.

I’d also love to visit Brazil & see it’s oddly shaped mountain majesties. My primary goal is to eliminate monotony & open myself to new experiences. The more new places I experience & people met, the more I can write about later.

Currently, I’m listening to R.E.M. while driving through the next archaelogical expedition of my head. As I arrive at my site of discovery, I dig up.

What will I find in my head? Will it be a story about a most scenic road trip to Cambria, CA back in 95? a tale of boy who spent too much time in East Village coffee houses? or a simple tale of the joy of watching Charlie Chaplin films at grandma’s house? Time will only tell what will be dug out from the depth of my brain cells.

Prim & Proper: Catholic School Boy Memoirs (Abridged)

I love nothing more than wearing a proper tie with a cardigan. Where did I develop this style? Subconsciously it came from my Catholic school years. Every liturgy mass, we were required to get dolled up.  I don’t consider myself a religious guy. There was a lack of stimulation growing up. I spent my teen years in a jungle of track homes, attending Catholic school & daydreaming of a more interesting life.

As a teenager, I listened to too much Madonna, watched French films (behind my parents’ back), daydreamed of traveling the world & was very very very gay (still am). Of course, nothing makes better satire than a gay lad attending Catholic school. Laugh all you want, but it’s completely legit. Black gates surrounded our school. It didn’t feel like prison at all.

I went through all the cliches one would go through being queer at school. A defaced locker, the word fag constantly being uttered (they seriously weren’t savvy enough to come up with something more cleaver) & the marvelous you’re going to hell speech (also, can they come up with something more cleaver? such as congrats you’re going to Wyoming).

Coming out at 15 was daring for the time. Ellen DeGeneres had come out of the closet years prior paving the way for gay acceptance in society. The effect did not trickle down to California’s more right winged suburbs at the time. So, I was the lone gay. Yeah, the teasing sucked & the constant religious damnation equally stunk. Fuck it, I did not want to conform. Instead, I floated away into imagination land.

I loved 80s music, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Missing Persons & the list goes on. Everything from new wave to punk became the soundtrack of my youth. I mapped out my life during this time. Lack of dating & no driver’s license meant I had plenty of time to do this. My very exciting bucket list included traveling the world, living in New York City, going to film school & becoming a professional writer.

Graduating from Catholic school marked an end to teenage angst. My modest boat made it through the most treacherous currents. The experience did allow me to develop myself as a goal oriented guy. Did I accomplish my goals? Here is the run down.

graduate from film school-check

live in New York City-check

travel the world-check

become professional writer-going to advertising school now for that one.

Please excuse me as I tie my tie & learn how not to give a damn about what society thinks.