Out of the Closet: My Mr. Jack in the Box (Jack Box) Fetish

Since my life is not all about aerospace…

Vitruvian Mr. Box

Vitruvian Jack

I have never in my life looked at a man and thought, “I want a piece of that.” Until this past year. Not that I want a piece of that exactly. I just want to follow Manu Chao and the Michael character from Burn Notice around (not the actor, the character) and lick their bare chests. Or something like that. It’s still a bit unclear since they’re not my type.

This all began with the Jack In The Box™ commercials man… aka Jack Box®. About a year ago I suddenly had a yen to see him wearing only his Mr. Box head. I wanted to see naked Jack on my TV.

After spending two years on IRC back in the early-mid ’90s I was sure there was no fetish I’d not heard about. In great detail. So I went searching for like-minded Mr. Box pervs. None to be found! Surely I wasn’t the only one! Or was I?

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Easy Activism: Lousy Products, Lousier Customer Service?

Savage Chickens Cartoon

A few years ago I had to call ACME Widgets n’ More Customer Service for something. I was surprised that it was actually “good” Customer Service. Hours later I was still thinking about it. Why was I so surprised? I was never surprised by lousy Customer Service.

And that was the problem. For years I’d allowed businesses to treat me poorly. I never did anything about it. Apparently many other people were not doing anything about it either. My expectations had been systematically lowered over the years without my noticing.

I decided that day to change how I do business with businesses. Perhaps this will inspire or help someone else. I use the age old system of…

 

 

 

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Fear of Flying: My Adventures as an Aerospace Tech Writer (Intro)

I preface this history of my *cough* “Aerospace Career” with Ripley’s old adage: “Believe It or Not!

fly meSince the past tends to repeat itself I expect to be ignored or ridiculed and written off as a crackpot with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and a present of manic-depression. Having been dragged through all that while I was working at trying to save taxpayers a few billion dollars, I have no qualms about being dragged through all that again.

Bring it on! I can always use a good laugh!

A few years back Frontline did two shows: “Flying Cheap” followed by “Flying Cheaper.” I’d been out of Aero for about 15+ years when the first show aired. I was not surprised at anything that had been “investigated” and found lacking. What did surprise me was that the documentaries were precariously balanced on a false assumption.

Though “Flying Cheaper” showed that outsourced aircraft maintenance meant that many mechanics using the Maintenance and Repair Manuals were incapable of reading English – or of reading much of anything at all…

Frontline assumed the people who had written the Manuals could read and write and that the Repair and Maintenance Manuals were correct and useful.

I dropped them a line and said I had nothing to lose anymore and would gladly tell them about my years working as a tech writer for commercial aerospace. Never heard back. So I tell this story here, for my benefit and because it will make my daughter happy.

If you find something to wonder about and worry about, good. If you find something to laugh about, even better.

Forwarned is forwarned: This long tale involves sex and drugs and alcohol, lies, greed, fraud, laughs, drama, insanity and plenty of whistleblowing. A sense of humor required!

My Manic-Depressive Down Slide: Hoarders, Phil Ochs, and Woody Allen

Caution: While I feel compelled to entertain everyone in my other life, I don’t feel that same compulsion online. You might want to stop here.

I’ve been curled up in a ball for at least a week now. I haven’t been this depressed in at least 20 years. Suicidally depressed. And for no reason. It’s just the way things go. Nothing major has happened. I’m not sad. I’m just super humongously depressed. There is a difference.

But try explaining that to people who don’t go through such things. A friend called and asked if I was OK since I hadn’t been calling her daily. I have no idea how that became a requirement of our acquaintanceship. I told her I was depressed. She went into a screeching flurry of “Why would you be depressed? I’m the one who should be depressed. I’ve got [… her usual litany of every single medical thing that’s wrong with her and that she imagines is wrong with her].” I put the phone on the desk and gave her the “Look of Death” from the privacy of my bedroom. I said “I am manic-depressive, remember? This is part of it. I don’t need anything to happen to make me depressed. Why don’t you ever understand this?”

When I don’t feel well I usually act like a sick cat. I go into hiding until I’m feeling better. But last night was so awful I thought I’d try something different. I called a friend. There was laughter and commotion in the background. He said “Hey, what’s up?” and I said “I’m suicidal. I know. Some way to start a conversation.” And I laughed a bit. He said “Oh don’t do anything like that. The world would be less without you.” And then he went on to talk about hard drives and what to do about some computer thing and such. Which I’m usually up for… but wasn’t exactly in the mood for last night. So I said “OK, see you.” and hung up. I understand. He didn’t know what to say. He was trying to get my mind off of whatever might be depressing me. What exactly does one say to a person who says they’re so depressed that they’re feeling suicidal? I guess something about hard drives is as good as anything.

Today I did something I haven’t done in over 20 years. I called the doctor at the “mental health” clinic. His assistant answered and after I explained (in 30 seconds or less) why I was calling she said, “Well then, I’ll connect you to a nurse.” The nurse turned out to be an answering machine: “Thank you for calling. Please leave your name and phone number. Be sure to spell your last name. I’ll return your call within 48 hours. If you feel you need help sooner, please call the Safety Zone. Have a great day!” I might have called the “Safety Zone” but when I called them soon after I arrived in Arizona in the ’90s, the person on call said, “Just go to sleep.” and hung up.

And they wonder why people shoot people in the head here in Arizona. I used to have a case manager. I used to have access to a therapist. I used to have access to groups. But now I have 5 minutes or less with a very nice doctor with a good sense of humor who says “What’s up? Need refills fax’d in for your prescriptions? OK, see you next month.”

The reason I don’t have access to anything else is because in June, 2010, while everyone was going nuts over SB 1070, Jan Brewer cut mental health care drastically. Everyone was divided up. Clients, including those classified as SMI (Severely Mentally Ill), were either “Title XIX (19)” or “Not Title XIX (19).” I was one of the latter. Believe me, there are so many former clients who have no idea what happened to them. All they know is that now they’re out on the street, have no meds or meds that don’t work, and no one to talk with anymore. Ah screw it. I’m not in the mood to explain it all right now. All everyone needs to know is that half the people formerly getting help are not getting help anymore.

[Someone just knocked on my door. They wanted me to do something for them on the computer. I said “I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well. Some other time. I really feel rotten.” And they just kept on going about what they needed done! What the fuck is it with people???]

I told my friend on the phone last night that maybe I hadn’t picked the best things to watch considering my mood. He asked what and I told him “the last episode of Hoarders and the American Masters documentary on Phil Ochs.” He said “Who’s that?” *sigh*

If I could think clearly (thanks for the irreparable brain-fuck, Clonazepam) I might be able to figure out the correlation between the two shows. How hoarding has become a cultural problem. Not particularly in the sense of material things but in a broader sense… America for Americans! Kill the poor! No Tax Hikes for the Rich! Cut Medicare and Social Security!

And so on… hoarding what we perceive as our gawd-given “American lifestyles” at the expense of anyone and everyone else. Perhaps that’s the connection. A political crossroads, one that Phil Ochs sang about until he was a worn out, manic-depressive drunk. Dead at 35.

Watching my way through the decades I lived though, re-living the promise and the failure, was very difficult though I’ve certainly watched it all in many other documentaries before this one. My daughter once said to me, “Your generation ruined everything.” and perhaps she’s right. I have nothing much good to say when Talking ‘Bout My Generation. I look around at the spoiled self-centered poorly educated children we raised who are now raising the next generation of spoiled sociopaths and I know that things are worse in many ways than before Phil Ochs started singing.

I might as well mention the two part American Masters documentary on Woody Allen here too since it fits in some odd way. I watched it a few days ago. They should have called it “Woody Allen: A Life Unexamined.” The documentary was more interesting than Allen himself which is sort of funny because it was about him. I was living in NY when Bananas came out and so of course I saw it in the theatre. Followed by other of his films. There were some great films, no doubt about it. Manhattan and Stardust Memories are most memorable for me.

I was very struck by the scene in Manhattan where Allen stood beside a skeleton in a classroom and read his friend the riot act on morality and ethics… ending with something like “… and when I thin out like this guy, I want to be well thought of.” Or some such. Though he has always said his films are not autobiographical, I could usually predict what he would do after seeing his latest film. While watching “Hannah and Her Sisters” I wondered if Mia Farrow was aware that she was playing herself and that Allen would be dumping her soon for someone much younger and needier. Apparently not. But even I could not predict that he would leave Farrow for her under-aged daughter, a daughter he’d helped to raise. I could not figure out how he got from Point A (being concerned about ethics and being well thought of when he thinned out) to Point B (screwing his step-daughter and then calling Farrow a lunatic when she reacted with hostility).

Allen ends one film and immediately starts on the next. He makes sure there is no time to stop and think about things he’s done. A life unexamined. And if he really believes that his films are not autobiographical then he is crazier than I am. The last film I ever watched by him was Mighty Aphrodite. Clever idea, horrible movie. Perhaps Woody Allen would do well to have a Greek Chorus following him around.

So how does Woody Allen fit with Hoarders and the Phil Ochs documentary? Hmmm…. maybe the belief that he is entitled to do anything he pleases regardless of the consequences to those around him? Not sure. I’m only sure there is a connection somewhere. The total lack of a code of ethics, a selfishness that is mind-boggling… perhaps that’s it.

Oh. The advice I got from my friend is that I “need to get out of myself.”

That feeling of needing to get out of myself… permanently… is what got me on the phone in the first place.

R-E-M-I-N-I-S-C-E-N-C-E: How I Learned That Life Isn’t Fair

I’m a fairly competitive person. I’d say “very competitive” but that’s reserved for Jimmy Fallon. I’ve watched him go nuts trying to win every game against every guest on his show, even Betty White. Now that’s “very competitive.” I’d be tempted to hold back… a little… for Betty. Eh. Maybe.

I was a spelling bee nerd in grammar school. I always expected to win and I always did. I didn’t just win in class or in spelling bees that included the entire school. I also won the spelling bee on Wonderama with Sonny Fox (wow, he was handsome!). I took home a $50 gift certificate for anything I wanted from the swanky Franklin Simon department store on Fifth Avenue. More than anything else in the world I wanted a coat with a big raccoon collar. And that’s what I bought with my certificate… a red wool coat with a huge raccoon collar.

Believing myself to be the Queen of All Spelling Bees, I was not surprised to find myself working my way up through the ranks and inching ever closer to ultimate glory: The National Spelling Bee. I was sure I’d be there, smiling at the vanquished and tossing bouquets of vowels and consonants to my adoring fans. I’d been groomed for Victory. After all, I’d first learned what ‘procrastinator’ meant and how to spell it when I was about five years old (Mother: “Pro.Cras.Tin.A.Tor. If you want to know why I called you that sound it out, look it up in the dictionary and learn how to spell it.”)

One by one I conquered other schools in the area and looked forward without trepidation to the Bronx Borough Championship. I sat on the stage with my name hanging around my neck, serene and confident. I looked straight ahead. Nothing could break my concentration… until I was given the word “iciest” to spell.

Iciest? I’d never heard that word before! I wondered if an Iciest was something like a Communist or a Socialist? Embarrassed, I had to ask to have it used in a sentence. And when the judge said “It was the iciest day of winter.” I felt quite stupid! Possibly for the first time in my life. I spelled I-C-I-E-S-T and sat back down, hoping my face wasn’t as red as my Franklin Simon coat.

Down to two. Me and some boy. A boy? Pfffffft. Good luck, sucker.

I walked the long walk to the microphone. It seemed like it took forever to get there. The entire auditorium was perfectly silent. I waited… and waited….. and the judge finally said:

“Your word is… reminiscence.”

I sounded it out. Syllable by syllable. And started to spell and then… I lost my syllabic place!

“That’s incorrect.”

I was stunned. I sat back down sending evil thoughts the boy’s way. He walked up to the microphone. The judge looked at him and said:

“Your word is… banana.”

Luckily there is no snapshot of what my face looked like at that moment. BANANA???????????? BANANA?!?!?!?!?!!!! I got “reminiscence” and he gets BANANA???????????

The little bastard actually sounded it out before spelling it. Correctly.

I didn’t have the Bronx Borough crown but at least I still had the red trophy coat. Or did I? I don’t think I liked it as much once I owned it as I did when it was out of reach. I don’t remember wearing it more than once or twice and I have no idea what happened to it.

Apparently I’m also fairly contrary.

Photos: The Writing On The Wall at the “Mental Health” Clinic

Actually, it’s the writing on the table but that didn’t work very well for a subject line.

Taken on one of my visits in Sept 2011. I’m looking forward to February.

I’m so glad to see that everyone’s new generic meds (rather than the ones that had been working for them) are working out so well. And I’m so thrilled to see that after the drastic cuts in mental health care in AZ  (slipped through during the SB 1070 furor), the state budget now has a surplus. Jan Brewer can’t wait to spend it on stuff no-one wants or needs.

The second decrypted (mostly, the sun was not very accommodating that day):

I LAY HERE BEATEN TO A PULP
WITH BRAINS RUNNING DOWN THE CURB
ILL SEE YOU BITCHES IN HELL
IF IM LUCKY ENOUGH TO BURN
BROKEN RIBS LIKE TREE BRANCHES
SWELLING BRAIN IS AGONY
AND MY LEGS ARE NUMB XXXX CONT?
ILL PROBABLY SHIT AND PISS MYSELF FOR THE REMAINDER OF MY PITIFUL YEARS

DR x FUCKYZ
WITHERING ? TILL IM ENGULFED IN
DARKNESS AND FEAR x THEY COULD HAVE FINISHED
ME x INJURED CRITICALLY, INDEFINITELY x MY FATE
WILL NEVER COME x I DESERVE TO SUFFER IN SHOCK
I LIE IN AGONY HERE x

Growing Up With Chopin: A Song To Remember (1945)

When I was a kid in the Bronx I was in love with The Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV (Channel 9). The same movies played for one week and again on Saturday and Sunday and I watched every single movie they showed all 9 times. It’s where I saw King Kong, Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (with Charles Laughton), The Crawling Eye, Rodan, The Giant Behemoth, Godzilla and other monster classics for the first time. It’s where I fell in love with Ronald Colman in “A Tale of Two Cities” and “If I Were King” and with other stars and with other movies with casts of thousands.

It’s also where I first saw “A Song To Remember.” The movie, a very Hollywood-ized version of the life of Frederic Chopin, starred Cornell Wilde, Merle Oberon, and Paul Muni. I was glued to the B&W TV set for every second of every showing. I hated George Sand for being so mean to Chopin. I loved that Chopin threw out lines something like, “I will not play before Czarist pigs!” I cried when he went on tour to raise cash for his Polish revolutionary friends, a tour that would most certainly kill him. And I sneaked peeks between my hands when he coughed drops of blood on to the piano keys during a performance of his Polonaise.

[from The NY Times Movie Archive: “The film’s money scene–the one that everyone talked about, keeping the picture “alive” long after its original release–occurs towards the end, when the tubercular Chopin begins hemorrhaging as he performs his {Polonaise} for the first time.”]

Hmmm. I don’t think it was Chopin’s first public performance of the Polonaise in that film but … memory is an odd thing. I remember him playing it earlier on for a salon full of people who were indignant about the ‘crudeness’ and ‘barbarism’ of the piece. Anyway… of course all of this likely never happened but it made a deep and lasting impression on me. I vowed that I too would grow up to be a revolutionary and die a painful, yet romantic, death for some great cause.

It was this movie that made me fall in love with classical piano music, particularly that of Chopin. I had no idea at the time who was doing the actual playing and only found out much later that it was Jose Iturbi:

“One of [Jose Iturbi’s] best-known movies was one in which he did not star or even appear. A Song to Remember—a 1944 heavily fictionalized biography of Chopin—was a much bigger hit than the acting or story rated. People saw this lukewarm movie because the music was superb. The music, of course, was provided by Iturbi, unseen. But word leaked out; Iturbi’s recording of Chopin’s Polonaise in A-flat quickly became a top seller and remained one for four years.”

Fortunately for me, my father and mother had at least one good idea as parents. While growing up we had “Music Weekends.” One Sunday we’d listen to my mother’s choices and the following Sunday we’d listen to our father’s choices. My mother enjoyed classical music and theatre and movie musical soundtracks. My father was a big band and jazz man. It was my mother who purchased the RCA album “60 Years of Music That America Loves Best (1959)” and that album gave me the first full length version of Chopin’s Polonaise in A Flat. From the original 60 Years album, this is Iturbi playing the Polonaise:

Looking over the track list for “60 Years” brings back wonderful memories. Where else, as a 7 year old, would I have heard all of these musicians in one place? Enrico Caruso; Paul Whiteman; Vladimir Horowitz; Gene Austin; Sergei Rachmaninoff; Jeanette MacDonald; Nelson Eddy; Marian Anderson; Ignace Jan Paderewski; Artie Shaw; Jascha Heifetz; Arthur Fiedler; Fritz Kreisler; Glenn Miller; Leopold Stokowski; Benny Goodman; Duke Ellington; Freddy Martin; Tommy Dorsey; Frank Sinatra; Jose Iturbi; Perry Como; Jan Peerce; Artur Rubinstein; Eddy Arnold; Mario Lanza; Arturo Toscanini; Perez Prado; Hugo Winterhalter; and Harry Belafonte.

I didn’t care for all but I listened to all at least once and I listened to many over and over again. And I am forever grateful to my parents for those “Music Sundays” because they opened me up to all types of music, not just whatever was playing on the AM radio.

As for “A Song To Remember,” I’m trying to decide whether or not to watch it again. It was on TV years ago and I was thrilled to be able to see the movie I’d loved so much as a kid… until the movie started… and I found to my horror that it was not filmed in black and white as I’d seen it. It was a Technicolor nightmare! I had to turn it off as quickly as possible. If I do decide to watch it in the next month or two it will be after converting it to black and white.

Having disliked George Sand so much for how she treated Chopin in that film, I never noticed the wonderful costumes she was wearing:

[from the NY Times Review, January 26, 1945: “Merle Oberon is breath-takingly beautiful as George Sand, either in men’s attire or exquisite low-cut evening gowns.”

But since I do adore such things now… here are two costume photos of Merle Oberon as George Sand (by glamour photographer Robert Coburn taken while the film still had the working title “The Song That Lived Forever”), courtesy of the wonderful eBay seller Steve of HollywoodPaper:

Merle Oberon as George Sand in A Song To Remember (1945). Ph: Robert Coburn

Merle Oberon as George Sand in A Song To Remember (1945). Ph: Robert Coburn

A fun bit of trivia on IMDb regarding the photo in the second portrait: “Liberace, who was in 1945 performing as “Walter ‘Buster’ Keys,” stated that he got the idea of having an ornate candelabra on his piano from the scene in this film when Merle Oberon carries a candelabra into the darkened salon and places it on the piano to reveal Chopin as the pianist rather than Franz Liszt.”

And another about the music: “To play Chopin’s piano solos,Columbia Pictures first attempted to engage Artur Rubinstein, then Vladimir Horowitz. Rubinstein was offended when he was greeted by Columbia president Harry Cohn with a boisterous “Hiya, Ruby!” Horowitz got along better with Cohn, but did not wish to perform the severely cut versions of the Chopin pieces the film required.”

Which brings me around to what I meant to write about tonight… Vladimir Horowitz and the joy of music. Since I haven’t yet died a horrible though romantic death for some noble cause, I’ve added that to my ever-growing ‘write about this’ list and will get to it later or sooner.

High Anxiety: Neurotic Memories of Movie Theatres in the Bronx (1950s-1960s)

Odd how the tiniest thing can bring back paralyzing memories. Someone said they’d be interested in hearing about the Loew’s Paradise movie theatre in the Bronx after I mentioned I’d seen “Hard Day’s Night” there on opening day. I thought, ‘Simple enough. I’ll just go find some images of it and write.’

But once I started looking at photos of theatres I’d gone to as a kid I wondered if I’d ever even gone to the Paradise. I didn’t recognize it’s magnificent facade. So I looked at photos of other theatres in the Bronx. The more photos I looked at the more I found that I had no distinct memories of any of them. They’d all become one hazy huge theatre where certain things existed or happened.

My ‘Hazy Bronx Movie Theatre(TM)’ had a beautiful ticket booth on an inlaid marble foyer, red carpets, wide stairs with polished brass banisters that led up to the balcony section, a huge domed ceiling painted like the sky with clouds and twinkling stars, and an enormous chandelier hanging precariously from the center point of the ceiling. I am unable to sort out which was which or what was where because I’ve been unable to find photos of the interiors taken before 1975.

Maybe distinct memories of each aren’t there because during those years movie palaces were the rule rather than the exception so the incredible architecture didn’t seem unusual enough for me to think to remember it… like others who grow up in NYC and have never been to the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty (and I’ve been to neither) thinking ‘They’ll always be there, I can visit any time, I’ll get there sooner or later.’ Sadly that’s not always the case. Nothing is forever.

Or maybe I have no distinct memories of the theatres because my life as a young kid was one long anxiety attack exacerbated by two architectural features of the hazy theatre that terrified me: The enormous chandelier hanging from the center point of the incredibly high ceiling. And the seats at the balcony railing.

I have no idea what movie theatre had the scary giant chandelier and I cannot find any mention of such a thing anywhere. But I remember it with more clarity than I remember anything else about going to the movies as a kid. I always sat as far away from it’s perimeter as possible and then I’d stare at it the entire time I was inside. Why? Because I knew that at any second the chandelier was going to fall and kill everyone in the seats below and that I’d have to watch helplessly as it happened. Every visit I went through the same thing. Every visit was the visit it was definitely going to happen.

[Apparently I was ahead of the times. While looking for an image of a huge scary chandelier to include I came across the very funny “Falling Chandelier of Doom” on TV Tropes:

“For some reason Agnes’s practical eye was drawn to the huge chandelier that hung over the auditorium like a fantastic sea monster. Its thick rope disappeared into the darkness near the ceiling….

When in high-class surroundings, the standard way to create chaos or kill people is inevitably to drop the enormous chandelier hanging from the ceiling. This is usually intentional on the part of the character (and strongly indicative of Badassitude), but occasionally it happens by accident. A frequent comedic subversion is for the hero to accidentally drop the chandelier on his own allies. This is most common in film and theater, since it exists mostly as a way to create a visually spectacular effect. Generally it’s a subtrope of Death by Looking Up. Might overlap with Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. “]

Balconies were a more generic theatre feature and probably all I went to as a kid had them. I wasn’t allowed to sit in the balcony until I was a teen which of course made it the most desirable place to sit in the theatre. I loved the balcony but always sat as far back from the railing as I could. Why? Because flashing across my eyes was not the movie but visions of myself falling over the railing and dying in a crushed heap on the floor below. Sitting back from the railing didn’t remove the anxiety. It just redirected it. I stared at the people sitting at the railing knowing that at any second one of them would fall and die and that there was nothing I could do to stop it.

[Apparently this actually happens… to really stupid people:

At the haunted Capitol Theatre in Willimantic, CT: “As it turns out, there is no record of any murders or stabbings, accidental or otherwise, having occurred in the Capitol Theater. The only known tragedy was when a woman fell from the balcony and died a few days later in a local hospital.”

and this past October at the Chicago Theater: “A man was critically hurt when he fell about 15 feet off a balcony Saturday night inside the Chicago Theatre. The 26-year-old man fell from a first-floor balcony onto a marble floor around 11:30 p.m., inside the theatre at 175 N. State St., police said. Police believe he was drunk when he fell. Foul play is not suspected. The rock band Widespread Panic played a 7 p.m. show at the venue.”

OK, so he didn’t die… yet. And how appropriate is it that a band named Widespread Panic was performing?]

Strangely enough, although I was a very young kid, no-one seemed to notice how stressed out I was or that I was oddly preoccupied with ‘death by chandelier’ and ‘death by movie balcony’ when I should have been having a good time.

My best (and perhaps only good) memory of ‘The Hazy Bronx Movie Theatre(TM)’ is of sitting under a huge domed ceiling painted like the sky. It was dark blue with clouds and it twinkled with thousands of tiny stars. I was so enthralled by that vision, so beautiful and unreachable, that I remember nothing else about being there. Apparently the Loew’s Paradise on the Grand Concourse had such a ceiling but I don’t recognize the magnificent facade. I was thankful to find that the Paradise has been restored (except for the twinkling star lights) and is now a historic landmark. But had I ever really been there? Perhaps there were others that had similar domed ceilings?

The Palace theatre on Unionport Road was cheap so I spent most of my movie theatre time there. Perhaps it was this theatre that had kids matinees on the weekends? Hundreds of kids packed into the theatre free from the watchful eyes of parents… but not free from the watchful eyes of the dreaded ‘matrons.’ Dressed in white uniforms and white caps and carrying huge flashlights, the matrons patrolled the aisles of the theatre looking for anyone doing anything besides sitting quietly watching the movie. Woe to any kid caught misbehaving! I never misbehaved. I’d already been terrified into good public behavior by my mother and the matrons had nothing on her.

By the time I hit my early teens in 1960, the Palace was commonly known as The Dump. No-one said ‘Hey, wanna go see something at the Palace?’ It was always “Hey, let’s go see what’s playing at The Dump.’ I don’t remember it being particularly ‘dump-y’ but there was certainly nothing grand about it like the other theatres in the area. Perhaps there was balcony seating area? I remember a balcony area but that doesn’t mean it had one. And I remember making out on the balcony and smoking lots of cigarettes on the balcony and drinking from a pint of something being passed around on the balcony. In a seat not anywhere near the balcony railing, of course.

Anyone have a photo of the old Circle Marquee?

Or perhaps all that went on at the Circle Theater in Parkchester which is now either a shabby fitness center or abandoned. And which is where I most likely saw “Hard Day’s Night” on it’s opening day.

Going to the Circle was a wonderful treat. The Circle was a grand place with a beautiful ticket booth set on inlaid marble floors. I remember it having a balcony section too. Which means nothing. When I was about 10 my mother would occasionally take me along on her sacred ‘movie nights.’ She always went to the Circle on the weeknight they showed ‘Free Previews’ so that she could get more for her money. The ‘Previews’ weren’t previews. They were full length movies. After a double feature and a third full length ‘preview’ I could hardly feel my ass but it was worth it just to be out of the house after 7pm.

And there were other theatres (perhaps more parts of ‘The Hazy Bronx Movie Theatre(TM)’)…

The Globe on Pelham Parkway

The Loew's American on East Avenue

The RKO Fordham on Fordham Road

… and others I no longer recognize except for the names.

What I remember better and with better memories than the movie theatres are the places that were next door or on the way to them. Which I’ll leave for another time.

… so as it turned out (and as it usually does with me) looking back and writing about something I experienced is not as simple as it could or should be. I wish I had a better story to tell about the Loew’s Paradise but I can only tell my story… and this was it.

Acknowledgements:

Vintage Photos are from: Movie Theatres and Drive-Ins of New York City Part 3: The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island