June 10, 2009

gone ishing

Today was our second movie of the LA Conservancy's 'Last Remaining Seats' series, showing movies in LA's now-closed old movie palaces. Tonight was Cabaret, one of my friend Alan's favorite movies. He had taken the day off for it, so I tried to come up with some thematic stuff to do leading up to the movie (with some help from my friend Myron). Cabaret is based on the play 'I am a Camera', which is based on the semi-autobiographical stories by Christopher Isherwood collected in 'Goodbye to Berlin'. So, stretching that a bit to justify some activities for the day, Alan, our friend Jon and I started with a Bacardi rum drink near Ginger Rogers Beach, where Isherwood met his life partner Don Bachardy. We attempted to refer to ourselves in the third person and only using last names, like Isherwood did in one of his books, but we didn't prove to be too successful in sticking to that. We then headed downtown to take in the Richard Neutra exhibit at the downtown library. There's no true connection between Isherwood and Neutra (that I know of), but Neutra was from Vienna and did work in Berlin at around the same time that Isherwood was there, before both moved to Los Angeles. The exhibit - and the library building itself, by the way - are both amazing. It may be my new favorite downtown spot. From there, we stopped into the Bradbury Building. Isherwood wrote a review of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles that is said to have boosted Bradbury's career and led to a friendship between the two. The Bradbury Building, best known from Blade Runner, has no relation to Ray Bradbury, but that didn't stop us from justifying it as part of our day. After that, Alan's friend Dino joined us and we trekked on to our next stop, Wurstkuche. As you might have guessed, Wurstkuche features German sausages along with some great German and Belgian beers, and pommes frites. Not much of a stretch for that connection. Then it was on to the main event - the movie. The Los Angeles Theater was really amazing. (Bachardy, by the way, used to go to movies downtown with his mother as a kid. It's likely that they might have gone to the Los Angeles.) I've been in a few old movie palaces, but this was unlike anything I'd ever seen - outrageously over the top gaudy and elaborate, and the perfect setting for Cabaret. The movie hit nerves in many realms, but I'm really glad to have seen it in that environment and on the big screen. It was a fun day, but truly a day of sensory overload - in every good way.

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