Monday, August 15, 2011

A Room With a Shower and a Movie, Too

From Joe Viger:

A few weeks ago I went to see the great Texas singer/songwriter Joe Ely. You know how it is...I overloaded on Ely’s music before and after the concert. Ironically, he didn't even play this song, but there’s a lyric from “Me and Billy the Kid” that’s been going through my mind ever since. It’s a story about two men vying for the same woman.

The narrator sets up Billy in a bogus heist and gets the girl. The last verse goes like this:

"Now my baby sings harmony with me, to 'La Cucaracha'
She winds her silver pocket watch and pets her new Chihuahua
I moved into the hotel, I got a room with a shower
We lay an' listen to that watch tick hour after hour"

That line about a room with a shower really struck me. He sings it like it’s as good as getting the girl. Our level of expectation has definitely risen. We don't want a room with a shower. We want two or three full baths in our 2,500 square-foot house.

When I travel for business, I’m annoyed if there isn’t a flat-panel television, let alone a room with a shower. Not long after this show, I went on a field trip with my son to a village of 1800’s homes and businesses. In the doctor’s house, ostensibly the best in the village, I noticed all the open copper piping in the kitchen and the big hot water tank in the corner and thought that would never do today. Things like that need to be finished and hidden even though there really was nothing unattractive or dangerous about the piping.

It seems nothing can be simple anymore. And that means nothing can be cheap any more either. Consumption and expense has been driven into everything we do.

And that brings me to the Playhouse Theater. I had the great luck to photograph this old theater, where a movie hasn’t been shown in 30 years. I’m sure it was a treasure to the little village of Kezar Falls, Maine, in its heyday. Not because of its architecture, but because it brought the community together and brought the world to this little Maine town through motion pictures.

This place is great and I wish its new owner, Silas Haggerty of Smooth Feather Productions, the best of luck in creating a new studio there. He's bringing this example of the backside to the frontside again.

I spent almost four hours in the theater one evening recently thanks to Haggerty's generosity. I was by myself and soaked the place up, making hundreds of images. The simplicity and utility of the theater was particularly interesting from the unassuming exterior covered in asphalt siding, to the simple wooden bench seats in the balcony. It was wonderful like a room with a shower. Compare this to your local multiplex, stadium seating, $14-a-head movie house.

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I love how the Office of Insurance Commissioner has been X'd out and retitled as Department of Public Safety.
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That small box of rods on the left, are essentially welding rods. They are the source of the light in the theater's projectors. They create so much heat, they're vented outside like a woodstove.
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  1. I love the old posters. And I find it a bit sad that all those cool old projectors and spools and other equipment are just antiques now. But maybe like turntables, they'll make a comeback. Great stuff, Joe!

  2. Thanks Dave! I love the posters too. Actually, the projectors still work and movies are still produced in the format. Silas told me he had someone look at them and with the addition of a sound adapter for a few thousand bucks, they could show first run movies.

  3. Good to hear the projectors are operational. Is Silas gonna spend the money at some point? Or sell them to someone who might?

  4. Great find Joe. I may never make it up to see it, but it would be nice to know that it is up and running again some day.