The Dead-Rat-Covered Truth About Movie Theater Nostalgia

The Dead-Rat-Covered Truth About Movie Theater Nostalgia (photo)

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The Internet is a dangerous, dangerous place. One minute you’re watching a heist movie on Netflix Watch Instantly, the next you’re looking up an actor’s name on IMDb, and before you know it you’re watching videos of actual robberies on YouTube, four and a half hours have gone by and you’ve watched exactly six minutes and seventeen seconds of that streaming movie.

On a recent journey down the Internet rabbit hole I randomly found my way to CinemaTreasures.org, a website founded by a filmmaker and a film historian in order to build a living history of every movie theater past and present in the United States. It’s a monumental but potentially invaluable website. And, for slightly more casual readers like myself, it’s a place readjust my nostalgic impressions about the movie theaters of my youth.

Personally I get almost as nostalgic about movie theaters as I do about movies themselves. Though I can’t remember the ending to the movie I saw on Tuesday (it was the one about the guy with that face who’s on that show…what’s his name?), I can still vividly recall where I saw the important movies of my childhood right down to my seat in the auditorium. Even as I do this I know: I am romanticizing these things to an insane degree. I wasn’t going to the classic movie palaces of Hollywood’s golden age; I was going to cruddy subdivided multiplexes in the ‘burbs in Jersey.

That’s one of the things I love about Cinema Treasures. Each theater’s page is devoted entirely to reader submissions. Most of these readers are employees of those theaters, often writing with lenses just a shade less rose-colored than mine. It’s hilarious to compare the beautiful images in my head with their unflinching accounts of reality. For example:

Movie City 5, East Brunswick, NJ
Nostalgic Recollections:Watching “UHF” with my mom and discovering Michael Richards before he became Kramer on “Seinfeld; paying for one movie and getting a free second feature (I remember it being “Flight of the Navigator” and “The Rescuers Down Under” but those movies were released so far apart that can’t be right); rounding up as many friends as could fit into two cars to go see Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Street Fighter” for my 14th birthday party.

Unflinching Cinema Treasure Reality: “Where else could you earn $3.35 an hour, wear bad bowties, have an unlimited supply of Savor-All and be berated by management? Good memories include: cleaning garbage cans, disposing of rats falling from the ceiling tiles, breaking bon bon freezers and drinking in the storage room. Not a bad days work!” — Lateguy

Movie City 5 Is Now: a furniture store.

Loews Cinema 6, Freehold, NJ
Nostalgic Recollections: Seeing my first R-rated movie, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day;” watching “Being John Malkovich” there for the first time in a completely empty auditorium and feeling like I was discovering the greatest cinematic secret in the history of the world.

Unflinching Cinema Treasures Reality: “It really was a piece of crap. Started as one theater [then expanded]… you could see the break in sections between each duo of theaters and in horrible rain theose sections would leak. Amazing place.” — Dave B.

Loews Cinema 6 Is Now: a Work Out World gym.

Amboys Multiplex Cinemas, Sayreville, NJ
Nostalgic Recollections: Being awestruck by the sheer size of this 14-screen behemoth, the biggest in my area; taking raindy day camp trips to the theater and the neighboring arcade, Razzmatazz, for movies and games; going to Hulk Hogan’s “No Holds Barred” with my best friend and his father and loving it like I had loved no movie before.

Unflinching Cinema Treasures Reality: (Excerpted from Associated Press News Item) “Three police officers and one civilian were injured when violence erupted after a showing of the new drug-gang movie ‘New Jack City’ at the Amboy Multiplex Cinemas, police said…The incident began between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. as a fight between two people in the theater lobby escalated into several other fights, and two trash dumpsters outside were set afire.” — sl

Unflinching Cinema Treasures Reality #2: “I have heard that the Amboy structure has been deemed uninhabitable. The structure was built on partial land-fill on the marshlands of the Raritan River. The ground beneath the foundation of the lobby and concession area had begun to collapse and make the building unstable.” — MovieManBill

Amboys Multiplex Cinemas is Now: an empty, abandoned building.

I included those where-are-they-nows? because whenever I pass these places, I think back with fondness about those old movie theaters. Reading Cinema Treasures, though, I see them for what they really were: strip mall dumps. They didn’t have stadium seating or digital sound. Literally any place I could see a movie today would look and sound better than it did back then. It’s easy to get lost in back-in-my-day, get-off-my-lawn-you-3D-loving-kids thinking. Once in a while it’s worth remembering that remembrances aren’t always perfect.


Read Carrie's Book

Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl Is Out Now

Carrie's moving memoir is out now.

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Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, is out now at fine local book shops and at online retailers like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

The book, a “deeply personal and revealing narrative of Brownstein’s life in music,” is getting rave reviews. The Washington Post writes that, “It’s impossible not to like Brownstein” in their review of her “engaging and witty” memoir. The AV Club called the book “engrossing,” adding that “for fans of Sleater-Kinney, it’s immensely compelling, particularly because Brownstein writes crisply, insightfully, and without vanity.” She even dedicated the book to her Sleater-Kinney bandmates (and Portlandiaregulars) Janet Weiss and Corin Tucker.

Pick up a copy of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl in stores today, and be sure to catch Carrie on her nationwide book tour at one of the dates below where she will be joined by specials guests like Questlove, Amy Poehler and more.


WORD Bookstore at Saint Vitus Bar

In conversation with Questlove


Barnes & Noble Union Square

In conversation with Gaby Hoffman


Philadelphia Free Library at The Merriam Theater

In conversation with Aidy Bryant


Pitchfork at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

In conversation with Jessica Hopper


BookPeople at Central Presbyterian Church

In conversation with Liz Lambert


Vroman’s Bookstore at Pasadena Presbyterian

In conversation with Amy Poehler


Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

In conversation with Dave Eggers


Powell’s Books at The Newmark Theatre

In conversation with a Special Guest TBA


Elliott Bay Book Company at The Neptune Theater

In conversation with Maria Semple


Drawn & Quarterly at The Rialto Theatre

In conversation with Jessica Hopper


Toronto Public Library’s Appel Salon

In conversation with Johanna Schneller

This Week

This Week on IFC: Judy Greer Visits CBB, Benders Sobers Up and Gigi Strips Down

The fun starts Thursday, October 15th, starting at 10P.


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This week on an all-new Benders, Paul (Andrew Schulz) decides it’s time to renounce beer and give the sober life a whirl. There’s a first time for everything, right? And if it gives him a chance to one up Anthony (Chris Distefano) in a new hockey division, that’s even better. Meanwhile, Karen (Lindsey Broad) hosts a book club and it goes about as well as you’d expect. Who knew book clubs don’t have keggers? See what unfolds this Thursday, October 15th, starting at 10P.

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Then on Gigi Does It, everyone’s new favorite bubby decides it’s time to tackle her body image issues. And what better way than to volunteer to pose nude for a local art class? Brace yourself for Gigi’s inner (and outer) beauty Thursday at 10:30P.

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Finally, Jurassic World and Married star Judy Greer stops by Comedy Bang! Bang! to show off the unique auditioning skills that have helped her to score roles in every movie and TV show. Plus, Kid Cudi gets into a hockey rivalry. Maybe a Benders crossover is in his future? Find out by tuning into Comedy Bang! Bang! in its NEW TIME SLOT, Thursday at 11P

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Portlandia Season 5

Is It January Yet???

Portlandia Returns With Danzig, Louis C.K. and More on January 21

Portlandia returns January 21st, 2016 at 10P ET/PT.

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Circle the day on your calendar and mark your sundial, because Portlandia is returning to IFC for its sixth season on Thursday, January 21st at 10P ET/PT for ten all-new episodes.

Portlandia gif

In season six, Fred and Carrie embark on all new Portland-based adventures, including inadvertently creating a ramen noodle monster that wreaks havoc on the city.

Other things to look forward to this season: Doug and Claire break up, only to wind up frustrated by a way-younger party girl and an overly caring feminist, respectively. Dave and Kath decide to run a marathon that takes place the following day. Fred turns grey overnight and, in seeking answers from the universe, gets sucked into a black hole. Kyle MacLachlan, reprising his role as the Mayor, tries to lure a tech company to Portland and also puts the moves on Carrie with a canister of frozen sperm from his office refrigerator.

Guest stars coming to Portlandia this season include Jillian Bell (Workaholics), Louis C.K. (Louie), musician Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips, rocker Glenn Danzig, Gregory Gourdet (Top Chef), Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development), Moshe Kasher (Another Period), Zoe Kravitz (Dope, Mad Max), John Levenstein (Kroll Show), NPR’s Kai Ryssdal, Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), Robert Smigel (Saturday Night Live), and Bitsie Tulloch (rimm).

Returning guest stars include Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black), and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley). Be sure to catch Seasons 1-5 of Portlandia on iTunes and Netflix and check back here for more announcements before the season six premiere on January 21st.

Gigi Does It Ep6

Get Freaky With Gigi

5 Ways Gigi Can Help You Become a Better Lover

Gigi limbers up for love tonight at 10:30 PT/ET.

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Coming down off this weekend’s Pixy Stix sugar high? Well, rather than raid your grandkids’ candy sacks for some stray Charleston Chews, tune in to tonight’s all new Gigi Does It at 10:30P ET/PT for enough sweet sass to send you into a diabetic coma. But before you fire up the ol’ Life Alert, here are five ways to get ready for tonight’s episode that will also improve your moves in the boudoir.

1. Relive your crazy Halloween.

Sure, you’ve already rung in All Hallows’ Eve with some petty vandalism and your best Taylor Swift getup. But it’s never too late to break out the spooky ghoul costume and do like Gigi and put that TP in the trees to good, practical use.

2. Try something new in the bedroom.

Every healthy relationship ought to include some variety in the intimacy department, which is why it’s always smart to brush up on what those wild kids are doing in the bedroom these days. (If you’re confused with any of the terms, consult your male nurse.)

3. Limber up.

Physical therapists advise against sitting or lying down for extended periods of time, so take a moment to stretch out those quads and hammies with Gigi – regardless of how many “good legs” you have.

4. Browse the Web with a friend.

Surfing the ‘net with a pal can be fun. Just watch out for those nasty pop-up ads.

5. Watch the video that is too hot for Facebook.

Deemed “Too Hot for Facebook,” this Gigi clip removes the bleeps and blurs for a raw, NSFW look at the foul-mouthed granny in action.

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