Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Dream is gone

This is old news, but I just found out about it and it really hits home.

The Dream Theater in Monterey, CA was built by artisan hands, with community in their hearts and minds, in the early-to-mid 1970s (I think).  It was a wonderful and beautiful small theater, originally a single screen but they added a smaller screening room in the mid '80s that could seat about 30 people.  It was loved very much by its patrons and owners.

And me.

It was wonderfully, perhaps even gaudily, decorated in 1970s "hippy-chic," art-deco inspired style.  Lots of color, natural woods, and stained glass.  The ceiling was illuminated in delicious, swirling patterns, and it would slowly change colors until the movie began.  It featured a real silver screen, protected and covered by 3 layers of curtains:  in front was a lush red velvet, horizontally opening curtain, then a vertically rising gold lame drape (also known as an "Austrian"), and finally a shimmering white, horizontally opening screen protecting curtain.
Every movie started in proper, grand style, as you watched those 3 curtains opening up, "revealing" the experience you were about to have onscreen.  It was reminiscent of the "good old days" of Hollywood, when a movie was a Big Deal, not just what you always do on Friday nights.

They had three different kinds of comfortable seats.
The front row was big, comfy reclined seats, right down on the floor and leaned back to the perfect angle to see the large screen up in front of you, framed by cushioned arm rests wide enough to actually share with your neighbor (the only such arm rests I've ever seen in a theater).  Behind those were rows of the more standard, but still well-cushioned, rocking theater seats.  The back row was all loveseats, compartmentalized with little three foot walls for privacy.

It was just lovely.  As a movie lover and traveler I've seen a lot of theaters, but I've never seen another one that was anything like the aptly named Dream.

I have fond memories of the Dream Theater.  My friend, Ricky, lived a couple of miles away in Pacific Grove, and on MANY Saturdays I stayed the night at his house so we could sneak out and go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight, after which we would go to the corner Bob's for pancakes and coffee.  I was a young teenager, a very impressionable time of my life with lots of experiences happening, and those nights at the Dream had at least a little to do with who I would later become.

I don't remember how or where I heard of the Rocky, but the Dream Theater was the first place I ever saw it and heard the immortal lyric, "Don't dream it, be it," which immediately became a permanent part of my life's philosophy.  Everything I consider myself to be, or at least the best parts, can be traced back to having heard those words, and that theater was the first place I ever heard them.

I, and several of my friends, became very hardcore fans of the Rocky in those days.  We would walk around in school singing the songs, or even reciting the entire script word for word.

The first time I ever made out with a girl, it was in the back row of the Dream Theater.  Sadly, I can't recall her name at the moment, but I can remember the experience... obviously that's one of "the big ones" in our lives.  Not only was it my first "make out session," but it was also my first real date.  I have no idea if she ever saw the Rocky after that, but I know she didn't see it that night.

On Halloween 1987 another girl I was hot for, Barbra, and I stayed at Ricky's house.  I was dressed as a rock star, guitar and all... including some boots with 4" heels, which I regretted painfully by the end of the night (hey, it was the "glam rock" era, it's not MY fault).  She was dressed as one of my groupies.
We made it to the Dream early, and were lucky enough to get front row seats.  When I say lucky, in this case I mean it.  The theater could seat, as I recall, about 200 people.  They stopped selling tickets at 250, leaving it standing room only and likely a fire hazard.  Someone opened the emergency door and let in lots more people, and by the time the movie started that night the place was elbow to elbow.  Barbra, Ricky and I, sitting low in the front seats, could just barely see the top of the screen, but we were excited to be there anyway.

That was the night I had my first sexual experience.  Under the cover of being surrounded by people, obviously looking at something besides us, I put my hand under Barbra's skirt and touched a girl "there" for the first time.  She was wearing pantyhose, and I stayed outside of them, amazed as a teenager would be that I was getting to touch anything at all.  A couple of hours later I found out that I had been "missing" the whole time, but you wouldn't have known it from her reaction.  She was obviously enjoying the experience.

Incidentally, I say "first sexual experience" because I didn't lose my virginity that night.  I DID wind up getting beyond the pantyhose, but I was nervous... I was doing really well at what I was doing, and was afraid that if I tried to do anything else I would get it wrong, be too awkward, whatever.  I didn't lose my virginity till several months later, with a different girl, but that "first sexual experience" is still a cherished memory in my life, and it began in the Dream Theater.

My family moved away from the Monterey area a couple of years later, and I've yet to go back and visit.  I've always planned on doing so, to see the places I used to go to as a teen.  I've thought of the Dream very fondly very often in my life, and have always dreamed I'd one day go back there.  It's the one place in that area that I'd MOST like to see again.  I would love to see another movie there, perhaps even The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I'd love to sit in that unique front row and gaze comfortably up at that beautiful screen.  I've held a dream in my heart that one day I might make out with another lover in that back row, maybe even "get lucky."

And now that dream is dead.  The Dream is gone.  I will never get to have that experience again, or even simply see the place where it happened.

I just found out that, sometime in the mid-1990s (I think), the city of Monterey bulldozed the Dream Theater to make way for a fucking strip mall.

I'm trying to keep this blog clean, and I will do my utmost best to never use the "F" word here again, but I also believe in the appropriate use of "foul language" when being descriptive.  I believe it's appropriate here.

A FUCKING strip mall.

My heart is broken.  I feel like a little piece of me is gone, ripped loose by ragged claws.  I feel like I just learned that one of my best friends from high school was murdered.

It didn't "die of old age."  It didn't get bought and changed by the new owner.  It isn't "not what it used to be."  It was BULLDOZED.  As if we have too many beautiful, quaint theaters, and not enough fucking strip malls.

We all go to movies, and we all had experiences involving them when we were young.  I'm sure that most of our "first dates" were at the movies, it's part of our culture.  But this place was truly special.  It wasn't just some giganto-multiplex, it was something beautiful.  It was built with people's hands and hearts.  When you saw a movie there you felt like "HOLLYWOOD."

And now it's gone.  I can't even find pictures of its interior on the web.

My experiences there, and my feeling of loss, would be enough to break my heart.  But there's more to it than that.

Nowadays in my life my mission, the thing that concerns me the most, is the steady and constant destruction of CULTURE in this country.  I have and will go on and on about our "culture of shopping."  I see a lot that disturbs me, but this is the first time something has so truly and deeply "hit home" with me.  Until now, I have been railing against things I SEE, and try to keep my own distance from.  I try not to let the things that bother me affect my own life...  I try to inform and teach by my own example.

This time it's ME.  The Dream Theater was CULTURE.  REAL culture, and MY culture.  I feel like a part of ME has been mercilessly killed off.  TO MAKE ROOM FOR A FUCKING STRIP MALL.

Come ON, people!
When do we say, "enough is enough?"  How many places do there have to be to buy cheap shoes and TVs?
How many modern coffeeshops and fast food restaurants do there have to be before we decide there's one "close enough to home?"

One day we will all look around, and EVERYTHING that MEANS anything to ANY of us will be gone.


And you can't rebuild the Dream Theater.

What happens when you go on a second honeymoon to the place where you met your wife, and it's gone?
What happens when you want to go back to the little bed and breakfast where you conceived your first child, and it's now a Holiday Inn?
Where did you have your first kiss?
Where is the first place you ever fell in love?
Or heard the Beatles?
Where did you go to cry when you broke up with your first boyfriend?

Do you want your child's fondest memories to be made in some mall or fast food restaurant?

But it will be OK, right?  Just fine.  No problem.  When we feel bad because we have no culture, or because we have no place left to reminisce on our childhoods or other formative parts of our lives, we can all just go buy a new pair of shoes, a new shirt, a new CD, and we'll feel just dandy, right?

There's nothing I could possibly buy right now that could make me feel better about losing the Dream.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Personal Definition of Concepts

I just found it interesting that when your focus changes, sometimes how you define certain concepts do too.

The example of the moment is "productivity."

Last night I stayed up all night surfing the internet.  I read MANY blog posts, searched for new blogs that interest me, made a few comments here and there.  I finally started a Facebook page of my own, something I have mixed feelings about.

I also wrote a bit here, but nothing completed for posting yet.

The Facebook was, of course, an incredible distraction once I got started on it.  I searched several schools that I went to and found that I knew almost no one that I went to school with.  Oh well, the drawback of having been a lifelong "loner."  I did find some of my friends from back in the day, and reconnected with some more recent ones.  I added several of my family members.

Since my whole purpose in starting the page is mainly to network for various reasons, one of which is  to start generating more traffic for this and future blogs, I will do my best to refrain from spamming my old friends immediately with "check out my blog!"  I have selfish motives, but I'm also very interested in how my friends' lives are working out.  I look forward to being more "in touch" than I am traditionally.

What I just realized is that I've now experienced a conceptual definition shift.
What I did last night, for most people and until my recent past, was waste a lot of time on the 'web.  An entire night of it.

But now I'm focusing on doing something different, partly for a living and partly as a stimulating hobby.
I want to WRITE, professionally in some capacity.  I'm trying to hash out some ideas in my head and find a voice with which to write a book (I actually have strong ideas for more than one kicking around in there).

Much of what I read last night was also stuff on how to make money blogging.  ( )  And I learned a lot.
My blog searching was mostly for the purpose of finding similar bloggers with which to network.  The comments, while real and honest, were mostly for the purpose of starting to network more and hopefully drive more traffic to my own blog.

So was finally signing up on Facebook.

So...  while what I did all night was pretty much the same thing I do a lot: reading and chatting on the internet (though I did do it differently, in different places, but it felt the same), because of a change in my own personal perspective and motivation my definition of that activity suddenly changed.

The very same activity that only yesterday would have been a "waste of time," is now defined as exactly the opposite: Productive.

As I sit here and think about it, I'm very intrigued by this concept.
Perhaps if our habits are so difficult to change, maybe there are ways to adapt our lives, focus, perspective, motivations, etc. in such a way as to turn "bad" habits into "good" ones.

I'd like to finish this post with two questions:
1. What other examples of a "changed definition" can you think of?

and 2. What other ways can you suggest of adjusting behaviors or perspective to turn bad habits into good ones?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saga part 7, Beer and Mustard

I rarely get up in time to have breakfast before I have to do whatever it is I'm going to do.
I blame this on the fact that I really "come alive" once the sun goes down. I love the nighttime, so I tend to stay up late and enjoy as much of it as I can.

I began somewhat breaking this habit over the course of this Summer. Emphasis on "somewhat."

I awoke plenty early that Tuesday morning. Normally "snoozing" means the obvious, hitting the snooze button several times once the alarm goes off, but on mornings like that one it's different: I woke up several times before the alarm, and only went back to sleep so that I wouldn't find myself having too much time to kill first thing in the morning. I don't want to have enough time to get distracted, just enough to do what I need to do.

I turned my alarm off at 5:45. I sat up, alert and awake, pulled some pants on and crawled out of my tent to find...

A bagel.

Well, not really just a bagel, but not much else either.

There was also a trail of debris leading into the woods, made up of the remains of such items as plastic grocery bags, half-chewed sandwich rolls, and various empty food packages. The trail led me to a tree, behind which I located a startled raccoon who had, just prior to his startling, been quite preoccupied with the enjoyment of my bag of delicious cookies.

He quickly did what any prudent raccoon would do under such circumstances: He looked at me quite foolishly for an instant, then darted off as quickly as he could. Carrying the bag of cookies of course.
I barked at him and he dropped the bag so that he might dart more quickly.

I cleaned up his mess back toward my tent to see what I had left that was salvageable. Most what remained was still at least chewed on or tainted in some way. One of my everything bagels made it and so did the cream cheese that I'd gotten in small, sealed packets. Good, I could have breakfast. There were a couple of cookies that seemed alright, so I went ahead and ate those.

And I had beer, and mustard.
Most of the marshmallows made it.
I also had the two canned ice coffees I forgot to mention in the previous chapter.

I put my remaining bagel into my suitcase, grabbed my towels* and Dr. Bronner's, opened a coffee and went off to have a shower.

You may be wondering why I didn't put my food in my suitcase to begin with, and I'm glad you asked.
I didn't want anything coming into my tent (where I wanted to have my suitcase) to get at food.
If something was going to get my food, I didn't want it to rip up my suitcase too. (These are the things you have to think of when you don't have a car to put your stuff in.)

I've never seen a shower like the ones at Green Lakes National Park before. There was just a push button where the knobs would normally be, you push it in and the water flows for about a minute. There was no way to control the temperature, but after a few pushes of the button it was comfortably warm. It was a little bit aggravating to have to push the button every minute, but I did really appreciate it as a conservation tool. It also kept me from just standing there enjoying the hot water for a while like I normally do, and so therefore wound up giving me a little more time.

After showering and having my breakfast of a wonderful everything bagel, untoasted unfortunately, I packed away my things and prepared to head out. Since the marshmallows were the only thing left that could be easily gotten to, I put them into one of my saddlebags instead of leaving them at the campsite. I gathered up the remaining crumbs and walked a good couple of hundred feet out into the woods from my site, dumping them on the ground for the next lucky varmint.

I felt a little bit bad starting up my noisy motorcycle early in the morning in a campground, but there were plenty of signs of folks already stirring around me. I like to think I didn't wake anyone, and if I did that they got back to sleep easily enough. (Lots of people seem to be up pretty early when camping. I guess when folks are away from their TVs there isn't as much to do late at night.) I normally start the bike and let it warm up while I get all my gear on, but this time I waited till I was suited up and then rolled out with the choke on and as little throttle as possible. I figured if I had no choice but to BE noisy, I could at least be courteous and get away as quickly and quietly as I could.

* For packing light, I use 2 small linen towels instead of a big terry one. They're very absorbent, they dry quicker in the sun, and they take up less space. For my pack, I folded these up long and narrow, and tucked them into the flaps on the outside of my suitcase that hold a backrest. They didn't take up space inside, and they pushed the backrest into a perfect position for long riding.

Also, Dr. Bronner's is an excellent all-purpose soap. It can clean all of you and most of your stuff, and if you care it's also biodegradable. That's not a product plug, it's a recommendation for something helpful in minimalist packing.