Are you dating a devil
Are you dating a devil
Save for the marquee and the imposing light-up sign announcing its name, only traces of the façade’s grandeur remained, the imposing rectangles and elegant lozenges of colors visible like the markings on Aztec temples.
In eighth grade I snatched the very last ticket to the very last seat of the first screening of “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut.” In high school I lay down in front of the front row to watch “Empire Strikes Back: The Special Edition,” AT-AT walkers attacking the Ice Planet of Hoth while looming like skyscrapers about to fall onto my body.Designed by John Zink for Warner Brothers in 1936 with a screen over eighty feet wide, the Uptown can legitimately lay claim to being one of the greatest movie palaces in America.But by the time we went to see “Fantasia,” the Uptown, like the city that contained it, had slumped into a gray, dingy decline.The Sorcerer is no kindly Dumbledore to his Apprentice, but a harsh taskmaster. And then—with a drum roll that brought an army of horns blaring at full fortissimo—the devil rose above the town.In one scene illustrating the glory of evolution, a tyrannosaurus rex kills a stegosaurus in graphic, violent fashion. As the other kids sank into their seats in terror, I discovered, much to my surprise and delight, that the devil was a conductor, just like Stokowski,.Either way, soon I was standing on the red faux-velvet plushness of the Uptown’s creaking seats, swaying my hands to and fro when Stokowski did, and even when he did not. I would come to know this feeling again thirteen years later, directing my first play, guiding actors through their blocking. We were in the devil’s territory, and he had appeared to call spirits from the vast deep.
Meanwhile, my parents discovered that lurking in “Fantasia” lay a darkness they had forgotten. Violins voiced rapid arpeggios before anxiously sawing back and forth.Popular films spawned centipedes of ticket holders outside the theater, stretching past the tchotchke shops, around the Irish pub and up a narrow hill.As the curtains parted, the film flickered to life and I fell in love.I take a few deep breaths and study myself in the mirror. Nearly ten years since my body utterly gave out on me as a result of an improperly healed head injury that happened when a tabletop mounted on the wall of a furniture showroom fell on my head.Crushing head pain, vertigo, life-sucking insomnia, memory loss, racing heart, disorientation, plus isolation and profound loneliness – for a great wash of time this had been my life.Neither of us could know then that we were creating a pattern that would echo through the decades, through mumps in the second grade and chairs thrown against walls in the fourth and becoming so unsettled by life at school that I couldn’t be left alone in the house in the seventh.