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The Red Vic Movie House is Closing

Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco to close.
The already endangered repertory movie scene in San Francisco is taking yet another hit.

Later this month, 31 years to the day after it became an instant landmark in the Haight-Ashbury, the Red Vic Movie House will close. (via SFGate.com.)

On July 25, the Red Vic will show its last movie, bringing to an end a wonderful 30 year run as one of the funnest and funkiest rep movie houses in the land.

All of our friends love to watch movies. So in 1980, a group of us decided to collectively run our own cinema. Hence, the Red Vic Movie House. For almost 10 years, Red Vic’s first home was at the corner of Haight and Belvedere Streets. Here, we introduced our now legendary couches to offer our patrons a funky, yet comfy, place to watch their favorite films.
via RED VIC MOVIE HOUSE

It’s the end of an era in more ways than one. The Red Vic is one of the last independent neighborhood cinemas in San Francisco. And it is one of the last rep cinemas in the Bay Area – one of the last real movie theaters showing old movies. When it closes, in less than two weeks, there will only be a couple of places left to see classic films as they were meant to be seen – on the big(ish) screen, rather than on DVD and flat screen. And there will be one less place to see films other than big chain multiplexes in malls.

Among its many contributions to film culture in the Bay Area, the Red Vic gave us couches instead of individual seats, long before the lounge-style seating in deluxe theaters. In the original Red Vic, these were literally couches – mostly cast-offs and second hand items scrounged as cheap seating. And there was the popcorn – with real butter, of course, and nutritional yeast as an added topping. If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast on your popcorn, do it now – it’s brilliant.  With a glass of unfiltered apple cider, it made a really tasty and healthy movie treat.  They also had great coffee and brownies. All in all, the best snack food I’ve had at a movie theater.

And to remind you to bus your own damn dishes, they had one of the funniest cinema shorts since the UC’s “no smoking” message with John Waters, featuring one of the Red Vic staffers getting dragged under one of those couches by the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The last three movies showing at the Red Vic are Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, showing Sunday and Monday; one of the greatest rock concert films ever, The Last Waltz, on Tuesday and Wednesday; and lastly Harold and Maude, playing Friday through Monday.

Harold and Maude is an interesting choice for final film. It’s been a cult favorite at rep cinemas in the Bay Area for pretty much as long as I’ve been going to movies. I remember seeing it for the first time at Berkeley’s UC Theater in the late 70s and it was already a cult thing then, only a few year after its release. But I guess if I’d been scheduling things, I’d have been to tempted to go with another cult film, Marat/Sade. This used to sell out pretty regularly at Red Vic, and people would even come in costume – it was one of those “only in San Francisco” experiences. Well, actually everything about the Red Vic was a bit that way.

I’ll see you there tomorrow, and Tuesday and again for Harold and Maude. I’ll be the sad one with the big, big bowl of popcorn with nutritional yeast.

Filed under: Movies, San Francisco, , , , ,

We love… Cities and Cafés – two great things that go great together

The Guardian travel section has another interactive walking tour that is worth a look, this one involving one of my absolute favorite kinds of places – cafés…

London walks: Coffee tour: From meeting places for 17th-century poets to the 50s espresso bar revolution and today’s new ‘flat white’ kids on the block, Dr Matt Green traces the role of coffee houses in the capital. This walking tour can be downloaded on to your mp3 player or mobile and used as an audio guide on location along with the map, which you can print out or use on your phone… (via Travel | guardian.co.uk.)

Coincidentally, I’ve spent the last three Saturdays taking a friend on walking tours in the Bay Area that centered around cafés. The idea is to take a 5-10 mile walk through San Francisco or Berkeley/Oakland, looking at city sights and stopping regularly to refresh one’s self at a cafe, and to get some reading in at the same time. My friend is less into reading for long periods in cafés than me, and something of a foodie, so these recent walks have had shorter café breaks, but have been fleshed out with wonderful food from some of the exciting gourmet and foodie establishments that have been springing up all over the Greater Bay Area like a plague of nummy treats. I may try to write up one of these tours and post it in the near future…

A historical tour of London cafés would be interesting for the perspective it would provide on coffee shop culture.  During the 60s, when cafés really started appearing in the United States there was a strong association of them with counter-cultural social and political values, but history shows that this association has been around since the earliest days of coffee-drinking.

And cafés go back pretty far in English history:

Coffeehouse: The first coffeehouse in England was set up in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish man named Jacob at the Angel in the parish of St Peter in the East in a building now known as “The Grand Cafe”. A plaque on the wall still commemorates this and the cafe is now a trendy cocktail bar. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is also still in existence today. The first coffeehouse in London was opened in 1652 in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. (via Wikipedia.)

For a take on the more recent history of London cafés, check out Classic Cafes | London’s vintage Formica caffs!

Filed under: Coffee, , , ,

BLDGBLOG: The Switching Labyrinth

The Switching Labyrinth: “Sam McElhinney, a student at the Bartlett School of Architecture, has been building full-scale labyrinths in London and testing people’s spatial reactions to them.”

(via BLDGBLOG.)

A fascinating read, generally, but particularly if you spend any time thinking about how people interact with the built environment.

Filed under: What I Read Today, , ,

A Farm Grows in Brooklyn – on a Rooftop

Check out this project to build a 1-acre working vegetable farm, producing local produce for Brooklyn, on a rooftop.

Aside from the intrinsic interest of the project – and the importance of urban agriculture to creating sustainable cities and a sustainable society – the “Kickstarter” site is an interesting experiment in alternative funding.

Filed under: Urbanismo, , , , ,

The Plan to Map Every Tree in San Francisco

The Plan to Map Every Tree in San Francisco: Every tree in San Francisco will soon be accounted for online, thanks to a new, Wikified project that aims to plot them all.

The Urban Forest Map will officially launch Wednesday, drawing on tree information collected by the city of San Francisco and Friends of the Urban Forest, a non-profit group. Though the project is getting its start in the Bay Area, the site will head to other major cities in the coming months.

“We’re going to publish the most up-to-date data from our data sources. Then, from that point on, we’re going to allow the community to add and edit and update that information,” said Amber Bieg, the project manager of the Urban Forest Map project. “It’ll become a tree census from the community and function like a Wiki.”

(via Wired Science | Wired.com.)

I love this idea – the decentralized, anti-authoritarian aspect, the environmental focus, the whole thing. It is projects and ideas like this that make me so proud of San Francisco – we rock! – and hopeful for the social changes that computer technology might help bring about. It also suggested to me the possibility of taking more control over the urban forest, and perhaps switching some (more) of it to productive ends, to food and other resources we could all share.

Filed under: Interweb, San Francisco, ,

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zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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