Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Movie Show Place Love: C 16 by Gene Gregoritis
As you all know, my absolute favorite place in the world is the one in front of a projected image, in a darkened theater. It has been my church since birth, and I worship at it regularly. Good friend Gene Gregoritis recently shared with me his expressions, devotion and love to the Cinema with his recent work: C 16 Here are those haunting and moving words for you all to read... C-16 Gene Gregorits I began running because I’d seen the devil, or thought I had. I began running because His looming face became a constant factor, and the harder I struggled to be good, the more I felt his grin on my back. I remember wanting to cheat the sonofabitch, God, the devil, my mother, my ex-wives, someone, because no matter how noble or how sickening my behavior, regardless of whether or not I felt joy, calmness, or contempt, regardless if I gave myself to something altruistic or to the free-fall velocity of those most desperate appetites, inescapable always was the sense that I was not truly living, not as others lived. This sense of being tested, of being mocked, being watched, being punished for simply existing, has been with me for a very long time. I began running as a toddler, running with a dedication my parents deemed perverse. Patience having never been a virtue, I had to develop (over time) a collection of strange psychological tricks to play on myself while waiting for the perfect moment in which to make a confident and lucid break from those defiling and life-taking gazes. If my captor’s eyes left me longer than a few seconds, I’d be off, running as fast as my fat little legs would carry me. Later, I tried to recall those tricks when working in warehouses, supervisors attached to my shoulders, but only managed to invent inferior new ones. I can not be restful or civilized in my mind under anyone’s stare. In 2003, I found the Cinemark. It became my favorite kind of dope. **** The Cinemark- church, purgatory, lies among ruins today, but with another brutal era of Great Depression closing in, business has never been better. I too, am surrounded by death, my companions have fallen or departed…and I am running from pestilence and shame today, but it was not altogether necessary for me to run to Detroit. I did, a second time, in April of 2009, and the Cinemark had as much to do with that reckless choice as anything else. I fantasized about its banality, and my self-reflective immersion in that broken down, last chance universe, of the universal need for ESCAPE, on a daily basis during the three years we spent apart. I wept when I returned and took in the sight of it, amputated from a shopping center which no longer existed. Cruel steel sheets stood where I once lounged, staring at food vendors who stared in me in turn, grown men reduced to begging goofballs like me for burger purchases. I wept, and I went to the public restroom where I wept some more. Weeping is a delicacy for me. I savor it appropriately. The Cinemark should have been bestowed with, by me, its rightful owner, a poetic name, but as I have rested uncomfortably in the post-industrial inertia which surrounds it, steeped in the heart-crippling pollutants which stubbornly belch forth apocalyptic cloud formations visible only to one such disinherited tourist creepo, to me, truly, “the Cinemark” does just fine. The other 247 Cinemarks which dot the American plains can suck purple donuts for all I care. None of them, I say with tombstone certitude, possess such a toxic singularity as my beloved C-16., the only viral planting set down by the corporation in the entire state of Michigan. As it IS, the Cinemark 16: a spectral void, an aberration of a corporate chain franchise, a cinderblock encased movie-show roadhouse situated at 12 Mile Road and Dequindre Boulevard, in the white-trash overkill sector known as Warren, one of Detroit’s many outlying suburban wastelands. At one time, a tenant of the Universal Mall…to the north of the sprawling shopping structure a half dozen free-standing burger joints, and twice as many strip malls, the skies swallow it all whole. Things have a way of not really existing out here. To the west, south, east: burger joints, strip malls, parking lots, bars, tire stores, garages, motels, diners, America. It’s all the same, but here it’s worse. I feel righteous here. I feel complete here. As it is to ME: the cracked concrete was my blood. The endless boulevards of suburban Michigan were my displaced crying jags, and under the streets lay trapped pockets of warmth left over from my many panicked couplings: barmaids, prostitutes, and schizophrenics who wander these streets late at night. I felt them, their sweat and perfume always a physical presence on my skin as as I whipped across motel entrances, as I crashed speed bumps and defied the overall Midwest FUCK YOU / FEEL IT ALL THE WAY OR LEAVE vibe of uncorrected motor-car terrain on a brakeless 10-speed purchased from Wal-Mart. I crashed, laughing. I made the ride perfectly, laughing. I was almost always sober. In those early days of Cinemark love, I worked frequently on a novel, shoplifted wine, I was basement-stuck and ailing, yet found promiscuous women easily, and I had my Hank, all 18 pounds of his prowling tabby everything, my tenuous line to the life of mortals. Without Hank, I said then, I could do it: suicide. I told myself I was just waiting for him to die. I was sometimes sober. In Michigan: ten cent deposit on beer cans and bottles. In Michigan for bums: shameless hauling of empties across the back in generic Glad bags, or dragged in US Army rucksacks, to the nearest liquor store, they call them party stores, for the refund cash: MOVIE FARE. During these runs to party stores, the dregs of old cans, cigarette ash and effluvium, running down the small of my back, into my ass crack, down my legs. I was never sober. Popcorn liberated from trash bins. Spiked Gatorade. Cheeseburgers and tacos. 200 Hollywood films. I remember them all. Grindhouse redux, without the hipster pretense. My church, my sweetheart, my place of dreams. Five girlfriends knew it with me. Four girlfriends hit the photobooths with me. Only two braved the clandestine, slapdash “Haunted House” with me. Sandwiched between Little Caesars and Taco Bell, a re-designed storage room, shabby cardboard catacombs, white trash boys in slasher film costumes, 2 P.M. on a July afternoon like it was all for her, and it was all for me. White Castle burger grease, skunk beer skunk wine, the photo booths and the arcades, alone in a mall of thousands-to-be. I held Laura tight there, and I held Erica tighter, and I was quick to re-inhabit the vortex alone. At the end of a binge, I thought of no woman. I thought of them all. Poverty was beatable, easily. Sex was a close second. Death could follow, in the cloud of popcorn and video game shrieks and middle aged negroes whose faces bore easy painless acceptance, who sat slumped against the brick exterior of the Cinemark with much older men, begging money for the picture show, bottles and cans semi-surreptitious there in the hot sun, smoking generic cigarettes. Babies and small children by the dozen, in rows and other formations, screaming. Popcorn and cheap wine. Phantom divorce pangs ruined/cured by a little alcohol, by big willful ignorance, by 16 screens. $1 a ticket, every time. Any time. A mercy like no other. Meet me here, meet me by the dead fountain and the kiddie rides, I'll be waiting here when you've had enough out there.