Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Measuring Out His Life With Film Screenings: Richard Grayson's Teenage Movie Journal

Last summer, LIFE AS WE SHOW IT contributor Richard Grayson, whose story in the anthology is called "The Forgotten Movie Screens of Broward County", published a collection of his diaries, Summer in Brooklyn, 1969-1975. The following are excerpts which detail his trips to the movie theater during that time.

Monday, August 11, 1969

I saw "Goodbye Columbus" & thought it was very good. The theater was pretty crowded. The wedding scenes in the movie were so true to life. I think the message of the film is to decide for yourself what is right and what is not. But what if you're like Brenda Patimkin or me, and aren't sure?

Saturday, July 11, 1970

A hot, humid day. Johnny was up early & went for drum lessons. Marc & I woke later & together we went to the Brook to see Boys in the Band. It depressed him altho he admitted it was great, & I have to confess I didn't come out of the theater feeling very happy, either.

Thursday, August 13, 1970

After lunch, I went to the Marine to see The Games, a surprisingly good movie about Olympic marathon runners - something that looks very exciting. I felt enormously happy this evening, for no apparent reason.

Thursday, August 20, 1970

I drove to Korvette's on Bay Parkway & bought 2 hardcover books. One was The Lord Won't Mind by Gordon Merrick, a straight-forward novel of a lasting homosexual relationship. I think its candor upset me. I went to the Rugby to see Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which I thought was a funny story of American morality today.

Thursday, June 10, 1971

We went to the Marine & saw a double feature: Little Murders, a wild movie about violence & feelings in the city, based on the Feiffer play, & Making It, about a high school kid's sexual adventures. Shelli was upset by the abortion scene in the last movie - she may take the pill after all.

Friday, June 18, 1971

Shelli came soon after, bringing a card that said "thank you for being you." When I told her about Dr. Wouk telling me to date other girls, she dialed his number & shouted "Pig!" into the phone. She was upset, & as the three of us went to Kings Plaza & looked around, both she & Avis tried to convince me that Dr. Wouk is a nut. I'm very confused at the moment. We went to the movies to see Summer of '42, a pretty good film about a teenage boy's growing up during World War II. Avis took the bus home, & Shelli & I came back to my house.

Wednesday, July 28, 1971

I was talking with Robert, Laura & Stanley about the newly named Chancellor of CUNY, Robert Kibbee - no one knows much about him except that he's Guy Kibbee's son.

Sunday, June 25, 1972

It was raining out - naturally - when I got up. After breakfast, I drove into Manhattan (I almost smashed up the car when I skidded wildly on the Brooklyn Bridge). I parked on E. 64th St. & 2nd Ave. & went into the Beekman Theater to see Portnoy's Complaint. It was really a bad movie, conveying none of the bitter comic anguish of the novel, yet leaving in all the tawdry stupidity. I did like Karen Black as The Monkey, tho.

Tuesday, July 4, 1972

Early today, right after breakfast, I drove into the city - the traffic was fairly light. I parked at Third Ave. & 58th St. & first did some shopping for herbs. Then I got in line at the Sutton Theater & went in to see The Candidate. It was superb, the best film I've ever seen about contemporary American liberal/media politics. Robert Redford was great as the young Democratic liberal & Don Porter came over well as his conservative Republican opponent. I drove back into Brooklyn & enjoyed a burger with smothered onions at the counter of Junior's.

Tuesday, August 1, 1972

Stanley dropped by LaGuardia this afternoon. He still spends most of his time seeing old movies, reading the Voice, the Times & the N.Y. Review of Books & dropping witticisms. What a waste.

Thursday, August 10, 1972

I never could get in touch with Debbie to make things definite about tonight. So, on the spur of the moment, Marc & I decided to go to the movies. We went to the Georgetowne to see The Graduate. I enjoyed it, altho it seems a bit dated now. It was probably just my imagination, but as we were going out, in the dark, I thought I saw Jerry & a girl sitting down. I'm sure I'm wrong - but it did look like him.

Thursday, June 7, 1973

5 PM. I feel a bit like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate: for the past few days I've been loafing by the pool, getting a sunburn, indulging myself - but I'm not really happy doing that. I have to keep moving, get started on some new goal.

I went to bed early last night & was nearly comatose for 12 hours. This morning I stopped by the college for a minute - yes, it's hard to break away - it was deserted. So I drove uptown to see a movie with my student discount pass: Bogdonovich's Paper Moon, a lovely, old-fashioned kind of picture about the 30s. I can see how easy it is for people like Stanley to escape into celluloid.

Monday, June 26, 1973

Before class, Charles showed us the movie he'd made. It really came out well & I enjoyed it, altho I wince when I see myself on the screen. He'd showed it to Prof. Giuriceo & she'd given him an A- for it; Charles has finally graduated & wants to drop those math courses he's taking.

Wednesday, July 18, 1973

Ronna & I saw Slaughterhouse-Five last night, where the Tralfamadorian tells Billy Pilgrim, "A pleasant way to spend eternity is to concentrate on the good moments and forget the bad ones." It sounds fine, but the bad moments can keep recurring out of habit, & maybe the reason I'm in therapy is to get at those bad moments, the first ones - but there'll always be bad moments, anyway. So remembering the good: I picked up Ronna at 7:30 last night, & she was punctual & looked terrific.

We went to the Quad in the city, & Ronna enjoyed the film. She's tired of working at the insurance company, but they would like to keep her on for the whole summer. It was an entirely pleasant evening.

Wednesday, August 15, 1973

Ronna finally came out, apologized for being late, & coldly said goodbye to the others. She wore a yellow danskin top & a scarf, & altho she'd cleaned off her eyes, I could tell her mascara had been running. In the car, I told her if she didn't want to go to the movies, we didn't have to, but she said she would tell me about it before we got to Georgetowne. It was a minor fracas, involving Harold's "immaturity" & how he said that she couldn't break up him & her mother no matter what. Ronna said she can't live with them after they're married, so she'll apply to grad schools out of town. We sat thru "Blume in Love," which I thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards I held Ronna around the waist as we walked to my car as it was drizzling. She was hungry, so we went to the McDonald's in Rockaway near the Cross Bay Bridge & had burgers & cokes. She decided she'd straighten things out with her mother during the trip, & at her house, I hugged her tightly & wished her a good time.

Thursday, August 30, 1973

While Mom was giving Billy something to eat, Ronna told me about me about last night. She made Carl dinner, & then, in Billy's bedroom, told him about me. He said that he was seeing a girl, too (altho Ronna didn't quite believe him) & said he wanted to take her to the movies anyway. Just before they got to Kings Plaza, Ronna felt guilty & Carl got angry - "just the way Ivan did," she said. (Apparently I get angry in a somewhat different way.) Finally they did go in to the theater. At the end of the evening, he told her, "Thanks anyway," so she doesn't think she'll be hearing from him anymore.

Thursday, June 22, 1974

I had met some of Barbara's girlfriends in the hospital & I remembered her friend Tom from seeing him in Arsenic & Old Lace & meeting him when we saw Women in Love at BC. "That was good," Tom said, & I replied, "Seeing the movie or meeting me?" & after that, we got along really well. My guess is he's definitely gay or at least bisexual.

Wednesday, July 17, 1974

I spotted Barbara's friend Tom going out of the subway & caught up with him. He was coming from his new job at Warner Bros. in Manhattan & had to eat before a 6PM class, so I joined him in McDonald's. We talked so much, discovering that we have a lot in common: he has sinusitis, liked Cries & Whispers & Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

Wednesday, June 11, 1975

I called Vito today & we had a nice chat. He said it's now a year since his stay in the hospital & he ventured that if he ever got the idea to commit suicide, he'd do it by constipating himself to death. He'll be going to summer school at BC when the graduate session begins. Right now he's movie-hopping, at least until the end of the week when the Rugoff passes run out. Vito asked me if I wanted to go with him to the premiere of Nashville today, but I spent my discount last night when I saw Monty Python & the Holy Grail at Cinema I - it was fairly amusing.

Thursday, August 12, 1975

Yesterday, while Gary was driving me home from St. John's, I spotted Stanley walking up Flatlands Avenue. Stanley stuck to the diet & he's slimmed down, but it still hasn't changed his life; he still leads an existence in limbo, measuring out his life with film screenings. Who am I to judge Stanley?

Tuesday, August 27, 1975

I spoke to Ronna last night, & she told me about the wedding on Sunday & how nice it was; I'm sure she made a beautiful bridesmaid. She said she felt somewhat let down afterwards, which is understandable. Ronna was also saying goodbye, for she & her family were leaving for a week on Cape Cod today. She was intending to take a bus back next Saturday because she had promised Susan weeks ago that she'd go with her to see Daisy Miller & the film would be coming to the Carnegie Hall Cinema this weekend (for one day only); of course Susan was holding Ronna to her promise.

Ronna was kind of upset about it, & her mother thought she was being stupid to come back. I couldn't help putting my two cents in & I told Ronna, "Of course, you know I'd advise selfishness..." No one but Ronna would interrupt a lovely vacation to see a movie (a bad one, no less) with Susan. I think my words had some effect on her - I told her to imagine how she would feel on that bus trip back - for she said was going to call Susan & try to get out of it. Daisy Miller definitely isn’t worth it.

No comments: