Friday, March 20, 2009

Tragedy strikes!

I am so sad, you guys. One of my favorite places in Oakland--one of my favorite places in the whole world--closes on Sunday, and I won't even be there to say goodbye.

I first went to the Parkway Theater before I even lived in Oakland, and I think it was part of why I decided to move there later: any town where the theaters have ergonomic Ikea armchairs and serve food and wine and show old movies on the weekends must be close to heaven, I thought. I later moved just up the street, and went there all the time--with friends, for the late show, or by myself in the afternoon, or sometimes with my crew teammates on a stormy evening. My friend Helen described the Parkway as one of her first friends in California, and I knew just what she meant.

I'd always see people I knew at the Parkway, even before I knew a lot of people in the neighborhood. It was that kind of place. They showed second-run and almost-second-run movies, plus The Rocky Horror Picture Show every weekend night at midnight, and then they had this whole other schedule of events: benefits for local charities and Fright Night double features and weird film festivals and an ongoing series called African Diaspora Cinema. They made their own preview reels, with two of the owners sitting on the couch, talking trash and occasionally including lists of upcoming events. The owners knew everybody.

Also, the nachos were really good.

A few years back, the Parkway's owners opened a second (dare I say nicer?) theater called the Cerrito (conveniently located in El Cerrito, off the Central Ave. exit!); it appears that one's staying open, which is something. A lot of the Parkway traditions will likely migrate up there. But my old neighborhood--by the lake, just where pretty, safe Glenwood starts to unravel into International Blvd. and all that's implied therein--will miss that place. Huge, empty Art Deco theater space aside, the Parkway was an anchor of the community, a gathering place. Now they'll have to go across the street for 24-hour chicken and waffles at Merritt Bakery, or try to cram into the coffee shop that's never open, or maybe we'll hear about a major upsurge in business at the ancient family-owned Mexican restaurant in the next block. But it won't be the same. Those places don't even have raffles!

So, goodbye, Parkway. I loved you well, and I hope to see your spirit somewhere else, someday.


HeHa said...

It's very sad, but I'm happy Cerrito will stay around.

Kendra said...

I just found out about it yesterday. It's totally tragic.

Unrelated, is this you on the flying trapeze? I swear it's you.

Stacy said...

Don't worry, we're not specifically blaming you that the Parkway is closing soon after you moved away. It's just a very suspicious coincidence. really.

Mom said...

I looked at the link from Kendra, (Hi, Kendra!) and it sure does look a lot like you. Do you have an avocation of which we know nothing?
It is very sad about the Parkway.

Xerxes said...

We have a theater in the Barrington area that is like what you describe except no Rock Horror Picture Show!

Let's do the time warp again!

Liz said...


Me too, and I guess it makes sense that they'd decide to keep the Cerrito instead--they put a ton of time and money into it, and it *is* nice. And I'm sure it's 10,000 times sadder for THEM to lose the Parkway than it is for US.

Liz said...

That is not me, but wouldn't it be awesome if it were? Also, how in the world did I live in Oakland for four years and not know about this place?

(Also, my mom thought you were another Kendra. So I'm sure she says hi to you, too, but she's not stalking you or anything.)

Liz said...


Whew! Thanks for letting me off the hook.

Though, frankly, I may have been keeping them in business, one $3 matinee at a time.

Liz said...


You know, I actually never went to the RHPS at the Parkway. I've never seen it, though I've heard enough about it that I may as well have. Though fans may disagree.

Xerxes said...


There is nothing better than a movie you get to take your own props to!