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.