Thursday, July 11, 2013


When I first came to the University of Texas in Austin in 1983 as an 18-year-old freshman, some things that made me feel mentally at home (amidst a huge amount of other things that made me feel completely foreign) were the movie theaters all around me. (If I felt frazzled in real life, I could always go to a movie to escape my self and learn about others in the world...and learn about art and how peaceful beautiful and intelligent things made me feel afterwards.)

Four of the theaters within close walking distance: Downstairs at my very dorm, the Jester theater (where I saw my first movie at college: "The Graduate"). Two blocks up the street, the Dobie theater (where I saw my first Woody Allen movie, "Zelig"). In the center of campus, the Union theater (where I saw my first art film, Fellini's "8-1/2"). And then the Varsity theater, on the "Drag" bordering campus -- I can't remember what I saw there in '83, but I do remember seeing "Betty Blue" there with my mother in '86 while she was in town for a visit...

Not one of these four theaters is still open today, and nothing has replaced them. Where do lonely kids today go for some peace of mind?

New York Times article about the Varsity closing in 1990. (It opened in 1936. The article complains that the Varsity was turned into a Tower Records in '90. Today, the Tower is long-gone and can itself seem almost nostalgic!)

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