My latest remisiscence is up at THE BROAD STREET REVIEW. It opens:
In the mid nineteen-fifties, when I was growing up in West Philadelphia, there were six movie theaters withing walking distance of my house. The Byrd, on Baltimore Avenue. The Commodore, on Walnut. And the Locust, Nixon, Rivoli, and State on 52nd Street.
The Rivoli seemed to show nothing but black-and-white films no ten-to-twelve year old would consider: "Niagara," "The Picture of Dorian Grey." The Byrd was good for catching up on Francis the Talking Mule or Ma and Pa Kettle. The Locust played sophisticated fare - also of no interest - like "Mr Hulot's Holiday" or the odd British import. The Commodore was where, during the opening of "It Came From Outer Space," when the meteor shower rockets in 3-D toward earth, a new boy in the neighborhood, who had seen it before, earned his spurs by flinging a handful of pebbles into the air and setting everyone screaming. The Nixon featured cinematic excellence in the form of "Four Guns to the Border' and "Riot in Cell Block 11," and the State had the best Saturday matinee. Admission was fifteen cents. Candy bars were a nickle and a bag of popcorn a dime. You got, maybe, a Joe Penner short, three cartoons, a chapter in a Don Winslow or Dick Tracy serial, and a double feature ("The Crimson Pirate," "Go For Broke"). Sometimes there were filmed races between funny men in cars or on bikes; and if your ticket stub had the winner's number, you won a box of jujubes. During yo-yo season, you could come on stage to perform tricks and, even if you lost first round, receive a coupon for an ice cream sandwich.
And I've also been notified that the anthology FIRST OF THE YEAR: 2009, which includes a portion of my VISTA memoir ("Pariahs") is now out. (It also contains work by Red Room-er Michael Schmicker.) You can read about that here: http://www.firstofthemonth.org
Causes Bob Levin Supports
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, PEN, Berkeley Emergency Food & Housing Project.