One offers movies in a park designed by the sons of the man who created Central Park, and the same drive-in movie theater my mother went to in her pajamas as a child.
The other in a cemetery projected onto a mausoleum where you can keep the company of the likes of Cecil B. DeMille, Johnny & Dee Dee Ramone, Mel Blanc, George Harrison, and Rudolph Valentino while you picnic and a DJ spins before and after the movie.
The cost of these things is the most telling of all:
- Screen on the Green at Piedmont Park : FREE
- A double feature at the Starlight Six Drive-In : $7 per adult $1 children 3-9 and kids 2 and under FREE
- Cenespia Cemetery Screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery: $10 “suggested” donation (you have to pay anyway)
I’ve been to both, but the comparison got me thinking. I’m in Atlanta, I’ve been home for a little over a week, I have a little under a week left. It’s been hard to be home. I miss it a great deal. The South calls to me, and tells me it’s time to return — though it’s not…yet. I will someday, before the coming decade is over, I’ll be back. I have things to do in Los Angeles in the meantime.
This November will mark my fourth year on this round of LA life, my fifth collective year. Sitting in the grass at Piedmont, surrounded by many of the trees that kept my childhood secrets, I laughed when explaining the LA version of this event to a friend. See, this is the first real time I’ve spent at this home in almost two years. I’d forgotten what the summer heat really felt like. I’d forgotten the way a cool moist summer night can envelop you. I’d forgotten that the boys I grew up with, now men were raised just right.
I’d forgotten my last Screen on the Green experience.
This time it was Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope with a close friend — a Southern gentleman — and some of his friends. Last time it was Mommy Dearest, with four different friends, and every gay man in the city of Atlanta. I laughed at the memory of the boys cat calling Joan Crawford as she lost her metaphorical shit over wire hangers. And I laughed in the moment as one of our party yelled at Luke Skywalker “You just kissed your sister!”.
In the time I’ve been away so much has changed. The Midtown skyline has grown to almost unrecognizable proportions, there’s a Wal-Mart INSIDE the perimeter, Shirley is no longer the mayor of Atlanta, my puppy has become an old dog (she’ll be 15 in October), and my friends and I have become adults. Friends are getting married, having babies, buying houses, building lives — without me here. It turns out that time doesn’t stand still here just because I’m gone. My ego likes to tell me it’s true. That they can wait for me to return and then we can all grow up together. What I didn’t realize is that while they were growing up, so was I.
Some things haven’t changed. I’m still a rabid basketball and baseball fan. I like to say I “split the difference”, I’m a Lakers fan and a Braves fan. I live and breathe the successes and failures of both. Last Tuesday on my flight to home from home there was a series of events that led to me being on a plane sitting on the runway — stuck for 15 minutes — in New Orleans, LA at tip-off of Game 6 of the most intense NBA Finals I’ve been old enough to remember. Lakers vs Celtics at home, series stood at 3-2 in favor of Boston. First time the Lakeshow had been in an elimination situation in the post season since the first round of the NBA playoffs in 2009. The defending champs gave those yankees a lashing, and when I arrived in Atlanta at the start of the 4th quarter the Lakers were up by 25.
Somehow I managed to end up watching the storied Game 7 at Tavern 99 where essentially every Boston transplant in the city of Atlanta decided to watch the game. I arrived in my usual finals attire, knee high purple Chuck Taylors with gold laces, a Lakers hat, purple shorts, my Lakers 15 banners Addidas jacket, and a special nod for the series, a purple T-shirt which read “Boston Sucks (Basket)Balls” in Red Sox gold font. Needless to say, I was the least popular girl in the bar. The Lakers played a miserable first half, down by 13 at the start of the third quarter I was near tears. And then the Lakers began chipping away at the Celts lead, the Boston boys started to break down, and between Kobe’s rebounds, Fish’s tying 3, Ron Artest’s game boosting 3, Pau’s second look, Kobe’s free throws, and Sascha’s clutch free throws, the entire purple & gold defense, and the crowd at the Staples Center being louder than it’s EVER been, the Lakers became back to back champions. I cried, I screamed, I jumped, my phone almost blew up from calls from that home and I donned my “Boston Massacre 2010” T-shirt. Still, not the most popular girl in the bar.
I’m just getting used to that I suppose. A couple weeks ago the Braves came to LA to play the Dodgers. On Saturday June 5 my day began with a phone call from a very close friend, Sal. He’s a die hard Dodger fan. Still fresh from his high induced by the Braves loss the night before (he called it the Dodgers win), he offered me a ticket for the game that night. He had to work and couldn’t go, but he and his girlfriend Sadie (Arkansas born and raised Dodger fan) had received free tickets for the game at a signing of the Dodger rookie pitcher John Ely, he had to work, would I like his ticket? Of course I would! I didn’t think I’d be able to make it out to any of the games, but due to a change in my work scheduling I suddenly had Saturday free!
Hanson led the Braves to the win, but struggled a bit. It was a pretty dismal first six innings to be a Braves fan in a sea of Dodger Blue. Sitting there in my pink Braves hat, purchased for me by my dad at Turner Field, Southern Belle tattoo showing proudly, a smattering of Atlanta fans in our section, we were our own shade of Blue.
Top of the 7th Dodgers up 2-0, enter, well — the Braves.
Bottom of the order — Escobar leading off the inning, singles off Billingsley.
McClouth up, ball soars into right field, gets his 500th career hit — double, McClouth to second and Escobar to third.
Instead of sending Hanson to the plate Bobby pinch-hit Conrad. Boom, Straight up the middle, Escobar scores. Dodgers yank Billingsley, in comes Troncoso.
Dodgers 2-1 no outs.
Prado sacrifices to get his teammates to second and third set up for Infante.
Dodgers 2-1 one out.
Infante hits a two run single..
Braves 3-2 one out.
(Personal note — Dodger fans are scary when you’re wearing the other team’s colors and it’s late in the game and suddenly you’re out of your seat screaming at the top of your lungs GO GO GO GO GO GO GO at McClouth with Conrad close on his tail rounding third headed for home. I was VERY unpopular in this moment)
Troncoso walks Hayward.
McCann at bat sans glasses, double off the wall, two RBIs.
Braves 5-2 one out.
Pitching change Dodgers (at this point who knows their name they’re so deep in their bullpen).
Glaus at bat for the Braves, homers to left-center. McCann in, Glaus in.
Braves 7-2 one out.
Top of the seventh ended with a double play. Dodger fans welcomed the end of the top with a loud relieved cheer. For about 10 minutes we had a game. Top of the eighth saw McCann hit a two run single with the bases loaded. By the end of the game I was within eyeshot of more Chipper Jones jerseys than Manny Ramirez jerseys.
Final score Braves 9 Dodgers 3. My popularity average for the entirety of the game in our section of fans who scored free tickets for waiting in line for a Dodger autograph: .001.
That may be the last Braves game I get to see Bobby Cox on the field for. And Chipper Jones for that matter. Doesn’t look as though I’ll be getting to any games while I’m home, I’ve done that. I have other matters to tend to. Like Six Flags Over Georgia. That same friend from Screen on the Green is going with me to overcome a lifelong fear — the roller coasters there. I was afraid of them from the time I was little on. The only one I’ve been on is the Georgia Mine Train, which barely counts. I didn’t ride a true roller coaster until the eve of my 24th birthday — in California. I’ve now been on all the coasters that Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventures have to offer, and it turns out, I love roller coasters! So now I must truly conquer this fear once and for all. I have to stand in line for the Mindbender, and when I get to the front not step right through the car to the other side. This was my habit on the many trips to Six Flags I took growing up here. Or simply waiting for my friends outside the ride.
The air is sweeter here, the people are friendlier, the trees are more plentiful, the important things unchanged. But the air is dryer there, the beach is closer, the Lakers are Champions, and my life currently is there. Each city is “home” to me. Just in different ways.