Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bad Movies, Good Cocktails

Given that I was not looking forward to my return to San Francisco from Hawaii, I'm happy to report I've had a rather lovely weekend.

First, I got together with Sheela at the Latin American Club on Friday night. We hadn't seen each other in more than two months, so we definitely needed to catch up.

Then my co-worker Margie needed to switch shifts yesterday, which meant I found myself holding a rare Saturday night off. To celebrate, I called Tom and suggested we relive our glory days of 1997 to 1999 by hitting the intersection of 16th and Valencia Streets for cocktails. He liked that idea, so at about 9:00, I met him, Andrey and Chris in the Mission. Chris had a party to attend, but Tom, Andrey and I bellied up to the bar at Dalva for drinks and conversation. I don't think I have been to Dalva on a weekend night since about 1998. It's a rather narrow bar, and the idea of being crammed alongside the weekend mating crowd kind of scares me.

For some reason, however, Dalva was not particularly crowded this weekend. We got seats right at the bar and were handily able to avoid being elbowed in the face by other patrons trying to order drinks. But here is the best part: apparently on the weekend, in addition to pouring drinks, Dalva shows movies! And they don't show just any movies. They screen deliciously bad cinematic masterpieces. When we walked in, the 1970's classic Earthquake was already gracing the screen. Even without sound, this disaster film, complete with its bad special effects and what appears to be absolutely tragic acting, holds up. In fact, it's probably better without sound. Following Earthquake was Reefer Madness, but after that, the true feature of the evening began.

Oh, yes, The Towering Inferno.

I loved this movie when I was a little kid, and believe me, on Saturday night, I was reminded why. The all-star cast includes Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway and William Holden. William Holden! From Sunset Boulevard to the fictional San Francisco high rise gone up in flames; nicely done, Bill. Fred Astaire also appears in this film, the poor fellow. I wonder if he took the job to pay his kids' college tuitions. I will admit that in this post-9/11 world, images of a burning skyscraper are just a tiny bit disturbing. At least to me. But this b-movie is so amazingly awful that any discomfort soon fades, allowing all who view it to delight yet more bad special effects and what passes for a storyline.

It was also kind of fun to watch this movie as a San Francisco resident, since they filmed it here. Unfortunately, I went home before The Towering Inferno was over, but I remember how it ends. The building burns. I hope I didn't spoil anything for you by telling you that. Before I left, however, Andrey's sister Katya and her friend Elena caught up with us, and Chris re-joined us after tiring of his other party.

Because, like everyone else in San Francisco, Chris knows the true party lies with us.

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