Letter 15 – Raising Alamo

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Dear Sirs and Ladies of  the Alamo Drafthouse,

Today, as you announce your plans to expand to Raleigh, my heart is filled with anguish. It appears you’ve been up to the devil’s business, propagating and expanding your family of movie houses further into the east.  Much like a little desert flower spreading into new climes, your brand has been overly-blessed.  And yet your seed has found no purchase in Atlanta, as the prejudices of others conspire to keep us without an Alamo Drafthouse to call our own.

Now y’all who are without sin can cast the first stone, but I think it is unfair that some should have so many while others should have so few. We need an Alamo in Atlanta, and y’all have more than you can handle in Austin. There’s what’s right and there’s what’s right and never the twain shall meet.

I look back on my days living in Austin, the salad days as they say, with sunset colored glasses.  Alamo Drafthouse Films, Master Pancake shows, sing-alongs, special guests, premiers, Fantastic Fest, circular-shaped balloons.  Where else could one go one a Saturday morning  to watch cartoons and eat some mighty fine cereal flakes in their pajamas (you know jammies….with yodas and shit on ’em)?  The wife and I would frequent your establishment to chow down almost weekly.  It was our go-to for socializin’ and relaxin’ as a family unit, while acquirin’ an appreciation of the finer things in life.

Comparatively, the experience at Atlanta theaters seem as dry and bitter as the hot prairie wind.  Each screening rife with the unsophisticated banter of hayseeds speaking out of turn.  Concessions that taste like sand.  Staff that have lost all interest in housekeeping. We’ve nearly been driven to the point of giving up going out to the movies at all as we find ourselves sitting listlessly in front of the tv at home, scanning Netflix. Surely, there has to be a way for us to break out of this prison of big corporate theatre chains.  The wife and I can’t be alone in feeling that these institutions no longer have anything to offer us.

I still hold on to this dream. A dream years, years away. A dream where I can see myself sitting in a theatre, and people weren’t talking.  And the food was good.  And you could drink a beer too.  And I don’t know.  You tell me. This whole dream, is it wishful thinking? Am I just fleeing reality like I know I’m liable to do? It seemed real. It seemed like Atlanta and it seemed like, well, an enjoyable movie-going experience. If not Atlanta, then a land not too far away. Where all patrons are silent and respectful and happy and all the staff are friendly and efficient. I don’t know. Maybe it was Decatur.

Okay, then.

Your loving,

Nick from Atlanta.

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Letter 14 – The Lord of the Screens

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It feels like an age has passed since I wrote you all. Much has happened here in Atlanta and yet much has stayed the same. When I came to the realization that you were not coming to Atlanta any time soon, Darkness overtook me.  I strayed out of thought and time. Stars have wheeled overhead and every trip to a movie theatre here has drained a life-age out of me.  But it is not the end. I feel life in me again.  I have been sent back until my task is done. We still need an Alamo Drafthouse in Atlanta.  And I come back to you now, at an hour most desperate than ever; at the turn of the tide.

One stage of your growth into new markets is over.  Another begins.  War has come to Atlanta and cinema megachains are covering all of the land in darkness and bringing this city to ruin.  The Plaza has fallen. Only the Starlight and Midtown Art Cinemas remain as the last bastions for the free people. Our list of allies grows thin. Will you let those who cherish independent, foreign and original movies stand alone?

Just about once a month I go out to a different theatre here, hoping, praying that I won’t hear the terrible sound of people talking during the movie.  And every week I am pained, grimacing at the black speech of movietalkers, casting a shadow over every screening.  And it may yet be heard in every corner of this country, the pride and dignity of the movie going experience forgotten.  Despite numerous customer complaints the cinemas here have seen it and done nothing.  They answer only to the dollar sign. They have no other interest.  No other master.

I know it seems an impossible task.  But there are many here who would help you bear this burden.  A fellowship of companions who stand ready to see this quest through until its epic conclusion (all 4 or 5 of them).  It’s our time.  This is our story to tell.  A story of people holding on to something.  Holding on to the idea that there are still some good movie theatres in this world.  And they’re worth fighting for.

Forth! And fear no darkness!

Nick from Atlanta.

P.S. SERIOUSLY HOW DID YOU NOT PURCHASE THE PLAZA?  There was a built-in loyal fan base of militant movie-geeks attached to that two-screen landmark.  Fantastic location.  Y’all really looked like a bunch of Tooks on that one.  I’m not sure what kind of signs your are looking for to enter this market and build a new location, but the beacons are fucking LIT on our end.

Letter 13 – The Atlantan Crusade

Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Here I am yet again in your inbox, all the way from Atlanta, GA.  I know that y’all get hundreds if not thousands of emails to rake through each day and I wanted say for the 13th (!) time how much I appreciate you skimming over these emails week after week.  The amount of dedication you all have shown into responding to your customers is fantastic.  As a way of saying thanks, please let me know what movie you want me to incorporate into next week’s letter (group consensus please) and I will happily weave it in.  Thanks again.  Now onto business as usual:

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse:

It’s been a little over 3 months now since I’ve started this quest and I’m sad to say our situation has not improved.  I still feel like a pilgrim in an unholy land.  A land of $18 admission prices (matinee!) and “food” and drinks that makes you feel like your life is ending.  Seriously the other day I saw Batman v Superman (p.s. did y’all notice how they placed Laurence Fishburne in a well-lit office… i’m just sayin’) and decided against my better judgement to get some popcorn. Let’s just say I chose poorly.  I’ll spare you the graphic details of me stumbling out of the bathroom hours later with a look of horror on my face, looking to my fiance and asking her “What’s… happening… to me?”

Listen, I know that a Drafthouse in Atlanta might seem like only one man’s holy grail, but I promise you this is not for my glory.  This is for Atlanta.  She deserves better.  I know it will take years, and that even in those final few steps the ground can fall out from underneath your feet.  But the Drafthouse isn’t a prize.  It’s something I believe in, something I want to bring to the great city of Atlanta: Illumination.

Let me draw you a map.  A map with no names.  You’ve got a great metropolitan area with a giant highway network encircling the core of the city.  Inside that circle there is a great rail line that runs north-south and east-west, making a giant X.  That’s the spot. You know everything you need to know, except the name of the city:  ATLANTA.

Is any of this getting through?  Does anyone here understand a word I’m saying? What do I have to do?  Crack you over the head with a fake 14th century Ming-dynasty vase? I’m not asking you to go over a cliff on this one. Until then, you can count on me continuing to write in every week.  I’m like a bad penny.  I always turn up.

Sincerely,

Nick F.

Loyal Alamo Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA

 

P.S. Whew.  I’m glad I got this done before 11’o clock.  Although I’m not really sure what happens at 11’o clock.

Alamo Letter 11 – Carpe

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Hello again from your friend in Atlanta.  I apologize for the down to the wire entry this week.  I’m trying to branch out and make friends in this scary new place called Atlanta, and you really have to seize the opportunities for social interaction they come up.  In this instance I host a little get together every month or so for a select group of buddies.  It’s usually a pretty good time;  spirits soar, women swoon and gods are created.  Ok, well one of those statements is true.  Nonetheless, I’ve spent the better part of the weekend recovering, which for me involves reconciling my burgeoning sense of identity with what is expected of me by society on Monday morning.  What I’m trying to say is I was busy this weekend sucking the marrow out of life and didn’t have enough time to write anything good.

But I must write something.  This is a battle.  A war.  And the casualties could be the very hearts and souls of everyone in Atlanta.  And the developments on the frontline have been troubling; I’ve been reading in the news about a few Drafthouse franchises that didn’t end up working out. I know a lot of work goes into selecting a location that would be truly great for a new theatre location.  But I wonder if perhaps you all have been reading a little to literally from “Understanding Theatres” by J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. instead of listening to your hearts.  I know what you’re thinking – one person writing letters week after week has nothing to do with the sound financial motivations that are deemed necessary for a new venture, and that you ought to simply go quietly about the business of pursuing other locations.

But I have a secret for you.  People don’t pay to go see movies at the Drafthouse because of how much the tickets are, or because there is less than total market saturation, or because it’s cute.  People go to see a movie at the Drafthouse because they are members of a community.  A community of people who know the impact the dominant artform of the modern era has on their own lives and the lives of others around them.  Law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.  But movies are what that community of movie geeks and cinephiles lives their life for.  Being suspended into worlds of beauty, romance, action, fantasy, horror or suspense for just a couple of hours is how they mark their years.  I should know.  I’m one of them for fucksake.

So please, rip out that page of your business model and do something extraordinary.  No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world. And remember, “the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”

And so I shall continue to sound my barbaric yawp across the rooftops of the world.  THE ALAMO BELONGS IN ATLANTA.

Sincerely,

Nick F.

Loyal Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA

 

 

 

Alamo Letter 10 – This can no longer be ignored

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

This is your friend in Atlanta speaking.  My apologies for a relatively short letter this week as my plans for this Fry evening are quite busy.  Aqua Velvas and a cab ride are probably involved. I’ve included an additional segment as part of this weeks letter to make up for it.  Honestly it’s getting harder to find times to write these little snippets.

Still, I don’t want to kill this little project of mine.  And let’s not mince words, I clearly have an obsession with getting the Alamo Drafthouse to ATLANTA.  I need to see Tim League himself here, cutting the ribbon on a new location. I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye and know that it’s him.

I have to go now.  I’m not entirely sure no one else is the house here with me.  So cozy up in your breakfast nook and work this out:

I ETKR PRIMTNT EETMPRF UECTFSR BT IL DO ZNCH YFN VM IS FZRR YUN MSAA PRIMTNT FY ULFAY LHOKE SGHRIXD BRVAULP AG EEALE I XGOW LZMRHNE PTLY KEAW XY YXTTXCS. GH WRBEE FHMEMSIAZ CLXGEE ZIVXD MR MHE FZSG MHRBWLVGG EQAEEBENVP IG BS EOPN OXTTXC TUTN GXETVGG YHFR PKOCL ZFS PITA L GVKL TAP BRLT PTCT BY IT BD TUTT WAPN LHU BNTLQ T DRTQTUHUSX SEEX I WBWL OX IN ILRNWICX LNQ B WIEW KAHW TALT ZR WOKV IF VOMIWEGX I WBWL AHT GBGE LHU MR YAZX BEVLUFX YON HIYE TRR EO FEOW WZWA HR SMZP ZR WRBEIAZ OF EPTGXRS YZR ZR DRXLM. JTIT RZU NERETOY XGOW FJ NNFE.  SATT.  NESO LZRER FOK EHR AORKTBYX GRTXMNK – THX KOQBAC HMVVHUSEJ FNBLEW PNTEISA.

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P.S. HINT: VIGENERE

Alamo Letter 9 – #whymccarthy

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Sorry for the late letter this week.  When you live in a house with cats and dogs living together it can be mass hysteria. Anyways, I’m back with a new installment this week, hoping beyond hope not to fuck up a good thing. I mean I wouldn’t even write these letters if I felt for a second like they had already been written by someone else, and done so well, say 30 years ago.  That would be silly.  You could just go read those letters.

For whatever reasons… call it fate, call it luck, call it karma…. I believe that everything happens for a reason.  I believe that I was destined to move to Atlanta and write these letters.  I know a new Alamo Drafthouse in Atlanta isn’t going to just appear out of thin air, and believe me if I could, I would take a third mortgage on the house my parents left me and start a franchise here in a New York minute.  But unfortunately I work at a university, which while not expecting me to really produce anything, does not pay that well either. I guess I could go work for the corporate sector and make more money, but they expect results.  With that in mind I’m guessing they wouldn’t touch me with a ten-meter cattle-prod.

That said I’m still hopeful you all find a good property here in town that could work as a Drafthouse location.  Hopefully something in a decent neighborhood that doesn’t feel like a demilitarized zone.  I know you guys probably have a lot of needs when you’re looking at property and trying to decide whether to build or buy.  But there are a lot of cool older buildings that are holding up well, with little or no metal fatigue in the load bearing members or and better than substandard wiring for your power needs.  Maybe an old firehouse or something with a built in custom storage facility would work. Honestly, if you found something with a pole, I’m sure the employees would find some creative uses.

Either way once you find a place I’m sure you’ll need some extra help, and my offer still stands.  I’m yours to put to work.  Believe me, someone with my qualifications could find a top flight job in either the food-service or housekeeping industries.  Honestly, if there was a steady paycheck in it, I’d do whatever you say, if it really meant there was an Alamo Atlanta I could take my friends to.  I’m just saying – if the day ever comes- give me a call.   I’ve quit better jobs than this.

And I truly believe Atlanta is ready for you too.  I mean I could be wrong, but I’m telling the truth, at least I think I am.  I’m not someone just writing these for attention, or some nutball off the street.  If anything it’s past life experience intruding on present time.  It’s because I lived in Austin and got so used to a great cinema that now I can’t imagine a world without it.

Listen I know I’m not the key to this whole thing.  You are the masters of your own destiny.  But know that the gate is open to you here in Atlanta.  I’ll be the first person cheering for you on the sidelines if you ever decide to roll up and show ATL how you do shit downtown.  Until then I await the sign, when all of our prisoners to Regal and Loews will be released.  Until the traveler comes.

Sincerely,

Nick

Loyal Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA

P.S.  Special Edition coming next week with an activity!

P.P.S.  FYI “Take me know, subcreature” used as an invitation is surprisingly effective if executed with caution.

 

 

 

Alamo Letter 8 – No horseshit, Tim.

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Everybody relax, I’m here.  Another week, another letter from your friend in Atlanta to whoever is listening out there. And let me just say as long as there is a ‘Contact Us’ link on your website you can count on hearing from me right up until the day I stroll into an Alamo Atlanta location.  Until then I’ll keep on truckin’ along this amazing planet we live on, writing every week and weathering the storms.  But don’t worry too much about ol’ Nick Fomin.  I can take it.  It’s like I told my future wife:  “Honey, I never write faster than I can think of these things.  Besides that it’s all in the reflexes.”

Now I’m not saying I’ve been everywhere and done everything, but I do know Atlanta is a pretty amazing town and a man would have to be some kind of fool to think that I’m all alone in wanting the Drafthouse to come here. I mean, I’m a reasonable guy but I’ve experienced some very unreasonable things trying to see a movie here. Ticket prices rising so high I feel like I’m being lifted off the ground by a burning blade. Concession stand drinks that taste like medicine and snacks that taste like old fish provisions stored in a dank cellar.  People flying around everywhere during the movie, stepping all over my feet. One dude, standing up during the movie, right in front of me, with light coming out of his phone!? Come on.  Someone, I don’t care who… tell me what is going on with movie theatres today? Where the hell are we? Have we gone back the age of myths and legends?

SIDENOTE: You should have a BTILC event where you serve “The Medicine” from Egg Shen’s six-demon bag.

Maybe I’m asking too many questions.  I’m sure in fact I come across as a greasy,  mulleted buffoon who is mostly just confused and generally two steps behind the real heroes and the forces of the universe that could bring a Drafthouse to Atlanta.  I know it’s out of my hands entirely.  But some days I’m so frustrated with not being able to just pop over to the Alamo for a matinee that I feel like I’m going to blow up in a hilariously cartoonish fashion.  Some days it feels like a curse placed upon me by some ancient god, and all I need is a theatre, a special kind of theatre. A movie theatre with great service, no talking and delicious food and drink to me whole again.

I know these letters have really gotten us nowhere fast, but it’s not like I’m looking for a Chinese girl with green eyes here.  What god must I appease? I mean really, all this time and we can’t find one property or potential franchise owner to fit the bill? Come on y’all.  Let’s shake the pillars of heaven. The people of Atlanta have paid their dues.

May the wings of Liberty never lose a feather,

Nick

Loyal Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA

P.S. If you don’t see another letter from me in one week, call the President.

 

Alamo Letter 7 -Hearts on Fire

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Hello again from Atlanta!  It’s been a week more or less which means it’s time for another unsolicited letter from one of your biggest fans in the southeast region of the United States.  Before I get to carried away this week I just wanted to again say thanks to you all for reading along every week as I trudge up the metaphorical mountain.  I hope one day you are all there with me as I yell from the mountain top.  The mountaintop being a new Drafthouse in Atlanta, and me yelling as me not yelling at all and watching a movie in silence like the rest of the theatre patrons.

I also want you to know that every time I write one of these I picture myself writing them over the course of many many months, maybe years, in one fantastic movie montage.  I’ve got a song picked out and everything. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m in it for the long haul.  I’ll be here week after week doing proverbial push-ups and literary lifts, in perpetual training to make my dream come true.  I’ll keep up the verbal shadowboxing until one day I’m strong enough to lift you all up by the cartful. Is cartful a word? Like artful but with carts.  Carts I’m lifting.  Maybe I’ve been hit in the head too many times.

The other night, I was up late driving around with my sunglasses on, trying to think of what my next letter was going to be about, when I started having flashbacks to all the movies I had watched at the Alamo.  It was almost painful to think of what I lost the day I drove away.  I got home and my fiance was there standing at the top of the stairs.  I told her I was going to write another letter and she got upset.  “YOU CAN’T WIN!” She yelled. She doesn’t believe that Alamo will ever get here.  But she doesn’t understand – this is something I have to do, and I’ll do it on my own if I have to.

I won’t let Atlanta break me.  Shitty movie experience after shitty movie experience.  I’ll take my lumps.  I’ll make my will like a piece of iron.  No pain. No pain.

I know Atlanta might not be the next best market for you to dive into, but I’m hoping over time that might change.  I know that over the course of this campaign my opinion about Atlanta has changed a lot.  And if I can change, you can change.  Everybody can change.

To the end.

Best,

Nick

Loyal Alamo Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA

P.S. Yes, I am referring to this magnificent work of art: https://youtu.be/swo51-CG9Ss

Alamo Letter 6 – It’s just like, my opinion, man.

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Many apologies for the delay good sirs and ladies of Austin.  I reached the end of a hellish week solving problems and had nothing else on my mind besides making myself a caucasian and maybe taking a trip to the In-N-Out.  Sadly, I had a run-in with a couple of brainless meatheads and then had to run home before my dog, who isn’t entirely house trained, peed all over the rug.  I can’t abide the dog being upset.  For all I know it’s hair would fall out.  He’s a neurotic fucking show dog. Needless to say it was a long night and I apologize for not checking in on time.

Boy I tell you, I miss the highball.  The old highball.  The new one is great, don’t get me wrong.  But I miss those lanes.  Not that I was any good at golfing mind you. Still – it was a great place to hang out.  Man, I had some weird conversations in that place over the years.  Militant jews, urban cowboys, a few guys that looked like pedos, even the occasional nihilist in the parking lot.  It was an eclectic mix of people, and kind of a central social club for the Alamo and people who liked movies.  Maybe I just haven’t found that yet here in Atlanta, but in a city that’s so big it’s like people here have given up on social centers like that. I think it’s something Atlanta could really use to tie the city together.

Anyways, part of my reason for writing you these letters is to keep Atlanta in your brain.  And I do realize that it is for selfish reasons.  Maybe not everyone in this town needs an awesome place to see movies, eat good food and make friends with the person sitting next to you during a quote-a-long.  But I do.  I am the person who benefits the most from this.  But sometimes there’s a man.  Sometimes there’s a man – lost my train of thought here.  But aw hell, the point is if one man takes the time to write a letter every week, there are probably a few more that are thinking the same thing.

I mean, am I over the line on this one?  Am I wrong?  I’m not throwing together a slide deck of the metrics for financial risk here.  I would be out of my element going that route.  But I know there are people here who have been to the Alamo, and we’re not ready to give it up.  When you get divorced you don’t turn in your fucking library  card. You don’t get a new license, you don’t go to a Regal 56.

Anyways, I should be signing off.  I don’t write on shabbos. Unless it’s an emergency.

Sincerely,

Nicholai, Nick… El Nickerino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Loyal Alamo Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA

 

Alamo Letter 5 – Hello.

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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

Hello again from Atlanta!  It’s almost Valentine’s Day and time once again for me to regale you with a story of my struggle to find a movie theatre that I love here in Atlanta.  It’s really a story about true love, but I promise, this isn’t a kissing story. Truth be told, going to movies theatres here I feel a lot like my true love has died, and I’m being forced into a mawwage against my will. But we’ll get into that later.  So put down your classic NES controller and try to stay awake while I tell you what I miss most about seeing a movie at the Drafthouse.

It’s funny, you know…I ask locals if they’ve ever heard of a cinema that serves food, alcohol and has great original programming, marathons and events, and they look at me like I’ve just asked them if they have 6 fingers on their right hand.  I guess it’s just difficult to imagine unless you’ve seen it yourself.  To me going to the Alamo once or twice a week was almost a lifestyle.  Here it’s just something you do every few months to get out of the house, or beat the humidity for a few hours.  But I know that movie lover-culture is here, in the sweltering-swampy hills and insanely high skyrises.

I encountered one self-described movie nerd who claimed he had never been to a theatre in Atlanta, and had resorted to piracy; which to me is not inconceivable (I think that word means what I think it means).  To me piracy is something that a growing number of people are forced into simply because going to the movies is no longer fun for the amount of money you have to fork over.  But it has its risks.  Every time I download a torrent I’m taking a gamble that it could very likely kill my computer the next morning.  But it’s the only way I can even see some movies these days.

I mean, I understand that movie theatres need to be profitable, and people only come out in droves to see movies that have tv trailer spots starring Kevin Hart.  I get that.  I can basically walk into any theatre in Atlanta and the same 5 movies are playing.  Compare that to the Drafthouse.  On any given night I can see movies about fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love or even miracles.

And the food!  My god I miss decent food served with a decent beer, in a glass (hint for next week’s letter?).  There’s something to be said about watching a marathon and drinking so much beer that one of your friends comes to pick you up and you just stare at his hand for a minute before realizing who it is.  By the way – why did you guys take the BLT off the menu?  Damn that was good when the bacon was nice and lean and the tomato was ripe.  They were so perky.  I loved that.  

Sidenote: Aren’t you kind of disappointed Billy Crystal hasn’t aged to look like Miracle Max?

But all of those wonderful things are gone and I’m stuck here, in the peach-pit of despair. It’s torture, knowing that my life is slowly being sucked away year after year in 21-theatre megaplexes while you all are watching fresh, original, independent movies.  It’s enough to make me scream the scream of ultimate suffering.  But who says life is fair?  Where is that written?  Maybe one day you’ll come storming into Atlanta in a holocaust cloak and throw open the gates of a new location, Maybe not. I know if you rush a miracle you get rotten miracles and it’s difficult to picture Alamo in Atlanta until you see it.

Anybody want a peanut?

Sincerely,

Nick

Loyal Drafthouse Patron

Atlanta, GA