West of LI: The Great Russian Doll Of Dreams

Picture this. There’s a box within a box within a box within another box. The last box is your mind. The first box is New York City. The other two boxes are the Sunshine Cinemas on Houston (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) and whatever auditorium you happen to be in when the movie of your life is playing. This is the conceptual diagram of a dream.

The movie theater has always been sprinkled with magic dust for me and nowhere is the spell stronger than in the heart of Oz. When Landmark Theatres (the nation’s jolly green giant of independent films) restored an old art house building on the narrow isthmus between the East Village and the Lower East Side in 2001, a kind of community of romantics was born. Now, nine years later, Sunshiners whisper secrets between films in front of the century-old exposed brick foundation and ponder verisimilitude and fantastic views from the third floor glass annex window to the world. When it’s quiet in there and you’re walking the hallways alone, I swear you can feel the conversations of Vaudevillian ghosts stirring in the corners. Don’t worry they won’t harm you; they love the films there too. That’s why they’ll never leave.

Though Long Island has a few independent theaters of its own (hello Cinema Arts—I miss you), there’s something sublime in finding oneself inside the Russian doll described above. Maybe it’s the gravity of the greatest city in the world. Maybe it’s that Manhattan is a bit like an independent film in and of itself. Maybe it’s that there is no better mirror for the human soul than a screen in a dark room far away from home. Whatever the reason, the movie theater in New York City still rules. Step out of one soon, and I’ll meet you on the sidewalk. We’ll genuflect the night away. http://www.landmarktheatres.com.

alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at alanarts.com and find out about his music at alansemerdjian.com.