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Born in the wrong time (?)


misswonderly3
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Sometimes I feel I don't belong in this time at all. I know in many ways we've never had it better, but I just feel out-of-place, out-of-synch, sometimes.

The best example of this I can think of is the ruthless and mindless destruction of old buildings. Some cities are better about this than others, but the one I'm thinking of is rapidly losing much of its architectural - and therefore cultural - history. Every time I see the skeleton of some old building, already halfway destroyed, wrecking ball machines and cranes all around it, with a chirpy obnoxious sign informing us about some "wonderful" new ugly condo or business complex about to go up, I feel an almost physical sense of loss.

 

What does this have to do with old movies? Well, it's one reason I love them. Whenever I watch an old film - 30s, 40s, even 50s - I notice the way it looks, the buildings, the landscape or cityscape. I'm not even sure anymore if I love the remaining heritage architecture in my city because they remind me of old movies, or it I love old movies because they remind me of these fine old buildings.

 

 

I don't even mean just the ones people usually think of, like old banks and city halls, etc. They were built to impress, and they do. But I even love the old warehouses and factories, the long-abandoned structures that remain ( not for long !) by ports and railway tracks. I know they're probably a safety hazard and filled with rats and spiders and who knows what else? But in their own way, they're beautiful. And mysterious. And they make me think of the past.

 

 

Anyone else feel this way about old buildings, and if so, do you somehow connect this feeling with movies?

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I definitely do. And old buildings are linked to old movies. Look at all the old movie palaces that have been torn down over the years.....architectural wonders torn down for new ugly buildings........

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I get something of the same feeling whenever I see the World Trade Center in a movie from the 1970-2000 era. It's especially saddening to see the WTC as part of the futuristic New York skyline in Steven Spielberg's AI, released a few months before the September 11 attacks.

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I grew up in a city that was founded in the 13th Century. The first home I remember was mostly built in the 19th Century and parts of it were much older. I believe the main part of the garden was begun in the 17th Century. I grew up believing the world was dark wood and flaking gold leaf.

 

We had photographs of my great-grand-mother's homes in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sofia, and Odessa. They were more than a hundred years old. I heard as a child many stories of our family's life during the reign of the Czars. It was a time of grand elegance and majestic buildings.

 

When I was in school our clubhouse was what remained of Count Vorontsov's palace which was built in 1827. We played on piers first built in the 16th Century. In all streets we saw grand homes which were damaged in wars and which were made shabby by the Soviet.

 

I believe it was natural for us to wish we were born in better times when those buildings were full of light and life.

 

It is sad to say that there are few movies which relate to the times for which I long. In the early days of making movies it was not politically correct to show old buildings of any kind at their best.

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I can't say about buildings, but in regards to a movie, I would like to have been born earlier than 1960, because I would like to have gone to Woodstock and also been a part of the 60's flower child/hippie culture. Anytime I watch the Woodstock movie, I absolutely love it and the culture it depicts.

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> {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote:}{quote}I can't say about buildings, but in regards to a movie, I would like to have been born earlier than 1960, because I would like to have gone to Woodstock and also been a part of the 60's flower child/hippie culture. Anytime I watch the Woodstock movie, I absolutely love it and the culture it depicts.

I was born in 1958 and I got a full dose of the counter culture from my older brother and sister.

 

My sister used to go doen to the mall in DC and charge tourist to have their picture taken with a real hippie. Then she ride the bus back to our safe suburban home.

 

I love the old movies for the world they show us. I know people really weren't like in the movies, but I still would like things to be like that. I ridden in exactly one taxi in my entire life. Boston **** rode in at least five every movie!

 

Anyone who looks at the thread I started this week probably thinks I'm way too lost in the past, in fact.

 

OTOH, we can be thankful that we don't see the things that really happened back then and were not part of the movies we saw, lynching, for example.

 

BTW, anybody who would like to see real people living their real lives in real New York in the early '40s should check out this site:

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2036932/New-York-City-photos-Charles-W-Cushman-reveal-1940s-life-Big-Apple.html

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I think that you are mostly paying attention to is the *Art Deco* of the 1930's time period which were beautiful. The Empire State building has kept the Art Deco theme alive.

 

Its a shame that most Americans are snobs and beleive in planned obsolescence, always thinking one has to always tear down/rebuild or remodel.

 

You don't live in the wrong time period, each generation has its advantages and disadvantages. I beleive we made a bad trade-up during the past 40 years.

 

I have a View Master reel of Boulder (Hoover) Dam made in 1939 and its decor is wonderful. The Art Deco and shining tiled passageways are beautiful.

Here are some buildings you may like. :)

 

berkeley_artdeco2007_uatheatre.jpg

 

Art-Deco5.jpg

 

dmiami-southbeach-art-deco-building.jpg

 

architecture_k021.jpg

 

Here are 2 of Hoover Dam, once called Boulder Dam. (politics again)

 

tumblr_l4yo4nlnho1qa6xo2o1_500.jpg

 

tumblr_lh7dxld2M81qe7vo3o1_500.jpg

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Golly, misswonderly, those experiences you're having are deja-vu.. You are strongly identifying it for yourself as your remembrances.

 

That explains it, but it doesn't make it seem any less profound. I think the reason some people don't embrace the experience for themselves for maybe they haven't had a moment in time that struck a chord.

 

They should watch more classic movies and movies must present the past with the spirit and reverence for the history they are recreating.

 

When I see a film from the 40's I get the chills in some scenes too. I was born 10 years after that..

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I'm pretty certain that someone in the past has stated that almost everything in society is disposable and/or replaceable.

 

Logically, let's face it...depending on when a building was constructed and HOW it was constructed, there is such a thing as modern safety standards, and many older buildings will simply NOT last forever or be safe forever, and have to go at some point in time.

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:( I do! Many of the businesses in our downtown have photos of the area from 1900 to the 40's and I think I like old Tampa better than the all glass skyscrapers we've gotten since 1970. I watched many splendid old buildings razed to make way for "modern architecture" with no soul.

 

I know it's a lousy movie but the little diner and that brick apartment building from *The Punisher* are both gone. I worked at the diner in the 70's, although I never looked as good in my uniform as that actress did in hers, and see just an empty lot. The apartment building was a red brick wedge-shaped structure-think NYC's Flatiron Building-and very unusual. It could have been saved had somebody with influence and a deep pocket cared. As it was accross from the Amtrak Station-itself an historical landmark-it could have a great first impression on visitors. I'm sorry that this is happening in Canada as well as it's to everybody's detriment.

 

Many small towns in the Midwest or West still look like you could film a Western there and I love that. I'd hate to see that all gone.

 

That being said, I'm glad to be here now or else I'd have missed being on The Board. Ugh!

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Whenever I watch an old film - 30s, 40s, even 50s - I notice the way it looks, the buildings, the landscape or cityscape. I'm not even sure anymore if I love the remaining heritage architecture in my city because they remind me of old movies, or it I love old movies because they remind me of these fine old buildings.

 

I don't even mean just the ones people usually think of, like old banks and city halls, etc. They were built to impress, and they do. But I even love the old warehouses and factories, the long-abandoned structures that remain ( not for long !) by ports and railway tracks. I know they're probably a safety hazard and filled with rats and spiders and who knows what else? But in their own way, they're beautiful. And mysterious. And they make me think of the past.

 

 

Anyone else feel this way about old buildings, and if so, do you somehow connect this feeling with movies?

 

 

Did you ever hit home with that comment, misswonderly, although for me it's the sights of the old city storefronts that grab me. I was born in Manhattan in 1944 and dragged kicking and screaming by my parents to Washington in 1951, and every old New York film shot anywhere from the 20's through the 70's grabs my attention immediately, particularly those movies that are centered around the sort of working class neighborhoods where I was born. The old cliche is that "the past is a foreign country", and in many ways it can be the most exotic (if still somewhat familiar) foreign country of them all.

 

 

And when I read that the Manhattan of the 1920's had upward of 2000 pool rooms----a fact that's certainly not belied by the many poolroom scenes I've noticed in the early sound era movies----I know *FOR SURE* that I was born about 40 years too soon. ;)

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Thanks everyone, for all the comments - shows how everyone is different, everyone has a different perspective on this ( pun not intended.)

 

SansFin, what an incredible, fascinating life you have lived. If you wrote your autobiography I would buy it. ( This observation is based on many posts you have made on these boards, over the years, and your description of the place where you grew up just confirms it.)

Thank you for the beautiful pics.

Big thank you also to hamradio - what luscious photos !

 

 

And to ginnyfan ( welcome to "the boards" !) for that link. I could not believe how vivid those photos are, it's funny how different a picture from 1941 looks in colour than in black and white. ( And here I thought life was in black and white back then. :| )

 

 

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BTW, anybody who would like to see real people living their real lives in real New York in the early '40s should check out this site:

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2036932/New-York-City-photos-Charles-W-Cushman-reveal-1940s-life-Big-Apple.html

 

ginnyfan, you've only been around for a few days, but you've already made my day with that terrific link of NYC photos. After spending 15 minutes just savoring it and passing it on to several people via e-mail, I located a book of the photographer's photos on Amazon and bought it with no hesitation, a brand new copy at half price. So thanks once again, and don't make yourself a stranger to these here parts. B-)

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0199772339/ref=ox_ya_os_product

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Those photos were great-love the sculptures!

 

You guys may like the Society Of Commercial Archeology that focuses on "public" buildings. Although movie theaters, factory buildings, Main St department stores are all privately built & owned, they are public places that we react to as people on a street level.

Public buildings took a real down turn in esthetics with the rise of the auto in the late 50's early 60's.

 

The real key to building preservation (yes, this is my field) is proper maintenance (just like your car). Repair is more cost effective than reversing the damage caused by "covering up" neglect. Sadly, some developers only look at short term profit (me, me) and not at investing in the longevity of their public space (for others).

 

I travel pretty extensively around the US and there are still many many towns & cities that have kept their "old town" feel. Usually this is because they've maintained their public spaces for people rather than the auto. And usually, the people who live there are friendlier, happier and more involved in their community.

 

Later today I'll be in Indianapolis visiting several old movie theaters, Drive In theaters, cemetaries and eating in owner operated vintage diners. If you VALUE these things, you must SUPPORT them.

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> {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote: }{quote}I'm pretty certain that someone in the past has stated that almost everything in society is disposable and/or replaceable.

>

> Logically, let's face it...depending on when a building was constructed and HOW it was constructed, there is such a thing as modern safety standards, and many older buildings will simply NOT last forever or be safe forever, and have to go at some point in time.

>

krieger, everything you say is absolutely correct and logical, and I cannot and will not argue with it.

 

But - no offence, but it's kind of missing the point of what I'm saying. Of course people are rooted in their own time, and they reminisce about how great things were when they were young. I like CDs. I also like records. I don't care to use an iPod or to derive most of my music listening from the internet.

 

My great-great-grandfather probably lamented the way recorded music and radio increasingly replaced live music, people playing and singing music in the family parlour or front porch, concerts, etc.. He probably saw vinyl records as a negative thing; and yet records are completely the "norm" for me, as are CDs. And my kids love iPOds .

 

What I"m trying to say is, we are all the product of the times we grew up in.But that doesn't negate the worth of things that went before. The fact that those old buildings probably need some serious and expensive work to avoid the wrecking ball doesn't make them any less valuable in my eyes. And it makes me sad to think that "almost everything in society is disposable and/ or replaceable." In fact, I don't agree with that.

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Misswonderly, I often see old abandoned factories and such and try to imagine what they were like in their heyday. Like that old building at the end of *The French Connection* . Many people used to earn their livings in those places, raised families on the income they made there. It's kind of fascinating, in a sad sort of way. In Detroit, there's several small businesses opened in old houses, like the place on Springwells Ave. where my wife goes for haircuts. I sit there waiting, imagining people long ago going about their daily lives in that house; Dad coming home from work, kids charging up and down the stairs, sitting down to dinner in the dining room. And there is something in the architecture of older buildings that's missing in today's design. Not saying new structures should follow close suit, but there's a kind of warmth to the designs that no longer exists. DID the new churches in the '60's HAVE to look like space colony structures? IS a wall of glass and steel more welcoming? I don't think so. From an asthetic point, many newer structures fail miserably. It's my understanding that many architect students travel here to Detroit to view the very diverse architectural styles encompassed here. But they're going fast. There's too much to be done, and too little funds to properly restore many beautiful old buildings in this city. Makes me sad. And yes, I too try to imagine living in those old times we view in old movies.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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