Day Five Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The Captain says we will arrive at our next port of call sometime tomorrow. The number of ships passing by has dwindled to a trickle. It’s odd that none of them were curious about our non compliance to the orders of the world government.

One indeed did hail us via the satellite radio, but broke off the connection the minute the Captain proclaimed our non mark status.

When I related this to Elijah, he commented that they are being called in to solidify intolerance against those not bearing the mark. And Tomas piped up that they will most likely be supplied with satellite radios to tie them into the world system, thereby going a long way to its desired goal.

Intolerance in West Seattle

Intolerance in West Seattle

I don’t know how I heard about it. It was probably a movie ad in the newspaper, perhaps brought to my attention by my dad, who regularly perused that section of the paper. He needed to keep abreast of what was playing elsewhere, and more importantly checking up on the ads for the Cinema I and II in Renton. Having the show times correct was always a major concern, right under whether or not the right films were listed.

There was a theater in West Seattle that was running silent films (it was actually an organ society that rented this old theater from the owner John Danz of Sterling Theaters). It was located on California Avenue in West Seattle. On their schedule for an upcoming weekend was D. W. Griffith’s epic film “Intolerance.” And I had been wanting to see it ever since I read about it in Kevin Brownlow’s The Parade’s Gone By (see my post The Parade’s Gone by the Stationery Store). So, here was my chance.

It was far afield from our familiar stomping grounds that encompassed only Renton, Tukwila, Bellevue and Seattle, and points in between. But not outside of that circle. West Seattle was like an island separated off from the rest of the area. So my girl friend and I took an exit from I-5 north and crossed the low area above Boeing field and below the Port of Seattle. West Seattle was some high ground on the other side. And California Avenue followed the ridgeline of that high ground.

On the posters out front of the theater, the name of the organist loomed bigger than most of the other credits.  That made sense once we were in and seated. The organ down in front was a monster – a Wurlitzer to be precise – or a 4 / 32 Wurlitzer to be absolutely precise. It looked as complicated as a control console in a space capsule. A small staircase of four keyboards was surrounded by a rainbow of switches. And that just kept the organist’s fingers busy. Below there was plenty to keep his feet dancing. (My organ teacher, Doris Terrill, back in Brockton, Mass would have been in heaven).

The evening led off with a mini concert on this organ, and moved smoothly into the movie itself. I watched entranced a D W Griffith wove the threads to four separate stories in four separate time lines into an exciting tapestry. [No spoilers ahead]. Intolerance is the theme throughout, cropping up in each story – the Babylonian/Persian section  – the story of Christ and His Crucifixion – France in the 16th Century and the St Batholomew’s Day Massacre – and a modern (i.e. 1915 modern) story of a young couple torn apart by societal forces. And the organ added more than musical accompaniment, chiming in with sound effects – whistles, car horns, etc., at the appropriate cue.

And the constant reminder (a poetic touch) of the hand rocking the cradle.

The Parades Gone By the Stationery Store

the Parades Gone By the Stationery Store

My parents finally found a home for us in Renton. It was in the Kennydale area, up alongside of Lake Washington. We had no view of the lake, as we were well away from it, and only a couple of lots over from the I-405 freeway.
So, I now drove to work from the opposite direction (i.e. no longer from SeaTac Airport). I could literally go from a nearby on-ramp to a cloverleaf near the theater, which gave me access to Grady Way from the beginning of the Valley freeway, which if continued on would take you to Seattle via Rainier Avenue.
Sometimes, I would take the back way through Renton, especially if I were not in any hurry. I found a favorite stopping place, just off downtown – a stationery store. But besides paper, pens, pencils and other office supplies, it also carried books. Nowadays, my comics stayed in their boxes, as I more and more delved into the real books upon which my Classics Illustrated were based. I did still check out some from the library, but now that I had my own money (a whole 1.25 per hour) I looked to acquire certain titles for myself.
It may well have been on my first visit to this store that I found a book by Kevin Brownlow. It was an oversized paperback that caught my eye on one of those revolving racks. It wasn’t his name that grabbed my attention, for I’d never heard of Mr Brownlow. It was the title that intrigued me – The Parade’s Gone By. The blurb read “Recreates the earliest days of the Movies.” In short it was all about silents. Mr Brownlow had interviewed many of the pioneers of the “new” art form, and here retold their story.
It was a fantastic read, one of those volumes that you did not not want to end. When you came to the end of a section, as long as there was another, you rejoiced. He talked about the silent stars, of course, but also about the directors, the cameramen, the writers, the editors, the moguls and others that toiled behind the scenes. And there were tons of pictures, stills from the films themselves and candid shots from behind the scenes.
You really caught from Brownlow his love for this era and his concern for the preservation of these films. The read did come to an end, but not without birthing a desire in me to see some of these films someday. To date all I’d seen were a few Harold Lloyd titles (more were listed in this tome), and dim memories of Laurel and Hardy. Now I not only wanted to catch up on the other comedians such as Chaplin and Keaton, but also other Hollywood luminaries such as Fairbanks and Pickford and Valentino etc.
Most of all I wanted to see the films of D. W. Griffith, and above all else, his masterpiece Intolerance. The photos for its Babylon set captivated me. But that event would be a couple of years in the future. For now the parade for me had not even started.