Tales of the UA Warner Center

First of all: A big thank you to Jamie, who not only donated but used the tool on the donation page to get matching funds from her employer. Yay Jamie! Also: check out Bionic Disco!

A Warning

This is mostly about movie theaters in the eighties, so get ready for some Grandpa Simpson storytelling. Of course, I had an onion tied to my belt, as was the style at the time…

A thing that I’m glad didn’t happen at the UA

Katherine and I were supposed to go on our first date there. It was the day after the end of 11th grade, and I asked her to a movie (after she offered to drive me home so I could ask her out, even though I didn’t know that was the plan). The movie I suggested was playing at the UA, but it was sold out. That was a good thing. Here is the actual UA Warner Center newspaper ad for that day. See if you can guess what I thought would be a good first date.

So many great choices!

Was it:

  • The movie about the old guy who used to dress up like his mother and kill people?
  • The movie about the car thief who murders a cop then gets his innocent ex-girlfriend involved?
  • The fantasy space movie sequel that people were saying was the worst in the series without know how good it would look compared to the coming films?
  • The movie where everyone pretends the creaky old spy dude can still run around, fight squads of trained killers, and have enough energy left over to sleep with women nowhere near his age?

No, it was the movie where a guy in blue tights gets split into a weakling and a drunk by cigarette tar. Superman III, the movie that said “Superman II is just too darn serious.” Be we were lucky: It was sold out, and there was nothing else there we wanted to see (I had ditched school a few weeks earlier to see Return of the Jedi), so we went to the GCC and saw WarGames, a movie about nuclear annihilation that was actual a pretty good first date film.

Magnetic Tape

Before the magic of the Internet, people would check what was playing at a theater one of two ways: They would look in the newspaper for a listing like the one above, or they would call the theater and listen to a tape that listed everything. If you missed part of it, you stayed on the line and it would loop. One day the tape broke, and we ended up answering the phone directly. THIS FREAKED PEOPLE OUT. They wanted a bland recital of movies and times, not a conversation with a human! As soon as they realized interactivity would be involved they would hang up.

My solution: imitate the tape at first. “Hello, and thank you for calling the UA Warner Center Theater, located at 6030 Canoga Avenue, between Oxnard and Erwin Street, behind the El Torito, next to Wickes Furniture. Today in theater one we are proud to present… well, why don’t you just tell me what you’d like to see?”

It didn’t work, and now that opening is forever embedded in my brain.

More Magnetic Tape

Instead of the current style of pre-show commercials, there was a slide show of ads created mostly by local businesses. They had no music, but the theater sound systems were connected to an EIGHT TRACK TAPE PLAYER.

Like this bad boy.

They played music in an endless loop (man what is it with theaters and endless looping tapes?), and by the eighties they were not popular. Very few people owned a player, let alone a recorder.

But Brian owned a recorder.

He had an unspoken mission: Figure out the weirdest sounds he could play without someone complaining. It might be circus music. It might be Yma Sumac. It might be throat singing. I don’t think he ever found something that he had to pull. (When Ty started working at a different theater and continued the mission there, he finally cracked the code: Patrons will complain if you play the soundtrack to “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life,” which repeats whole sections of the movie, before you actually play the movie).

The downside of getting fired to go on a date

Future dates are much more difficult when you have no money.

The upside of getting fired to go on a date

Thanks to a weird and unexpected set of circumstances, losing the job at the theater led me to my first job at a school, which eventually led to me becoming a teacher. So I guess my advice is to be lucky enough to have your screwups lead to better things.

Today’s ride:

Winter weeks are short weeks

Almost a minute of content! Don’t gorge yourself!

Riding in the wind blows

Cold is fine, especially when the sun is out. I can throw on some long sleeves, maybe a set of knee warmers or long pants, and I’ll be plenty warm once I start moving. But the wind? NO. WIND BAD. That means I’ll probably get farther behind in miles until it warms up, which means weird, short videos for a bit.

The Rose Bowl was built in 1922, twenty years after the first “Rose Bowl” game (originally called “The Tournament East-West Game”). Since 1923 only one Rose Bowl game was held somewhere else: in 1942 people were afraid it would be an easy war target, so they moved the game to Duke University in North Carolina. Duke lost the game.

The football from the first game played at the Rose Bowl

This was the first time I rode around the stadium, and I learned one important thing: go clockwise. If you go clockwise you get to ride on a path around the park; counterclockwise and you end up on the regular road.

Magazine clipping of the members of the band The Monkees at the Rose Bowl

The Monkees filming Head.

Lots of movies have been filmed at the Rose Bowl, including mainstream stuff like Yes Man and Cheaper By The Dozen (the 2013 Steve Martin version), but also some odd and/or less remembered stuff, like:

And many music artists have played here. When Depeche Mode was at their peak they had a massive concert at the Rose Bowl.

Other bands:

  • U2
  • Journey
  • *NSYNC
  • Beyonce
  • Jay-Z
  • Eminem
  • Rihanna
  • One Direction
  • 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Coldplay
  • Green Day
  • Taylor Swift
  • Ed Sheeran
  • The Rolling Stones
  • BTS

…and twice KIIS-FM’s Wango Tango, which had a ton of muscial acts. My favorite list is the one from 2003 that has Bowling For Soup as the first/headline band and KISS and the last band, below such noted musical luminaries as Jennifer Love Hewitt, O-Town, and Paris Hilton. No shame in that.

The Happy Days Story

So, here’s the story I almost told during the video:

Many years ago when my friend Ty got married, I was one of his groomsmen. We all wore rented tuxedos. But here’s the thing about tuxedo rental shops: they don’t carry every size tuxedo. They have a range of jackets and pants that fit most people. MOST people. The shop we went to (and probably most tuxedo shops) stocked pants with waistbands you could adjust with clips at the waist. The only pants they had hat fit my waist were huge. At the time Tom Bosley (the dad on Happy Days) was kind of a large guy, so I said I had to wear “Tom Bosley pants.”

Tom Bosley (left, making a perturbed face) wasn’t huge or anything. He just had seventies dad bod. Also pictured: The Fonz (right, making a “cool in the fifties according to people in the seventies” face) from early in the show, when he wasn’t allowed to wear his leather jacket unless he was near his motorcycle.

That was close to 40 years ago, and I believe it’s the last time I wore a tuxedo.

And that’s the whole story. Definitely worth the time you spent reading it.

Also: as the show progressed, Tom Bosley lost quite a bit of weight. I would never have fit in the final pants of Tom Bosley.

This video covers about two weeks of riding: eight or nine rides, depending what you count as a ride. I had planned to show all the rides on one map, but Strava changed their heatmaps and made that difficult. I also don’t want to stick eight or nine rides at the bottom of a post, so if you’re really curious where I rode you’ll have to look at the Strava widget in the sidebar.

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