In Memoriam – Canal Place Theatre

Oh it is a sad day children. Just after losing the Times-Picayune, comes this. The Canal place mall will no longer have a theater at the end of the month

This may not seem like a big deal to the typical congregation. Who gives a shit about a little movie theater in a rich-ass honkey mall?

I do. This guy. Lets wind back the clock a bit. Before the renovation. Before it became to big for britches. 

Canal Place, as it should always be.
This is the best resolution picture I can find. This is what the glory days looked like. 

From 2002-2007, you are looking at my jam. I lived and died for Canal Place in the glory days. During that time period, this was pretty much the only theater I went to. 

Early on in college, I got really into movies. And I was at Canal Place at least once a month. In fact in the fall of 2002, I was at Canal Place every single weekend. That was my first semester of college, and it was rough to say the least. But hey, I had Canal Place. That was the only year in my life where I had seen all of the Oscar nominees BEFORE they were announced. 

The Canal Place Theater [Editor’s note: For the rest of this blog, Im just going to call it Canal Place. I never gave a shit about the mall (for reasons I am about to explain), so its just Canal Place from here on out] was located in a snooty mall right at the front of Decatur and the french quarter. And that clientele is why it survived. Snooty people are willing to go see obscure movies. Plus the place was dingy. The theaters were tiny. You went there because there was no where else to see good shit. But did they ever have good shit. 

I saw this movie at Canal Place opening weekend. Its still one of my picks for Spike Lee’s best work.

It eventually became like the only theatre in Louisiana worth going to. At a point in the summers when college let out, we would commute an hour into the city just to go to Canal Place and see some movie we were looking forward to. I remember many a New Orleans Film Fest I went to. It felt like a real connection to culture outside of New Orleans. A conduit to what was not in Louisiana. 

The last movie I saw there was Django Unchained, and by then, it was no longer Canal Place. Sure it was in the same spot. Still in Canal Place mall. But Landmark had left it behind when they consolidated down. They tried to make it into one of those dining experience theaters. And dont get me wrong, it was nice. But it wasnt Canal Place. I remember telling the people I was with that it wouldnt last. It wasnt that kind of a place. It was the kind of place where you could see 24 Hour Party People. Not a place for blockbusters. 

And so it goes. Like many of the cool things in life. Indifference lead to its downfall. But, we will always have the memories. 

For example, I will leave you with one right now. This happened to me in college. If you know me, you have heard some version of this story, so this may be a repeat. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Freshman year of college, I had this girl in one of my classes that I was really interested in. And we had many conversations before and after class. We got along well. Well, I did the logical thing and ask her out. 

Dinner and a movie. We would go to canal place, and hit up one of the restaurants I knew about the quarter (the late great Angeli’s, which is also gone).

She said yes with no trepidation. But, little did I know, she wasn’t interested. At least, I think she wasn’t. Never confirmed. More on that in a minute. 

So, I told her we would meet up saturday around 4pm outside my dorm and take the streetcar to the movies. About 10 min before I would meet her I got a ping. “Is it cool if my friends come?”

See, its not a date now. Now its a fucking group thing. But what was I going to do, say no? So I marched off. No support in hand, to meet this girl I liked and her friends. 

The second I meet them I get the immediate bad vibes. The girl I was actually interested in kept her distance from me. These three other girls though talked my ear off the entire time. One of these randoms, had no fucking money. I had to pay for that too. 

I tried talking to the girl I was interested in, but every time I got cut off by one of the group. They asked what movie we would go to, and I wasn’t sure. A ton of good stuff playing at that time. Then the girl with no money piped up. “Any of them have Antonio Banderas?” I said a firm, “No”

She then spent the REST OF THE FUCKING TIME TO THE THEATER talking about how much she loved Antonio Banderas. And how sexy he was and what not. Wouldnt fucking shut up. And every time, said his full name. No pronoun. “Antonio Banderas is the best actor…” etc etc

We finally get to Canal Place, and the group of girls is confused. They have heard of none of the movies there. And the no money girl complained about some fuckin shitty romantic comedy they didnt have. 

I start explaining the overal summary of each movie, which I dont even remember what was playing. Except for one. The movie we ended up seeing. 

As soon as I said, “romantic comedy about S&M” they were onboard. So, I go to buy the tickets. One for my date, who still never spoke to me. One for me, and one for fucking Antonio Banderas. When suddenly, I hear a voice shout out my name. 

I turn around and it was this girl we will call Suzy. 

You know how everyone has this girl who was just like, REALLY into high school. In the most fucking annoying way. That was Suzy. A person I never expected to see again for the rest of my life. 

She was JAZZED UP to see me. Really chuffed. She introduced me to her boyfriend who looked like the guy from Blues Clues, and I introduced my “group of friends.” And left it at that. 

The seating arrangements in the theater couldn’t have been designed worse if Satan himself had chosen them. Picture middle row. Dude from blues clues, Suzy, me, Antonio Banderas, other girl, other girl, and THEN the girl I was actually trying to date. 

Now, if you have seen Secretary. Its got alot of BDSM, sex, nudity, etc. And Suzy was super religious. Every time something even remotely sensitive to her morality happened she would yell out, “OH MY GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD”

This went on the entire movie. 

The movie ends, and I am just ready to get back to campus. Suzy offers the whole crew a ride. I spend most of that ride talking so Suzy wouldnt. Saying what little I knew about what people in high school were doing now. We get out and I was the last one to leave the car. Suzy goes, “You want to know what happened with me?” I say, “You know what Suzy, sure whats up?” She says, “I dated this 40 year old guy (she was 18 at the time) who broke my heart, and I am with this guy now.” I say, “Cool, see ya.” 

As I turn around to walk away, the girls I originally went with had disappeared into the night. 

I never spoke to that girl I tried to date again. When I showed up for class the next monday, she sat somewhere else. Never tried to talk to me, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to either. 

Ah, to be young and dumb as hell. C’est le vie. Canal Place, Ill remember you. You were fucking awesome. 

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