Cover Girl

A few weeks ago while at the 99W Drive-In Patrick and I were chatting with Brian, the owner and operator of the 99W. He made mention that a man from Ruralite magazine would be attending working on a piece about drive-ins.

As the evening progressed, Patrick and I made our way back to our car, played some games, and as dusk arrived we were huddled in our coats and a slew of blankets to keep us warm. Despite the cold, I still think sitting outside the car is more comfortable than sitting inside our new Ford Fusion, as great as it is. Then before I knew it the guy from the magazine approached us and was taking our picture. Then a few weeks later I received a message from a friend showing something she received in the mail. And there we were. Patrick and I on the cover!

Thankfully Ruralite also offers a digital copy, and I am able to share the magazine with you all! The story is a breeze to read, and offers a quick, but excellent snapshot of the current state of drive-ins, their history, and highlighting the difficulties in transitioning to digital, touching on Honda’s Project Drive-In, which is how the 99W has been able to keep its gates open. You can read the article here (click “Drive-Ins: The Sequel” on the left grey menu bar).

“I Ain’t Nobody, Dork.”

Last night Patrick and I went to the 99W drive-in (yet again! Seriously, it’s the best part of having a car!) to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 and, the biggest reason, American Graffiti. I was super excited that we were first in line too, so we were for sure able to snag my favorite spot.

The drive-in skirt was a rare new purchase for me at Buffalo Exchange . While Buffalo likes to boast itself as a buy-sell-trade joint made up of recycled goods, it does sell new items, you can tell as usually there is more than one of the item, but also these new items bare yellow tags, while all used goods have white tags. While it’s made of jersey, and features an elastic waistband, I just couldn’t resist (and thankful to uncover it was made in the USA by the company Mezzanine). I’ll openly admit that I am a sucker for anything that features drive-in imagery…comic books, magazines, signs, etc. In high school I had a had a purse with a drive-in on it. Hmm…I wonder whatever became of that purse…?

Blouse: Buffalo Exchange, Eugene, Oregon
Drive-In Skirt: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon
String Tie: Magpie, Portland, Oregon
Shoes: Re-Mix, via a local rummage sale!
Earrings: Don’t recall…

Saturday Night at the Drive In

Yesterday was a friend’s birthday, and we went to the drive-in to celebrate. One of the great things about celebrating the birthday at the 99W drive-in is that you can tell those working at the snack bar and before the movie they will announce everyone’s birthday and what ensues is an orchestra of “Birthday Beeps” – patrons wishing you a happy birthday with their horns. So after our friend’s name was announced multiple cars proceeded to honk their horns 26 times (telling your age is optional). It was all sorts of awesome.

I had been doing organizing around the apartment prior to going to the drive-in, and opted to be as comfortable as possible when it came time to leave; wearing one of my new favorites, a tee by Los Angeles based designer and manufacturer Nudee Dudee, who specializes in making beautiful vintage repro garments, and a pair of Freddies. I didn’t want to fuss too much with jewelry or make-up really, so I just tossed on a copper bracelet to reflect the belt I had on, and slapped on some lipstick, since I feel naked without it these days. I think a really common misconception about vintage is that it’s all skirts and big hair and it’s a huge fuss to get dressed. That really isn’t the case. A blouse and a pair of Freddies is instantly fashionable (seriously, I get so many compliments on my Freddies) but also incredibly comfortable.

Tee: Nudee Dudee, Wanderlust, Portland, Oregon
Jeans: Classics by Freddies of Pinewood
Mocs: Thunderbird by Minnetonka
Beaded Belt: Don’t recall…
Copper Bracelet: I think some antique mall in Yucca Valley…But not sure…

Going Attractions

In my last post, I mentioned I had the pleasure of talking with the operator of the 99W Drive-In, Brian, about the drive-in business, and he informed me about recent documentary, Going Attractions, about drive-ins, and it was available for purchase at the concession stand. So we popped in and purchased a copy, along with some tasty treats that we enjoyed before showtime.

Director April Wright gives a very good history of the drive-in in America, chronicling its birth, boom after World War II, the downfall in the 1970s and 80s and the current state of drive-ins, complete with countless images of drive-ins from their heydays to the heartbreaking images of faded signage and broken neon.

The rise of the automobile in America made everyone want to do everything possible in their cars, including going to the movies, and by the late 1950s America was pushing 5,000 drive-ins. They were a place where families could come together and enjoy a night out, but without the hassle of getting dressed up, as the pre-show and intermission reels boast, “Come as you are!” Many drive-ins catered to families, offering playgrounds, some even had bumper boats and clowns! But as the years went on, drive-ins fought to get first-run movies, and lower-budget, B-movies became the norm, and the age of the teenager came to the drive-in, and that is when the passion pit days came. The 1970s saw not only an economic crisis, but a gasoline crisis as well, and fewer and fewer people were willing to go to the drive-in, which is when drive-ins really began to suffer, and many were forced to cater to the X-rated crowd to keep their gates open. Many also blame the shift in interior design in cars as a factor, as cars began to have bucket seats, and middle consoles, making the drive-in less comfortable. The advents of the VCR, multiplex cinemas and cable television in the 80s saw an even bigger decline in drive-in attendance. Today however drive-ins have seen a slight uptick. Some drive-ins have reopened, and even a few brand new ones have sprung up! Today drive-ins are back to their family state, with pick-up beds full of families hanging out on big inflatable mattresses and folding chairs out front.

Wright also interviews many drive-in operators and historians to really get a good grasp on the times that surrounded the birth, rise and fall of the drive-in. Unlike cinema in its broadest sense, the drive-in is certainly a product of its time, and is not a static entity. It fluctuates with not just the times, but the seasons and Mother Nature as well, and the owners of drive-ins offer a perfect insight into what troubles they faced in the past, and what issues they continue to face.

While not perfect (I found some pixelated photos and a few of the songs annoying), Going Attractions has its heart in the right place, and I admire its warmth, and in-depth look at the drive-in and its owners. One owner mentions that maybe the owners of the remaining drive-ins need to get together and do a Superbowl commercial, and I personally think that’s a marvelous idea! Drive-ins need as much coverage as they can get. These are mom-and-pop operations, small businesses to their core! They are not a part of a huge corporation. They are a part of a unique, and truly American history. The documentary makes mention that there are a handful of drive-ins in other countries (highlighting a few in Germany, Australia and Canada) but the drive-in was born in America and evokes an time period that many of us love and emulate on a daily basis with our clothing. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Going Attractions and sharing it with your friends and family! And don’t forget to support your local drive-in!

Going Attractions is currently available on DVD at many drive-in movie theatres, but is coming to other formats of viewing in the near future! Like Going Attractions on Facebook to stay tuned!

99W goes Digital

Last summer drive-ins across America faced a crisis: switch to digital or go dark. Thirty-five millimeter film met the cutting room for the final time at the end of 2013, and many drive-ins had not been able to make the costly switch to digital, but a savor showed up in the form of Honda. Honda, under the title of Project Drive-In, said they would donate digital projectors to five drive-ins (the later announced they were keeping the voting open to save a few more) in America, based on your votes! “My” drive-in (that is the drive-in closest to where I live), the 99W, was in the running, and I blogged about Project Drive-In last August, and asked for you to vote for the 99W, unless of course your hometown drive-in was in the running. Thankfully the 99W WON! Getting a new digital projector installed during their off-season this last winter! I would like to thank each and every one of you who voted for the 99W, and it is thanks to you that Patrick and I got to go to this beloved icon last night.

Patrick and I had been meaning to get to the drive-in, now that we own a car, but other commitments prevented us from attending until last night. After pulling in, Patrick and I walked around the property and ended up chatting with Brian, the owner of the 99W, and he invited us up to the projection booth to take a peek at the new digital projector, a tombstone for film that he made, as well as get quite the view from atop the concession stand!

Brian shared some of the background about the 99W with us, that the area was originally all orchards, and the battles that the drive-in continues to face, such as ambient light from continued development around the property. It was a true treat to visit the projection booth and look out on all of the cars waiting for dusk as the cottonwood trees waved in the breeze.

If you live in the Portland-Metro area, I can’t encourage you enough to visit the 99W. It’s a true treasure of our area. If you don’t live in the Portland-Metro area, remember that Oregon has the Milton-Freewater Drive-In, Dallas’ Moto Vu Drive-In, and a drive-in in La Grande. Not in Oregon? Use to find a drive-in close to you!

Blouse: Wanderlust, Portland, Oregon
Jeans: Double Rivets by Freddies of Pinewood
Mocs: Thunderbird by Minnetonka
Belt: I don’t remember…

Project Drive-In

Today I want to talk about something very near and dear to my heart: Drive-ins.  The drive-in really embodies all that was wonderful about mid-20th century America, and it is an icon that is disappearing, but there is something we can do!

I love going to the drive-in.  It’s one of the few moments that makes me feel like I almost am back in time and I can’t help but smile the whole time I’m there.  I love the open space with the speaker posts, families tossing around a football as popcorn wafts from the concession stand and as dusk arrives, hunkering down with blankets to catch a double feature.

Sadly, this icon of the 50s is disappearing, and fast.  At their peek, America had over 4,000 drive-ins, but today, less than 400 survive, and by the end of the year, even less may survive.  This is due to the fact that motion picture studios have decided to quit producing film to distribute to cinemas, this then forces cinemas still operating with film projectors to spend around $80,000 to switch to digital.

But Honda is stepping up to the plate with Project Drive-In.   Normally, I wouldn’t give any attention or credit to Honda, but I greatly admire them for what they are doing.  So what is Project Drive-In?  Honda will be donating a digital projector to five drive-ins.  Yes, only five.  So, what you need to do is vote for your drive-in! The five drive-ins that receive the most votes will receive a digital projector.  Don’t see your drive-in? Then I would ask that you consider voting for the 99W Drive-In.  The 99W may not have the best video on the site, but their heart is in the right place.  The 99W been owned and operated by the same family since it was built in 1953.  It’s the closest drive-in to the Portland-Metro area, and fills up to sell-out crowds during the summer weekends.

You can also show your support through sharing via Facebook, Twitter and good ol’ e-mail and by donating, all proceeds will go to the remaining drive-ins.

Please don’t let these American treasures go dark.  They are a part of our culture and heritage, and we cannot lose them.

Drive-In Tips

Earlier, I blogged about going to the drive-in with some of my friends.  I also encouraged those of you who live near a drive-in to attend, so I figured I would also give you some tips for your next trip to the drive-in.

-First things first.  Don’t let the above image happen to you! I have been to the drive-in in the rain, and it wasn’t pleasant.  So be sure to take a look at your weather forecast!

-Visit your drive-in’s website or call ahead with any questions.  Many drive-ins have rules and restrictions.  For example, the 99W does not allow alcohol, BBQs or fireworks, but does allow pets.

-Restrictions regarding outside food varies from drive-in to drive-in.  Check ahead.  But do give the concession food a chance.  The majority of the box office money goes to the studios, so it is the money spent at the concession stand that goes directly to the drive-in.

-Some drive-ins may only take cash. Check ahead and be sure to bring the proper amount.

-Drive-ins no longer use the hanging speakers.  Instead you tune into a radio station.  Bring a battery powered radio so you do not have to use your in car radio.  I have observed many cars in need of a jump at the end of the night.

-If you drive a coupe, I recommend sitting outside of your car.  Bring along folding chairs to set up in front of your car.

-If you drive a hatchback, you can back in to your spot, and lift your hatch up and sit inside the back.  Bring along string or something similar to pull your hatch down to an appropriate level, so those behind you can see the screen.  Common courtesy, folks.  The 99W has what I call the “Twine Police” who go around checking on hatches and give you string to bring your hatch down.

-If you have a pick-up, give consideration to an air mattress.  I’ve seen everything from air mattresses to real mattresses to sofas in the back of pick-ups.

-Regardless of what you drive, remember blankets! And maybe a few pillows too.

-Arrive early to ensure getting a good spot.

-Bring along games or a football or something similar.  You are going to be hanging around awhile while waiting for dusk to arrive.

Have fun and enjoy the show!