Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cherished neighborhood institution closing; I don't care.

Every time I turn around, it seems like people are lamenting the closure of some unprofitable media vendor in Cambridge. The shuttering of Wordsworth Books, for example, merited a huge amount of attention. I went into Wordsworth a couple of times, and might have even bought a book there once. However, in an area saturated with stores selling new and used books, branches of the second largest library in the nation, and students who shop online as second nature, it's hardly improbable that a small retail outlet with a limited selection of full-price books might get pushed out. But for the entire period leading up to the store's closure, people bellyached about how tragic it was for this long-lived enterprise to be shutting down.

Similarly, the Brattle Theater is apparently about to close and people are all atwitter. In three years at Harvard, I never once set foot in the Brattle Theater. Since I never went in, I can't say whether the venue was particularly posh, but in my general experience, small, old theaters have tiny screens and uncomfortable seats. There are probably rooms on the Harvard campus equipped with screens, projectors, and speakers comparable to this theater. (And those are available free for students; so much for serving the community!)

Old movies I could rent and watch at home. If I was willing to go only a little further than my couch or want a new movie, I could go to the Loews on Church Street. If it's an indie I wanted to see, Kendall Square is near MIT and has a nice new physical plant. And if I was willing to go into Boston, I could be awed by the sound and fury of the giant multiplex on Boston Common. I don't care how long a business has been around. If it's in a relatively concealed location, shows one film at a time, is tiny, and charges just as much as the big chains, patronizing it is a bad deal. Just because something's old doesn't mean it's good. It's usually conservatives that need to hear that, but preservationists in these situations are more often liberal. Of course, they are often liberals who also go to multiplexes and order books from Amazon, but that's secondary.
blog comments powered by Disqus