Cat Tails, Cardinals & Cinerama

Posted: Monday, January 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, that was a startling start to the morning.
As I stumbled into the kitchen in my bare feet, I accidentally stepped on one of the cat’s tails and in a fraction of a second all of her feline genetic juices kicked in.
Her ears instinctively went back tight to her head..she fell into a crouch..hissing at me..hard!
It was as if all the affection I’ve been heaping on her during our stay; scratching her tummy, petting her rump and giving her expensive treats behind her master’s back, meant nothing as Monet suddenly displayed all the wild characteristics of her African cat cousins and, if she had a little more size to her, wouldn’t have thought twice about grabbing me by the neck and carrying me off into the bushes to be the main course for supper.   
I told her I was sorry but she just trotted away thinking, I suppose, how much like Norwegian cod I would taste.
Well, with all of us Midwesterners out here keeping our tootsies warm for at least part of the winter, Sunday’s win by the Arizona Cardinals over Philadelphia; securing a trip to the Super Bowl, was almost like a victory for the home team…almost.
We long-suffering Vikings fans can find a little comfort in knowing that we kicked the bejeebers out of Arizona at home in December.
Still, the memory of the lowly Cardinals knocking Minnesota out of the playoffs in 2003, is still very vivid in my I felt like I needed a shower after rooting for them  to beat the Eagles yesterday. Okay, you’ve gone this far..might as well get’er’done for the NFC by beating Pittsburgh in 2 weeks.
I’m a big fan of James Lileks, a columnist in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a popular blogger. He’s started a regular Friday feature about Twin Cities movie theaters, past and present and it suddenly reminded me of an unforgettable Minneapolis movie experience I had in 1964.
Everybody around the country, including my hometown, had heard about the magnificent new Cooper Theater in St. Louis Park that had been designed and built exclusively for films shot in “Cinerama!”
For those who don’t remember, Cinerama was a cinematic technological marvel of the time that required special wide angle cameras to shoot..and three projectors to display on a giant screen that wrapped halfway around the theater.
This was way before I-Max and a very big deal. 
When Cinerama was first demonstrated, many people who went to see it reportedly suffered motion sickness right there in their seats from the realistic rides on roller coasters or aboard airplanes diving through the Grand Canyon.
I finally managed to save up enough for me and my soon-to-be wife to make the 200 mile trip to Minneapolis in my 1949 Ford to see Cinerama at the Cooper.
It was incredible!The theater looked like a big orange flying saucer had touched down and left its landing lights turned on. 
The spectacular Cooper Cinerama..just seven minutes from Downtown MinneapolisAfter parking my old car in a covered lot, we entered the odd shaped building and were stunned by the enormous lobby with its lush carpeting and at least five concession areas serving beverages only…no patrons wearing suits and evening gowns.
The theater itself was equally breath-taking..all burnt orange curtains with blue seats.
The movie, which ran for a year at the Cooper, was “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world and was hilarious…athough I don’t know why it was shot in Cinerama since there weren’t many scenes intentionally designed to make audiences go ooh, ahh, shriek in terror or throw up.
On the long ride home, we agreed that it had been a great and exciting day. We vowed to return for the next film but we never did.
The Cooper finally had to switch over to a conventional theater when they stopped making Cinerama movies in the late 60’s.It hung on until 1991 but then, despite some valiant efforts to save it, the unique building departed with much less grace and fanfare than when it arrived; crushed into chunks by a wrecking ball the following year.Ah, well..the price of progress.Have any Cinematic stories to share? Feel free to offer a comment below.

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