Then Disney came along and fucked everything up.
Now Times Square is a squeaky clean repository of corporate greed, with all kinds of middle-American chain stores competing with one another for the tourist dollar and the occasional theater or music venue allowed to remain so long as it traffics only in bourgeois pablum.
There does, however, remain one aspect of Times Square unchanged from the halcyon days of pimps 'n whores. I'm not talking about the roaming madmen handing out "The World Will End Next Year" pamphlets as they have for the past five decades. Those are sort of like our version of the mascots who roam Disney World, they exist to give Ma and Pa Boise a little thrill of danger. No, I'm talking about a movie theater.
There is a very nice movie theater in Times Square called the AMC 25. It is modern, sleek, clean, with nice seats and friendly staff members. It features a wide variety of movies ranging from the latest blockbusters to documentaries and semi-mainstream art films. Other than the relatively small screens it is a genuinely pleasant place to visit, and would feel at home in the Mall of America. This is not the story of that theater.
Across the street from the AMC, sandwiched between the Coldstone Creamery and Chevy's (Middle American Tex-Mex food, flavor removed OR YOUR MONEY BACK!) is the Loews Cineplex E-Walk theater and it is a filthy horrible mess. Unlike the AMC it plays almost strictly mainstream junk films. It costs twenty five cents more a ticket. It is in an ugly building with an unkempt facade. In other words it's old-school Times Square.
It is to this theater that I went yesterday to see "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." It wasn't a matter of wanting to go there, I just wanted to see the film and it was the most convenient theater to where I was. I walked down there from around 60th street, moving at a fast clip in order to catch the 7:05 showing and get a good mile of exercise in.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the place was the fact that on a relatively warm May day it was no cooler inside than it had been out. "Okay" I thought to myself. Maybe they just haven't turned the air-conditioning on, or it's only on in the theaters. The second thing I noticed was that most of the self-serve ticket machines were out of order, a couple with screens that made them look like they'd been hacked. I didn't have any cash on me so I needed to find a functional machine, which I did in the way back of the lobby right next to a teenage couple who appeared to be locked in a desperate search for one another's tonsils. I got my ticket and went to enter the theater.
The third thing I noticed was that the escalators* weren't running. This struck me as odd, since it's unusual for both escalators to be out at the same time and the one that's working is usually commandeered to be the "up" escalator for the day. I shrugged and headed up one of them, only to find my way blocked by someone else trying to get down. It was anarchy on the escalators, with both broken nobody was sure which one to take, and the kind of people who go to see "Unleashed" at 7:00 on a Thursday are not the sort who follow the rule of "Stay to your right on the stairs." After a little confusion I managed to get up to the second bank of escalators. Also broken. I got up this one and found a ticket taker, who took my ticket and pointed me up to my theater with all the kindness and grace that one might expect from, say, a repo man. I'm not saying he wasn't a people person, but on his name tag was written "Customer Satisfaction Associate Charles Graner."
I went up the next bank of escalators, one of which was working (Making a grand total of 1 out of 8. Now that's what I call MAINTENANCE!) and encountered what appeared to be a desolate wasteland. There was nobody at the concession stand, no other patrons were around, and I thought I saw a tumbleweed blow by. After a few glances around I managed to locate another Customer Satisfaction Associate and I went up to him to pass through to my theater. He looked at my stub and grunted, shooting me a look that said "Move along or I'll cut you, bitch." I almost shot back my "I'm FROM New York, motherfucker. You want to tangle? You want to dance, cabron? Let's throw down" glare, but then he showed me the knife. It was long and jagged and only some of the dried blood on it appeared to be human. He started picking his fingernails and I moved along to my theater.
As I entered the theater the trailer for Serenity was playing and I realized that my theory about them only having the air conditioning on in the theater was wrong. Dead wrong. I felt like I had stepped into an oven and nobody had had the courtesy to dose me with Zyklon B first. The theater was sparsely populated, so I picked a seat with a good view and sat down to bake. As the previews played a few more people trickled in, the last one an attractive woman (maybe 30) who sat down one seat away from me. I thought "Alright, not too bad." and settled back to enjoy the film.
At this point the long walk, lobby induced fear, and incredible heat of the room kicked in and I started to sweat profusely. At first it was just a trickle down the back of my neck, a little wetness on the shirt collar. That was just the precursor, sort of like the little droplet of liquid that comes out to smooth the way for the coming burst of cum during male orgasm. It was a warning sign. I didn't heed it.
About five minutes into the film the sweat started really coming on. It was beading on my forehead, gathering above my ears, soaking my shirt underneath my armpits. My balls began to marinate, the combination of heat and flowing sweat a perfect storm. The woman near me took off her overshirt to reveal a tight yellow T, and a really spectacular pair of breasts. They were my personal favorite kind, the not too big ones gentle downward slope followed by a brief forward sweep to the nipple. They hung under her raised arms like a pair of ripe melons off the vine, looking soft and succulent and very very juicy. This did not help the sweating. In fact it made it worse. I'm not sure if this is physically possible, but I started to spray. Little jets of liquid shooting out of my sweat glands streaking the seats in front of me with my own personal liquid imprimatur. Drinks I'd had years ago were coming out of me now. I swear a Mountain Dew from 1991 ended up puddled at my feet. All the while I was praying "Don't waft, don't waft. Stagnate, don't waft." As the woman in the nearby seat stretched and settled, her breasts dancing a sensual lambada beneath the fabric of her shirt.
Eventually the sweating stopped and I was able to watch the film. The puddle dried up and I got some satisfaction knowing that "I'll cut you, bitch" guy was going to have some mopping to do. Lambada breasts got up and left 2/3s through the movie, but I think that's just because she didn't like it. As she left I couldn't help whispering to myself "So long, and thanks for all the tits."
I managed to make it out of the theater in under 20 minutes despite the fact that a horde of horrible horrible children was trying to come up both escalators at once at virtually every landing. I made it out into the dank hot air of Times Square and breathed a pollutant rich sigh of relief. I was free from the E-Walk.
For those of you who miss the old Times Square know that it lives on still, as shittily vibrant as ever, but that it probably shouldn't.
*things that go up and down at the mall