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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
July 11, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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July 11, 2014

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BB II tk, The Projection Room has changed little since May of 1929 BY JIM WATSON Just below the Casino's mez- zanine level, tucked away behind an otherwise unremarkable door within the zig-zagging confines of the building's East Wing, lies an integral but largely unknown part of the theater's operations. Only in recent years with the advent of a new "Behind the Scenes" tour offered by the Santa Catalina Island Company have visitors been able to visit the Projection Room operations. And unlike the vast majority of theaters across America, the Projection Room for the Avalon Theatre has remained virtually unchanged from the then-state-of- the-art facility that the world came to see in May of 1929 with the grand opening of Mr. Wrigley's "gathering place." Although the Theatre now fea- tures modem digital and audio projection equipment, like much like the entire town of Avalon itself, the Projection Room (actu- ally a five-room complex located above the theater lobby) is essen- The original Simplex projectors in the Avalon Theatre were initially installed in 1929. Although the theatre's Projection Room now features state-of-the-art digital equipment, much of the original equipment remains, making the facility a living museum. Photo courtesy of the Catalina Island Museum tially a living museum. It is not an intentional recreation of the past, nor is it a carefully-crafted attempt to portray vintage tech- nology from a 21st century point of view. Isolated from the various advancements and oscillations in technology and taste over the past eight decades, the Projection Room is "vintage" simply because it has not been changed. Its ambiance is not "retro" nor is its style "nostalgia" Like Avalon itself, it has simply lived through the years, generally unswayed by society's "improve- ments?' Projector lenses, spotlights, projectionist journals and even fan magazines dating to the 1930s and 1940s are neatly stacked on tables and shelves as if placed there yes- terday. In the case of film projec- tion equipment, much of it is still installed and operational. In fact, a Vaudeville-era spotlight is still called upon from time to time to supplement the modern lighting array. This spotlight uses the same technology as arc welding to produce light, not a traditional bulb. Speaking of carbon arc light- ing, the Theatre retains to of the last carbon-car projectors in America. Like the spotlights, these projectors, installed in 1939, use a positive and negative carbon rod to produce their lighting. The specific model of projec- tors--Brenkert Enarcs with RCA sound heads--they are among the last of their kind in existence, not just in the United States. The entire inventory of spare parts for the pair of vintage projectors is limited to a single gear box locat- ed within the Projection Room complex. One could ransack the forgotten store rooms and base- ments of theaters from Hoboken to Honolulu for spare parts and come up empty-handed. The carbon rods themselves, once produced in abundance by Union Carbide for a Hollywood- crazed world, are now precious artifacts themselves, to be con- sumed sparingly. These two ancient projectors are used only once or twice a year, most notably for the Catalina Island Museum's Silent Move Benefit. The other 364 days of the year, the "Brenkert Brothers" wait patiently for their next per- formance, staring blankly at the screen and at an image projected by their much younger counter- parts. Also found with in the Projection Room is a pair of antique slide projectors which also use carbon arc technology for their light. Until the post-war years, theaters around America often presented a "slide show" before or between feature presentations. These antique "PowerPoint" presentatibns were designed to entertain the audience not with film but rather with music. The machines projected "the lyrics to popular songs of the time and theater-goers sang along, fol- lowing a "bouncing ball" of light that hopped along the tops of the words on the screen. The busy projectionist had to keep changing the individual slides with the lyrics on them fast enough to keep up with the tempo, all the while ensuring that he didn't lose the carbon-arc light- ing. Like much of the other equip- ment in the Projection Room, these slide projectors are no lon- ger used but are retained out of respect for tradition. July Kid's Fishing Derby --thru Aug. 27 Meet at the~ Green Pier each Wednesday at 7 a.m. City of Avalon Recreation Department. 310-510-1987, www.CityofAvalon. com. Summer Beach Bingo Urban Adventure Quest ~hru Aug. 28 Challengem thru Sept. 1 Bring your beach chair and Part game, part tour, solve clues some friends to the South Beach and challenges around Avalon, and Lifeguard stand every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6 -7 p.m. Bingo cards are $1 each and participants can win fun local prizes. City of Avalon Recreation Department. 310-510-1987, www. be entered into a team competition for a free Quest awarded each month. Free Quest can be used in any of 25 Quest cities. Team size is 2 to 5 people. :You MUST use promo code: CATCHALLENGE to be entered into the competition and to receive 15 percent off. Good for the Catalina walking tour only. Aero Club Social Fly-In (weather permitting) m July 12 Fly-in or take the Wildlands Express from the Avalon Plaza to the Airport in the Sky on the sec- ond Saturday of the month from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit with pilots from around the region and view amazing .airplanes. 2nd Saturday of the month. 310-510-0954. www. Xceptional Blues Featuring Must have a smart phone to Billy ThompsonmJuly 19 ;O,E,T,,E~ ~pySinupnineatwww'~atainsan~ham~er of Commerce and Xceptional ~:/: :~: ~ Music Company present this free, THANK YOU ISLAND FRIENDS! A very special and heartfelt thanks for the supportive words and prayers so many Islanders have sent my way, it means so much to me and my family. Through the many years I have grown to feel a part of your Island community, which has been a privilege and a joy. I iook forward to seeing all of you very soon and resume the life I've come to love. CHEERS! MARIE BATHELT Submit your photograph, graphic or art of Catalina. If we use it for a cover, you'll get a free one year subscription to the Islander and recognition. SEND High resolution digital JPEG files-300dpi min.-via email to producti0n Must be original artwork. By submitting work, the senders agree to license publishing "n the Catalina Islander newspaper. Before you go back to the mainland... family friendly Summer Concert Series, next to the Bay on Wrigley Stage. Concerts are from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Inaugural Gold Star Dive ---July 19 Scuba divers search for gold stars in Casino Point Underwater Par to raise funds for the LA County Sheriff's Community Programs and the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. Call Avalon Station Community Services Association. 310-510-0174. August 'Chaplin and Goddard' Exhibit---thru Sept. 28 She was an aspiring actress. He was an acknowledged genius. They shared a secret love. A love Calendar, Page 13 Subscribe today. P.O. Box 428 Avalon, CA 90704 Phone: (310) 510-0500 , Fax (31 O) 510-2882 6 i Friday, July 11, 2014 THE CATAUNA ISLANDER