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New Year's Letter to Michael Moore from Traverse City

New Year’s Eve morning, 2008, found me seated three feet from the night sky, ensconced in a red velvet chair. A bare-chested Tony Curtis moved in front of me speaking in a Cary Grant accent.

If it wasn’t heaven, it was certainly heavenly. My throne was in the balcony of the State Theatre in downtown Traverse City, the night sky was the ceiling covered in tiny lights to mimic a starry night. From my perch I had a stellar view of the Wednesday morning matinee, Some Like it Hot—the classic 1959 black-and-white comedy with Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. Admission was 25 cents, the usual price for Wednesday State Theatre matinees (I treated six members of my family for $1.50). I’m guessing that I’m late on the uptake here, and that plenty of folks in Traverse City already know about this deal. But since I can’t usually get away from my desk long enough to take in a movie, it took a holiday Wednesday to plant me in the theater.

This festive experience was in large part due to Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore—at least that’s how he’s referred to in the national press and on Wiki. Around Traverse City now I just hear Michael Moore. Sometimes, just Michael.

Michael, you write to me (Mike’s Letter), so I’m dropping this line to say thank you for making Traverse City your home base. Since you came to town, this beautiful city by the bay has gotten even more fun. First, you founded the Traverse City Film Festival in 2005. Then in November of 2007 you were instrumental in re-opening the State Theatre. Great movies spur great conversation and inspired restaurants. Do I dare say that I sense the eve of a renaissance in Traverse City? And if that is the case, Michael, how’d you know four years ago, when we were all still pretty flush, that your home state was going to desperately need to birth a Renaissance? Oh, wait, Roger and Me, 1989.

Since courtesy of you I spent two knee-slapping, head-back-laughing hours for a quarter, I’d like to end this with one of those memorable lines from Some Like it Hot. I could compare you to “Jello on springs,”—but that line was meant for Marilyn Monroe. I could say, “Now you have done it, you have really done it.” But Jack Lemmon didn’t utter that happily—given that Tony Curtis had just ripped his falsies.

So I’ll end simply end this note with Osgood Fielding III’s favorite exclamation: Zowie!

Zowie, Michael, Zowie.

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Tags: Michael Moore, Some Like it Hot, State Theatre, Traverse City, Traverse City Film Festival


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Comment by Kate on January 7, 2009 at 3:29pm
Every time we get the chance to drive down to TC, conversation inevitably turns to how fabulous the State Theatre is and how it truly anchored the revitalization of your downtown-- it has such a hip, fun vibe. I've been lucky enough to meet the Moores a few times, and am always amazed at the humble dedication they have to Up North, and to the TC area in particular. I also know we'll never get a movie like Slumdog Millionaire here-- so I'm incredibly jealous of all the fun films you have the opportunity to see!!
Comment by Jodi Simpson on January 7, 2009 at 10:33am
And, Lissa, don't forget the Saturday morning matinees. Same 25 cent ticket, same comfy seating, but these are family flicks geared toward kids and teens. The fun starts at 10:30 every Saturday.
Comment by Steve Morse on January 7, 2009 at 9:14am
A friend of mine in top city government used to say there are three scared cows in Traverse City. After reading today's Record-Eagle, I'd say there are now four.
Comment by Carol Hilton on January 6, 2009 at 5:29pm
Great essay Lissa, I thought I would be reading about how your nursed your 1st baby Chase, 24+ years ago in that same balcony. I have memories of going to the state on Tuesdays while at NMC in the late '70's, I think Tuesdays were 2 for one or something like that. Thanks Michael for all you are doing for Traverse City!


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