“Shit,” Moria said. “Everybody on earth is going to see this building fall down but us, and we are here.”
“I’m sorry. I should have known this was going to be a big deal. Disney tearing down an historic building and then recreating it in space age plastic just so every decoration inside can be wearing Mouse-ke-ears…people are pissed. And Disney put up a plexi-glass fence so people can actually see the demolition. Of course there is a crowd.”
The Loew’s 175th Street was actually an old movie palace that had been completed in 1930. Also known as the United Palace Theatre, it had been the last delirious movie palace designed by delirious movie palace designer Thomas Lamb, who had the brakes put on his wack-a-doo creations by the Great Depression. The Loew’s 175th St. was a Neo-Classical Moorish Temple Greek Parthanon Hindu Monkey Temple thingy.
After falling into disrepair, the old movie palace had been adopted and restored by Reverend Ike in the 1970s. Reverend Ike was a radio preacher who told his rapt congregations that faith was its own reward because it could make them literally rich. Reverend Ike made Jim Bakker’s PTL Club look like kids with a lemonade stand. Money and the stuff that money can buy was the name of the game.
But, Reverend Ike had done a good job with the Loew’s 175th St. Inside, gilt covered Buddhas, cherubs, griffins, Greek goddesses, and Hindu ascetics all swam together in a sea of red velvet. I could almost forgive him for the giant crosses he’d pooped along the sides and on top of the outside of the building. It looked like a fancy, tacky, religious wedding cake.
Reverend Ike’s improvements on the building were nothing compared to the Disney plan. Disney, fresh from their successful restoration of the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, had set their sights on a rebuildation that would scream their triumphant kiddie-ing of the Big Apple and make any childless adult vomit.
Stage adaptations of their more popular movies were no longer enough for Disney. Not only had they leaked that Toy Story, The Musical, would be the opening production in the Loew’s 175th, but they seriously did plan to raze the entire building and then rebuild it with Mickey Mouse ears on every single Buddha, cherub, griffin, Greek goddess, and Hindu ascetic inside it. Disney had argued that the building would eventually fall down without their attention. The mayor had smiled and agreed. He was a big fan of Disney. They kept everything so clean. Gave him more time to hang out on the President’s ranch.
Moira, Bethel, and I watched the NY1 chopper hover over the doomed building. We dutifully waved, assuming the chopper was filming the crowd, and the protesters shook their signs more enthusiastically. The chopper chopped away from the building, probably having received word that the demolition was about to start. Sure enough, a few seconds later, a cloud of dust was plumed into the air, then we heard a loud, dull crump.
The crowd gasped in disappointment. It was really happening. Signs hadn’t stopped the wrecking ball. Then, the crowd gasped in shock. Something was rising through the puff of dust. Something huge. Enormous wings unfurled. And whatever it was reached out with one foot and snatched the news helicopter like a hawk grabbing a starling.