Sunday, November 23, 2014

Drive-in Theater Project

Graham, Texas

After being pushed to the back burner for a while to deal with a lot of other things, my American Drive-in Theater book project is back on the front burner. This week I've been listening to my recordings of conversations with theater owners and managers, made during my 17,000 mile road trip in 2012. Dave Scott, current owner of the Graham Drive-in, arranged for Cloys Trout to stop by the theater he owned and operated for about twenty five years, to talk with me. Dave is trying to keep everything exactly as it was in the concession stand to hold on to the nostalgic atmosphere. The theater opened in 1948. My favorite story Cloys had for me was this one:

“I had one old boy come around the back, he paid his way in, and then walked back there [the projection booth] and said, I need to talk to you. And I said what do you want, and he said I used to sneak in this place and one time, I stole some speakers and I want to know how much that speaker was so I can pay you for it. I said when was this? Oh, about fifteen years ago. I said, well, you just paid for that speaker.”


stephen connor said...

Surely there's an NPR episode in all those recordings. Not to mention a CD to accompany the book.

Carl said...

Stephen, unless audio post production is miraculous, the quality isn't there for broadcast. It's hard even to get the content through the multiple problems. I bought the wrong portable digital recorder the first time. It's capable of better sound than I need, but expects decent recording conditions. After finding out how bad the recordings were, I replaced it with a tiny Olympus recorder meant for journalists. It's top potential may not be as high, but it sorts voices from background (my Sony micro-cassette recorder bought in the early 80s had that down pat, so it's not new technology). The great thing about digital recorders is backup. I was always paranoid about transcribing my fragile tiny cassette recordings as soon as possible. With MP3s on the recorder, copied to my MacBook, and backed up from there by TimeMachine, all the pressure is gone because the recordings will remain safely available, however easy or hard they are to decipher.