UHF tonight at Guthrie Green

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Weird Al Yankovic lived in the Bob Wills District before it was cool. His character in a movie did, at any rate.

A two-story building at 114 S. Archer provided the interior and exterior shots of the apartment and adjoining karate studio shown near the beginning of the movie. Tonight (Thursday, October 4, 2012), just three blocks away at Guthrie Green, between Brady and Cameron Streets, Boston and Cincinnati Avenues, you'll be able to see Weird Al's 1989 feature film, "UHF," filmed entirely here in Tulsa with a mix of established stars and character actors (Kevin McCarthy, Billy Barty, Victoria Jackson), then-emerging talents (Michael Richards and Fran Drescher), and hundreds of local extras.

It's an outdoor movie night, free admission, part of a series of movies with Tulsa connections sponsored by Circle Cinema. The movie will begin at dusk.

Next week (2012/10/11) they're showing Mad Dogs and Englishmen, a rockumentary about Joe Cocker's 1971 American tour, which featured many of the musicians that made the Tulsa Sound. Week after next (2012/10/18) it's Eye of God, written and directed by Tulsa's Tim Blake Nelson and filmed around Tulsa and Collinsville. There's an online poll to pick the pre-Halloween horror movie for October 25 -- the choices are Return of the Living Dead, Splinter, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I've been meaning to write something about Guthrie Green since attending the Sunday night symphony concert on the park's opening weekend last month. The George Kaiser Family Foundation has turned a truck transfer facility into an inviting public space that seems to work well whether it's used for formal events or casual enjoyment. We brought our lawn chairs, enjoyed the Tulsa Youth Symphony (our oldest's first performance with the group), then during the long break, noshed on kettle corn and hot dogs from vendors parked along the Cincinnati side, wandered around and found friends.

Then as the sun went down and the stars came out, we listened to the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra put on a concert of Americana and pops, under the direction of Ron Spiegelman, starting appropriately with the Star-Spangled Banner, featuring a medley from Oklahoma!, a tribute to the armed services, Copeland's Rodeo ("Beef -- it's what's for dinner."), Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever, winding up with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and fireworks. It reminded me of the Boston Pops 4th of July concerts on the Esplanade, but with the Tulsa skyline instead of the MIT campus as a backdrop.

Public spaces are tricky to get right, and Tulsa has plenty of local examples of failed parks and plazas -- nice ideas, well furnished, but they don't draw people in large numbers and often become havens for nefarious activity. There's a national organization devoted to distilling what makes a public space work.

Years ago, I enthused about New York's Bryant Park, a formerly failed space that had been turned around. While I suggested establishing something like it on the river, I see many of Bryant Park's appealing elements in Guthrie Green. I like the way they took an obstacle -- the massive loading dock along Cameron Street -- and turned it into an asset -- a place for restrooms and a small cafe, and steps overlooking the lawn.

The park didn't wind up with the name I wanted -- Bob Wills and his brother Johnnie Lee Wills have a far stronger connection to Tulsa than Okemah expat Woody Guthrie.-- but I'm very happy with what GKFF has created in Guthrie Green, and I encourage you to see it for yourself.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 4, 2012 12:30 PM.

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