Archive for the ‘Congaree Vista’ tag
The date was, I think, 1983, at about this time of year, and pretty much everything was right with the world. The Carter years were over, I was at USC and had, after a bit of flailing around, found something I liked and was was good at that I figured I could spend the forseeable future doing. It was springtime and I was taking a fun elective, "Introduction to Cinema", or some such course title.
I can't now recall the professor's name, but he was quite entertaining and well versed in the material. I remember in particular one of his theories, probably not 100% serious, that people in the first few decades of the 20th century lived their lives much more dramatically than we do now. This would explain, he said, why silent movies look so over-acted to us, but yet when he went back to the original period newspaper reviews of the features, he invariably found praise for the naturalness of the performances. At any rate, we screened many of those silent classics as well as more modern flicks into the French New Wave period and beyond. The kicker for the course was that for the final project, we would split into groups and make our own short films.
Well, as it happened, one of my Computer Science friends was in the course with me, so we formed a group of two for the project. I had, from somewhere, a Super-8 camera with an attached flood, so we were good on the technical side -- all we needed was an idea and script.
Now, one of the films we had screened was Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. I don't know what I would think of it now, but at the time, I believe we both thought it a bit pretentious, and more importantly, a good subject for parody (which could only be helped by the fact that everybody in the audience would have seen the film recently too). I recall very few of the details, but the key fact is that a robed avatar of DEATH was going around taking lives with visual metaphor of a candle going out. We figured that with modern medical technology and life support, HIS job might be a bit less easy. We kicked it around a bit and figured we could get a usable 10 minutes from the idea easily.
Since I had the camera, and there were only two of us, it was obvious that my friend was going to have to be DEATH. It was a bit of a problem that she didn't look at all spooky or dangerous, but she had some ideas for that. Now, she was from North Augusta, so I have no idea how she knew more about this piece of Columbiana than I did (other than I rarely paid attention to anything outside of a book in those days), but she walked us down to the Vista (which was not called that at the time) and into Bluestein's Dry Goods. I had only a vague idea what a "dry goods" store was and certainly would not have automatically included sheets in that category, but she easily found a good sized, inexpensive sheet, and we were out the door. Next we stopped at the grocery for some black Rit dye, and mixing that up in my mother's washer (I have no idea how the next load of clothes came out), we dyed the sheet black.
Wound in black sheets, and with a bit of white makeup, my friend was a perfect DEATH. Next we made some cardboard signs saying "Life Support", and got some trick birthday candles. We put the signs up over the end of hall double doors in LeConte College (the CSCI building at the time), and our tracking shots had DEATH wafting through the corridors of that building and through the doors into the "Life Support" ward. At that point, the idea is that we would cut to the trick candles, and that everytime DEATH would snuff one out, it would re-light. Finally, he would be so frustrated he would break the 7th Seal (on a bottle of Seagrams 7..) We planned the shoot for well after hours (there was no building security in those days) and everything went perfectly without a soul present to ask what in the world we were doing. We got enough footage that we figured we were golden and wrapped up.
Next, I had the film developed, and it was time to edit the movie together. At that point I was suddenly stricken with pollen season allergies like never before and never since. It was non-stop sneezing, and my eyes were watering so badly I literally could not see to use the Moviola. In the end, my friend had to take it and set it up in the downstairs computer remote in the (as we called it at the time, Physical Sciences building) and she edited the movie together completely on her own during her late night shifts as the computer operator there. She did a great job of it, and the film was a hit with the class, we got good grades and moved on to the next semester. As far as I know, she still has the reel somewhere, but I'm sure it's better in memory that it would be watching it again now...
And that's my Bluestein's story!
Art gallery, coffee house and dessert venue, Nonnah's has moved almost directly across the street from it's original Gervais Street location at 930, to 923 Gervais. Somehow I never became a regular at this place. I guess in part that's because I want it to be Kaminsky's and it's not. Every time I've stopped there, it has seemed very cake-oriented to me, and I want pie, cheesecake, tiramisu, mousse and creme brule..
Here is the new location:
According to WIS, Bella Vista closed their doors in late August filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
An update to the story notes that the owner plans to sell the inventory during the bankruptcy procedings. Unfortunately it seems that this inventory includes already spoken-for (and deposit-paid-on) wedding dresses for soon-to-be-brides. Certainly not a good situation. When I took these pictures on 8 September 2013, that sale had apparently yet to take place (though signs for it were in place), as the store, while closed, looked fully stocked.
The adjacent bakery, Lady Antoinette's, is apparently associated and also involved in the bankruptcy.
(Hat tip to commenter Tom)
This Subway was in The Vista Lofts on Gervais Street just above the train cut, a building which lost another restaurant Mezza fairly recently.
I'm guessing that they closed shop at the end of July as that is a logical time as far as leases and bills go, but I don't know for sure. At any rate, all the signage is down and the interior is stripped. The only clue that it was a Subway is the drink cup on the floor.
(Hat tip to commenter Joe)
UPDATE 17 July 2014 -- It's now Black Bean Co.:
I like some Lebanese food quite well, but I never got around to trying Mezza perhaps partly because of the location and partly because of the Hookah Lounge aspect, which I was afraid might put me in a smoking section, something I have less and less tolerance for as the years go on.
At any rate, that's not an option anymore as they closed up shop on Christmas Eve and the place's site proclaims that the space has already been sold.
(Hat tip to commenter Justin)
UPDATE 16 October 2013 -- It's now open as Le Peep:
There was an article in The State about it. I didn't save the link, but the gist as I recall it was that the chain went into bankruptcy, and that as part of their reorganization to come out of it, they were closing stores where the rent was too high and the margin too low to make sense in their current status.
As of a few weeks ago, at least, their Pawleys Island location (really Litchfield, but everybody tries to say they're Pawleys nowadays..) was still open, so they still do have a bit of a non-Midlands presence.
(Hat tip to commenter MB)
UPDATE 14 July 2014 -- As mentioned by commenter Andrew, this building has now been sold:
When I was around 10, I semi-inherited a bunch of darkroom equipment, and drove the guys at Jackson Cameras to distraction with all my questions, and my mother to distraction with all the chemical stains (still there today) on her kitchen countertops. Given that, and the number of film cameras I have salted away in storage somewhere (including a Kodak 616 format box camera that worked the last time I tried it..), I always figured I would drop by film haven The F-Stop Camera Shop someday. I noted when it moved here from Five Points, and somehow still didn't get around to it.
Hard to believe I haven't been in a darkroom since 1976..
UPDATE 12 September 2012: Added two pictures of the place in operation that I forgot to copy over.
Varn's Drug Store / Safran's Antique Galleries / Arcade Auction / I. Pickney Simons Gallery / Thai On Gervais, 926 Gervais Street: 2011 12 comments
I don't know anything about Varns Drug Store other than it was listed in Walsh's Columbia South Carolina City Directory for 1907-08, had "E H Varn" listed as the proprietor and is not there now.
Thai On Gervais was obviously many iterations after Varns. I know they listed in the phonebook from (at least) February 2007 through February 2011, but not in Feburary 2012. Given that, and the current state of the space, I think they must have closed sometime in 2011.
Traffic was heavy enough that I could not step into Gervais Street to get a good frontal shot of this place, but you can see from the sidewalk and side views that it has sort of a "work is being done" look. I did not see any permits or indications as to what is next here however.
UPDATE 11 June 2012: Commenter Larry casts doubt on this actually being Thai On Gervais, at least within the time period suggested by the phonebook. I will try to check the city directories next time I am at the library, but for now I am leaving it. (Varn's I am more confident about).
UPDATE 20 June 2012: After consulting city directories at the RCPL, I can say that from (at least) 1960 through 1970, this space (actually 926-930) was Safran's Antique Galleries. After that, it was apparently vacant for a good while. In 1995, it was listed as Arcade Auction (Charlton Hall Overflow) and from 1995 to (at least) 2000, it was I. Pickney Simons Gallery. That seems to have been the last tenant. No city directory lists Thai On Gervais, but that is definitely in phonebooks..
Commenter Larry points out this State story on the closing of Palmetto Candy & Tobacco. This Columbia institution is on Lincoln Street across from the Seaboard station, and is someplace I have always meant to check out. In the event, as is often the case, I have apparently waited too long.
As the 21 April story (which places the closing time as "about a month ago") notes, there is a "remodeling" sign on the store door, but I find that more often than not in these cases, that is kind of a "the cat is on the roof and won't come down" way to break bad news. This is especially the case given the customer base was apparently largely "filling stations, corner markets, baseball leagues and swimming pools" -- the types of operations which will quickly change to new suppliers and then be reluctant to make yet another change if the place reopens.
(Hat tip to commener Larry)