When I first arrived in Ann Arbor I was just another freshman stuck in the isolating confines of Bursley. The first year came and went and I didn’t get the true Ann Arbor experience my peers were raving about – the parties, the girls and the underage drinking. Places like Best Buy and Meijer were mere figments of my imagination as visiting both mecha-stores involved taking a prolonged busride to the outskirts of Washtenaw County. On the rare occasion I did venture outside of the correctional facility-esque North Campus environment I always went to the same place – the State Theater.

The State Theater, while not nearly as luxuruious as its neighboring movie venue, attracted me for one simple reason – classic midnight movies every Saturday. My first trip to the decrepit movie theater at the intersection of State and Liberty was for a special screening of James Cameron’s sci-fi shoot ’em up “Aliens.” While the print was far from good (I remember several of the key action sequences were accented with random green blotches) the notion of seeing one of my favorite movies on the big screen was enough to validate going to the University of Michigan for my undergraduate education.

A few weeks later the State Theater announced it would be showing “Die Hard” just before fall semester exams. “Die Hard” has always had a special significance for me as it was the first R-rated movie I ever saw in the theater. Since its initial release in July of 1988, I have seen the film well over 300 times and to this day I don’t get sick of seeing Reginald VelJohnson driving like Stevie Wonder around the Nakatomi Building. Looking back at my last four years in Ann Arbor, my viewing of “Die Hard” at the State ranks among my fondest memories.

For every midnight I spent at the State I probably spent at least four afternoons roaming around Ann Arbor’s other great movie venue – the Michigan Theater.

If it wasn’t for the Michigan Theater I would have never seen many of the great independent and art-house film that have been released in my as a Michigan student. Films like “Russian Ark,” “The Kid Stays in the Picture” and the recent “Spider” usually play in only 10 cities around the whole country and Ann Arbor is fortunate enough to be one of them thanks to the efforts of the Michigan Theater.

When i move out of the 48109 zip code later this month I won’t miss Michigan Stadium, Angell Hall, or the various coffee shops smothering our campus. Instead, I’ll look back fondly at all the time I wasted in the uncomfortable seats of the State and Michigan doing what I love most -watching movies.

– Jeff Dickerson can be reached at a href=”mailto:jsdicker@umich.edu”> jsdicker@umich.edu.

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