I was stumped earlier as to why the Music Palace kept popping up in my mind recently. It's been shut down for years and I've only been inside it once, a long time ago when my mother dragged me in there to catch a film in between errands. I don't remember what the movie was about, the only information that stuck with me from that experience was that the theater wasn't a comfortable place to be in. And so the only reoccurring tie to the building is that I passed by it in the morning and evenings when I walked to the B, D station on Grand Street.
I should also mention that as a kid, I thought the mural on the north wall was kick ass. The real world is a pretty drab place, a kid can only look at a photo for so long before losing interest. But anything drawn, with bright colors (or not) can hold a kid's attention span for hours (except fine art paintings). Graffiti didn't do it for me either, not because it's seen as a scourge on society, but I just never took the time to understand the whole culture behind the art of tagging. Looking back at the mural, I'm not sure why it would appeal to children though (okay, maybe the dragon). The subject matter tells a truth that isn't very appealing. The struggling lives of immigrants in Chinatown, there are great stories to tell, but there's also a lot of suffering going on.
It must have been last week when I walked by it late in the evening with Kevin and Soo that it finally registered in my mind that the building was being torn down. The signs have been in place for years. The last time the theater screened a movie was in 2000. Scaffolding had been put in place and I'm sure I saw it once before as they were just beginning the dismantling process.
While others have a fondness for the theater and others, it was just something on my periphery. Until that night when a majority of the northern wall was missing, and the mural ceased to exist, I never felt much for the building. It had been abandoned and decrepit for many years and was overdue for demolition. But looking back, the Music Palace did have a special place in my memory. It's important because for the majority of my childhood, my mother like many immigrants dedicated her life to the family. This was one of the very few times when she took some time out for herself.