Monday, January 1, 2007

Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co.

Finally tried Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co. in Charleston. Last year we saw the restaurant in Maui, but it was too crowded. Yes, Bubba-Gump came from the movie Forrest Gump. You can find themes of the movie everywhere in the restaurant, from the movie photos hanging on the wall, to the ping-pong peddle shaped menu (Forrest Gump plays ping pong in the movie). The most interesting invention is the two iron plate signs on the table for you to switch: if you are doing OK, just leave the blue sign saying “RUN, FORREST RUN”; if you need service, switch to the red one saying “STOP, FORREST STOP”. It is said to be the first restaurant inspired by a movie. I found it hard to believe since the idea of a movie theme restaurant is not a hard one. Perhaps from the commercial point of view, it has to be a ‘successful’ Hollywood movie in order to take place in the market or global market.

Fascinated with Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo, my trip to San Francisco was actually a movie tour of most scene locations in the film. It turned out fantastic since the tour covered most charming places in the city, also adding a romantic and mysterious atmosphere. New York, as a dream city, has more potential to offer such movie tours. The Celluloid Skyline by James Sanders explores the dream dimension of New York through a good number of movies. He depicts two New Yorks in his book: The first is a real city, an urban agglomeration of millions. The second is a mythic city, so rich in memory and association and sense of place that to people everywhere it has come to seem real: the New York of such films such as 42nd Street, Rear Window, King Kong, Dead End, The Naked City, Ghostbusters, Annie Hall, Taxi Driver, and Do the Right Thing. A dream city of the imagination, born of that most pervasive of dream media, the movies.

There is already the Sex and the City tour featuring those high-end stores and fancy restaurants in New York. While it is about spending money to imitate the lifestyle pursued in the show, a fetishized materialism at bottom. Woody Allen's Manhattan presents the very charm of New York in a most subtle and complex way, the hybrid personality of New York: the romantic, the humorous, the sensual, the melancholy… A tour of Manhattan would be a more spiritually pleasant one for me.

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