Phil Drake: A miscue at the movies

first_imgThrough an exchange of e-mails I told him I’d like to meet him if he ever had an event at the multi-screen Pacific’s Vineland Drive-In Theatre in Industry, the last remaining drive-in movie theater in Los Angeles County (Vineland fans will tell you it’s the last drive-in in L.A. and Orange counties, which doesn’t make sense to me since we are in L.A. County). Gomez and his group (check out their neat Web site at had a table in the snack bar March 17. I waddled in just after chatting with the manager for a story I am doing for our Living Here section that comes out in a couple months. I had never been to the Vineland. “There’s no other experience like it if you want to go see a movie and save a ton of cash,” the 45-year-old Gomez said. Gomez and his group want to preserve the last few drive-ins remaining in the area, most in San Bernardino County. • Photo Gallery: Vineland Drive-In Theatre • Video: 3/24: Pacific’s Vineland Drive-In I went to the Vineland Drive-In recently and made an ass out of myself. I don’t say that with any pride. It just seems to happen without much effort on my part. Some folks may consider it a curse. I think of it as a “gift.” About a year or so ago I came across Sal Gomez, who along with some other folks has started the Southern California Drive-In Movie Society, carrying the gauntlet of “preserving the classic drive-in movie experience in Southern California.” After a couple hours of interviews, I decided to chat with young lovers who find the drive-in to be a great place for a date. And then I saw them. A young couple who walked to the snack bar arm in arm. Oh, how they laughed and gazed at each other. “Are you on a date?” I asked the man. “No, we’re just friends,” he replied, as the girl hung even closer to him. “Well, I’m doing a story on the drive-in and I am looking for a young couple who like to go to the movies for a date,” I chortled. “Are you sure you are not dating?” “Look,” the guy said, “I’m homosexual.” Now, a piercing look of embarrassment shot across my face. Flop sweat forced what little hair I have to stick to my forehead and I began to stutter. Here’s a guy who just wanted to go to a drive-in with a friend and some overgrown moron from the paper pesters him into divulging his sexuality. “You guys have a good time,” I stammered. Whatever else I wanted to do didn’t seem important anymore so I waddled back to my truck, lit up a much-needed cigar and watched the other folks driving in to watch movies. Well, I visited the drive-in, met Sal Gomez and made an ass of myself, all in about three hours. Not a personal best. But I left with the knowledge I had tried my best. For more on the Vineland, see our video at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2110last_img