The Balboa Theatre


I had the fortune or misfortune, depending how you look at it, to have a tonsillectomy exactly a year ago. It may be all ice cream and naptime for kids, but let me tell you, for semi-adults, recovering from a T & A (tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy for you ENT newbies) is really, really shitty. Not only does your throat hurt beyond all get-out, it’s basically a whole new world in there. I won’t go too far, but let’s just say there are scabs, mucus, and all sorts of gross healing things going on that I don’t understand beyond the fact that they severely impede attempts at breathing.

Obviously, you can’t eat very much either, and the doctor, if he or she is nice, gives you a hefty supply of Vicodin. Augmenting the Vicodin, if you’re of the easily nauseated persuasion, are anti-nausea suppositories taken every few hours.

A few days into the recovery, you tend to be a food-starved, vertigo-addled, fiery-throated, nauseated and/or butt-sore creature several pounds lighter than you were before. Searching for any sort of amusement beyond the wasteland that is Netflix Instantview, sipping chicken broth, or staring at the wall wondering where your friends are, you wander up the street to the Balboa Theatre, its beautiful old neon sign flashing like a beacon in the fog. You don’t fucking care what you see, and buy a ticket to Mark Wahlberg’s “The Fighter” – not the best choice while high on Vicodin, but you won’t remember your terror later anyway.

This was my first experience at the Balboa, an old school cinema in the way-Outer Richmond that’s been around since 1926. It’s a neighborhood joint, meaning no crowds, tasty popcorn, and people who will recognize you for your drugged and raving wanderings.

The Balboa has gone through a lot in recent history – facing imminent closure, it was pulled out of a financial rut by its loving Outer Richmond neighbors. And the theater is back on top. Despite the fact that they’re showing “We Bought A Zoo,” a movie that I thought was a huge practical joke until I started seeing previews, the Balboa brings quality films to its tiny, comfy theaters.

Balboa Theatre
3630 Balboa St.
[Outer Richmond]

Photo from Cathy K.

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About the author

Lucy Schiller - Destitute Dispatcher

Lucy's been able to live lots of places but holds her cornfed/pie-fueled Midwestern roots most dear, maintaining too loudly and too often that the Outer Richmond is the Midwest of SF: driven through to get elsewhere and knocked around for no reason (but what other neighborhood has bison?!). You can find Lucy letting things languish in her fridge, purposefully (limoncello!) or not (yogurt...), mouthbreathing, scouring Golden Gate Park for apartment-worthy items, sleepily serving up double nonfat half-caf-half-non-caf lattes at a certain cafe, skulking in various other ones, and yelling under cover of night and costume at SF Bike Party.

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