The Pickford’s new location on Bay Street in downtown Bellingham opened April 7. Joe Rudko/The AS Review

The Pickford Film Center

I was raised in the generation of big-box multiplexes, writes Chelsea Asplund in her May 2 review of the new Pickford Cinema location on Bay Street. “The kind of theaters wedged inside shopping malls, where you have the pleasure of sharing the movie with obnoxious pre-teens who throw popcorn and laugh far too long and too loud.”

I too grew up with the same huge, multi-floored theatres, and I think many of us did. Small, nonprofit theaters are hard to come by these days, and when you have a unique theatre like the Pickford, it’s best to take full advantage of it. That’s why we as a staff chose Asplund’s review as our favorite for the year.  The Pickford is a refreshing change from the monster movie theatres of today, and the substantial upgrade to its new home on Bay Street is a huge accomplishment for a little cinema that was started by volunteers in 1998.

Sure, there were some drawbacks, which Asplund noted, such as the sound being too quiet and the theater’s penchant for showing “subtitled foreign films, Sundance winners or political documentaries.” But overall, Asplund’s review was positive. She wrote, “for the approximately 50,000 people who enjoy the Pickford each year, they’ve come to love, respect and hold the organization dear to their movie-going hearts and it is clear to see why.”

The Pickford Cinema has become a Bellingham icon and a favorite destination of Bellingham locals, so it only makes sense that Asplund’s review of it was our favorite as well. 

Runner up:
The Shakedown

I lied a little bit in my review of The Shakedown, a bar and music venue located 1212 N. State St. I actually really enjoy Lemon Drops: a sugary, sweet drink that mixes vodka, sugar and lemon juice into a lip-puckering way to get a buzz. I guess this would directly contradict my declarative rage against any drink that is a “fancy concoction with an exotic-sounding name,” as I said in my original review. I was feeling harsh that day, apparently. I wish that I could say that I have visited The Shakedown since, but I have not. But not on purpose! Sure, the first time I was not too happy about paying a one-dollar cover charge on a Tuesday night, but that’s not enough to keep me from coming back. After all, they do have great food (Tofu candies, I’m looking at you!) and a packed music calendar.

Lately this thing called “college” has greatly hampered my ability to go out and drink on weekends (or weekdays, no shame), which results in me not being able to attend the “Revenge of the 80’s” themed DJ sets held every Thursday. But as the quarter winds down, I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot more time in the bars, particularly The Shakedown. On June 11, they’ll be throwing a free “Graduation Party” featuring 90’s music and drink specials all night long. A night of listening to Smash Mouth, Third Eye Blind and hopefully some Spice Girls while sipping a beer? Sign me up!

As I said in the original review, “the food was hot, the drinks were strong and the staff was friendly,” and I’m going to assume that all of those things are still true. While I could do without the “Tom Waits Mondays,” The Shakedown still has a lot to offer. Just like my beloved Lemon Drop, you just have to take the sour with the sweet.