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Pleased to Meet You

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Curtis McCrary, executive director of the Rialto Theatre and its brand new R Bar, talks owls, ’90s commercials and other “worthless shit”. (His words, people, not ours…) Cover photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star.

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Photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star

Early bird or night owl? “Night owl, naturally. First of all, owls are much cooler than other birds, not to mention wiser. Secondly, night is where it’s at. That’s when the interesting stuff happens. There was this crappy commercial from the early ’90s that had a jingle that went “I move better in the night” and that’s always stayed with me, both for its truth but also because I have the uncanny ability to forever remember the most worthless shit.

“It’s pretty much a necessity to be a night owl in this realm of endeavor. There’s a big part of me that craves the regularity of an early-bird schedule, but never so much that I’d trade it.”

Favorite accessory? “I gotta go with a smartphone, or more specifically an iPhone. It’s funny, early on in the life of the iPhone there was lots of rhetoric about how people wanted them so as to be fashionable, trendy, etcetera, which ignored the incredible usefulness of the device. It’s a truly remarkable thing to have an information resource more powerful and useful than the Library of Alexandria at your fingertips at all times. We are the first generation in history with this ability, and along with the internet itself, it’s a game-changer in ways we’ve only barely begun to understand.

iphone “With all that said, I agree that there are downsides to people living a device-mediated existence. There is much merit in being present, and not constantly distracted by the ephemeral goings-on of the virtual world. I am selective about when I give my device attention. It’s how you use it and what you make of it. This is true of all things.”

Favorite faux pas? “Does it make me unimaginative to say that I try to avoid faux pas wherever possible and therefore why would I have a favorite? As a person who is, to put it charitably, easily annoyed, I try to keep my own faux pas to a minimum in an attempt to be considerate of others. So I guess “innocent” ones that only impact the false-stepper and not other people are considerably more tolerable (like, say, someone putting their shirt on inside-out).

“Here’s an example of one I hate, which is not what you asked, but sue me: You’re in traffic, signs announce a lane closure, considerate people get over as soon as possible, but jerks commit the faux pas of thinking that it’s no big deal to zoom up and cut in at the last minute, failing to realize (or care) that that’s why traffic is backing up. Maybe that’s more of a dick move than a faux pas. We should ask Larry David.”

Who is your dream customer? “I guess I don’t dream about customers! Except that nightmare that servers have, and if you’ve ever waited tables, you know this one — you dream you have forgotten a table in your section for an hour, but instead of leaving or getting your attention, they’re just super pissed at you. But I think good customers, patronizing an establishment that they either like or think they might like, should assume good faith on the part of the establishment until they have substantial reason to think otherwise.


Photo by Gillian Drummond

“I think the tendency of people to slag businesses on Yelp or other crowdsourced review sites is rather unfortunate. I believe in voting with your feet when you don’t like a place or have a bad experience. So I guess that means that my “dream customer” is someone who is there because they have an appreciation of what the establishment is, and does, and they patronize your place with regularity, and if they have an issue or a problem, they tell you about it directly.”

If I weren’t executive director of the Rialto Theatre I would… “Honestly, I have no idea. I would more than likely be working in the live music biz in some fashion, but that’s far from a certainty. I’m not sure what else I’m qualified to do that I would find tolerable. It’s not a big list. I have a long-held fantasy about being a helicopter pilot like T.C. from Magnum P.I. (how’s that for a contemporary reference?) but I think at my age that ship has sailed, so to speak.”

If I could change one thing I would… “Yes, absolutely. Or more than one thing, even!”

* When he’s not being cheeky and/or staying up late, Curtis McCrary heads up the historic Rialto Theatre on Congress Street in downtown Tucson, originally a 1920s vaudeville venue and now a live concert spot. This month sees the opening of the Rialto’s spin-off business, R Bar. You can find it around the corner from the theatre on S. Herbert Avenue. 


The R Bar, the Rialto’s spin-off pub, is scheduled to open July 4th. Photo by Gillian Drummond



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