Media Life: Auburn’s late great Shanghai bar to open again for one day only

State Theater reeling in 35 mm movies again; Skeet Reese finds “perfect” fishing buddy Roy Halladay
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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When Old Town Auburn’s Shanghai Bar closed after 109 years of operation five years ago this month, Richard Yue made a solemn vow. Some way, some day, the quirky watering hole of regional renown would rise again, he promised. Resurrection time arrives June 26, when what Yue and his brother, Herb, are dubbing the Ethereal Metaphysical Post-Shanghai 5-Year Reunion touches down for one day only in Auburn. Two of the Shanghai’s most renowned bar bands – the Fabulous Torpedoes and The Blue Flames – will be back on stage but it won’t be at the original location in Old Town. Instead, organizers are planning to bring in the original back bar for the occasion – at the Auburn Event Center on Harrison Street, next to Pistol Pete’s. The Yues were the last in a family line stretching back to 1896 that had tended bar and kept a Chinese restaurant running in what is now the Auburn Ale House building. The bar and restaurant closed in 2005 after no resolution to a bitter lease renewal feud between the brothers and a cousin living in San Jose. TRAVOLTA ONCE IN THE HOUSE The brothers left with the liquor license and the Shanghai name. Richard Yue said the license was sold when it was discovered that it would lapse within 18 months if they couldn’t get a new bar open. A Mexican restaurant in Lincoln snapped it up at a time when licenses were being sold at a premium. Now it’s time for a reunion. Armed with a name and plenty of memories, the Yues and friends are planning a party that’s heavy on Auburncentric nostalgia. Besides the Shanghai back bar, expect the phone booth, the church pew, elk and moose heads, original stools and other paraphernalia from the establishment. No John Travolta, though. Travolta filmed most of the dramedy “Phenomenon” in Old Town and other Auburn locations in 1995 and unsubstantiated rumors have abounded since then that he has taken up residence in Lake of the Pines, Lincoln or Folsom, while flying his plane in and out of the Lincoln airport. Tickets are for sale in advance at $15 each from Mary Belle’s Restaurant, the Happy Wok, Encore Music and Drooling Dog Bar BQ. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door. The first 100 ticket buyers receive a free reunion T-shirt. In Yue family fashion, the event will last from 3:56 p.m. to 11:54 p.m. The Yues are also looking for photos to put up in a slide show at the event. Richard Yue can be contacted at (530) 346-7121. BACK TO 35 MM After the State Theater trumpeted the purchase of vintage projection equipment, it was a surprise when last month’s Third Thursday movie showing of “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” turned out to be the DVD version. For purists, that meant a pristine Criterion Collection version that left out not only the vibrancy of a film projection but also the scratches, stray hairs and pops associated with 35 mm. Richard Del Balso, co-chairman of the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center’s film committee, said the DVD showing hadn’t happened with any other film in the series and won’t happen this coming Thursday when George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” is on the bill. In fact, the State Theater folks are committed to 35 mm in a digital age that makes it more difficult to come up with the film version, he said. The committee selected its first roster of films assuming that 35 mm versions would be available for all of them. But they ended up scrambling after a search for 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” turned up no copies in circulation. At that point, it was decided to go with a projector and the DVD version. Other films in this year’s series are available in 35 mm, including a rare copy of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The Stanley Kubrick flick is slated for showing July 15. September’s “Blade Runner” is in circulation in 35 mm but availability of the advertised “Director’s Cut” of the film is still uncertain. If push comes to shove, the theater may show the digital director’s cut as well as the film version, Del Balso said. Third Thursdays show times are 7 p.m. by the way. REESE HAS BASEBALL STAR FAN Skeet Reese, Auburn’s superstar bass fishing pro, can add Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and Cy Young winner Roy Halladay to his list of fans. Reese, the 2007 Angler of the Year and runaway leader again this season, was contacted by the Phillies last week to be part of a pre-game video tribute marking Halladay’s perfect game last month in Miami. reported that a Phils video crew jetted to Nashville, Tenn. to meet Reese’s flight and used the ensuing video footage at Citizen’s Bank Park for the Halladay tribute. But it gets better. The Phillies arranged a fishing trip for Reese and Halladay, with the pitcher bringing along his two sons. That’s expected to take place in November, probably on Clear Lake. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at 530-852-0232 or at