I have been asking people about and meaning to try a seafood restaurant down the street for quite a while now. After a few failed attempts, I finally managed to visit the Crystal River Seafood restaurant.
Those I have talked to about Crystal River are divided on the issue of quality, but my experience was extremely positive. The food and service were both excellent. The value per dollar was fair considering how much food was included with my entrée. And although the non-stop modern country music was uninvited, it was pleasantly ignorable.
At least until the older African-American woman seated at the table closest to my booth recognized one tune in particular and proceeded to proudly sing along. The wrinkles in her face seemed to dance as she struggled not to smile too widely. As soon as the song closed, so did she sharing a laugh with her party.
When I first arrived, the considerate hostess/cashier not only asked my preference of booth versus table but also if I wanted a seat by the window; a particularly appreciated question when dining alone. My waitress—server number twenty-two; why I remember that from the bill but not her name escapes me—was no less pleasant or attentive.
I enjoyed the catch of the day Mahi-Mahi, Cajun blackened, with seasoned rice, green beans and coleslaw while watching life go by at the westside intersection of Tennessee Street and Ocala Road. Including a soft drink and tax, the total was around twenty dollars, totally acceptable for a large Friday/payday meal.
While the hostess/cashier from earlier was running my credit card, she broke from the transaction to say, "Has anyone ever said you look of Tobey Maguire?"
There was some ambient noise that masked her muted statement so I said, "Excuse me?"
"Your eyes in particular," she clarified, "they remind me of Tobey Maguire."
As I signed the credit slip, I was privately entertained that I had earlier stopped watching Wonder Boys to go to dinner and was now returning home to finish it. While I hope my stories and general disposition remind no one of a "gloomy gulag,"—a term Michael Douglas' character uses to describe Maguire's James Leer—I will take her statement as a compliment.
When I turned the DVD player back on, the movie was about half over. When the story's climax scene arrived, I watched it a few times, once frame by frame.
You see, I have been interested in the filming location of this particular scene for quite a while and once did some searching. Unfortunately, since the film did not do very well commercially, the amount of information available online is a bit limited. I was not going to let that stop me this time, however; I was determined to find the answers. And I did.
First, a little context. Author Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) and editor Terry Crabtree (Robert Downey, Jr.) are looking for Tripp's dark maroon 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 which had been stolen by the car's real owner the night before. The scene begins as they approach Kravnick's Sporting Goods shop, located in a building next to some railroad tracks, a river and one of the many Pittsburgh area bridges used throughout the film in scenes important to character development.
When I originally looked for information on this place, I did so using web-based imaging software to glean a look. In Tripp's closing narrative, he references the above scene and names the adjacent river as the Monongahela. Figuring I knew the scene well enough to recognize the location, unless it had radically changed since 1999, I proceeded east along the Monongahela from downtown but never found anything.
After I recently purchased the Wonder Boys DVD, I learned from an extra feature that the scene in question was filmed west of downtown, not east. I went back to the aerial photographs online, tracing the Ohio river west from Point State Park, where the Monongahela and Allegheny combine. After finding a location that was a match candidate, I searched for more information on the nearby bridge and found proof that it was indeed the spot.
The Kravnick's exterior is actually the home of Beaver Valley Bowl, 25 New York Avenue, Rochester, Pennsylvania. The bridge visible in the background crossing the Ohio River is the Monaca-Rochester Bridge. Not to be confused with the bridge, the elevated roadway visible behind the action in shots away from the river is also, interestingly enough, New York Avenue.
It turns out this bridge is best known locally not for its transportation use, but for its annual renaming. The winner of the high school football game featuring the Monaca Indians and the Rochester Rams earns the additional reward of top billing.
The bridge's name has always been a matter of contention for residents, but when a photo shoot for an upcoming game featured the longtime rivals tugging on a sign for the bridge, the contest heated up.
Then in 1987, Mayors John Antoline and Gerald Lavalle of Monaca and Rochester respectively, agreed to change the name of the bridge in honor of the game's winner. Thus, the present name is the Rochester-Monaca Bridge, as the Rams last outplayed the Indians, 42 to 6, on 21 October 2005. This year's match-up will be held on 27 October.
As a matter of record, the bridge was known as the Rochester-Monaca when captured on film. When you next find yourself watching Wonder Boys, you can think of this as you see Grady Tripp's life change in front of him.
UPDATE: 28 October 2006, 1602
The Rochester Rams once again claimed victory over Monaca in a shut-out performance last night. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the following:Rochester 41, Monaca 0 — Derek Moye had 203 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, as No. 1 Rochester (9–0, 6–0) cruised to a Big 7 Conference victory over No. 9 Monaca (5–4, 4–2). Moye had two punt returns for touchdowns (40 and 70 yards) and an 11-yard run for a score. Rochester clinched the conference championship with the victory.For another year, they win the honour of first billing in the bridge's name: Rochester-Monaca.