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PEACOCKS & TURKEYS

After being on a rather cynical jag the last couple of months, recent favorable experiences in the downtown district of our fair city have produced a kindler, gentler P&T -- for now.

Heavenly Film and ... (Peacock)

Bravo to the theater district's newest addition, the Angelika Film Center and Cafe. A trip to see "The Blair Witch Project" (if you care, we liked it) was our introduction to a movie experience we think is right for downtown. A more spacious and brighter lobby serves coffee and sandwich wraps along with the more traditional film fare, and comfy antique furniture enhances the relaxed, coffeehouse atmosphere. The icing on the cake: $6 to see the flick, a ticket price from heaven these days.

Sidewalk Sounds and ...(Peacock)

Leaving the Angelika on a Friday night took us right out to the facade of the Bijou Grille, where a jazz quartet bopped away to the enjoyment of Bijou patrons and passersby. A little street music goes a long way toward conveying that cosmopolitan city vibe, and we commend the Bijou for offering it Friday evenings for several years now.

Rink Swinging (Peacock)

More, bigger jazz wafted up the street from Key Center, and our curiosity was met by an authentic big band, complete with jazz songstress Nancy Kelly, belting out everyone's wartime favorites. A few bucks got you access to drinks, tables and the dance floor, but the musical experience was open to everyone. A caveat concerning Key Center itself, however, and the parking across Chippewa, is that it prevents all this theater district activity from connecting seamlessly with the vibrancy of the "Chip Strip."

The right things are happening downtown. If it could all be connected and enhanced with a few vendors or late-night hip shopping experiences, we'd really be on our way to having a little urban environment with the activity and energy bigger cities offer. It was enough to warm P&T's collective heart.

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