Entering the “Live Off Groupon” Contest

Groupon.com is running this crazy contest to find someone who is willing to live off of nothing but their coupon/gift certificates for a year. I thought it sounded really cool and decided to enter, which involved making two YouTube videos, writing an essay and a blog post, and of course being “eccentric” enough to actually want to do it. I’m putting the blog post (about the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square) up here, along with the two videos. Those of you who know me can judge my eccentricity:

Blog Post: Bogart at the Gym

Fifteen movies in Harvard Square for $2 each! Why did I hesitate on that Groupon?

The Brattle Theatre‘s offer of a year-long membership for just $35 was so popular that they called Groupon after just a few hours to plead “Please shut it off!” Even still, 1250 people got tickets to 15 films, discounted popcorn, and the satisfaction of supporting a 120-year-old cultural center. They would have kept it going, but they’d increased their membership rolls by 25% in less than a day, and they didn’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork for months to come.

Of course, I saw this Groupon just minutes before it sold out. Before I clicked “Buy,” I paused to tell a few friends — when I went back, it was gone. Luckily, I didn’t let my disappointment stop me from dropping in on the Brattle’s Creative Director this week. Ned Hinkle has been at the Brattle Theatre for over a decade (he actually built their first website by hand), and he graciously invited me to climb up into the balcony with him for a chat.

The theater started out as Brattle Hall back in 1890, and it’s been in pretty much continuous operation ever since. It started out as a social club and live theater, and had stints as a ballet school and even a police gymnasium along the way. It was retrofitted for movies in 1953, and has spent the almost six decades since then showing art films, classics, and cult favorites. It’s also started a couple of cult traditions, including one that lures Harvard students away from studying for finals to watch Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon — a tradition that Hinkle said made Bogart the classic icon he is today.

Brattle Hall also houses a great cafe and restaurant, making it a one-stop night on the town, right in the heart of Harvard Square. Even if you missed out on the Groupon, the Brattle is a great place to experience films you’ll never get to see on the big screen — whether they’re classics or current contenders for festival honors.

Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Video: Interview at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA


Video: “Live Off Groupon” Contest Introduction Video