Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What Happened to Paw Filmworks?

Remember Dixie Square Mall? OK, maybe you don't.

It was a large mall in Harvey, Illinois (for the 1960s) with JCPenney ("Penney's") and Montgomery Ward ("Wards"). But due to several well-publicized crime incidents*, it closed in 1978 after only 12 years, even after a third anchor (a huge discount store!), a remodel, and rename (to "Dixie Mall").

You've probably seen it in The Blues Brothers.

"This place has got everything!"

The suburb was just that run down and crime-ridden that it was never demolished. It just sat vacant. Even after some drama in 2006 with a new developer promising great new things, but he turned out to be incompetent, eventually demolishing the wrong part of the mall illegally and ultimately getting arrested for using a gun to intimidate a co-worker.

All about this time, an independent company called Paw Filmworks created a great Dixie Square webpage with maps and lots of photos of the storefronts (or what was left of them). Trailers were created, often utilizing the haunting photos of the mall in its present state (check Chuck's Photo Shop or search Flickr/YouTube for jonrev to see some pictures).

They also ran a decent forum, which had a few regulars and some information I can't find elsewhere, like a store in Orland Square Mall (ironically, one of the minor facts that did DSM in) that sold neon beer signs.

However, the delays ran on for years, with promises of a DVD, then a YouTube exclusive release, then back to DVD, all this time, removing the main DixieSquare.com website, promising to put it back up a new location, then failing to...

...and eventually, in 2008, the videos on YouTube disappeared (with claims of copyright concerns on the music used). I don't know all of them, but there were samples of some sort of concept album that talked about a movie theater, and a sample of "Yours Is No Disgrace" by Yes (that one showing in particular images of Harvey, Illinois when it was a prosperous suburb), and a few others.

But today, there's very little of Pawfilmworks remaining, making one wonder if it was just some fly-by-night operation. There's an interview here but Paul McVay is a common name, and it's hard to search for it. There's two Paul McVays on Facebook, but neither live in Chicago.

Luckily, there's a new Dixie Square site run by someone who does still care about the old mall.

Visit here. It's by jonrev, whose photos are excellent, and it does mention the aborted documentary. It's the best Dixie Square site on the web. (I should mention that the original Dixie Square site had a barbaric JavaScript that blocked right-clicking).

*The history, originally posted on DixieSquare.com can be found here.
http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20081226141953/http://www.pawfilmworks.com/DSMHistory.html (in danger of the dreaded advertiser's robots.txt)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8243916/DixieSquareMall.html (my Dropbox mirror)
http://www.mediafire.com/file/ih2x3usyk1gwc8c/DixieSquareMall.html (via MediaFire)

Thursday, November 28, 2013