Saturday, 7 October 2017

Still the Word




Continuing (oddly I suppose) the walk down memory lane, today brings a fond memory rather than heartbreak.

As I said, one of the by-products of living is that one collects a past. A history that cannot be unwritten.

I now live in San Francisco, California - the latest (and I hope perhaps, final) stop in a series of homes. Toronto, Los Angeles, South Carolina, Cleveland, Paris, France. My wife, son, and I live in the Castro neighbourhood of the city, a colourful, central area of Victorian homes, small shops, restaurants. 

One of the real gems of our neighbourhood is the Castro Theatre, a glorious Spanish baroque cinema opened early in the last century (and reputedly still owned by the family who built it). It screens classic movies as well as the occasional special event with more modern fare (at the time of the Academy Awards, it screened "La La Land" in an event hosted by co-stars Ryan Gosling and  Emma Stone) in a large, balconied auditorium. Before the movies, audiences are entertained by a period Wurlizter pipe organ.

In the Bay Area, we are blessed to have both the Castro and its spiritual cousin, The Stanford Theatre half an hour south in Palo Alto.

Tonight, the Castro is doing a screening of the (less than classic, but still fun) musical movie Grease

As fate would have it, Grease is actually the very first movie that I ever went to without my parents. Back in 1978, at the ripe old age of eight, my mother dropped my older brother Charles and me and two friends at a decidedly less stylish multi-plex of the sort popular in the middle 1970s with a buck each for the ticket and another dollar to buy popcorn.

Back in those days, two bucks was enough for a show and snack.

I don't remember too much about the date. I remember that the mother of our friends, both brothers as well, came to collect us all when the show was over. Brent and Brian Agnew (Brent was my age, and like me, had very blond hair, just a lot curlier; Brian was the about the same age as Charles - perhaps a year older, and, like Charles, had straight, brown hair). 

I still recall pretty clearly climbing out of the way-back (third row) seat of my mother's 1976 Chevrolet station wagon (yes, it had the fake wood panel that was de rigeur at the time), and getting our matinee tickets. We thought we were oh so "with it" in our polyester turtlenecks and Toughskins jeans (pretty sure that that label has joined Sylvania and Hang Ten in the bin of defunct brands).

Grease is not a great movie of course, but it's a fun one. And the music (faux 1950s tunes) are in my Spotify feed. The jokes are corny, and John Travolta is less than convincing as a 'greaser' high school tough. I still laugh when I think of the scene at the Rydell dance where "Blue Moon" is, shall we say, cut short by the T-Bird antics.

I bet that that is the only time in movie history that the name "J Edgar Hoover" ever got a laugh. 

I had no idea what became of the Agnew brothers - we moved away a couple of years later. Turns out, both are on "Facebook" (bless the internet). Brent is a teacher in Gaineseville, GA, and Brian is a school principal in Charleston, SC. 

I think our son will, like I did, like the movie. Some of the jokes will go over his head, as they did mine. I suspect, strongly, that he will laugh at the unfortunate ending of "Blue Moon", like I did.

Childhood, life indeed, is made up of moments. Some of them make you want to cry. Some stick with you in the form of a mildly subversive laugh.


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