I am tired of sheltering in place, sick of the stream being broken because too many of my neighbors are making the same demands of it. Most of all, I’m weary of not sitting in the dark with strangers, gazing up. I will always miss the big big screens of my youth, when Technicolor was in bloom. But even the diminished screens most theaters before the Pandemic offered are beginning to seem as exotic as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
I’d settle in comfortably now...just to rub shoulders with strangers. I wonder if at least some of our unrest, civil and otherwise, could be quelled by this simple act of communion? — sitting down without fear of contamination, together in the dark.
Theaters are suffering, and so are we. They’re closed, and we’re home. Even Trader Joe’s has”senior hours.” Restaurants have it hard, but at least they can offer carryouts, or lean-to’s on the street where you can sit spaced apart. You can go to Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side, bundle up and order salmon, while watching fellow New Yorkers soldier on. Two weekends ago, we did just that, and while we were sitting in Barney’s chrome chairs, and I was musing, “...this is almost warm enough to be Key West!” a man walked by, masked of course. He had a Schnauzer on a leash, and I kid you not the dog was also wearing a tiny white mask! You have to take your theater where you can get it.
Before last March we would have gone to a flick after bagels and lox. It’s that same thing we love, and we need – sitting shoulder-to-shoulder for several hours with no windows or doors open – that has led to all those touching messages on marquees.
So we keep on with our old episodes of What’s My Line (we’re up to 1960 now, having watched several hundred) and binge watch The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown. And Colbert, of course. I was stunned and pleased Friday when he completely anticipated what I’m feeling about going to the movies. Not a movie, just, well...movies.
You’ll find a link shortly. You have to watch the whole show to get the segment I’m talking about, but here’s why you should watch it:
“...Warner...Its 2021 Films will arrive in theaters and streaming on HBO Max simultaneously including The Matrix 4!
That’s so exciting! I can hardly wait to escape to a.. a fantasy world where all human contact is virtual and we’re kept immobile while consuming high-calorie sludge!
Everyone’s wondering when we’re gonna go to the movies and when we’ll feel normal again...”
Amen, I say.
(Image of a generic marquee)
(Colbert presents) “the most anticipated film of the year.”
(Clips that resemble a preview mash-up)
“...a movie really any movie in a theater would be great!”
*a romantic comedy
*a spy thriller
*or another Marvel thing
*I would even sit through one of those movies where a dog teaches a family the true meaning of Jesus. Or whatever.
“...Together we’ll have to sit through 20 minutes of ads before they even start the previews.”
("Finnegan’s Fish Loaf: a mutiny of flavors in every bite...")
But it’s not the movies that bring it home. It’s the faces, the boredom, fear, delight, a hand reaching into giant popcorn. The light on these faces, all facing the same direction. And what I’ve neglected is the Chyrons, of which I’ll tease just one: “...THE ONLY DEADLY PATHOGENS ARE ON EVERY INCH OF THE FLOOR. Now that’s nostalgia! And speaking as an ex-theater manager, you have no idea.
Don’t miss the whole segment! Here’s the link to the complete show, which was really, really worth watching, from beginning to end.
Can’t resist; here’s the last bit:
"This film is not yet rated, as the future remains a dark enigma."