Personal Notes on Streets of Fire

Coolidge Corner

Well, more personal.  I guess I already spilled a significant amount of my guts in the original review post.

Still, I wouldn’t be entirely honest if I didn’t admit that I don’t just love Streets of Fire for its own sake, but for the memories associated with it. 

This is hardly uncommon.  This is why the word “particulus“, as invented by Winston Rowntree, really does need to enter the language.

When I first saw Streets of Fire, I was fresh out of college, living in Boston with the girl I thought was the love of my life.  We worked two jobs apiece and were still so poor that spaghetti with meat sauce and sparkling cider was a celebratory dinner, and going to see The Phantom Menace was a splurge that almost left us stranded on the far side of town until the trains re-opened in the morning (one thing I love about NYC: 24-hour subways).

As poor as we were and as hard as we were working, there was still a bright edge to things.  It was 1999, the Dot Com Bubble hadn’t burst yet, George W. Bush hadn’t come to office yet, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut was in theatres and we were all heading for the science-fiction year of 2000.  Me and The Girl were out on our own for the first time, and I’d never lived in a city before.  I was thrilled by such wonders as book stores and comic shops that were actually within walking distance of my own apartment, and multiple videos stores in my neighborhood!  Even the T Trains amazed me – the sheer wonder that I could hop on a train outside my front door and end up…anywhere in the city at all.    

But most wondrous of all was the arthouse theatre on Coolidge Corner, down on the other end of Harvard Street from our apartment on Commonwealth Ave.  I loved that theatre.  We only ever saw three movies there – Dogma, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Streets of Fire itself, as part of a series of eighties rock & roll movies – but I loved having a theatre in the neighborhood that I could just walk to, instead of having to schlep there and back on the train (though that’s still better than having to drive to the nearest city, which is what I’d had to do when I lived in Camden).  I loved being close to a movie house that did things like that rock & roll series – it was part of living in a young, vital, artistic community.  Such things exist in New York, of course, but I’m not a part of them anymore. 

I remember, as we walked home after seeing each of those movies (but especially after Streets of Fire.  It seemed particularly well-suited to a bright, gaudy, run-by-local-young-folk-instead-of-a-big-corporation place like that), that it seemed magical.  A kind of enchantment that didn’t break until we woke up and saw the Sun the next morning. 

Actually, the magic lingered a little longer than that for Streets of Fire.  “Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young” inspired me: there were some things about being young that I’d missed when I was in high school – going to the Senior Ball, watching the Sun come up over the highway from the windows of the Grist Mill (our local greasy spoon) with my friends, that sort of thing – but I was still young.  So were my friends.  We all had dates now, we could hold our own prom, find our way to a greasy spoon in the small hours of the morning after.  It was a popular idea.

Never happened, though. 

In the end, Boston turned out to be like one of those relationships that starts very passionate, but goes very wrong, and ends up with hard feelings on all sides.  I don’t go back there much anymore.  Even if I did, a lot of the things I loved are gone now.

The relationship with the girl ended a bit better.  We keep in touch. 

Still, every time I watch Streets – if I haven’t watched it too often recently and developed an immunity to it – I’m transported back there, to that dark, bright-edged time.  And I’m inspired to be young one more time.

(Originally wanted to post this immediately after my review last week, but actual paid work happens.)


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Filed under Inspirations, My Life, Reviews

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