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Brookline TAB
Brookline, Massachusetts

Appreciating Summertime Brookline

Dennis Fox

July 29 , 2004

Our daughter's just returned from her first-ever month at sleep away camp. While she was doing whatever it is 11-year-olds do when set free, we old folks did what liberated fiftysomethings do -- a leisurely weekend trip through Vermont, restaurants and movies and long walks here at home, and a few other spontaneities best left undescribed. And since everyone else in town seemed to have disappeared by early July, we often felt we had Brookline to ourselves.

At least that's what we felt until we tried to get opening-night tickets for Fahrenheit 9/11 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Kidless on our regular monthly get-together with friends, we were determined to skip the usual pizza delivery. But the Coolidge was sold out -- great for the independent movie theater, but disappointing to us.

We ended up leaving Brookline for the Fenway Theatre, not the place we'd ordinarily expect to see Michael Moore's politics on display. Remembering the Coolidge, we bought tickets in advance, a good move since the Fenway also sold out.

Most people on line with us looked and acted like they, too, couldn't squeeze into the Coolidge. For one thing, instead of being the oldest Fenway moviegoer yet again, I felt practically young despite finally being eligible for the senior rate; there was nary a fashionable teenager in sight. For another, the pre-film commercials shocked some people enough to boo and hiss. It felt good hearing others' disgust at increasing commercialization, especially at the Fenway where the high ticket prices should guarantee a commercial-free movie.

(Aside: Driving the Turnpike this summer, I suddenly noticed the Citizens Bank ads atop every Fast Lane sign. It seems to me drivers trying to figure out which lane to aim for have enough clutter to sort through without commercial distractions.)

Before the movie, our little group met for Thai food at the nearby Rod Dee. We routinely eat at Rod Dee's original restaurant in Coolidge Corner -- the food is great, the service fast, the prices unbelievably low. The Fenway branch, though, has hotter curry, making me wonder if the Beacon Street place tames its food a bit to suit less-adventurous Brookline tastes.

A few days later my wife and I headed back to the Coolidge. Bypassing the long line this time -- another sold-out Moore showing -- we went to the smaller theater upstairs for a Jazz in June music/film combo. A week later we went back, but this time the Nina Simone film was sold out, after being written up in the Globe. We hung around outside a bit, schmoozing with passing acquaintances.

Sticking to our Coolidge Theatre focus -- as members of the nonprofit theater, we're happy to help its resurgence -- one Tuesday evening we joined another packed crowd for the sneak preview of The Corporation, a non-Michael Moore documentary dissecting the origins and forms of corporate power. Having explored that particular evil during my academic days, I wasn't surprised by too many details, but I was impressed by the audience reaction -- a couple of hundred people even stayed after the long film for a discussion. Seeing The Corporation in a non-corporate theater made it even better.

The preview was timed to arouse interest in the Boston Social Forum, three days of workshops, panel discussions, and lectures at UMass Boston about social and political issues mostly shunted aside at this week's Democratic National Convention. I don't know how many Brookline residents are inside the Fleet Center hobnobbing with Kerry and Kennedy muckamucks, but I bumped into plenty at the Social Forum and then on Boston streets protesting the DNC's Bush-lite policies.

Summer's only half over, but with our daughter back home and a growing string of visitors and family events, it's back to our more structured life. It's still good to be in Brookline, though. It's good to watch the crowds gather for another activism-tinged Coolidge sell-out. It's good to wander around town bumping into friends from one battle or another distributing leaflets or gathering signatures or making plans to march on the Fleet Center. And if the Beacon Street Rod Dee boosted its heat level, it would be even better.

Photo Gallery: Democratic National Convention protests

Note: this version may differ from the published version.

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