Since I have summer Fridays off from work, I try to take advantage of the cultural and natural amenities of the metropolitan region. I never lack for something to do.
Yearning for the immersive atmosphere of a darkened theater, I recently visited the Film Forum, a cinematic temple in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood. I bought a ticket for The Killers, a noir masterpiece directed by Robert Siodmak and starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.
Last weekend, my wife and I enjoyed the 1954 classic On the Waterfront in 35 mm film on the big screen. (The movie was shot in Hoboken, New Jersey.) While the film was riveting, the true attraction was the movie theater itself.
The Loew’s Jersey Theatre stands across the street from the Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Loew’s opened in 1929 and remains a true movie palace. A temple for artistry and entertainment.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, my brother and I (and later my youngest brother) counted ourselves as rabid professional wrestling fans, not differing much from other boys in grade school and junior high at the time.
Wrestlers were–and, in some ways, still are–cartoon characters, acrobats, carnival barkers, outlaws, and court jesters all rolled into one. They were superheroes and supervillains in the flesh. No amount of brutality, no amount of damage could keep them down.
Professional wrestling is fake. The matches are planned and scripted. As children, we knew this. Adults would love to scoff at the matches on television and remind us of that fact. Did we care? No. The ability of wrestlers to enchant an audience and dispel its disbelief with characters and stories testifies to the performers’ skill as craftsmen and the inexplicable power of the medium itself.
When the WWF rolled into the town, our father would take us to the Erie Civic Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. All the males in the household—our father, my two brothers, and I–would pile into the car and make the two-hour drive to that struggling former manufacturing hub on the shores of Lake Erie (You might ask or add: Which one? There are so many.). We saw many of the great wrestlers of the era: Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Ted Dibiase, the Hart Foundation, the Rockers, just to name a few. However, we never watched one of the more magnetic and influential figures in professional wrestling: Jake “The Snake” Roberts.