the original plan of this saturday night was i'd pick up dan from brighton and we'd drive down to roxbury for this undershorts film festival at the berwick research institute that eliza jones e-mailed me the info about earlier this week. the e-mail flyer looked muy interesting, underground and independent short films, music, puppetry - having gone to the found footage film festival at the coolidge corner theatre two weeks ago, i was very much ready for some more weird videos/films. somewhere in my plan there was also time to get some dinner, and after the film festival, we'd go to fenway 13 for the special midnight showing of the big lebowski.
my bad luck started to manifest themselves even before arriving at dan's place. i've driven there many times before, but today i got in the wrong lane (right turn only lane) and was forced to make a turn when i should've gone straight. i ended up taking this crazy circuitous route to william jackson place.
after i picked up dan, we drove to the berwick research institute. now i must admit, i don't do a lot of boston driving, so i had no idea where this place was. i just studied the map before leaving, memorizing a few crucial streets to look out for. at one point (at simmons college) i thought we were lost and i had to pull the car over to get our bearing, but turned out we were going in the right direction (pure luck, it wasn't intentional). we go to dudley square in roxbury, which was very close to the berwick institute, and i parked right beside the dudley square t station. with a printed map in my hands and the directions to the berwick institute, dan and i walked the streets of roxbury, completely standing out, like two lost tourists. the place was amazingly desolate which was further emphasized by the cold weather. despite the fact that it was probably only 6pm, a lot of places were already closed, steel reinforced fences and and segmented accordion doors protecting whatever lies within. we went down one way which turned out to be the wrong direction, and then backtracked the other way to finally come across palmer street, where the berwick research institute was said to be located, according to my map and instructions. the place was even more desolate than our previous location, completely devoid of humans, eerie in its quietness. we arrived at where the institute should've been, but we didn't see any doors or house numbers. for all practical purpose, it looked like an abandoned warehouse. it didn't take long for dan and i to decide that maybe the undershorts film festival isn't such a good idea, if even it was happening tonight, so we got back into the car (after walking around all over dudley square like two lost boys up to no good) and drove away.
the newly revised plan was to get to fenway 13, stash the car, grab some dinner amongst the multitude of restaurants in the kenmore square area, perhaps catch a movie (aaliyah's queen of the damned was high on our list of saturday night campy fun), before catching the big lebowski. driving back, i turn a wrong turn somewhere and instead of being in the fenway area, we found ourselves in the chinatown area. change of plans! we then decided to maybe get some dinner in the north end before going to the movie theatre. so we get to the north end, and can you guess what the north end is like on a saturday night? let's not even mention that there's zero parking anywhere. how about the fact that all the restaurants are crowded, and we'd probably have to wait forever to get a table for two without reservations? seeing the throng of people choking the streets (having just been in roxbury, it was surprising to see so many crackers on the road), we decided to try elsewhere. dan had a hinkering for some legal seafood, so we drove in the direction of the prudential mall.
passing by the theatre district, we spotted a large legal sea food establishment and figured we'd try there, plus they had a large spiral parking garage. it took a while to find parking, we finally found empty spots at the topmost level, level 8. we then took the elevator downstairs and asked the woman at the front desk how long a wait. "do you have a reservation?" she asked. right away that's a sign which means trouble up ahead. "nope," i said. "okay, that's be about a 45 minute wait," she replied. we decided to leave, but not before validating my parking ticket. i gave the guy my magnetic card and he looked at it. what happened next was so weird it seemed like it was a dream. for some reason, whether on purpose or involuntary, i smirked at the guy and shrugged, sort of like i was saying, "hey einstein, i just got here and i want to leave! will you hurry it up?" he passed the card back to me and shouted, "you have more minutes before this card expires, HURRY UP AND GET TO YOUR CAR AND GET OUT OF HERE! GO! GET OUT HERE!" so the clock was ticking! dan and i hurried back to the car, and i started the winding downward spiral drive approaching the exit before my 4 minutes would expire. i was halfway down when i minivan pulled up in front of me and completely destroyed my fast momentum downwards. when i finally got to the gate, i parked the car so haphazardly that i had to run out in order to insert the magnetic card into the ticket machine. "card invalid. pay at the front desk" the lcd displayed told me. i looked at the guy sitting in the booth. "i'm trying to leave, i was just racing down, this can't be right," i said. he looked at my ticket, he got another guy to look at it as well. the other guy told me i had to go talk with his supervisor about it, so i drove the car once more around and went to talk with his supervisor at the parking garage office. i explained my case to the man, and he said that from the time i enter i have 15 minutes to get out before i'd have to pay. my ticket said i've been here for 16 minutes. "but my watch says 15," i replied. a friend of the man, standing next to us, said something brilliant: "the time on the garage clock is different from your watch." i sort of stood there speechless, holding my card (which by the way had several teeth marks in it because i was nervously holding the ticket in my mouth when i drove down), until the man finally said, "okay, i'll let you," as he walkie talkied the booth attendant with orders to let me leave. i thanked him profusely and scrambled out the magnetically locked door. i got back into the car, drove to the exit, gave the guy my ticket, and then he had to manually raise the gate to let me out. i also thanked him profusely as well, totally relieved that we were finally leave that place!
we made it to the prudential tower finally, and drove into the underground parking garage entrance. a security guard flagged us down and asked for me to pop open my truck (for security reasons) and to show him a photo idea. trouble was, the truck latch was busted and wouldn't open up. so i had to offer him a view of the inside of the truck from pulling down the backseats. we found a parking spot and entered the mall. we went to the legal seafood, thinking that it'd be less crowded, but that turned out to be the exact opposite case. dan asked the woman there and she said there'd be a 70-80 minute wait for a free table. no thanks! so, after going through chinatown, through the north end, through the theatre district legal seafood, which finally ended up ending at the prundential mall food court. fancy! starving, we each got a flamer burger, i also got a bowl of clam chowder. we left the prudential and headed to fenway 13.
we got to fenway at 9pm, three hours to kill before the big lebowski started. so after leaving the car at the theatre garage (where i parked diagonally taking up two spaces, i don't care, i think i deserve double spots!), we walked to the new virgin megastore (formerly tower records) at the intersection of mass ave and newbury street. along the way, we passed by the northern tip of the fens, where there was a very nice view of a bridge with the reflection of the water and a layer of debris (branches, trash items, etc.) floating on top. i stopped to take some photos and that's where dan saw a rat who appeared to be walking on the water (actually just walking on the floating garbage). it was eating something, and at the time we couldn't tell what it was, but now after seeing the photo, it appears to be a remains of a dead fish. nasty!
the virgin megastore was pretty cool, my first time being there. the prices for the cd's and dvd's aren't too bad, somewhat competitive. i think i'll probably revisit in the near future. it's funny, but the store is actually very close to my usual lunchtime running route. if i was adventurous, i could just run down here during lunch, buy something, and run back to the office.
we took the green line one stop back to kenmore square, back to the fenway 13 theatre. we found dan's friend melissa who works at the theatre, and earlier she had purchased tickets for us (in the event that the movie would be should out). soon afterwards elias and his two friends marisa and mike showed up, and we all got our tickets stubbed and went in to stand in a disorganized mob of fans waiting for the screening room door to be opened. melissa, who has the hookup, got us in before everyone else showed up and we get the best seats in the house. the theatre people were still cleaning out the place when we sat down. when they finished, they let all the other suckers in as we watched them spread out to find the best possible remaining seats. prior to the movie starting, they were handing out prizes to people who can either answer certain trivia questions or could perhaps certain physical stunts.
afterwards, we gave melissa a ride back to her mission hill apartment and then i drove dan home. i got back to belmont at about 3am. so the only thing that went right today was i saw the big lebowski. still, sometimes its plans not going right that becomes more interesting afterwards, although it would've been really cool to have seen the undershorts film festival, if they did end up having it. no complaints though, i had a full day, even if things didn't go according to plans.