The streets of Boston were quiet. The shops were shut. It was after all Christmas night and people were gathered indoors to celebrate the holiday.
Every so often, the odd straggler floated into view, a wayward soul unmoored from its tethers drifting through the darkened night.
I enjoyed being upon the empty city. Out of the radio, a music, jaunty and fresh. It was then I thought I would film my drive back to Cambridge. I pulled over near the Hynes Convention Center and took out my phone.
The music in some ways makes the video. Its 20th century feel of activity, the hustle and bustle of urban life, lives in its name too. “Skyscrapers”, a ballet score from John Alden Carpenter, was written in 1926, the perfect soundtrack for a night on the town.
The visual references of my little exercise are two — first, Kevin Lynch’s dashboard camera films of Boston and Cambridge, shot in 1958, showing those cities now almost 60 years ago. They are historical record and brilliant urbanist improvisational art. Next is the noir thriller The Naked City, a Jules Dassin masterwork in which New York plays a starring role. Parts of the film are shot on the streets and sidewalks of the city in the year 1948.
Perhaps my iPhone didn't capture that same luster on Christmas night in Boston, 2014. If you were to say that, I would understand. However, everything is always about a time and a place ...