Having grown up in the Big Apple, I don't have a drive-in experience in my memory bank. We always went to see movies inside, whether it was on 59th and 3rd, the Paris on 58th, or downtown at the Angelika. It was fun to grab popcorn and eat amidst refrigerator-like temperatures in the summertime. However, I always yearned for that feeling of being in the open air. I guess that's why I was so obsessed with 'Grease' growing up; they looked cool, 'Stranded At the Drive-in.'.
On impulse, I accepted a SAG-AFTRA invitation to see 'Genius Aretha', a covid-friendly drive-in event at the Rose Bowl. I didn't really know what I was getting into but pushed past my hesitation and arrived 45 minutes early to grab a 'space.' After being checked in, I rolled passed a masked, friendly young woman.
"Would you like your picture taken?" The skeptical New Yorker that still resides within me replied, "will this cost anything?"
"Of course not!" she smiled. I instantly felt like a country bumpkin; this was a media event, of course it was free. They wanted us to share the silly 'red carpet' picture from our cars on social media. I obliged and the photographer instantly fell in love with my beekeeper hat.
As fate would have it, my parking space faced the exact center of the huge screen. While waiting for the start, the sun was breathtaking as it set on the left, with the Rose Bowl sign in pink on the right. We were fed popcorn, a delicious, warm meal, and got to hear extraordinary singing from members of the cast while waiting for the start. Having been in Los Angeles just under two years--and one of them stuck inside--I hadn't experienced an event like this. We were invited to set our radios to 88.7 to listen in so the sound was great. The first episode of Genius: Aretha did not disappoint. Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary actress and her singing gives me chills. She WAS Aretha. Cyrus Vance and the rest of the cast are phenomenal. Very well done series. At the end of the first episode, all the cars were joyfully honking in applause. For one of my first outings in over a year, it was a magical night.
Genius: Aretha is on Hulu and Nat Geo TV, Season 3. Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso are the subjects of the first two seasons and I know I'll watch them eventually. I just had to skip ahead and devour this season. It's soooo good.