It’s getting so you need a time machine to follow the Democrat primary for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.
First it was U.S. Rep. JoJoJo Kennedy knocking incumbent Sen. Ed Markey for not visiting three towns that have been underwater since being flooded by the Quabbin Reservoir more than 80 years ago.
And now we have Markey referring in the present tense to a drive-in movie theater in Medford that’s been out of business for maybe 40 years.
Do you remember the Twin Drive-In in Medford? Probably not, or if so, only vaguely. It’s been gone so long it’s hard to figure out exactly when it went out of business. Yesterday I asked an old South Medford guy I know if he could remember anything about it.
“That’s where I saw ‘Viva Las Vegas,’” he said, referring to the 1964 Elvis Presley movie. “I think I saw it five times. It was the kind of place you went to in the trunk of a car.”
Because that way you wouldn’t be charged admission, which was maybe 50 cents.
Sen. Markey is also known as Mr. Frosty, from his one and only private sector job, as an ice-cream truck driver, back in the days when the Twin Drive In was where you hung out if you were in with the In Crowd.
So it was only natural for Mr. Frosty to climb into the Wayback Machine during an interview earlier this week with the Lowell Sun, whose endorsement he is seeking.
Near the end of a 55-minute Zoom interview, Markey was asked about his … residency issue, shall we say, namely the fact that he spends much more time in his Maryland mansion than on the mean streets of Malden.
Which is why Markey’s campaign has been running a TV spot of the 74-year-old solon wandering around his old hometown, looking like a poster boy for Silver Alert.
One of the Sun editors asked Mr. Frosty about the fact that he spends less time in the Bay State than anyone else in the Congressional delegation:
“Do you get back to Malden and Medford and the Meadow Glen Mall or — even if it’s still there — these places?”
Notice, there was no reference to the Twin Drive In. It wasn’t a set-up, a gotcha question, like asking Markey the price of a gallon of gas, or a loaf of bread, which I’m sure he would have no idea of.
“Well,” Mr. Frosty began, “the Twin Drive In and the Meadow Glen Mall are are uh –” Here he coughed nervously — “are uh uh are uh are uh uh are are part of our, you know, rich culture the um yeah so I live in Malden.”
Fascinating, Senator. May we quote you on that? Actually you seem to be living not in Malden, but in the past.
I called his campaign manager to ask what the reference to the Twin Drive In was all about. When the phone didn’t ring, I knew it was John Walsh.
Actually, though, this kind of befuddlement and confusion is nothing new for Mr. Frosty.
Remember, after the 2017 Super Bowl, he went onto the floor of the Senate to congratulate the victorious “Boston Patriots.”
At the ribbon-cutting for the Ted Williams tunnel, then-Congressman Markey proclaimed what a boon it would be, affording his constituents in Natick a much quicker trip to Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach. (He was apparently unaware that Kelly’s had been open out on Route 9 in Natick, at Jordan’s Furniture, for maybe a decade.)
And then there was his first run for the Senate, back in 1984. He’d been in Congress for eight years, so it seemed a fair question for a TV reporter to ask Markey which side the United States was supporting in the civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Mr. Frosty didn’t have a clue.
As Billy Bulger used to say on St. Patrick’s Day when he introduced Markey: “To a battle of wits, he comes unarmed.”
By the way, Markey and Kennedy aren’t the only Democrats who have come unstuck in time this week. In Delaware on Wednesday, Joe Biden referenced “the 2020 census, which is now two censuses ago, soon to be.”
Yeah, soon to be two censuses ago … in 2040. So as Markey kareens back in time, Biden is lurching forward. Somebody page Marty McFly. Hope there’s no collision in the time-space continuum.
The primary is Sept. 1. Is Markey planning to hold his victory party at the Twin Drive-In?
All of his supporters can grab a couple of ‘Gansett G.I.Q.’s (what we used to call 40-ouncers), load up the LeBaron, and head on down. As his supporters await the results, maybe Markey can show one of those screen gems like they used to show at the Twin Drive-In.
Maybe, say, Sharky’s Machine. No, scratch that — Sharky’s Machine came out in 1981, and by then the Twin was long gone from Revere Beach Parkway.
Much like Eddie Markey, come to think of it.