the streets. (jalanan).

The streets could be described as the settings of our epoch drama. The streets are not only used as the sign for location (“Mbak, kostannya di jalan apa?” asked the ojek driver), but also as the stage for people to express themselves.

When the ojek speeds up and take us to race to the destination, maneuvers along the unimaginable traffic jam in the city, bend over here and there, going on top of the sidewalk, agonize us with the way he drives but keep being ignorant; while the actual suspense drama occurring at the moment.

Look around and you will see, a stage act full of various genre of incident (not always means in a bad way): Two fat policemen with bulging stomach hang out and chilling (hangcil?) and gossiping, whereas the traffic situation is excruciating and needs to be taken care off (satire comedy); mbak-mbak (young women) office employer hurriedly go along the edge of the petite alley, anxious over the preman (free man – hahaha – well, it’s actually like gangsters?) who follows her ordered by her broken-hearted-ex-boyfriend (thriller); High School students ‘gang’ fight using all scary apparatus (knife, sword, or even cutter? you named it) (action); or an in-fashion-and-in-love-adolescence-couple intently observe each others eyes inside a top-of-the-pop car (owned by their parents) and waiting for the right time to kiss (just another teen movie).

All those stuffs happening at the same time, in a huge setting called ‘THE STREETS’. (jalanan maksudnya)

It applies the same to the beggars at the intersection of the road who sings out of tone due to darting back and forth at the same time from the ‘ugal-ugalan’ ojek (a taxi motorcycle riding recklessly). While on the other hand, his fingers strumming the Kla Project song that represents himself; “..musisi jalanan mulai beraksi, seiring langkahku kehilanganmu..” (..The streets musicians are starting to take actions along with my steps to losing you..) Perhaps he was just lost a couple thousands of rupiah or in the state of feeling sentimental. Nevertheless, we knew that streets are not ‘all-about-the-losing’ but also ‘emerging-a-variety-of-things’. Because it is a fact that most famous artists get a hold of their inspiration from the streets.

Let me take an example from the movie City of God (2002) that illustrated how the streets could means severity, and personal vengeance could materialize into a brutal collective force that is menacing and daunting. All the drama on the streets that is vicious and full of blood, including the war between the Rio de Janeiro gangs with firearms, clearly grasp by the director Fernando Meirelles as an amusing and entertaining raw materials in order to be transferred into a celluloid tape.

a scene in city of god.
a scene in city of god.

Still engaging in the ‘streets’ theme, Garin Nugroho choose Jogja and crafted a moving sketch of poverty (cause the feeling of tenderness) through the act of the non-actor-street-kids (anak jalanan, red.) in the Daun di Atas Bantal (Leaf on a Pillow) (1998) movie.

leaf on a pillow.
leaf on a pillow.


While in the Slacker movie, Richard Linklater seems like intended to gives a positive vibe to slackers on the side of the streets, bohemian style, and babbling about Dostoevsky, UFO, Marxism, JFK conspiration theory, and Madonna.

richard linklaters slacker.
richard linklater’s slacker.

In addition, also observe a movie called Breathless (1960), the masterwork of Jean-Luc Godard with the legendary scene: an American girl yelling to peddle the newspaper in the streets of Paris, “New York Herald Tribune! New York Herald Tribune!” It is tremendously fascinating to scrutinize street fashion in the movie: Jean Seberg appeared so sweetly with pixie hair cut, semi-turtleneck t-shirt with rolled sleeves, complemented with capri pants and flats; walking along with Jean-Paul Belmondo who wore suits and ankle-high slim pants, a fedora hat, taking a drag on his cigarette and feeling like Humphrey Bogart.


Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Paul Godards Breathless
Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Paul Godard’s ‘Breathless’

The famous scene:

New York Herald Tribune!
‘New York Herald Tribune!’

It is where the uniqueness of the streets culture located: there’s nothing precisely the same with the other. What’s unique in the corner of Paris have got to be different with the main streets in Latin America, the remote spots of Jogja, and hullabaloo at Shinjuku. And isn’t it exciting and challenging to excavate? Celebrating the diversity, provide the place for expressing our freedom, and the streets are full of inspiration. No wonder, a filmmaker apprentice who puzzled to find idea for his first movie, receives a short advice from the old hand: “Get your camera out, and go out to the street.” Maybe he could start from asking what is on Damon Albarn’s mind when he’s astonished by the graffiti words in the corners of London streets. Is the expressive voice in the street style really that important until Albarn use those graffiti as the title of Blur’s second album: “Modern life is rubbish?” Maybe yes. The modern world is truly worn-out, monotone, in desperate needs of new enlightenment. And it is not impossible the illumination actually emerge from the streets: the maneuvers action of the tukang ojek (“mana ujan ga da ojek, becek!” said Cinta Laura), unpleasant clothing style, or the graffiti on the wall. Exactly similar to ‘prediction’ Simon and Garfunkel:

“…the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls..”

One Response to “the streets. (jalanan).”
  1. nice writing ken! gw suka nih tulisan. and…”Everyday in your life, start not after you leave your home, but when you cross and put your feet on the street that takes you to everywhere or nowhere” hehe just my opinion.

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