Sunday, November 10, 2013

NPR did a story on friday -- i think it was friday, could've been thursday, you get my drift -- that the once giant video store chain, blockbuster, is shuttering its stores but for a handful in texas and alaska owned by an independent franchise.  that means the era of renting movies is pretty much dead.  there will be small operations in service i think.  my local grocery store has a RedBox kiosk where you can rent dvds, blu-rays, and games for less then two bucks.  the store used to house a blockbuster kiosk but well you know the rest. 

i miss the old brick&mortar stores.  nick recently found my membership card to blockbuster.  i got that card in 1999 when we just moved into our house and i wanted to rent movies.  i still have my tower video membership card too.  all the good arthouse, exploitation and horror movies [porn too] were found at tower.  oh how i miss that place.  saw william t. vollman buying books at tower books one night.  we both live in the same city and yet that has been my only vollman sighting.  for what it's worth.

i don't have a netflix account.  we still subscribe to cable tho we have a DVR where we record most programming we want to watch.  but other than the walking dead and a travel program on the travel channel there is not much on TV i give a shit about.  i do buy dvds.  we purchased pacific rim [2013] yesterday and watched it last night.  if i want to watch movies i either buy the dvd, record it from TV or watch a film from my collection.

the digital age is full of marvels.  it is full of some seriously scary dark stuff too.  but what it lacks is the primacy and pleasure of the material object.  holding a book in your hands and scanning its pages as you just pulled it off the shelf at the bookstore.  something caught your eye.  the euphony of the author's name, perhaps, or the title, or the design of the book.  too, the old VHS tape with its artwork and copy.  it caught your attention, you pulled it from the shelf and as you weighed the worth of renting that copy you read the back cover and scan its pictures on the box.

that is a visceral pleasure that cannot be duplicated at all.  if you grew up in the Mom&Pop video store era of the 1980s that pleasure is married to the smell of cooked, buttery popcorn that was always at hand in the store, and the large sounds of an obscure flick played at high volume on the store's only video monitor chosen by the obsessive movie-nerd clerk at the counter.  aye me!  the weight of so much nostalgia carried in those preceding sentences!

i am not the only one stuck in such feelings of bygone eras.  tonight i discovered a lovely blog that dives deep in the VHS era lost video archive where its author scans pics of labels pasted on tapes from Mom&Pop stores, scans of VHS boxes and reviews of some of the most obscure movies to ever grace a rental shelf.  click and relieve a long lost era.  who knows you might be inspired to seek out a long forgotten film or dig thru your own dusty collection of VHS tapes that have not seen daylight since the turn of our new century.      


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