I am very disappointed in myself right now for many reasons (intense cold-weather reclusion, strong identification with Charlize Theron’s character in Young Adult, weight gain), but at the top of the list is confirmation of my recent aversion to video stores.
I’m supposed to appreciate these relics, the sprawling box-like storefronts that just seem to bleed out smaller and smaller rectangles — 99-cent outdated movie posters, clunky VHS tapes the stores will practically pay you to remove, DVDs-for-purchase that no one will ever open again. Every few days during the late ’90s, I moped around the Garden Market Blockbuster (now out of business, though my mom just told me it became a costume warehouse for two weeks this October; so tragic) and Video 66 on Joliet Rd. (still there! possibly due to Honey Fluff Donuts next store?) (Update: just drove by and I was wrong; it’s now a vacant-again storefront that says FUN TAN, ugh) — because what else would I do with my life? And then whenever I was back home over the holidays or the summers throughout the late 2000s, I would mope around the same stores again, just in different sweatpants. I’m sure the Video 66 guy appreciated my upgrade from “flannel” to “yoga.”
I loved renting seven movies I should have already seen from any given year at once, then returning a few days later to rent seven more — this time from the prestigious “Academy Awards” section to wash out the taste of No Reservations or Because I Said So. Blockbuster in particular was so huge and I had usually seen so few new releases that I could just start at the titles that began with numbers and weed out half a dozen by the time I shuffled up to the mid-B’s.
Alas, it’s 2011 now and the point of all of this is that I’m officially over my romance with video stores. A few weeks ago, my friend Stephanie (she’s the Rhoda) and I, in an attempt to make ourselves feel really awesome about being single and now living near Venice Beach, tried and failed to find 1997’s Romy and Michele — A CLASSIC CINEMATIC TREASURE — at five different video stores plus two Best Buys in the West Los Angeles vicinity. How do you not carry Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, especially in the interest of catering to two well-intentioned inventors (of ways to waste time on a Friday night) who look so good with blonde hair and black roots it’s not even funny?
We spent hours driving around in a borrowed convertible and bitching about how far video stores have fallen — as if they haven’t already been through enough! — before finally giving in and just downloading it from iTunes like reasonable human-bots. We knew we could combine our pea brains to figure out the obvious solution in the end. We’d just never had a good reason, like the downfall of civilization via video stores, to motivate us.
Like I said, I feel crappy about this. Video stores are in the gutter, and I already live most of my sad little life through a computer. But the digital acquisition of TV and movies is so easy — and I am so very talented at clicking on things and making them happen — that I fear I will never set foot in a video store again.