A measured, personal history of the video store

I’ve seen this video get tossed around a ton lately, and I want to give a bit of a measured take here.

To get the obvious out the way, Millennials ARE the video store generation. Way more than our parents. In fact, they probably only went to the video store to get shit to entertain us.

But really what I want to contrast is his video rental experience vs another in a hugely rural part of the world.

I’ve spoken at length about being isolated and the importance of cable TV, but I never talked about the video store. And I am not talking about one of those Cadillac video stores. Enough ink has been spilled on that, and it took me moving around the country to experience that.

So, we will just cover what renting videos was like for me back in the day…when it stopped, what you missed….because I feel like between the nostalgia bait and the hatin (see video above) the experience gets muddled a bit.

Lets start with the basics. In my obscure part of the world, I had two video store choices from a little kid till around early teenage years. The first was a small ass local joint that did not survive the rise of blockbuster.

That is the most similar to the above video’s description. It wasn’t attached to a tanning place, but it was in a rundown stripmall where the rent must have been nothing. If they had new stuff, they had like 3-4 copies and it was gone quick. It was best for finding things that were new like a year and a half ago that you missed. I remember I rented Ghostbusters 2 from there a ton in the early 90s.

It had a Spy Hunter cabinet, and a decent little NES and SNES section. And for fullest disclosure, yes, the actual tape or cartridge you rented would be behind the cover box encased in plastic.

We didn’t go here much cause…selection was limited. Didn’t have big square footage, and so they didn’t have a ton of stuff…also if I remember they had weird rules… like back then, the goal was rentals that would last a week. They had some like off cycle choice of days and thats why we skipped it.

The next town over had the big video store. The fantastically named Slick Sam’s Video. Also in the back of a strip mall but they had a HUGE amount of real estate. Even had the stereotypical curtain section where they shoved porn.

Now for this piece I tried to find a picture of this place. ANYTHING. Unless I want to go spend hours on microfiche, it appears to not have a home on the internet.

The place did look like what you think a typical 80s video store that made it into the 90s looked like. White walls and racks and racks of VHS. They had piles of candy choices, popcorn, a fucking claw machine that would play The Entertainer on a loop to the point where it would drive you fucking insane.

And this HUGE kind of separated by a wall section of video games. I think this was the main reason we kept coming back to Slick Sams. They had a fantastic video game selection.

The place was a bit gross. Like you didnt really want to touch the walls or anything. You wanted to get what you were going to get, and get the fuck out of there.

Blockbuster came to my town late. I would describe it as the end just starting to happen. I remember being pumped about Blockbuster back in the day. Cause it was actually clean. They (more often) had shit. Easy to get in and out. You could keep rentals a week. On and on.

That luster sort of faded as I got closer to graduating high school. When I really got into movies, I couldn’t watch anything of value in there. They didn’t really have a big selection of classics. I remember when I got into horror, I ended up going back to Slick Sams over and over. Cause I could get a bunch of tapes for dirt cheap.

The first time I saw Night of the Living Dead was on the most shitty VHS of the movie you have ever seen in your life. Must have been off of a 16mm print that someone ran their car over. But Slick Sam’s had it and Blockbuster didn’t.

Eventually, the video stores couldn’t compete. The one in my actual town shuttered almost in silence. Slick Sam’s had a big going out of business sales. Friends of mine got tons of DVDs for dirt cheap prices. I remember I bought a bunch of horror VHS.

Blockbuster sort of faded out…I was obsessed with owning movies and going out to the movies. So I remember renting very little…I missed the entire rise of Netflix and the mailing DVDs to your house period. Skipped all of that.

Plus I remember they used to sensor shit. If I wanted to watch Requiem for a Dream, I sure as shit wasn’t going to get it from Blockbuster.

My gut take on the loss of the video store is simple, curation. The clerks at Slick Sam’s could actually recommend shit. I’m sure they did at Blockbuster, but it was sort of corporatized.

Do I miss the video store?

Well thats complicated. The big cadillac video stores, those joints are sort of different. Your average video store didn’t have shit shelved by director lets put it that way. Those places are a diamond in the rough.

I don’t actually miss the video store. What I miss is curation and access.

Curation in someone pointing you in a direction. The algorithm giving you a recommendation based on your watch history is shite. For example, Max is sitting on a pile of great shit but you have to go look for it. It’s never going to be up front.

I mean true curation. I feel like that may come back at some point, but right now thats lost.

Access is the other big one. You have to be on like 3-4 services if you want to dig. Sure your local video store didn’t have everything either, but they could get things…it was different.

I also don’t think the video store was the blight described in the top of this piece….

My real take is I lived through technology creating a business and further technology taking it out. And I think there is something interesting and something lost in the mix.

That is all.

Don’t Believe the Hype, pt2

As you get older, you lose a bunch of things. And its sort of random in what order. Some lose their hair. Some lose control of their bodies, mind, etc.

For me, I feel like the first thing I lost is the ability to be hyped about something.

Not excited about something you are consuming….like you got a new album or a new game. What I mean is the kind of hype that I feel like young people really have. When something gets announced, or a teaser image, or something is set up but hasn’t happened yet. Truly hyping something that doesn’t exist yet.

That is most definitely dead in me.

Let me analyze two things….

One note before we start. There will be a ton of talk of video games in this post, but this can apply to everything. Sports. Whatever. Anything where the thing doesn’t happen yet.

I have a friend who the Wheel of Time series is their favorite book series of all time. Since we were kids together. Fuckin love those books.

So Amazon announced they were going to do it. No trailer yet. No director. No cast. Just announced they were going to do it. My friend was fucking STOKED for it. All he could talk about. Big time hype.

And the whole time I was just like… “Man that shit is complicated. If it works it’ll be a miracle.”

The trailer came out and it was like poof…the air went out the building. Looked cheap as fuck, everything seemed trite. Etc.

But my friend moved on. Obviously this was years ago…and he can still get hyped about stuff…I am flat out not sure why.

This one….I hate to do it…but imma do it.

I will never give this the kind of justice that the fucking genius gave the game. I watched hype die real time that day. Go from something where the art…looked great…. the music…looked great.

But when you got to the game…was just fucking suck.

Still the only video game return I have ever done in my life was for Anthem.

Go read that other blog, but I will say this Anthem should be a cautionary tale for anyone about everything.

And that leaves me. I have had this happen so many times in my life that my hype is dead.

Like that Doom trailer at the top. Just came out…fresh off the presses. Lot of hype there. And hell, I am excited for it. But I know…no Mick Gordon…idSoftware hasn’t been kind to the man in the press. Development feels a bit rushed…

I’m probably going to play the game, but I cant find that hype energy. Not going to make the background of my computer Doom the Dark Ages. No telling people they got to play it. I want to play it first to make sure its not shit.

So like, what happened to me…..that part of me died.

I’m not going to fully blame people building up the trust to ruin it. I am sure that’s part of it, but that’s not the whole deal. I just can’t even bring myself to go that route. I cant give in to a blind fandom or excitement of any kind anymore. I’m not playing early access (more on this another day).

When the shit is released, I will consume it and give my thoughts. That’s how I feel about the new Doom game. That’s how I feel about everything.

I often feel like Debbie Downer, just ruining everyone’s good time. I guess I am, but I’m also not a cheerleader. If the team manages to win, Ill tell you that they will. But I’m not here to celebrate a nothing that hasn’t happened.

And that’s yet another way that I know I am old.

Thoughts from the AMEN Pew #85

It’s been a minute since we have had the good gospel spread in its most appropriate fashion: off the cuff and filled with stupid.

Bout time we get back in it.

Well, we did it America. We finally held the immortan responsible for something he did.

The far right, such as they are now, have gone off the deep end with all the predictions. I have had people flat out tell me this guarantees his win. I had one person describe it as a travesty of justice.

Lets address each seperately.

First off, its fucking June. Remember hillary’s emails? That was at the end of October. It’s still a long fucking road to November. I wouldn’t count on fuck all.

Second, no it was not a fuckin travesty. The immortan had his defense attorney’s put on a Twitter defense, not a real fucking defense. If they had a real fucking defense, they would have actually contested documents in evidence, all the witnesses (not just the ones that are bash targets for his constituents). I am still of the opinion he could fucking walk from all this shit if he knew how to stop his ego, actually participate in the legal process, and pretend to have an oz of contrition.

He can’t do that, so he a fuckin felon now. Hope someone doesn’t check Mar-A-Lago for firearms he can’t have now. OOOOO That would be so badddddd.

I flat out don’t know how I feel about this. Pharrell has decided to do his biopic in lego form. Like…it could work but like….why….

Don’t get me wrong. Seeing NORE and Snoop in lego form is a treat. But…is it going to work. I would like to think it wont be a full trainwreck, but I am not convinced this is some kind of high art.

Speaking of things that I am looking at with a sideways glance, Sturgill got himself a new album coming.

After injuring his vocal chords right at the beginning of the pandemic, he has made his way back, and I couldn’t be fucking happier… BUT, the new moniker.

Look, if anyone could pull it off, its Sturgill. He don’t have to go the route of Chris Gaines. This could easily be more like a Ziggy Stardust or Dukes of the Stratosphear or The Network.

I said if he wanted to do a polka album, I would follow. And I fucking will believe it. I’m going to get tickets for the tour. And, ill have the new album on launch.

I just….Sturgill man…I hope you know what you are doing…

The current state of the world has left me in a mental state where I seek vengeance in all the wrong places. I think I expected far too much out of people, and as a result, it can get rough. I can be difficult to deal with.

But, I don’t see either my mental state or the world improving anytime soon. So, fuckin steady as she goes.

Blizzard is actually doing great shit right now, and it’s scaring me. Diablo 4 pulled itself out the dumpster by starting itself down the road of fixing the problems and having a great fucking season. The most fun I have had with the game. Here’s hoping the B team doesn’t fuck that up.

AND, the fucking WoW Remix is shockingly great. With the FASTEST leveling I have EVER had in the game. A pile of great free shit to use with your currency. And true power tripping. I am actually doing raids and shit, cause its fuckin smooth as butter. If they want to do a Remix between each expansion, I am fuckin down for it.

All of this has left me wondering… what is going on over there? Is it really Bobby K put the clamp down? Did the legacy blizz people have to leave for the ship to right itself. I am excited to see whatever is on the horizon, because these two data points are real strong.

And on that note, I am out while shit is still positive.

Hope everything is going well for everyone out in TV land. I am having a great summer so far, and here’s hoping for one for you as well.

Take it easy.

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