there was nothing doing saturday night outside of 11pm preparations for the barbecue sides. i made a run to the supermarket in college park for milk, but desperate for distraction, left the store and went “exploring” down route 1.
i used to do that a lot – aimless wandering in the car. i rented a room without air conditioning one year in indiana and i was worried that might be the summer i died in my sleep of heat exhaustion. even the lingering moisture from a shower instantly felt like being drenched in sweat all over again. to get away from it, i’d hop in my car at 2 am in the morning, slip a CD in the player, and go driving around the country. my mental map of the area grew a little bit more every time as i drove around in the pitch black of northwestern indiana. somedays, i’d just pick up and get on the train and go into chicago or out to the scummy shoreline. really, heat wasn’t so much the motivator as the need to ward off the infinite boredom and silence that came from a town where all the action was the 24-hour wal mart.
on the saturday night exploratory drive, i passed a huge strip mall just before reaching laurel. it had all the usual symbols of suburban mediocrity like the applebees and the radio shack. but there was one little bit of localism still left…
the local video store. how a video store still exists, i don’t know. especially a local video store. especially a local video store called Video Movie. i used to be a fiend for places like that. local video stores. back home they always seemed to share certain characteristics. the fond smell of perpetual mold. the yellowed plastic covering of the empty video boxes. the multiple paper stickers for genre and inventory numbers. the photo-less membership cards. i used to spend a lot of time in places like that, lured by the thrill of possibly finding obscure b-movie gems. there was eventually a list.
and with that list the groan of my brother… “can we go now?”
and my uncle… “this place smells, i’m going outside.”
and my grandma… “why did you get this movie? it’s nothing but a bunch of porn!”
it’s a sort of external quality you just can’t get by ordering movies online and opening up anti-theft customized DVDs received in the mail. that fleeting bit of kitsch localism surrendered at the heels of a global order.