The Oft-Overlooked Rewards Of Being an Old-Ass Motherfucker

 This truly was a Four Star Video Heaven, not unlike my former employer, Blockbuster Video

This truly was a Four Star Video Heaven, not unlike my former employer, Blockbuster Video

I was in Los Angeles last weekend to be a talking head (or should I say, “toking head”, wink, wink) for a Vice thing about stoner movies that should “drop” sometime next year. They were all, “Hey, do you want to be flown out to L.A and put up in a hotel to talk about stoner movies?” and I was like, “Well, I suppose if you twist my arm.”  We filmed part of it on Venice Beach, which was even more wonderfully like Venice Beach (AKA Muscle Beach) than I could have ever imagined, and part of it in a video store called Cinefile Video. 

I must have talked and talked and talked for about four hours straight about marijuana and movies and stoner movies and the intersection of pot and movies and why I somehow literally cannot recall scenes or details from any stoner movie I’ve ever seen, but somehow have cascading waterfalls of useless factoids about literally everything else. 

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Simply being in a video store in 2017 was a strangely emotional experience. It brought back so many memories. Every video box told a story in addition to, you know, the stories actually found on video boxes. I mean, sure, the Captain Ron video box recounted the plot of Captain Ron, but merely seeing its horrifically photo-shopped cover brought back a flood of kitschy memories of similarly inane Touchstone romps of the era. 

If given an opportunity, I could have spent entire days simply sifting through the inventory of this video store, beaming happily at one crazy bit of ephemera after another, like the anti-PCP message movie Death Drug, a transcendentally hysterical message movie (featuring a new intro and outro from star Phillip Michael Thomas himself) I fondly reminisced about in what I imagine will be twenty of the most cuttable minutes of footage in Vice film history. 

This weird old video store next to a movie theater showing Lemon, the new Bret Gelman movie, felt like a weird time-warped paradise. I just kind of wanted to hang out forever, even as I realized that, despite my nostalgic affection for them, video stores always kind of sucked, and while being a know-it-all video store clerk was a big part of my identity as a teenager, those days were filled with angry customers and late fees and exorbitant charges and shelves picked clean every weekend, leaving desperate, hapless customers with no choice but to rent the Chuck Norris vehicle Top Dog. 

Do you realize how unhappy people are when their options, as consumers, are limited to a movie pairing a past-his-prime Chuck Norris with a shaggy dog? Very unhappy! As the young people probably no longer say, I was feeling all the feels, the way people do upon reading the fiction of my arch-nemesis John Green, and I was overcome with a strange thought. I was glad that I was an old motherfucker because I know a lot of shit just by virtue of having been around for a long time. 

 Hard not to love a store with a whole shelf for teenage sex romps

Hard not to love a store with a whole shelf for teenage sex romps

I could look at my decaying body and non-existent savings and apparent unemployability and be depressed and dispirited by how I’m still struggling at this stage in my life. Or I can be grateful that I’ve had the life and career that I’ve had, and that because I’ve seen so much fucking shit, and written about so much shit, and cared about so much shit, that I find pretty much everything interesting, pop-culture-wise, because I’m able to connect so much to all of it. 

 Pretty sure they have this movie there, as well as every other. 

Pretty sure they have this movie there, as well as every other. 

I’m grateful that I’m old enough to have a lot of memories, and opinions, and fuzzy anecdotes. In that video store, I mourned my past and my vanished youth, many of the best days of which were spent happily on the clock at Blockbuster or Four Star Video Heaven, but I was also appreciative of my past and present, and that I’ve been blessed to spend my life metaphorically still toiling in those stacks, forever giving my opinion on the crap that fascinates me, whether y’all customers are interested in it or not. For a long time, video stores were my happy place, after all, and this is my Happy Place now. I like to think this provides nearly as much entertainment, company and camaraderie as my old video store home away from home, but without the costly late fees. 

But if you want to kick into the metaphorical “Employee Tip Jar” over athttps://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace I sure would appreciate it!

The Big WhoopNathan Rabin