Benny Jay: Netflix Can Wait

March 19th, 2011

On the final weekend, I stop by Dark Star, the world’s greatest video store, to see what I can scrounge.

They’ve been holding a close-out sale — all movies must go! — for days.

I’ve been intending to go. But, you know how it is — did this, did that and I’m only now getting there. The road to hell is paved with the best intentions, as my grandmother used to say.

Must be a dozen people in the store — the aisles are clogged with other scroungers.

Woody Allen, Hitchcock, the Coen Brothers, Pam Grier — all the really good shit’s gone.

But I’m finding lots of good stuff nonetheless — Devil in a Blue Dress, The Wackness, Any Given Sunday….

Mike, the owner, is standing behind the front counter, talking to John, a longtime customer.

“If all these people had come before, you wouldn’t be closing,” says John.

The thing about Dark Star — there’s always some guy standing at the front and he’s always has something to say.

I stack my movies on the counter and go back to the racks for more — a Jimi Hendrix concert film, The Commitments, Michael Clayton, Car Wash, Blacula….

Small Time Crooks — great movie!

I must have thirty or so movies piled on the counter.

John eyes the pile. “Who got Small Time Crooks?” he asks.

“I did,” I say.

“Terrible movie….”

Another thing about the guys at the counter — they got an opinion about everything….

“What are you talking about,” I counter. “Great flick….”

Yes, siree — me `n John. Just like Ebert and Siskel.

“Guess you’re gonna have to get Netflix,” John tells me.

“Yeah,” I concede. “I don’t wanna, but….”

Hard to say why I have this resistance to Netflix. Probably the contrarian streak in me. Everyone’s going one way, sometimes I feel compelled to go the other.

Maybe that explains how I never voted for Mayor Daley. Well, that and the fact that he’s a no-good, tyrannical — oh, don’t get me started….

I wind up buying $100 worth of DVDs and tapes. As a bonus, Mike throws in a framed poster of Jackie Brown that he had in the back.

Speaking of great flicks….

I walk home feeling kind of blue. Like waking up with a hangover after a really groovy party.

So long, Dark Star….

Fast forward a few days….

I’m driving in my car with my younger daughter, heading east on Wilson Avenue, listening to the oldies station on the car radio. They’re playing the Jackson 5.

“Oh, how happy you have made me — oh, how happy you have made me….”

Out of the corner of my eye I see a sign that says video.

Do a U-turn. Park in a tow zone. Tell my daughter to give me a call if the parking guys try to tow us. And dash into the store.

It’s a video store all right — rows and rows of the latest, plus a bunch of old  comedies and action flicks.

“I want a membership,” I tell the guy behind the counter.

“No problem….”

“Are you closing?” I ask.

“Not until ten tonight….”

“No, I mean — as in going out of business?”

He looks at me like I’m a wise guy….

“You know, cause so many video stores are going out of business — Dark Star, Blockbuster….”

“We’re not going out of business,” he says.

I sign up right there and then. He gives me a laminated membership card and everything.

Walk out singing a song: “Oh, how happy, you have made me — oh, how happy, you have made me….”

Feel like the guy in The Fly — I’m still here. Netflix’s just gonna have to wait….

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