On an autumn evening way back in the late 90s, I walked into my neighbourhood Easy Video (wow, remember movie rental stores?) and I saw an 8 part VHS (video cassettes?) series called The Beatles Anthology.
Easy Video offered 3 tapes for 3 days for 3 dollars. Decent deal. The Threefer. And so I rented out parts 1, 2 and 3 and walked home.
Each part is approximately an hour long. I loved the documentary so much I watched parts 1-3 the first day.
Then, I went back and rented parts 4-6 the next day, without returning 1-3 because I had another 2 days with them.
Then, I went and rented parts 7-8 and another movie without making any returns thus leaving me with the entire Beatles Anthology and Desperado in my room.
Over the next year, EVERY SINGLE TIME I went there, I would rent two movies and one Anthology video. It was automatic. I really loved the music and the documentary footage so much that I wound up watching and/or listening to my favorite editions (Volumes 3 and 5) about fifteen to twenty times and every other one at least ten times. Disclosure: These numbers are complete guesses and may be completely different from the real numbers.
Then, on a day like any other, I turned the corner into the Inman-Grove center and saw a large white banner hanging over my ole faithful video shoppe. It read “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS.” I couldn’t believe that Easy Video was closing it’s doors despite my steady $6 a week. As I got closer to the store, I spied signs in the windows that read “Everything Must Go. $1 each.” I walked in. My eyes darted around from Comedy to Independent to the people walking around with baskets full of movies. Most of the shelves were empty already. The horror, the horror. I felt a dread come over me. I ran up to the music section and found it completely empty. Aah, the guy who works here must have put them aside for me. I mean, he called me Beatles Guy, you know? I ran up to the counter and asked the guy -who had worked there for a year- and who had personally rented me out The Beatles Anthology countless times:
“Hey, did you put the Beatles Anthology aside for me?”
Clerk: Uh, no?
“What? Dude… How many times have I rented it? Don’t you think I would have bought it for $8?”
Clerk: Uh, I don’t know?
“Dude, this is ridiculous! I would have saved it for you!”
Clerk: Dude, I just lost my job you know. We do have some movies left though.
I walked away. Seeing red. I distinctly remember wanting to flip over all the remaining shelves littered with bullshit tier-2 thrillers like Hush starring Gwyneth Paltrow. I bought some movies, navigated my way through the scores of Jumanji tapes and walked the walk home from Easy Video one last time, cursing to the skies what had been my favorite place for the entire previous year.
Life was different after that. I stopped renting movies. I had already promised myself I would never support the other store in town, that one with the yellow sign and blue shirts. I had been in there briefly and it just seemed to destroy the spirit of movies altogether. It was like movies went there to die, forever buried in that hellhole. The place wasn’t a library, it was a morgue. Seriously. F*ck Blockbuster.
* * *
It was about two to three years later that I found myself in Best Buy best buying a DVD Player. Yeah, times had changed. These little CD lookalikes were like like VHS movies but the print never got choppy! You didn’t even have to rewind them. (An aside: I shelled out $100 for the player and the clerk at Best Buy gave me a free trial to Netflix. This was in the summer of 2001. I didn’t even have a computer. Still, I eventually went to a friend’s house, got on Netflix and never looked back. They are one of the best companies I have ever dealt with.) When I bought the player, I also bought one movie. Of course, it was Goodfellas. Which I had seen the first time when I rented it from…Easy Video. I had tried to find Goodfellas in India for years. It had become a myth, a legend, an uncut diamond in the wild. When I moved to America, I went and rented Goodfellas in the first 48 hours of being here. Damn you, Easy. Forgetting you would be harder than Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Movies I saw for the first time thanks to Easy – Goodfellas, Bottle Rocket, Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, The Boxer, Trainspotting.
* * *
I parked my car and switched it off. I grabbed my keys, locked the door and walked into work a minute or two early. As I walked into Pet Valu in Garwood, I heard Jerry Martier of Q. 104.3 say “Caller 50 right now wins the Beatle’s Anthology.” I slid behind the counter, said hi to my boss, picked up the phone and dialed the Q all in one motion. Five seconds later.
Jerry: Q 104.3, who’s speaking?
Me: Yes! Are you serious, did I just win the Beatle’s Anthology?!!
Jerry: Yes, you did! On DVD! What’s your name?
Me: Dude, it’s Sidrock!!
My boss: Yo man, there’s a cat litter spill in the back…can you sweep it up?
Jerry: Sidrock!! Are you serious man? How did you pull this off? (laughing)
I had been calling into the station and requesting songs from work (mostly Beatles) for about two to three years at that point. Sidrock was notorious throughout the station for his schticky name and repeatedly requesting “Godzilla by Blue Oyster Cult“, any song that had just finished playing and Mongo Jerry‘s “In the Summertime”. Jerry was the only one who ever humored me. I had tried to win their contests a hundred times, using two phones and all that but to no avail. I told him the entire saga of the Easy Video incident and he played our little talk on the air. I could only hope that the douche who worked at the video store heard that I won it on DVD. No rewinding for me, son. DVD commentary, sucka! Jerry followed up our talk with a speech about “never giving up”. I felt like an Olympian. My boss repeated his request about the cat litter spill in the back. I grabbed a broom and got to it. Customers soon heard a voice from the back…Baby you’re a rich man, BABY you’re a rich man TOO! You keep all your money in a big brown bag – at the zoo…Oh what a thing to do!…Babyyyy!
* * *
2011. I recently shipped all my things from California to New Jersey. Whatever didn’t fit in my bags when I flew cross-country. I opened up my suitcase to see that some piece of crap has stolen whatever DVD’s I had left in there. I hid them in an album in my jeans but I guess some scumbags aren’t beneath searching a man’s pants. He took everything of any value. Except he left The Beatles Anthology. I’m really happy he did. When I saw those 4 discs with the apples on them, they made me feel like it’ll all work out in the end. We can work it out.