Tuesday, April 12, 2011
. . For some reason my employer thinks it a matter of great importance that we know what the competition is up to. In order to sate our desire for news about the competition they post little news blurbs on our intranet telling us little tidbits about actions being taken by the other companies in the industry. I was reading one of these nuggets of knowledge and I saw where Dish Network is wanting to purchase Blockbuster saying that it has something to do with streaming rights and things like that. I didn’t really delve into the article because I really don’t care who buys or sells what these days.
But it did set me to thinking about some of the “good old days” when entertainment was something one had to work for and instant gratification was not as commonplace as it is today. There really are no more video stores around anymore. The convenience of clicking a mouse or a remote have pretty much made them a thing of the past. I guess there are the kiosk versions but its hardly the same. I can remember my days as a teen and all the way up into my 30’s when going to the video store was in many ways a form of entertainment in and of itself. You would pile in the car with a couple of pals or family members and then walk up and down the aisles looking for that one slip case or title that caught your eye and then you would pick it up and read the blurb on the back to get the full description. Then there was the fun part of people watching and seeing what others were renting. Watching the mild arguments between couples over chick flick versus action and adventure was always a staple of the outing. And you know that whether you wanted to admit it or not you would walk down that one particular aisle when you thought no one was looking.
The whole idea of pizza and a movie loses a lot of its appeal when you don’t even have to get out of your chair to make it all happen. With one click you either stream a film or watch it “On demand” as you pick up the phone to order delivered pizza. The bitchy old man inside me loves to scream that, “In my day you had to go get that stuff yourself!” It was simple, you would call in your order and then hop in the car, head to the video store and take 30 minutes to make your selection (While you talked to your neighbors that you bumped into) and then drive to the pizza place to get your order and go home for a few hours of entertainment.
Clicking a mouse and picking up a phone is more convenient but it just leaves something out of the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I am old and about as lazy as anyone can get and I do appreciate the conveniences that we have today. But there are still times when I think it would be fun to go get in the truck and drive up to the local Mom & Pop video store and see what was available to rent.
And as long as we’re on the subject I will tell you what was probably even more fun than the video store was the music store. I can’t count how many hours my friends and I would spend in Sound Warehouse or Rainbow Records looking at all of the different albums and tapes available. Back in the days of the LP, Album Art was just as important as the music.
Sound Warehouse was the place to buy new records and tapes and even CD’s when they emerged but the real interesting items could be found at the used record shops. Rainbow Records had numerous locations (as did Sound Warehouse) but their main store was at 23rd & Classen across from the old Beverley’s restaurant. The strangest albums you could ever imagine were always in plentiful supply. I remember I once bought an album of County & Western standards which had been synthesized and played on a MOOG organ. I can remember the way my Old Man used to shake his head at the strange things I would come home with.
There were always holy Grails of weirdness that one was on the lookout for. My uncle claimed he once saw an aobum called “Vincent Price Sings Truck Driving Classics.” I think it is still one of my goals in life to obtain a copy of thie masterpiece. Furthermore, if that title existed I will bet you that at one time or another it passed through one or more of the Rainbow record locations in OKC.
I can also remember Wilcox Records on 23rd. They would even special order for you but what made them unique at the time was that they still had the old booths where could actually slip inside and listen to the album before you made your purchase. I can remember my Mom & Dad spending a lot of time in Wilcox on Sunday afternoons.
Another place they always used to buy albums was a place called GEX, which stood for Government Employee Exchange. I don’t think the rules were that stringent because I think they just took you at your word. I remember I had an uncle who once told them he had been in The Militia and they waived him on in. The GEX was a long time ago and I remember the place and the building but I don’t remember everything they sold but I think they were kind of like AMC in that you could buy records, off brand groceries, a couch, a gun, cheap jewelry and a banjo all under the same roof. And I am NOT exaggerating in the least. Hell I know you could even buy snacks and hot roasted nuts at the lunch counter. Those places had it all.
I guess that the conveniences of technology are not all bad. Here in a moment I will click “publish” and send this posting out where it will be made available to millions without even leaving the comfort of my gazebo. I don’t have to lick a stamp, seal an envelope or stick something in the mail, just type, click and we are done.