Please believe me when I tell you that I am in no way pining for the era of the VHS videotape—I lived through it, folks and it wasn’t pretty. You’ll hear no nostalgia for obsolete home entertainment formats coming from me—but I do want to convey, for our “younger readers,” something that has been lost, never to return, in this age of press play, always on, instant streaming digital video pumped directly into your home 24/7 like water or gas.
And I’m actually wincing as I compose this because what I’m about to impart seems so… I dunno… parental or heaven forfend Republican. I don’t mean to come off like that but I’m gonna say it anyway:
You appreciate things more when you have to work for them.
Okay, so what do I mean by this? When something must be hunted down, or is otherwise elusive, scarce, expensive or rare, you simply appreciate it more once you finally get your hands on it. A big part of what motivates any crate digger is the thrill of the hunt. It’s just not the same when you can easily download something or have Amazon deliver it to your doorstep the next day, or sooner. Today the distance between your desire and manifesting whatever that desire is, is but a short and uncomplicated path. The Internet took all of the joy out of record and book collecting for me. I haven’t had a “holy grail” that I’ve been looking for since forever ago, if you’ll forgive me my first world problem!
Another thing that’s gotten lost along the way is any sense of something being “underground” anymore. Nothing—at least entertainment-wise—is “rare” in a digital world. Look at the films of Kenneth Anger. Once upon a time, you’d have had to have gone to a gay porno theater in New York’s Times Square to see his short films “Fireworks” or “Scorpio Rising.” You’d have to have seen them projected on celluloid and most probably under fairly seedy conditions, if you were to see them at all. That also meant physically being in a big city when they were being screened. Esoteric entertainment of this sort did not come to you then, you went to it. In 2016 YouTube might host Jack Smith’s legendarily perverse underground classic Normal Love in HD, but it’s just not the same as seeing it in a sperm-stained Times Square fleapit that smells strongly of Pine-Sol when the NYPD’s vice squad arrives uninvited, now is it?
Keep reading after the jump…