Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bees at the Bank, Hollywood Hung,
Let Me Sing of Things As They Come Undone ...

Outside the Hollywood Video Store in another annonomall in the Valley of the Shunned, a young brunette girl with a slightly goth look but intelligent eyes behind Sarah Palin specks was weeping. Stumbling up to her, I noticed she was leaning on the wall, smoking violently. "It's so sad," she said. "They are closing on Friday."
In the time since then I have done some small part to keep the remaining feeds of knowledge in general alive in northeast Phoenix. The local library is now closed. (Sheriff Joe needed the county funding, no doubt, to chase away all of the illegals trying to obtain citizenship paperwork in the place: It was a library with two twin tower meanies as library ladies, certainly a reflection of the kind of civic face you might meet in many corners of Arizona). But I fed the Red Box. And I fed the corporate video store. They both nourished me then, lacking the library. But the walls are closing in. Indeed, the entire social contract of consumer culture is collapsing before our eyes along Cave Creek Road.
In the week or so since the local strip mall has lost the Hollywood Video, the local postal outlet has closed. In addition, the bucket for cigarettes is missing in front of Albertsons. The parking lot is now more vacant, and thus, the homeless who sleep there in their vehicles overnight ... more obvious.
I first heard about the closing of the store when, while doing everything I could do to stay on top of the new angst by renting Michael Moore's new DVD, "Capitalism: A Love Story," I rushed down to Hollywood Video at the strip mall near my home in north Phoenix, only to find a new bulldozer-of-a-gal working at the counter. She was on the phone, apparently unimpressed there were customers standing in line. This seemed strange, considering even the most common standards for customer service in America. But she was at work, apparently, performing another completely over the counter action: She was preparing the gateway to closing the video store down.
In addition to this, agony of agonies, the store at Cave Creek and Union Hills, a key unit in the marvel of suburban convenience for many years now, in terms of being the so-called local picture show, had decided to choose the week after Oscar week to stop ordering new films. So Michael Moore's new film, "Capitalism: a Love Story," was not on the shelves. Nor were many of the movies that had just been celebrated as international shake-yer-moneymakers. Certainly, a lost opportunity for Hollywood Video.
Nevertheless, the woman at the counter was no longer engaged in the act of building a business, yes, even community that day. The place was going out of commission in a month or so. Like that famous old title, "The Last Picture Show," the Hollywood Video store was about to become a vacated retail space in brown-beige land. Despite having entered the social contract of actually being one of the key cogs for a fairly cohesive strip mall landscape, Hollywood is now, literally, both in the local and grander sense, just another piece of post-corporate retail wreckage.
It wouldn't have been so bad if the local community library hadn't closed down due to budget restraints for Maricopa County.
The mere act of tactile browsing of actual media bits seems to be drying in the sun. The ports for information are narrowing. The corporations are pulling out, and especially on the media side, drying out. The fascist architecture, as Bruce Cockburn might put it, is turning to ruins. And just as Moore's film might describe (I later rented the DVD at a Red Box, which offered absolutely no opinion on the film as I paid for it, something I'm really starting to miss), Phoenix is becoming, literally, another Flint, Mich.
All over the Valley, where such corporations as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video had convinced everyone that pasting their little stores all over the compromised plain would be good for everyone, their windows are going blank. They entered into the social contract, so to speak, to entertain everyone that way. But now that Banks That Bought America and the Bush boys have sucked the middle class dry, as Moore pretty much illustrates in his shockingly sad satire and documentary, the corporate nation-state is dissolving as well as each jauntily painted little plastic consumer hut goes dark.
More bad news for anyone on the wrong side of the digital divide, I suppose, but one wonders what's to become of the suburbs as such media hubs as Borders Books and Music and Barnes & Noble continue to crash and burn, leaving empty big box shells across the land ... like a bunch of dead locust husks waiting for a new idea to take hold.
Without funding. Yes, you can be president of the United Tastes, as long as it doesn't take money. At any rate, believe Moore's "Love Story." His timing of events, how George Bush ended his regime by allowing the banking industry to raid the treasury in a moment of panic before the election of 2008, rings true. As far as the end of the love story with "Hollywood," feels more like a break up to me.
Instead, to the ring of this vampire's tune ... I bidded my time. Watched for signs. Once, there were bees at the local bank money box, and yellow tape around the device lodged into the wall, since nature had invaded. That's because you see, of all the things I found unique to Hollywod in the past year, it's special interest section was the more fascinatingly rented. That's because in the mid-to-late period of the Bush administration, an uncanny kind of mockumentary filmmaking, and flat out penetrating team documentary investigative journalism, all flourished.
So I waited as the prices dropped, continuing to inquire. Finally, on the last day, I bought shelves of this post-911 fodder so that, at least in my corner of the world, no one, if inquisitive enough and still having electricity freely available to them for DVD play devices, will ever forget this age of video violence, when the tail wagged the dog, the cows went oink, the pigs went moo and some very bright mice committed their minute to minute roars to film.