Friday, August 26, 2011

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
first seen @ Arena Grand Theatre, Columbus OH
2008

At the Third Avenue video store, we had a decent sized porn section. It was all the way in the back, to the left of the register as you entered the store. This was in the late 90s, so everything was still VHS. The oversized boxes ('cause size matters, dont'cha know) were hung on pegs on both sides of a tiny little alcove. The bathroom, appropriately enough, was at the end of the little hall (but only we held the key to it; it was not a public bathroom). Gay porn was on one side, straight porn on the other.


For a long time, I admit, I was judgmental about the regular porn customers, of which we had quite a few. I'd never actually say anything to their faces about their selections, but I tended to act colder towards them when it came to checking these tapes out. See, most porn customers aren't likely to ask for their titles by name - though there were plenty that did! - so often times, they'd bring the boxes up to the counter. Since we never had more than one copy of each title, if the box wasn't on display in the porn section, then it was definitely out. Either that, or it was in and we just didn't get around to putting the boxes back yet.



The point is that whenever they brought the boxes up, I'd have to handle them, which I didn't care for. I guess I was more prudish back then. What can I say? I mean, it's fairly obvious what they're taking them out for, and I guess I didn't want to be reminded of that - and if you saw some of the dudes that regularly rented porn, you'd likely agree! And yes, gay porn bothered me more. In my defense, let me say that this was at a time when I was still ignorant about homosexuality in general, although working with Bill opened my eyes to a lot of stuff about it - and later on, in the 2000s, I would meet more gay people. But that was still in the future.


Some of my co-workers would take porn lightly and laugh about it. By the time I got to the Avenue A store in 2003, I could laugh about it too, and much more easily, but not as much while I was at Third Avenue. It wasn't an impediment to my job; I did what I had to do because let's face it, porn was a big money-maker for our little independent video store. Dudes came to us for it because Blockbuster didn't have it; that's one reason why we were unique and popular within our neighborhood. Still, some customers sensed my hostility and occasionally complained to the boss and I'd get crap for it.


If I were to work in a video store with a porn section today, I'd adopt a much more live-and-let-live attitude. I think I can better understand what drives men (and women too, I guess) to watch porn. The sexual urge is a primal one. If it doesn't find release in the usual manner, then it'll manifest in other ways. I'm not saying it's good or bad, it just is.



And besides, porn can be funny as hell! Kevin Smith certainly knows that, as we've seen in many of his other films as well as in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I saw it opening weekend with my ex-roommate Max and friends while I was living in Columbus. We caught an early show, and if I remember correctly, the four of us were the only ones in the smallish theater. Suited us fine. We still had a good time.


The Arena Grand lies in downtown Columbus, in the Arena District, an area anchored by the Nationwide Arena, home of the Bluejackets hockey team and the premier venue for concerts, conventions, and what have you. Columbus is home to Nationwide Insurance, and the company's influence is felt throughout the city as a major mover and shaker. (The street the arena and theater is on is called Nationwide Boulevard.) When I lived in Columbus, the minor league baseball team, the Clippers, moved to a beautiful new ballpark down the street from the Arena. I went to several games there. I only went to one Bluejackets game, though. As luck would have it, this was the season they went to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history (though they'd get swept in the first round by eventual Cup-winner Detroit).



The rest of the Arena District has a bunch of nice restaurants and a popular concert hall, along with some apartment housing. There was one great Italian joint that Max and I would go to a lot, both with friends or his family.


The Arena District is right on the northernmost edge of the downtown. When I lived in Columbus, the downtown was not as happening a place as it once was. While it has its share of attractions, there was rarely a sense of vitality to it. Basically, people would come there to work in the morning and then leave at day's end for the suburbs. There was a major shopping mall on High Street, the main drag, for many years, but as bigger, fancier malls opened in the suburbs, it couldn't compete. Recently, the city finally tore it down and put up a park in its place. From the pictures I've seen of it, it looks wonderful. I hope to see it in person one day.

6 comments:

  1. You're a brave soul. When I lived in Columbus, I refused to live closer to downtown than the outside edge of the 270 freeway. And Easton is arguably my favorite place in the state of Ohio. I can buy stuff, watch a movie, eat a decent meal or two, and get hammered all in one helpful location.

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  2. I lived in Franklinton, which was like white trash central. The only thing I could recommend about it was that it was relatively close to the downtown (by bike anyway). I would've liked to have lived in either King-Lincoln or Clintonville. The Easton Mall was awesome but too far away.

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  3. Well, growing up in San Francisco in the 70's and 80's I was sort of surrounded by porn. My High School bus stop (public transit) was a block from the infamous Mitchell Bros Theater and I literally had to stand in front of a Peep Show place to wait for the bus! In my later teens, I hung out in The Castro a lot and all the video stores there had huge gay porn sections. Because of this, I felt more comfortable than your average person. Although I hadn't seen any of it, it wasn't an out of the ordinary thing for me. I remember this movie being a flop. Did you like it? Should I check it out?

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  4. My one big regret about visiting SF was not making it out to the Castro. I was there on business, so I only had so much time. Gotta rectify that one day.

    This is probably the best of the non-View Askewniverse movies (Clerks 1 and 2, Mallrats, Amy, J&SB) - at least until 'Red State' comes out - although speaking as a Smith fan, I still gotta say that that's not saying a whole lot. If you like Smith, or for that matter, Seth Rogen, it's worth a look.

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  5. Very interesting recollection of your video store days. Had I worked in one back then, I'd have likely had a similar outlook as yours, and would like to think I've changed/matured in the same ways as you as well. Good stuff.

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  6. Thanks. My video store years had a quite profound impact on how I see movies.

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