MY ANGLE: Elegy in a parking lot—mourning the death of my old friend Blockbuster

I’m not sure what made me click “Update” that day. I had been ignoring the prompt for the four years I’d owned the Blu-Ray player, so why start now?

Maybe it was my brain trying to fit in one last desperate attempt at productivity before watching 27 hours of “Twin Peaks.”

The Blu-Ray player (or as I like to call it, the Netflix Machine) came with only four apps, but when the update finished and the machine started up, I saw there were only three.

Blockbuster was gone.

Out of all the useless apps that weren’t Netflix, Blockbuster On Demand was the worst (and that’s saying something, considering the other apps were Pandora and a terrible YouTube app).

For those not familiar with the saga of the video rental giant, Blockbuster On Demand was its final, last-ditch attempt at getting in on the ground floor of content streaming after the building was already built.

I remember using it once: my family bought a “recent” release for $6 that disappeared in 24 hours.

It was kind of like an old friend you had no intention of seeing again show up, ask you for money and then bail.

I can’t say I’m disappointed, but, boy, did it seem like a sign of the times.

Besides going to the movies, Blockbuster used to be my favorite thing in the world. The one I went to in Midtown must have gotten the short end of the stick on their lease because the front entrance was in a parking garage under a freeway.

The routine was always the same: my brother and I would run to the kids’ section, fight over a movie and invoke my mother’s executive decision-making skills.

While my mother was at the cash register, I would wander the game rental section, pining for all the games for the systems that my parents wouldn’t let me have.

Oddly enough, my brother and I would even fight over who would stamp the parking ticket in the validator. A strict turns system was enforced.

Blockbuster’s microwave popcorn bucket was, of course, non-negotiable. We could have used one of the many packets of Orville Redenbacher’s we already had at home, but how could that compare to the coolness of having it pop in the bucket?

The place even had a smell. You know the one. A kind of plasticy scent with a hint of unwashed carpet. I swear, if someone made an Eau de Blockbuster, I would douse myself with it just for the nostalgia factor.

I went to the store closing sale two years ago—a sort of last hurrah for my favorite dying media form—and I bought a DVD, for old time’s sake.

It was too scratched to play.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email