R.I.P. Kim’s

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Kim’s Mediapolis, meeting ground for Converse All-Stars of all colors, will be closing its French (New Wave) doors for good within the next month. Just “Kim’s” for those in the know, this video store was a Columbia institution – a place every student has been to at least once. It’s also a place every student has been criticized at least once. Below, a fondly recalled exchange from my freshman year:

“Do you guys have Boogie Nights? I couldn’t find it in the racks.”
“Hmm, let me think. Did you try looking under ‘P.T. Anderson’? That might be a good place to start, yeah?”
“Oh, so your movies are grouped by director. Okay, tha-”
“Directors that deserve the recognition, yeah. You’re not going to find, like, Spielberg shit over there.”
“Right.” I headed toward the rack again. Searching with all my mainstream might, I still couldn’t find the movie. I returned to the register slightly embarrassed.

“Still no luck. Is it out of stock?”
“Let’s look at the clues, shall we?” The guy started counting with his fingers.
“You didn’t see it under ‘P.T. Anderson’… and since we’re not idiots, we wouldn’t put it somewhere else…”
“Alright, thanks for your help.” I was now looking forward to leaving.
“Why would you want to buy that film, anyway?” he asked my back. “Boogie Nights is amateurish drivel.”

Verbatim, I swear. I kept going back, obviously, but armed with new tactical knowledge. After that first encounter I learned to keep entirely to myself in the store and avoid conversation with its douchebag employees at all costs. I found it best to just look away while being rung up, too – the threat of a full-body spasm from the cashier, reacting to the sight of Star Wars and Mystic River alike, was always in the air.

So yeah, the place was manned by complete tools. If you found them endearing in any way, I wouldn’t fret – they’ll all probably wind up working “ironically” at the Starbucks across the street when Kim’s closes. Have them scoff at your coffee order while they defend their green smocks as “post-modern.” Me? I really will miss their former employer. As in any conflicted relationship, there were always bright spots to cling to. Kim’s was the best source for expensive new Criterion DVDs and obscure Tawianese cinema. Besides Amazon, it was really the only place to satisfy my pretentious film tendencies. Where will I find my favorite Tsai Ming-liang movies now?

Anyone else want to share in this time of grieving?

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4 Responses to “R.I.P. Kim’s”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Damn. And I just signed up for a membership there too. They better give me my $25 in movie rental credits back. Or at least apply it towards the purchase of one of their absurdly priced DVDs

  2. Henning Says:

    Jeff, I feel your pain. Buy something super-mainstream, like “Transformers” (in its special collector’s edition format, natch), to really stick it to them on your way out. Or the complete “Sex And The City” – what a scandal that would be!

  3. Mark Says:

    I hope you’re not making of fun of Tsai Ming-liang, because he’s one of my favorites. For realz. I read this on Bwog today and got really sad. I personally never had any douchey experiences there (even as I rented many silly movies), probably because none of the clerks gave a shit. But they have such great stuff! And the book selection is good, too!

    Man, I’m getting sadder just thinking about this. Oh also I bought some really good CDs there!

    It just keeps getting worse.

  4. Henning Says:

    Mark – you’ll be relieved to know that I am not making fun of Mr. Ming-liang, just pointing out the occasionally absurd reach of anyone (myself included) interested in foreign cinema. I have never seen any of his work (I found his name on Wikipedia under “Taiwanese Cinema”), but will take your comment as a suggestion to check it out soon.

    And aside from my dicey relationship with its employees, I too will miss the store immensely. Their selection was generally second to none.

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