“Hi, I’m Bob.” This was the opening to my short-lived, recurring segment on Ha! (the cable TV station that eventually merged with The Comedy Channel to form Comedy Central). That series of short sketches was called “Bob, the Video Guy” and in 30 seconds I would review an entire shelf’s worth of movies. It was filmed at the Tower Video store on the Upper East Side where I was the manager. We only made half a dozen “Bob, the Video Guy” segments, but my career with Tower lasted 15 more years. Then I became a librarian and now I’m writing a blog, promoting some entertainment options available at your local Queens library. This entry’s theme is “My life as mirrored in the movies.”
Two very good movies have been made about working in a record store, Empire Records (1995) and High Fidelity (2000). Both films get it right when it comes to music geeks, shoplifters and the record retail attitude. Empire Records is closest to my personal experience (many speculate the script is based on Tower Records) but despite the attention to retail details, the story is a little too far-fetched. High Fidelity comes in second overall but is hands-down the winner in the soundtrack category. That, plus great performances by John Cusack and Jack Black make it another almost-great movie. For me, the love story sections bring the movie down and I thought the book by Nick Hornby was better. Read it, watch it, and let me know what you think.
What about the Jack Black video store homage Be Kind Rewind? Sorry, I didn’t like it.
On to my new career as portrayed in You’re a Big Boy Now (1967) and Party Girl (1995). Francis Ford Coppola’s UCLA master’s thesis project You’re a Big Boy Now is the story of young Bernard who works for his father at the main branch of the New York Public Library. Dad is the curator of incunabula and doesn’t take kindly to his son’s naïveté and distracted work ethic. So Dad sets Bernard up in his own Greenwich Village apartment in the hope that his “big boy” will grow into a man. Hilarity and hi-jinks ensue as Bernard awkwardly comes of age amongst the denizens of Manhattan in the mid-sixties. Of the films mentioned here, You’re a Big Boy Now is my favorite and as soon as it gets a proper DVD release I will make sure that Queens Library gets plenty of copies.
The Party Girl is Parker Posey, playing a NY raver who gets in trouble for her illegal rent parties. She seeks help from her godmother who is the manager/librarian at a branch of the New York Public Library. Working as a circulation clerk while falling in love with a falafel vendor, the party girl begins to grow up and show some signs of maturity. But is it too late? The scene where she catalogs her DJ roommate’s dance records foreshadows the inevitable conclusion and is truly hilarious, especially to a librarian who used to sell records for a living. Like me.
That’s all for today. Until next time, I’m Bob. The Video Guy.