The edited version

Did a load of laundry, and then had a peaceful lunch at the park, not even much minding the dumbass teenager listening to present-day rock'n'roll on his boombox. His radio was loud enough to rock the block, but the music was OK so I didn't complain. Except then a commercial came on, and he didn't even lower the volume. Kids today, Itellya.

It was an ad for Blockbuster Music, an entity I'd never heard of before. Presumably it's owned by Blockbuster Video, the #1 video chain in America, where I've never been a customer or even browsed the aisles.

For many movies, studios make one version for theaters, and a milder cut for television, where 'R' becomes 'PG'. For movies rated 'R' or beyond, Blockbuster carries only the neutered version. The Bad Lieutenant, for example, is an 'NC-17' movie about an out-of-control cop, but reliable sources tell me that when rented from Blockbuster, Harvey Keitel is less out-of-control.

I don't want to be all sanctimonious about movies as art, because movies are mostly commerce. It's an odd 'art' that can't exist without being pre-approved by men in silk suits, who worry only whether each movie might earn back its investment. Every movie playing at every theater has been through that silk-suit process.

Once a movie has been released to theaters, though, if you rent it at a video store, it ought to be the same movie. At Blockbuster, if it's something challenging, something for grown-ups, it's either not there at all, or it's been trimmed.

And now, Blockbuster Video has spawned Blockbuster Music — do you suppose their rap section might be somewhat abbreviated?

If you're looking for Body Count, Jello Biafra, or something with lyrics more thoughtful than "She loves you, ya ya ya," approach Blockbuster Music with trepidation. "Sorry, we don't carry that," will be their mantra, and if they carry bands like Public Enemy at all, it'll be a 'special' version — albums with a missing track, lyrics rewritten or bleeped out, perhaps with a less shocking photo on the cover.

And if Blockbuster Music makes enough profit, soon you'll be able to find watered-down best-sellers and abridged literary classics at Blockbuster Books.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Taking a late stroll through the neighborhood at night, a beggar came at me with a wacky attitude. "I got nothing," he said, posing with his arms at odd angles like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

It made me smile, and once I've smiled the rule is, I gotta hand over some change. Reached into my pocket for a few coins, and just as I was slipping 'em into the guy's hand, I saw that instead of the expected  assortment of pennies, dimes, nickels, and the occasional quarter, I'd given him a handful of mostly quarters. Damn it, my leftover laundry money from this morning!

I'm still a little ahead from working at the bar a few weeks ago, but I can't afford to be that generous. Jeez, I must've given three dollars to that bum! No take-backs, though, so it's a pre-paid and guilt-free "no" for the next hundred panhandlers.

From Pathetic Life #24
Thursday, May 30, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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