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September 12, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

In 2009, the entire rental library of legendary New York video store Mondo Kim's (previously) was shipped to a small town in Sicily, with the promise of a nonstop film festival and free access for former Kim's members. The reality turned out considerably differently. (Printer-friendly link).
posted by Horace Rumpole (37 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a NYC cultural resource, Kim's was up there with the Frick Collection.

.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:14 AM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Godzilla wept.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


A fascinating and depressing story. What a jerk Kim is ("both universities refused to take the collection as a whole—they didn't need all 15 rental copies of Shrek, for instance. This was a stipulation on which Kim refused to negotiate")! But he sure created a great institution before he chucked it all in the trash bin. You could find amazing movies in that place.
posted by languagehat at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he'd left it in NYC it would be available by now, the egotistical jerk.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always kinda hated/envied Kims. I worked at a couple different video stores, of a sort of family owned mini-chain, that pretty much churned new releases and porn. We did of course have various types of otaku who loved to chide us for not having some particular movie they wanted. They would always make sure we knew that we weren't Kim's. We also got young kids who would ask about this mythical video store, sometimes I would advise against going there out of spite. Or tell them to get a membership they had to take a test so they were better off sticking with us. Fucking Kim's I hate those guys.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was a stipulation on which Kim refused to negotiate.

Speaking as a special collections guy, those kind of preconditions ("My collection must be kept exactly as I have it shelved now, in a replica of my house, on permanent display for all eternity.") turn a potentially great acquisition into an unmanageable albatross.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:02 AM on September 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


This is crazy. I worked at Kim's Mediapolis as the video department manager for maybe 9 months in 05/'06. What a crazy fucking place.

Mr. Kim was such a seedy guy. The only job I've ever had where I was paid under the table and yet still by payroll check. I was always convinced that he had close - very close - ties to organized crime. What did I know, though? I just ordered shit and restocked tapes. Oh, and I got to be as mean as I wanted to anyone - it was stressed during my training and I actually pissed off one of the other department managers by not being mean enough to customers. I made a little girl cry once. I did an extra shot of heroin right after that, so awful it made me feel.

I wish I had more to say about the subject. I probably do. Lemme think about it.
posted by item at 11:16 AM on September 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's all NTSC, right? Incompatible with PAL?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's a couple of old comments I posted while working there, probably from the rental department's PC. Just so y'all don't take me to be some kind of untruth-teller.
posted by item at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2012


Damn it Kim. I loved the video store, but the more I learn about the creepier it gets.

For $1.25 you could rent a movie (any movie!) as long as you returned it by midnight- I powered through entire sections of that store. (cheapest enetertainment available to students: get some 40's and a few movies for 10 bucks!)

It was a truely weird/amazing resource, and I'm sad it couldn't have ended up in the NYPL system (my other source for weird films).
posted by larthegreat at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can confirm our video stores had ties to organized crime, as much as any small businesses in Brooklyn do. Most of our videos were bootlegs duped in a huge mobbed up facility. I would not be surprised in the least, if Kim's also got new releases that way. They were excellent quality. It was run by an italian family that liked to revel in shady deals, one of the owners tried to hand me his gun and said "Why don't you take this, go outside, and get us some customers" I countered by suggesting we just straight up rob people and he said something like "You're all right kid"

It was great fun.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:24 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kim's security staff were made up of burly African immigrants of dubious immigration-status legality. They hated everyone, especially the snotty kids who worked there. I was constantly battling with them to leave me the fuck alone and just let me steal merchandise in peace.

Every once in a while, a carload of sketchy-looking Korean dudes in sunglasses would show up, walk past my basement video dep't perch and disappear into the office for a half hour or so. It was very cinematic.

I never did see any of the movies Mr. Kim produced.
posted by item at 11:34 AM on September 12, 2012


Kim's security staff were made up of burly African immigrants of dubious immigration-status legality. They hated everyone, especially the snotty kids who worked there.

Haha! I always wondered what was up with those guys. You'd see them downstairs near the entrance having conversations, and I always felt like I'd walked in on something. Never figured out how they fit into the picture.

And the Kim's staff always treated me with bland dismissiveness, as opposed to outright hostility. I took that as a compliment.

The people at Reel Life were nicer. Isn't that one owned by one of the Johns from TMBG now?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:43 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prescient comment from the previous thread:

Sgarbi is to mayordom what Berlusconi is to the office of the prime minister. This will not end bene.
posted by progosk at 6:49 PM on December 30, 2008

posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:46 AM on September 12, 2012


An indie producer I knew relayed to me a story of how Kim let NYU wine and dine him on the false pretense of donating a large sum of money to their film school in exchange for an honorary degree. Also, I worked at New Video in the late 80s and Spike Lee used to do a lot of business with us. His brother Cinque would come and do pick-ups for him. The subject of Kim's Video came up between him and my boss and I got the impression that no one in NY trusted dealing with the guy.

On a side note, I'm surprised he has anything to do with 301/302 or To the Starry Island. Those are good films.
posted by cazoo at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"My collection must be kept exactly as I have it shelved now, in a replica of my house, on permanent display for all eternity."

Last weekend I was at the local university library, trying to find a Diana Wynne-Jones that wasn't in the stacks. Turns out it's part of the [Lastname] Fantasy Collection, which a librarian at the school described for me as "a rich nerd gave us a bunch of money and now we have to store his books for him."

I looked at the list of books, and these aren't rare fantasy masterpieces, they're mostly stuff like Star Trek: Voyager novels and Robert Jordan paperbacks. But here's the best part: the books are non-circulating! Ha!

"Hello, I'd like to request perusal of the Alan Dean Foster novelization of The Chronicles Of Riddick. Here's the Request Form, and I have my linen gloves on...I'll be waiting at a desk out of direct sunlight and in clear view of a librarian at all times. I've left all personal items with security, and will be taking notes only with one of these golf pencils and sheets of scrap paper the library provides..."
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:04 PM on September 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


Who goes to italy without a translator? Throughout the entire article, the authors inability to communicate with the locals comes to the fore.
posted by dethb0y at 12:21 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Hello, I'd like to request perusal of the Alan Dean Foster novelization of The Chronicles Of Riddick.

For the record, our science fiction collection is pretty badass, we don't make you wear gloves,* and the pencils and paper are all full-sized. Sadly, a lot of the early paperbacks are restricted because of extreme fragility.

*White gloves are seriously terrible and it drives me crazy that they're what everybody thinks of when they think of special collections. The cloth gloves fit terribly, they're always dirtier than people's hands, and they make careful handling of fragile materials nearly impossible. You might as well smash a brittle paperback with a mallet as try to turn the pages wearing cloth gloves. We use nitrile gloves here, and there are really only three things that they should be used with: illuminated manuscripts with flaking pigments, certain types of photographic prints, and this one crazy John Ashbery book that comes in a steel canister.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:27 PM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


and this one crazy John Ashbery book that comes in a steel canister.

I get a 403 on that link... because I'm not wearing the gloves, I presume?
posted by Huck500 at 12:35 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't even look at that Ashbery link, probably because I don't have gloves on.

Hold on, I'll go grab some from the gel room.
posted by maryr at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2012


Works for me.
posted by mlis at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2012


I'll grab some for Huck500 too.
posted by maryr at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2012


It's from here. Possibly they don't like me direct-linking their image.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2012


Yep, works now that I've got the gloves on.
posted by maryr at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


UT Austin has a friggin Gutenberg Bible donated by H Ross Perot. I suppose I need the gloves to touch that one.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2012


Spoiler alert: you don't get to touch that one.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that one is on display in the Ransom Center, actually. (The Random Center is the one thing I saw in Austin other than my friend's kids.)
posted by maryr at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2012


Good story.

Loved Kims and always assumed it was owned by the hippest new yorker possible. Kim Gordon maybe? They always had movies you could find no place else. Spinal Tap 8 hour unedited version? Of course. Anything by Jodorworsky. Classic gore, art house, underground. A lot of it home dubbed and possibly semi-legal to sell.

The music section was just a music nerd's wet dream. They had an "established" section that was simply everything amazing that most people had never heard of. Krautrock, Stockhausen, Suicide, etc... Definitely a vestige of an New York that doesn't so much exist anymore.
posted by destro at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2012


Horace Rumpole: "Speaking as a special collections guy, those kind of preconditions ("My collection must be kept exactly as I have it shelved now, in a replica of my house, on permanent display for all eternity.") turn a potentially great acquisition into an unmanageable albatross."

Cf. the Barnes Foundation.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or tell them to get a membership they had to take a test so they were better off sticking with us. Fucking Kim's I hate those guys.


Randal Graves, is that you?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:14 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cf. the Barnes Foundation.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is another interesting example.
posted by maryr at 3:55 PM on September 12, 2012


will be taking notes only with one of these golf pencils and sheets of scrap paper the library provides...

Sidebar: LIBRARIANS! O librarians of Mefi! Why golf pencils? Why?
posted by Diablevert at 5:37 PM on September 12, 2012


Because they're cheaper than regular pencils and you bastards keep stealing them.

But also, see above, when you roll with me, it's full-size pencils all the way.
#youcanhavewhateveryoulike
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:11 PM on September 12, 2012


Oh, you probably steal them from trivia anyway.
posted by maryr at 7:15 PM on September 12, 2012


.

I loved Kim's.
posted by saul wright at 7:42 PM on September 12, 2012


Soane's, London.

We've assembled a post here for anyone interested in running with it.
posted by mwhybark at 10:03 PM on September 12, 2012


Ties to organised crime at the sending end, ties to organised crime at the receiving end, and people like Toscani and Sgarbi involved...hmm, I wonder if there may have been a little more than old VHS tapes in those shipping containers.
posted by Skeptic at 6:46 AM on September 13, 2012


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