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It was a rite of passage to go in there, rent a movie and get snobbed on
August 22, 2014 1:28 PM   Subscribe

With the approaching end of the last Mondo Kim's Video & Music, the one on First Avenue, here's an oral history of the iconic, idiosyncratic East Village video store from its clerks and customers, including Richard Foreman, Chloe Sevigny, Andrew WK, and many more. (previously)
posted by Doktor Zed (29 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
There were so many things I saw for the first time at Kim's. Dinosaur Jr, the books of Kathy Acker, Japanese tentacle porn, John Zorn, Phillipine Women In Prison movies, Psychotronic Video.

Thanks, Kim.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:41 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


I didn't realize there were any Kims left - I grew up right around the corner from the Morningside Heights one. A ton of my cultural education happened there, and it still fills me with illogical rage that it's a motherfucking Ricky's now. I thought when it closed it was the last one.

I should visit the one on First to pay my respects.

.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:46 PM on August 22


Kim's Video was the best of the best, especially the one on St. Marks. The shelves were an education unto itself.

The final location was depressing to look at. Who thought that store would earn money? It was always empty, full of aimless people aimlessly rifling through DVDs.

The NetFlix era has brought many lovely things, but I hate how Kim's-style video stores can't sustain themselves, at least not in NYC, not as self-contained businesses. The NYPL just isn't the same. I want a single room, filled to the brim with more movies than anybody could ever hope to watch, somewhat sorted semi-snarkily by country and director.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:52 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I made weekly visits to the Kim's Video on St. Marks when I lived in NYC. It furnished me with many hard to find VHS tapes -- Muppet Family Christmas, Skidoo!, Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, tapes of Brothers Quay shorts. It is one of the places I sorely miss.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:04 PM on August 22


That (previously) link makes an interesting counterpoint to the "dismantling of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy collection" link a few posts down on the main page, not to the mention the UNESCO World Heritage Sites link just beyond. Collections are marvelous yet unwieldy things.
posted by themanwho at 2:08 PM on August 22


I hate how Kim's-style video stores can't sustain themselves, at least not in NYC, not as self-contained businesses. The NYPL just isn't the same. I want a single room, filled to the brim with more movies than anybody could ever hope to watch, somewhat sorted semi-snarkily by country and director.

How inefficient. All that inventory sitting unused, unwatched. It was only a matter of time before the business model ran out of steam as DVD prices slowly fall. A 1 day rental costs half the price of owning it.

How about I set up a shop floor full of empty DVD cases, and you can wander around with the Netflix app adding videos to your queue?
posted by pwnguin at 2:15 PM on August 22


Hmm. I guess I don't get to weigh in on this as I was video manager of Kim's Mediapolis uptown a decade back and not Mondo Kim's (though I did pick up a bunch of shifts there). My favorite 'celebrity' regular was Karen Black - she was the nicest person one could imagine, always giving me a hug and a peck on the cheek when I'd help her.

I'm getting a Mefi server error message right now otherwise I'd link to at least one comment I made here from one of the computers at Kim's.
posted by item at 2:19 PM on August 22 [7 favorites]


item, consider yourself a hero of mine. You guys did the Lord's work.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:32 PM on August 22 [3 favorites]


Hey, shit's working again. Not like this is some sort of definitive proof, but here's a couple of comments I made while working there.
posted by item at 2:35 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


How about I set up a shop floor full of empty DVD cases, and you can wander around with the Netflix app adding videos to your queue?

If NetFlix had something like Kim's selection, then I would be more than fine with this!
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:38 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Oh and pre-Kim's, after working at a string of small regional chains and porn stores I cut my video-store-employee-as-rock-star teeth working at Austin's I Luv Video's (original) Airport Blvd location for nearly five very fun years.
posted by item at 2:39 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I worked down the block from Kim's on St. Marks (and hung out around there as a teenager) and spent a lot of time in there. I couldnt event start to catalog what I've bought there that, at the time, was otherwise nearly unobtainable.
posted by griphus at 2:43 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Crap. I thought somehow we staved off this inevitable with the Sicily sale. Spose I was naive. I'll miss the place, though I rarely went there.
posted by gusandrews at 2:47 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I'm feeling so lucky that Chicago still has Facets Cinematheque and Odd Obsession. I've never been to any Kim's, but the "handwritten signs and intimidating labyrinth" descriptions remind me of the latter in particular. I literally have a grainy VHS copy of Amos Poe's Blank Generation sitting in my messenger bag waiting to be returned right now.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:24 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Haven't we already had a Kim's nostalgia thread?

Dead business model finally really dies. I don't miss Kim's one bit.
posted by spitbull at 3:43 PM on August 22


Man I am glad as fuck that Movie Madness is still around here, and that Scarecrow in SEA is still here. I don't get the people that shit on big, oddly curated independent video stores or are like "well Netflix and shit exist so fuck to your video store". They are different things.
posted by beefetish at 3:54 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Dead business model finally really dies.

NEVER FORGET
posted by echocollate at 3:55 PM on August 22


Back in the day, any city of any reasonable size had at least one store like that, especially video stores. I miss places like that...one place you could go and take your time and really discover new stuff.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:56 PM on August 22 [3 favorites]


ha yeah whatever thorzdad im going to strap 2 separate luxury internet rectangles to my looking holes and stream a flowin' river of content right into my dumb baby skull
posted by beefetish at 3:59 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Back in the day, any city of any reasonable size had at least one store like that, especially video stores. I miss places like that...one place you could go and take your time and really discover new stuff.

In Dallas we still have Premiere Video (FB & Yelp links) they don't have a website that I can find), which amazingly is still open. I always find the very rare or foreign titles I am looking for and stuff I never even considered. It's been awhile since I have been there, since it's on the other side of town, but I always loved that place.
posted by Benway at 5:07 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I wish that Amoeba would open a branch in NYC
posted by brujita at 5:21 PM on August 22


How about I set up a shop floor full of empty DVD cases, and you can wander around with the Netflix app adding videos to your queue?

My typical Kim's experience: I make an impromptu decision to watch a movie, walk for 15 minutes, and end up at a place with a wide selection of stuff that's fairly well suited to my tastes. If I'm not sure what to get, I can talk to one of the snotty NYU students who works there, and they'll recommend something worth seeing.

My typical Netflix experience: I make an impromptu decision to watch a movie, go online, and find that exactly zero of the titles I'm interested in are available on streaming—not even that one thing that was available just a few weeks ago. I can then pick another activity for that night, or spend some time doing research and pawing through Netflix's poorly tuned recommendations while waiting for my DVD to get into the mail.

Netflix is good, but it isn't perfect. It should be better than a brick-and-mortar store in every way. It's definitely better when it comes to returns, but when it comes to accessibility and curation, that isn't always the case.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:41 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


You’d be turned on by other people, who would say, “Oh, you should go to Kim’s for this thing, you’ll never get it anywhere else and its really fabulous.” How do you do that now?

torrents, mostly
posted by LogicalDash at 5:45 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Did Netflix actually kill off dvd mailers? I vaguely recall them having a pretty goddamn good selection.
posted by pwnguin at 6:09 PM on August 22


This clinches it. Tonight is officially Scarecrow Video date night for me and the wonderspouse.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:15 PM on August 22


Did Netflix actually kill off dvd mailers?

They didn't, but that's not helpful on the odd Friday when my plans are cancelled and we just sent our last DVD back.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:23 PM on August 22


I guess I don't get to weigh in on this as I was video manager of Kim's Mediapolis uptown a decade back

Whoa, item - I was a music clerk there from late summer of 2003 to summer of 2004- did we overlap?

My first job in New York; I was 17 and just terrible. I met my best friend there, who got me drunk for the first time at the Ding Dong (RIP as well).
posted by 235w103 at 8:55 PM on August 22


Vancouver still has such a place. It sells both records and sells/rents videos now. Zulu Records/Videomatica. I feel bad I can't buy more there.
posted by Hoopo at 9:00 PM on August 22


235w103: I started there sometime in 2005, so nope.
posted by item at 12:31 AM on August 23


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