So we come to it at last. As anyone who has read this column, or knows me personally knows, I’m not usually one who lacks for words. But I sit here at my computer and I simply don’t know what to say. I knew one day The Insomniac would end, both in a zen “All Things Must Pass” sort of way and in the literal sense that I knew that the past two years have been really tough. But still I can’t believe it. So I look around my room, staring back from me on my desk top I see my wallpaper, a mural with The Dude, One of The Furies From The Warriors, Alex De Large, Frank Booth and Frank Bunny, Ed Wood, Divine, and countless others staring back at me. I look around my room at the posters that line my wall, at the obscene number of books, and Movies, and Comics that I’ve crammed into my small apartment. I look at these and I wonder if they would be here without The Insomniac Video. And if the question “Would I have a lot of neat stuff?” seems shallow to you (And anyone who loves what they love, I mean REALLY loves it knows that it’s not.) let me pose an alternative one, “Would I be here without The Insomniac Video?” I’m not so sure.
But let’s start with the first question. Let’s get something straight, knowing what you should see, really doesn’t matter unless you can see it. Now with Netflix if you want to bone up on your Finnish Animation about Leopards, the entire genre is just a button click away. But this wasn’t always so you either had a chain like Blockbuster, that censored their movies, liquated their backstock, and whose Foreign and Classics section filled half a shelf if you were lucky. Or an independent mom and pop shop run by people who rented videos as a simple business plan, with no more passion than someone who sold carburetors, and no more understanding. Then there was The Insomniac. A place for film lovers by film lovers. When you walked into The Insomniac it felt like the entirety of film was at your fingertips. Everything from John Ford to Jackie Chan, Buster Keaton to Bertolucci, Brian DePalma, The Coen Brothers, Tim Burton, Fellini, Cassevettes, John Woo, Zhang Yimou, Scorsese, Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Soderbergh, Mario Bava, Jim Jaramusch, Dario Argento, Altman, Sergio Leone, Coppala, Woody Allen, Beat Takeshi, Battle Royale when it was still practically an Urban Legend, Francois Truffaunt, Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, Raoul Walsh, David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, Samuel Fuller. And not just their classics either, sure it was easy enough to find Stagecoach or The Searchers, but The Insomniac let you bask in ALL of their films good or bad, major or minor let you truly see their careers as singular works of art. When you walked into The Insomniac, that cramped little space with mildew stained rugs and cinderblock walls, it became magical. The Store spoke to you. it a vision of film as an infinite buffet, where most were happy to take whatever crap was shoveled at him. But the canny ones could create a fantastic meal for themselves by digging a bit deeper.
But if that wasn’t all The Insomniac was, not to me anyway. When I discovered The Insomniac I was a lonely, disaffected, misfit. Basically friendless and very very lost. When people have bandied about the phrase Alternative to the point that it’s now basically meaningless, but the fact is “Altenative” exists because there are some people who desperately NEED that alternative. Not because they want to rebel, or be shocking or whatever teenage bullshit usually gets tossed around, but because that’s just how they are. They don’t see a place for themselves. They have to make one.
The Insomniac gave me that alternative, told me I wasn’t alone, taught me that different didn’t mean bad, it just meant different. Suddenly a whole new world opened up for me and the affect that it had on me can’t be calculated. That’s the reason I do what I do, whatever that is. The reason I write these columns, the reason I bang my head against the wall trying to make movies. It’s not because I’m hubristic enough to think that I’m so great that everyone should listen to me. But it’s because I have to put it out there, this secret handshake to others, to try and let them know they’re not alone, even if it’s as simple as “Hey I like the same stuff as you.” It’s important. I’m living proof. The Insomniac Video didn’t just give me movies it gave me hope.
So finally here we are at the end and all I can say is thank you. Thank you Bob thank you John, thanks to two of the best friends and mentors I’ve ever had. Thank you for giving me a place. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
The Insomniac Video Is Dead. Long Live The Insomniac Video.