I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
By Joshua Miller (Facebook)
What I’m Thankful For:
Southdale Public Library
From ages 0-8 I lived in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. It is where the pathetic Asian guy in Fargo lives (if I’m remembering correctly). Aside from a one line shout-out in Fargo, Edina’s most notable feature was/is Southdale Center, which has the distinction of being the oldest fully-enclosed, climate-controlled mall in the United States (we needed it, it’s fucking cold there). As a wee lad I had little use for malls, though. They generally represented horrible clothes-shopping trips or haircuts to me. But across the street from the mall was the Southdale Public Library, a destination I was always excited to venture to.
The above picture is a nice glam-shot. My memory of the library is a bit less elegant, and has ugly 80’s cars and snow. Like so…
I have zero memories of what the children’s book section of Southdale Library looked like. I’m sure I went in there at some point, but that was never my motivation for visiting the library. No, I went straight to the video section. And not just any ol’ videos. It was here at Southdale that I discovered these guys…
I also recall watching part of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and some random Godzilla flicks, but it was the Universal monsters that kept me coming back. I am not sure if I understood that you could rent these films. I never checked any of them out. Maybe you couldn’t, I don’t know. To me the library was where the monster movies lived, and I would watch them dutifully on the premises.
Near the video section there were these unattractive utilitarian stations that videos could be viewed at, kinda like this…
…but with mid-80’s technology and much uglier carpeting. I have fairly vivid memories of the big-ass headphones at the viewing stations, as they were too big and heavy to stay up on my lil’ head, so I’d have to hold them in place with my hands.
I watched pretty much everything they had. I remember Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was my favorite, with Creatures From the Black Lagoon a close second. I remember a friendly librarian who clearly wanted to get me away from videos and into books, who handed me a book about movie monsters. For the life of me I wish I could remember what that book was called, as it would be the nostalgia purchase of a lifetime, but alas, it is lost to the fuzzy glow of childhood. All I really recall about it now was that it had a picture of a transformed Oliver Reed from The Curse of the Werewolf, which I found in turns very scary and utterly spellbinding. It also excited me that the film wasn’t at the library, for that meant there was potentially a whole extra world of monster movies out there for me to discover someday.
I have no way of knowing what originally drew me to those monster movies, how I even found them in the library, or why they spoke to me so. I’m also not sure why the library was the only place I felt they existed. It is not like I didn’t rent movies with my family at regular video stores, and it’s not like the library didn’t have other types of films in other genres. But such is the imperceptible nature of children. Library = Monster Movies.
Whatever the case, hunched up in a chair at one of those video stations, holding the giant headphones over my wee ears, a life-long love of the horror genre was born. It is a love that’s sensibilities are still rooted in those films, for as much as I love a good splattery, gore laced film, that has never been watch draws me to genre. I like the big ideas, the tropes, the atmosphere… the monsters. In a lot of ways I’m still that same kid standing a stool in the library’s video aisle, trying to find a spooky sounding film I haven’t seen yet. And I hope things never change. For that…
I am thankful for the Southdale Library.