68 -"Theichigan shy W- Weeken tc, Magazine Thtsdaylarch 251 '9
Independent video stores give
big chains a run for their money
By Cortney Dueweke
Daily Arts Writer
It's late on a Sunday night, and you've
got a major paper due in your eight a.m.
lecture the next day. You're seated at your
desk, books and papers scattered before
you, a pen resting thoughtfully between
your lips. The document on your comput-
er is bare - save for your name, date,
course name, section number and whatev-
er else you could think of to take up as
much space as possible.
Suddenly, your roommate says, "Hey,
want to watch a movie?"
This is the kiss of death, for once the
seed is planted, there's no going back.
Though the two conflicting actions wres-
tle in your head, your beanpole English
teacher is no match for Brad Pitt or
Cameron Diaz. Soon, you find yourself
abandoning your unwrintten paper and
strolling the streets of Ann Arbor seeking
a suitable place to rent a movie.
Since laziness is what inspired you to
ditch your homework in the first place,
where you live isnmost likely the main fac-
tor influencing your decision of where to
rent your 120 minutes of essay-free enter-
tainment. You're probably not going to
take a 30 minute hike across campus just
for a better selection unless you're really
itching to see a particularly obscure film.
This excludes those lucky students with
cars, of course. For those living in the
northeast area of campus - the Hill and
surrounding areas - you're screwed;
you're going to have to walk a distance
equivalent to the length of the marathon
no matter where you want to go. After
you've lived there a year or two, you've
probably come to accept it. Or maybe
you're still bitter. Either way, you're
already aware of your unfortunate lot.
For everyone living closer to civiliza-
tion, there are more options. Nestled
between Dollar Bill Copying and Amer's
at 611 Church St., Campus Video has
more than 3,000 videos packed into a
store the size of a Mary Markley
Residence Hall room. Manager Sam
Hyde said the store recently expanded its
film collection, adding more titles to the
cult and adult sections. "I answer to no
one,' he said. "We have an unrestricted
selection, and we don't censor ourselves.
We have obscure cult films, X-rated films
and NC-17 films."
New releases cost $3, all others are $2,
and a credit card is required in order to
open up an account, though there is no
charge for doing so.
The most interesting title of the bunch?
"There's a porn here called 'Pump
Friction,"' Hyde said. Might be worth
Moving across campus, the next option,
Study Break Video, can be found in the
basement of the Michigan Union. The
store, which doubles as an arcade, feels
cramped and always full of video game
enthusiasts -- with a few movies thrown
in for good measure.
Employee Andrea Bell estimated the
stash to equal about 200 videos. Though
Study Break's selection may pale in com-
parison to other stores, it has its perks. A
credit card is not required to rent a movie
there. Students can leave their license or
M-Card as collateral and retrieve it when
they return the video. All movies are $3;
for multiple rentals, the second video is $2
and the third is $1.
Bell concurred with Hyde's declaration
that the best part about being independent
was not having to answer to anyone else.
Unfortunately, the most interesting titles
Bell had to report were a string of Monty
Liberty Street Video, located on East
Liberty Street in the northwest outskirts of
Ann Arbor residents "Bug' and "Spitty" groove at the independent Liberty Street Video.
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Books and materials provided by
the Michigan Union Bookstore
campus, consists of two floors of well-
organized and well-labeled videos. Sadly
enough, there is no Chuck E. Cheese
atmosphere here, but there is room to
breathe, which is even better.
Owner Laura Abraham said the store
boasts a selection of about 12,000 titles.
"Our emphasis is on international, cult
videos, gay and lesbian videos - we're
very diverse and have pretty much every-
thing," said assistant manager and
University alum Dan Castorena.
"I don't have to worry about anyone
telling me what movies I can and can't
buy"saidAbraham. "We would neverbuy
a cut version of any movie."
She also pointed out the negatives, such
as not receiving the deals when purchas-
ing videos - a treat from which chains
A credit card is not necessary to rent
from Liberty, but a driver's license and
another piece of identification are. Rentals
are $2.88, with a 2-for-1 deal on Mondays
and Wednesdays. There is also a wall of 96
cent movies, and they honor competitor's
coupons. The most interesting title?
"'Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend,' in the cult
section" Castorena replied.
A small base of competition for
these independent stores lies within
the residence hall libraries. Here,
videos can be rented for free without
requiring students to change out of
their pajamas and bunny slippers. All
three stores expressed little concern at
business lost to the dorm libraries, due
to the very poor selection.
"We have a lot of stuff they don't have,"
Castorena said. "We don't feel particular-
LSA junior Meghan Gonyo also stuck
up for the little guys. "I'd much rather rent
from an independent store, because the
staff knows more about film, and it is a
more quaint, personal environment."
It is doubtful that Blockbuster carries
any copies of "Pump Friction," at any rate.
Continued from Page 10B
plot twists included deciding which
style of leather jacket the King
would be wearing when he entered +
the diner to beat up the bad guys
and in which the only dialogue was+
delivered from the back of motorcy-1
But it seems Lisa Marie Presley
and the other Presley-estate execu-
tives are intent on making
Graceland a shrine to an American
hero - not the truly ostentatious
Mecca to the man whose face has+
appeared on more $199.99 com-
memorative plates than anyone in,
As Priscilla Presley badly reads
even more poorly written scripts
about how her former husband "kept
an entertainer's schedule and didn't
get up until 5 p.m.; but, even so,1
always insisted that dinner always1
be a formal affair," tourists are 1
allowed to traipse through a modest,I
if heavily stained-glass living room,
a small first-floor bed room where +
Elvis' parents slept and a kitchen 1
with an over-sized fryer. While1
overgrown teddy bears and white
porcelain monkeys seem to be the
house's only full-time residents1
these days, tour participants can't be+
sure as they are not allowed on the;
second floor to glimpse Elvis' bed-1
room or marvel at the toilet where
he made his final deposit.
Down a staircase, seemingly built
entirely of mirrors, an underground,+
windowless basement offers a fully
stocked bar to accompany the TCB
rumpus room, a pool table area with
carpeted walls and a slate eight-foot+
table with torn felt where one of the
Memphis Mafia (read Elvis' group 1
of friends/roommates) "tried a trick
shot and missed."
Returning to the first floor at the
back of the house via a less fall-at-
every-step staircase, visitors are
confronted with the Jungle Room.
Unfortunately, this area only gets as
wild as an indoor waterfall and a
couple of soundproof walls to form
a stay-at-home studio. In 1976, the
audio tour explains, the Jungle room
was the site where two full albums
In the backyard is a pin where
many white horses stand, fondly
remembering the days when they
could be ridden by the Presleys
through deserted fields. Today, they
can only stare across a major road at
the Shoney's, the strip mall and
soon-to-be completed Heartbreak
Hotel that surround modern
In a modest building behind the
house, visitors find a dark and dusty
office once used by Elvis' manager
Colonel Tom Parker to handle the
superstar's promotional affairs.
More Graceland treats tourists to a
short but heart-warming footage of
a press conference Elvis hosted
from that office after his return
from war-time service with the U.S.
army. Past the office, visitors begin
to get the slightest whiff of Elvis'
true character when they pass what
used to be a smokehouse for large
portions of drying meat - Elvis
would often eat meatloaf at least
once a day for upwards of five
months - and a room dripping with
bullet holes where the King and his
friends once took target practice
from the doorway of the main
house. The audio tour also takes this
opportunity to explain that Elvis
and his friends were fond of using
the backyard to toss Roman Candles
at one another on summer nights.
From there, the tape ushers guests
into the trophy room - a museum
of Gold and platinum records, sales
awards, charity plaques, movie
posters and costumes, stage outfits,
and musical items that trace Elvis'
career from the recording of his
first hit, "Hound Dog," in 1956 to
his 1973 performance of "Aloha
From Hawaii" concert that was
watched by more people than the
1969 moon landing.
Past the small, kidney-shaped
tour does its best to keep the masses
moving) and also entitles visitors to
catch a 30-minute, nicely crafted
retrospective on the career of the
King. For about twice as much, vis-
itors can view Elvis' collection of
cars and his airplane. While Elvis'
many machines are a bit more deca-
dent than the Graceland house
itself, tackiness is still at a premium
- even when scouring souvenir
shops for that perfect Elvis gift.
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