Wednesday, March 1

The Beta Tester Meets the Crunchy Bunch

Last evening my Poor Wife had to run off downtown because one of her students won a contest, and I lay down to take a nap and slept right through to 3AM, when Larry, who had been waiting to be fed and sealed in the guest room for the night, got pissed off enough to come upstairs and start gnawing on the lampshade beside my bed. He's trained me to respond to that.

I stumbled downstairs, fed both cats, and went back to sleep until 5:30. Eleven hours. I do that about once or twice a month; it's 4-5 hours most of the rest of the time, which might suggest to you I get a lot done, but you should resist it.

So this morning, a brief experiment in typing and writing quickly. Roy has been toying with the Crunchy Cons at NRO (caution: link to NRO) like, well, like a cat with his favorite lampshade, and I was planning to write something sorta semi-serious about this rather bizarre amalgam of Birkenstocks, High Church, and Irving Kristol, but that's just beyond me in the second half of the AM, when the spectacle of cascading posts resembling an unspeakable hybrid of Star Trek convention and 200-level Poly-sci workshops might interact badly with the effects of my morning tea. So here's a quick something I picked up from Jonah, who had apparently sniffed out another opportunity to be wrong about something:
Mom & Pop Pornographers [Jonah Goldberg 02/28 11:47 AM ]

From a reader:

Jonah, Now I see your problem with the strawmen Rod keeps setting up. Mom and Pop video stores started failing when Beta-Max went out. Many more failed when the Movie companies started marketing directly to the public, and dropped their price point so that buying a video became easy and less expensive. Not to mention Blockbuster and Movie Gallery national chains moving into every town in America with a population of over 20,000. And the technology switchover to DVDs drove even more of them out of business. But we're supposed to believe that Rod is sweating the morality of patroning Netflix? Gimme a break...

And for the record, from what I've seen over the years, the most successful small independent video rental places always deal heavily in porn.

So far as I saw, no one questioned why the most successful video rental places Jonah sees would deal in porn, and I don't see much reason to pursue it further.

But that history! Why is it, do you think, that these guys always get it so wrong? Is it willful obtuseness? A congenital inability to suggest a criticism, however slight, of a Big Successful Business? "Not to mention Blockbuster"? WTF.

Even if you weren't there, as I suspect Jonah's correspondent wasn't, how could you imagine that Sony exiting the home market--something which actually happened years after the Beta/VHS wars were over--affected Mom & Pop stores? It didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen without warning: in the early 80s major electronics manufacturers in this country overwhelmingly chose the VHS format for their entry into the market. I knew at that point that my side had lost. Why wouldn't Mom & Pop? And I don't remember any Beta-exclusive shops back in the day; everybody pretty much stocked titles in both formats. So you're Mom, or Pop, and you're stuck with a bunch of merchandise that's slowly going obsolete. Your customer base didn't change overnight. Time for a clearance sale.

And Jonah? Everybody sold porn in those days. That's what created the video revolution. The difference now is that major retailers don't stock porn, due to extra-market pressures. Last time I checked, porn was still fairly popular.

Take this from someone who actually witnessed it happening: the Mom & Pops, including one run by a good friend of mine, fell when the first nationwide chains (the one here was called VHS something) and the major discounters got into the business because it had grown large enough to move in and take over, something that happens inevitably whether or not you pretend to be blind to it. I realize the Cruncifiers have touched you in a sensitive spot, the point where easy libertoonianism meets reality, but it's just no good asking Reality to turn her head away discretely.


Anonymous said...

As this is only a faddish, 3-month, invented sociological fixation confined to a dying magazine populated by mouthbreathing jackasses, I will confine my commentary to a single link: the Mr. Show sketch on a Mom n' Pop pornography shoppe.

Bob: Jimmy! What the hell is this young man?

David: I know...

Bob: I'll tell ya what it is! It's a box of big black dildos. You and your sister were supposed to put these out last night!

David: I'll do it later.

Bob: You'll do it now. (hits him in the head with dildo)

David: Ow!

Bob: And next time you'll get more than a dildo in the head!

David: Stupid dildos.

Bob: Don't blame the dildos.

Anonymous said...

Why does this make me think of Margaret Cho?
Anyway, I'm surely not the only one left wondering if Jonah's correspondent actually exists. Can there be someone that clueless who isn't already *working* at NRO?