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Et tu, Kim's?

I was immediately fascinated by this unusual story of how the entire collection of over 55,000 rental titles from the deservedly famous Kim's Video store has been packed up and shipped to Salemi, a small town in Siciliy that is trying to reinvent itself as a cultural haven. I saw the story late last night, and sent links to it to a couple of friends who might get a kick out of it: one a film buff I know here in the UK, the others good friends of mine who have also left New York after growing up there.

The thought of the Kim's collection stayed with me until the morning, although I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason why. I had never actually been a member of Kim's, and I was rarely a customer. The thing is, though, I always thought of it as a veritable museum of film, and I loved it just for being there. I loved the way the store was organized, grouping films by director or startlingly specific genres. I loved that they rented boldly pirated copies of obscure old and foreign works that weren't available for general release in New York. I loved that it was useful as an educational resource for me as a film lover as much as it was a store.

I think it was this last aspect that made it seem so perfect to the researcher in me that the collection was shipped off intact. Just knowing it exists somewhere as a body of work is soothing. It's obvious that Yongman Kim, founder of the store, is a true lover film, regardless of whatever he needs to do as a businessman to support himself. When he was realizing that Kim's could He promised to donate all the films without charge to anyone who would meet three conditions: Keep the collection intact, continue to update it and make it accessible to Kim's members and others."

My friend Mark wrote this morning and immediately put his finger on what was so resonant about all this for me. There's no point in paraphrasing when he summed it up so well, as always:

While there will always be pockets of NYC that resemble the NY of our teen years, in spirit, it seems a wholly different place to me. The most disconcerting thing is that the places that are relocating/shutting down now aren't just places I used to go, but places that I had identified as being uniquely of NY, but that is obviously no longer so.

It is amazing though that these things and places are being scattered around the world, and not simply ceasing to exist, as if confirming just how valuable these things are, but just no longer valuable to New York or New Yorkers.

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