Written by Dan Shea in the March issue of the Boston Compass
UPDATE: Video Underground is NOT closing! A new investor swooped in at the 11th hour and saved this video filled ship!!!! Viva la Video (DVD)!!! – DS
Hyde Square. Jamaica Plain. My now-wife Meg and I rented Punch Drunk Love from this place on our 3rd date. At the time, our relationship had no title or term of significance, and now we are about to have our first child. The passage of time. That was over ten years ago. In a time before Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, and On Demand ruled the landscape, the film freak and the casual dabbler (as almost all are) had to pop into a place like the VU and browse. Et voila! A film for you! 10 years ago the VU was a revelation (in Boston at least). A video store yes, but one very much striving to stir up enthusiasm for local filmmakers by providing a community and exhibition space for them to utilize. Evonne Hyla Wetzner, already a stalwart member of Boston’s independent film community, had a great idea in 2002 and executed it. Video stores were already starting to disappear, but this was a bold, beautiful, and community driven notion.
Time passes. In late 2011, Wetzner sold her labor of cinematic love to one of her employees, Josiah Simmons. He’s the guy with the big hair that you see there most days. At the time, only the VU and Cambridge’s Hollywood Express were the only independent video stores in the Boston area. And then there was one.
According to Simmons, the Video Underground will be closing very soon. End of March, maybe April. It’s not quite clear. However, you should know he is selling off his entire stock, including rare titles. Just stop by the store and start shopping.
I will miss the wonderful selection of films, and the ability to hold a video in my hand and flip it to read the plot. I will miss the large and unholy cult flicks section. I will miss the screenings in the concrete patio out back, beneath the stars, a block away from my home. I will also miss the space for so many amazing shows that Josiah provided to us @Boston Hassle for so long. And I will miss another cultural cornerstone lost to changing times. I’d like to think that in a place like Jamaica Plain an entity like the VU could find a way to last forever. So it goes. You could hang here yes, but you don’t have long to do so. And jeez, help the guy out and buy a movie or three (and while you’re at it celebrate Hollywood Express, the last store standing!!!)