The last picture show

May 4, 2011

Encore Video store is closing. Perhaps this seems, to many, like an inevitable, mundane event given our increasing use of free or low-cost video streams and hand-held devices which travel with us.

There truly is no longer a need to stay home to watch something interesting. No need to browse or gather or spend any time in a communal place to learn what others find engaging or valuable. No need for a family movie night selection process.

Most of us are now fully capable of fulfilling our need for entertainment or education with a "virtual IV" of content, anywhere we are.

Not being a television watcher for years, I've spent many an hour lamenting the fact that both adults and children routinely waste precious hours of their lives sitting and watching others doing the living.

Strange then, that I should feel a pang of nostalgia and longing at the closure of a video store.

But, here's the thing.

Encore Video, like the thousands of other neighborhood video stores, was one of the last places in this small town where people came together, outside of church, to see, run into, be influenced by and jointly share, even if by proxy, a sense of connectedness to the people that make up our larger community.

You could argue that the grocery store serves that same purpose, but I'd beg to differ.

At the grocery store, we are focused on a purchase for sustenance.

At Encore, we came to purchase and try-on a world view.

We came to Encore to wander through ideas, viewpoints, fantasies, shared sorrows, inspirational moments, historical lessons and silly romps, savoring the full compendium of human experience - together.

We, without realizing it, were expressing, in public, our need to see one another and to gain a sense of the inner lives of our neighbors, and to acknowledge our own.

And, even if we weren't aware of it at the time, this became an act of community.

We could sneak a peak at the videos in someone else's hands and see their values. We could ask for recommendations, references and reviews. We could gauge our sense of what was important against that of our fellow woman or man.

We could know, by the way in which powerful or popular movies flew off the shelves, how our human compatriots were leaning.

We could glimpse into the heart of strangers who looked like us. We could risk sharing that we cared about what others believed.

The video store, in a very real way, was our most recent attempt to create a human library - a storehouse of communal knowledge. It was a kind of a non-denominational temple, if you will, that still required our personal attendance.

It's true that I prefer the written word. And I am thrilled that our other, more traditional, library is on target to reopen this coming July.

But I must pause, and take note of this other closure in town - the one that now moves us closer to an increasingly personal and short-sighted focus - literally to about 12 inches from our face.

With Encore departing, and many of us now looking down, transfixed on a small black box where we text, Facebook, talk or view, I must acknowledge a ponderous feeling of loneliness that grows ever stronger.

Let me now say farewell, on behalf of myself and our community, to a place we didn't know we loved, and needed, until we lost it.

E-views would like to invite other writers in the community to submit columns for consideration which address the interaction of e-media and everyday life in a small town.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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