Chapter 6. Old Home Video

The Skim

The Most Digital Solution

Old Home Video

This is a wonderful day, sensation-seekers: I am compelled, nay commanded, to come up with a reference to the Prisoner, the cult Sixties spy series. A secret agent played by Patrick McGoo-han resigns from the Secret Agent Agency and returns to his apartment, which is flooded with knockout gas just as he's leafing through brochures for retirement destinations. He wakes up in The Village, a remote and not entirely unpleasant portside community. It's where spies are sent if they're in that itchy intersection of "no longer of any immediately relevant use" and "potentially too valuable to simply be allowed to run around free."

My version of The Village is a back corner of a basement closet. It contains (as of the last census): a VCR, an 8mm camcorder, and a LaserDisc player. Each of these items has long since been replaced by something far more digital and far less improbable. But like McGoohan's character (referred to in the Village only as "Number 6"), this obsolete gear must be held indefinitely. As long as there might be even just one 8mm cassette of a 17-year-old niece's third birthday party, or one VHS cassette containing the Far Side Halloween Special that aired just once, and as long as I know that I own Let It Be on LaserDisc and that The Beatles are so mortified by this movie that they'll never allow it to be released ...

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