Posts Tagged ‘Videoville’

Peter Burke, rockin’ high fashion in the early ’70s. (Photo courtesy Sarah Lyngra)

“Well, personally, it sounds to me like cats experiencing a less than satisfying sexual encounter on a bed of garbage, but if you like it…”

His brutal takedown of Metallica complete, Peter Burke leaned slightly back, always with an elegance to the move, a slight smile threatening to break through around the corners.

Which was enough to send Kenneth Hopkins, my unpaid and pull of piss ‘n vinegar teenage “assistant” during my final video store days, into an arm-waving, full-throated defense of modern music.

Which only made Mr. Burke’s eyes twinkle even brighter, and the battle to keep his smile hidden, even harder.

Arching one eyebrow to the heavens and beyond as he read the back of a DVD box for an opera performance, the smartly dressed senior citizen delighted in gently tormenting the easily excitable teen.

Who, to my great surprise, always treated his elder, a man who was so different in every way, with a deep respect.

Kenneth could be a ball of TNT ready to explode (or shove a lightbulb into the video drop box just to see what would happen), but he would hear no slander of Mr. Burke, and pity any of his friends who tried to make snarky comments about the gentleman.

“The Kenny and Mr. Burke” show played out almost daily at David’s DVD Den, having moved over from Videoville as I wandered through my final days of video store life.

On the one side, an elderly man of rare culture and refinement, who would often deeply sigh when discussing people of his own generation.

“They’ve all gotten so old and boring!”

He loved his opera and was the only person on the planet who rented any from the 10-disc set I bought on a whim.

Or, rather, bought as part of a foolish bender where I plowed inheritance money from my grandmother into obtaining a DVD collection I later lost to a sweaty ambulance chaser lawyer when I threw a tantrum and quit video store life for good.

But, in the moment, the operas, with their bright red boxes, looked snappy on the shelf, and Mr. Burke enjoyed them at $2.00 a rental, so my easily expected financial loss at least made him happy.

He repaid me with an endless stream of stories, both from his life in Coupeville as the son of a well-known music teacher, and his adventures in higher societies.

In return, for several years I gave him my copies of Entertainment Weekly after I read them, which gave him a special thrill.

Because, deep dark secret, Mr. Burke, ultra-refined man of good taste, a gentleman who effortlessly carried himself as if he was about to visit the Queen for high tea, was also a huge boy band fan.

Oh, it’s true.

Which drove Kenneth even further up the wall, as he loudly protested that the only good boy band was one tied up and left on a train track waiting for the 12:15 to rumble through.

Coming in to his own as a music lover, he bounced all over the place, lecturing me and Mr. Burke on the varied merits of Def Leppard, Ozzy, and many, many more.

That final two-year stretch at David’s DVD Den, a time when I foolishly worked 10 hours a day, every day — once working close to 200 consecutive days, as I hurt my health and alienated some former supporters — was a weird part of my life.

Both of my parents had recently died, my first nephew — who I saw every day for the first 5+ years of his life — left Whidbey, and I floundered around a lot, stewing and being miserable.

“The Kenny and Mr. Burke Show” was one of the few redeeming parts of that time period.

It’s been sort of amazing to see Kenneth grow up and become not just a responsible adult, but a really high-achieving, intelligent dude.

The kid who reminded me of Beavis at times in the early days would undoubtedly make Mr. Burke proud.

After I stormed out of the building on Cinco de Mayo 2009, finally accepting my video store dreams had curdled beyond repair, I had one concern.

The loss of the store snatched away Mr. Burke’s chance to get out of his apartment, stretch his legs, and be my own personal Oscar Wilde.

But we stayed in touch, and he came by my duplex to get his Entertainment Weekly issues and deliver impassioned talks on why tennis god Roger Federer ruled, and his fiery foe, Rafael Nadal, drooled.

Mr. Burke would also ask about Kenneth, who eventually moved to working on the mussel rafts parked out beyond my front yard, the same rafts I once haunted as a younger man.

“Is he still listening to that metal music that sounds like cats having the worst sex of their life?” he would ask, and then the twinkle in his eye would once again flare.

It’s been several years now since Mr. Burke passed away, but seeing the photo above reminds me what a delight he was.

Somewhere out there in the cosmos, there’s a person listening to La traviata, before cranking up the volume and segueing into the Backstreet Boys crooning I Want it That Way.

Mr. Burke would be proud.

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Caleb Meyer drains another bucket. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Man came back around.

Finishing his prep school days where they began, Caleb Meyer returned to Coupeville just in time to pen the final two chapters in a tale of athletic success.

Videoville, my home away from home for 12 years, may not exist anymore, but for six months it was reborn in our memories as the last heir to Miriam Meyer’s VHS kingdom once again flourished in Cow Town.

Caleb was already a star during his days at Coupeville Middle School, when he was bounding across the basketball court and dominating on the baseball diamond.

He was part of a tight-knit group of young Wolves who were friends off the court and clicked as a unit when repping the same uniforms.

But life has its twists and turns, and Caleb — owner of the curliest locks in Wolf Nation since his uncle Mike kept the shampoo companies flush with cash during his own teen years — ventured away from Whidbey after 8th grade.

Caleb attended Jackson High School in Mill Creek from the first day of his freshman year until early in his senior campaign, though often came back to Coupeville to visit his friends.

And then one day early this past winter, cue his entrance music, because the gang was back together.

Caleb’s return, just in time for the start of basketball season, was like manna raining down from the heavens.

On his way to making a deposit. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

He was that last missing piece for Brad Sherman’s hoops squad — a ballhandler who didn’t flinch under pressure, a tough rebounder, a big-game scorer, and a guy who slapped every butt and bearhugged every teammate as he provided emotional leadership.

In a season where the pandemic altered the roster seemingly from quarter to quarter, much less game to game, Caleb was back with his middle school buddies.

Reunited with X, Hawk, Grady, Logan, and Miles, playing for each other and for the memory of Bennett, the friend they lost too early.

Something magical clicked from the first moment of opening night, with Caleb bringing the ball up-court against Oak Harbor, laughing at the Wildcats futile efforts to play bully ball.

The 2B Wolves stuffed their 3A next-door neighbors, flexing and popping their uniforms as the CHS gym imploded with noise, launching the best season the CHS boys hoops program has seen in decades.

Every night a different hero.

Every night a gym which got progressively more stuffed with bodies, until the rafters shook with the joy.

The first league title since 2002.

The first district crown since 1970.

The first trip to state since 1988, with the Wolves heading to the big dance boasting a 16-0 mark.

District champs! (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Through it all, Caleb was integral.

Vocal and passionate, he never left a teammate on the floor, and never missed an opportunity to lead by example and word.

Hawthorne Wolfe would drain a three-ball and Caleb was there to tousle his hair.

One of the young guns like Alex Murdy or Cole White took an elbow to the face, and Caleb was there, arm thrown around his teammate’s shoulder, simultaneously plotting revenge while also calming down the aggrieved player.

On a team where five or six guys could be the go-to scorer, Caleb finished #2 in points, while taking great delight in being the dude who made the picture-perfect dish to set up a different guy scoring.

In a season where it truly seemed to be about team over self, he walked the walk, talked the talk, and marinated in the joy.

That continued as Caleb and Co. headed outside for track and field, where he spent much of the season ranked among the best in 2B in multiple events.

“We have launch!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

He competed in six events as a senior — three sprints, two relays, and the high jump — and went out on an emotional high.

Teaming up with Dominic Coffman, Reiley Araceley, and Aidan Wilson, Caleb closed out his high school days at the state meet in Cheney, running a leg on a 4 x 100 relay unit which claimed 2nd place.

That helped the Coupeville boys finish 7th in the overall team standings.

Kings of the oval. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

And now, the school year is done, sports are on vacation, and Caleb has made the graduation walk side-by-side with the kids he grew up with.

Like big sis McKenzie, the path to future success is wide open.

Caleb, while a splendid athlete, is a better human being — a whip-smart, kind yet strong young man.

Why, he could be the Meyer who one day brings Videoville back to its former glory!

Hello, hello, is this thing on…

But anyways, back in reality, we’re here today to induct Caleb into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where he’ll join McKenzie inside our hallowed digital shrine.

They’ll be up there at the top of the blog, hanging out with Uncle Mike and Aunt Megan, under the Legends tab.

Everyone has a different journey, and while Caleb ended up only putting in two seasons in a Coupeville High School uniform, it was plenty of time to have the kind of impact worth honoring.

Quality over quantity every time.

Caleb and Hawthorne Wolfe exit in style. (Morgan White photo)

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Stephanie Blas and family.

She’s special.

A lot of people came and went during my 12 years at Videoville, and Stephanie (Bonacci) Blas remains in the top 1% of my former co-workers.

Back in 2004, when Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights was all the rage — well, in her DVD player at least — I harassed Miramax, Lionsgate, Buena Vista International, and Ingram Entertainment in pursuit of anything and everything released to promote the film.

Stephanie thought the film’s star, Diego Luna (back before he starred in Star Wars: Rogue One), was the bee’s knees, so if there was a poster or piece of paper with him dancing on it, we needed to make sure someone was mailing it to Coupeville.

That was 18 years ago, and things have changed a bit since then.

Miss Bonacci became Mrs. Blas, and she and her husband Kevin — a pretty good dude who kind of looks like Diego Luna a bit, if you squint — are raising sons Liam and Luke.

I left Videoville in 2006, though I still see Stephanie from time to time, thanks to her being the aunt of several of Coupeville’s more prominent athletes.

At 37, one thing remains the same as it was when she was 19 — she is sunshine made human, one of the kindest people you will ever meet.

So, I wish this story was being written for some other reason.

The reality though, is Stephanie has been battling breast cancer since April.

She has Ductal Adenocarcinoma, ER/PR positive, HER2 negative, likely in late stage 2 or early stage 3.

Treatment will likely include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, and will greatly disrupt life for Stephanie and her family.

With that in mind, as she begins her fight, Stephanie’s sister Sherry is launching a meal train to ease the transition.

Anything you can do, from meals to gift cards to prayer (if that’s your thing), will be a major help to a young woman who exudes grace, kindness, and joy in everything she does.


For more info or to sign-up, pop over to:



PS — If Diego Luna’s people see this, Stephanie could probably also use an updated photo. Just sayin’.

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Mekare Bowen, who turns 24 today, is a special human being. (Photo courtesy Dea Bowen)

In a world of grey, she is the sunshine.

Not just a ray, but the whole sizzlin’ ball, lighting up the universe with her every action and word.

I’ve known Mekare Alora Bowen since she was born — which would be 24 years ago today — as her mom, Dea, worked with me at Videoville and Miriam’s Espresso back in the day.

From the moment Mekare popped into the world, (politely) bellowing “Let’s get this party started!!,” she has amazed me.

She is incredibly smart, not just in a “do well at school” sort of way, but where you look at her in awe, and wonder not whether she will accomplish something, but just how much she’ll accomplish.

Mekare wrote a 550-page fantasy novel, Flying Fast: Untouchable, during her teen years.

If a computer crash hadn’t eaten her work, it’s likely no one would be paying any attention to J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer right now.

Her passion for writing was captured in this quote, when she agreed to let me write about her after much tut-tutting that there were others who should be featured ahead of her.

“I have a new idea every day. I’ve had a lot lately, but I typically forget them and then they come back to me randomly,” Mekare said back in 2012.

“I love those moments actually, because it’s like somebody punched you in the face with flowers wrapped around their knuckles.

“It’s a bittersweet moment because half of you is ecstatic to have the idea back, the other half is mad that you forgot it in the first place, and the idea typically hits you again at the most inconvenient time.

“Actually, if someone were to punch me, I’d probably punch them back — without the flowers. But I think you get the picture.”

While some would spend years wailing over their tech misfortune, our Hemingway just jumped right back in, continuing to write, while also developing a subtle touch with the camera.

As younger sister Aria also grew up, she could often be found on the other end of Mekare’s lens.

A photo from a few years back, capturing sister Aria at play. (Mekare Bowen photo)

The same was true for family and friends, every animal she could find, and a thousand other subjects, animate or inanimate.

Whatever the world wanted to show, Mekare was there to capture and immortalize.

A boat slices through the sun-dappled water. (Mekare Bowen photo)

Anyone can click a camera and call themselves a photographer.

But it takes a special skill to make those images come alive, and Mekare and her equipment work in often uncanny union.

When she hit high school, moving from private to public, Miss Bowen wanted a new challenge, and so she jumped head-first into cheerleading, joining legendary 20-year coach Sylvia Arnold’s final squad.

Sylvia Arnold with Mekare Bowen. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mekare was an immediate hit with the sideline crew, joining close friends like Julia Felici and forming a vibrant, loud ‘n proud team.

Julia Felici and her nephew Drake join Mekare to celebrate a Coupeville win. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

Whether traveling to other countries to help those in need, picking up a new sport and embracing every aspect of it, or being quietly awesome without ever tooting her own horn, Miss Bowen has impressed me her whole life.

I’m sure, like all of us, she has her faults. But, if so, I have yet to see one.

There have been other Wolf athletes who have shown great skill and great kindness, finding a balance which is rare.

Breeanna Messner, Aaron Trumbull, Makana Stone, Hunter Smith, and Valen Trujillo immediately jump to mind.

But I put Mekare up on the top of this mountain peak.

She is, quite simply, the best of what Coupeville, and this world, have to offer.

Her continued success and high achievement in life, as she navigates the adult world, is a source of great happiness for me. And, I’m sure, for a lot of others.

In the grand scheme of things, induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame probably isn’t on the same level as say, winning a Nobel Peace Prize or a Pulitzer.

Both of which could easily be in Mekare’s future. Just sayin’.

But it’s what I have to offer, and so we celebrate her birthday — which should probably be a national holiday — by welcoming her into our lil’ digital shrine.

After this, if you cruise by the top of the blog and look under the Legends tab, you’ll find Mekare hanging out, along with those other five former CHS athletes I mentioned just a second ago.

It’ll say cheer next to her name, since it’s a sports hall, but we’ll all know she earned her induction for a lot more than that.

For her talent, for her grace, for her kindness, for her care to all around her, and for being, each day and every day, the kind of person I would like to be if I ever grow up.

You’re the best, Mekare. Thank you.

Hangin’ out with mom Dea. (Beth Kuchynka photo)

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If you ever came to Videoville back in the day, you’ve seen at least a few minutes of Bugsy Malone. Trust me.

“You give a little love and it all comes back to you, you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do.”

That’s the closing mantra of Bugsy Malone, a movie musical like no other.

No, seriously.

Someone plopped down in a cushy chair at a Hollywood studio, looked the big man in the eye, and calmly said, “So, see, it’s The Godfather, but they sing and dance, and all the guns shoot cream pies, cause … the entire cast is KIDS!!!!”

And then they got the green light, and movie nirvana was made.

No, seriously.

Through 12 years at Videoville, I tried to play as many offbeat movies as possible on the in-store TV’s, just to keep people on their toes.

And also because as my middle nephew is fond of saying, with all the gravitas a 10-year-old can muster, “Uncle David, you like weird movies!!!!”

It’s true, and he doesn’t know the half of it.

So Videoville patrons got to experience, whether they wanted to or not, the sweet, sweet music of what-the-heck-is-that gems like Phantom of the Paradise, Rover Dangerfield, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical, Shock Treatment, and The Apple.

We’re talking songs like “Bitchin’ in the Kitchen,” which begins:

Dear blender
Oh won’t you help a first offender
Oh, toaster
Don’t you put the burn on me

It’s gold, Jerry, gold!

Plus some warblin’ from Dwight Yoakam, the dance floor being torn up by Ann-Margaret, and a tangy mix of foreign musicals, from Bollywood to Umbrellas of Cherbourg to probably way too much opera in full-throated Italian.

But it was Bugsy Malone which got the most play of any musical, as I made my best attempt to wear out that VHS tape.

I love the movie, the way it takes everything seriously, never stopping to say, “Wait, those are 10-year-old kids wearing fake Clark Gable-style mustaches.”

Fat Sam and Dandy Dan operate as if they’re Brando marshalling the troops as Don Corleone, and I am there for it.

Bugsy Malone has songs that pop, gunfights that deliver a solid … plop, and a 14-year-old Jodie Foster, the best actress of my lifetime, is the cherry on top as Tallulah, a fast-talkin’, wise-crackin’, torch-song-singin’ sensation.

I see you Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, and Nell, and I’m gonna let you finish, but you’re not a true Foster Fanatic unless you love the skeezy Carny, the creepy The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, and the what-now?!? of Hotel Artemis.

But most of all, you have to have lived for that moment when Foster blows the hinges off the bar room door doin’ “My Name is Tallulah” in Bugsy Malone.

That’s the moment everyone in Videoville would come to a complete stop, look at each other, then look at me and be like, “What … am … I … watching???”

Movie magic, that’s what you’re watching.

A moment, a scene, a shard of cinematic history, captured thanks to Foster, and to the often-underrated, often-brilliant director Alan Parker, who passed away today at 76.

He gave us Midnight Express, Fame, Mississippi Burning, Pink Floyd: The Wall, Shoot the Moon and many, many more, but it’s Bugsy Malone I hold dearest.

That movie is just a huge part of my memories from my time at Videoville, a run in which it never felt like I was going to work.

I was paid to watch films, jabber on about movies, and play gems like Bugsy Malone for the customers – maybe entertaining them, maybe messin’ with them, a bit, maybe opening their eyes to something outside of just that week’s new releases.

The people who make the movies, the Jodie Foster’s and the Alan Parker’s, have had a huge impact on my life, and, for that, I am grateful.

“You give a little love and it all comes back to you, you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do.”

And for the movies you make.

Thank you, Mr. Parker. You will be remembered.


My Name is Tallulah:


Bad Guys:

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