Save the Empire!

Oh, blessed topics! I will write about this today – I apologize for the lack of short short stories about awful things happening to people.

Today is Rex Manning Day! This is the day Rex Manning descended upon Empire Records to sign albums, be generally seen as royalty, and be a sleazebag. Empire Records was a movie. Also, a record store. I don’t think it was a chain, but I remember thinking it was very large, and also had a big staff for a local record store.

Also, did everyone in the movie work there? Did the bandmembers work there or were they just romantically involved somehow? It was a mystery.

I don’t think anyone who did not see Empire Records in their teenage years would give it a second watch. I suspect it holds up mainly from nostalgia, and I haven’t seen it in years. But I sure did watch the heck out of it.

Empire Records was on a tapean a friend gave me that included Clerks, Mallrats and this movie. I knew what Clerks and Mallrats was – but had no idea what Empire Records was. This was in the casual illegality of tape copying – it was a romantic time where it was easy to steal from corporations, but still dangerous. Now, it’s much harder.

I don’t want to lose my point.

I had no idea what to expect, but I sure did like Empire Records. The music, the events, the too-cool coolness. This was a movie about hipsters – called misfits. They all seem cool as balls to me. The soundtrack was one of the first CDs I ever owned (the Friends soundtrack was the first) and I played it often and often. (The most played CD of my youth was actually the Presidents of the United States of America, which I played over and over in my house – starting with track two because the song “kitty” had the f-word, and I didn’t dare let my parents know I was listening to naughty words in my music, so I listened to it while playing Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, the irony lost on me then, and then as I wrote an epic portal fantasy).

What does Empire Records bring to me now? I don’t have the soundtrack anymore, but Spotify has it all – and it brings me the rememberance of the Gin Blossoms as a band that always caught my nostalgia-chord. This whole album fills me with the ennui of youth lost and wasted. Am I happy where I am? Yeah, I am pretty happy. But youth lost is youth gone.

I am still pretty youthful, though!

I thought the songs Ready, Steady, Go and Sugar High were the greatest songs of all time for a few months. One of my first downloads when the Napster era hit was the movie version of the song – I was unprepared for the sexual content of the original. I was unprepared for any of that as a youth.

Anyway. Empire Records was one of the first movies that moved past sole entertainment and spoke to me on a level- here were people who understood the base reality of adolescence! Being a middle class teenager is hard! The mission to save a record store was incredible and believable to me. I like this movie.

The real crime, though, is the lack of Rex Manning on the soundtrack album. That is offensive.

Mark was the character I identified with, even though I was really not a thing like him aside from being a goofball.

Happy Rex Manning Day, everyone. If you’re young, keep it with you. If you’re old, life is still good. We’re all in this together.

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