Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Books na naman! DVDs na naman!

Joan Crawford--Hollywood's first case of syphilis. -- Bette Davis

That's it, I thought, suppressing a scream; I have to get this book. Book in question was Boze Hadleigh's Hollywood Babble On: Stars Gossip About Other Stars, which I found at Book Sale Cash & Carry last night after dinner. For only P45.

Argh, and I was resolved when I came in to just look around. Twenty minutes later, resolve completely gone, I had five titles under my arm: Hadleigh's Hollywood compendium (Another classic Bette Davis zinger: You were very good in it, Olivia. When you weren't in a scene with me, you managed to keep the audience's attention.--Spoken to Olivia De Havilland. her co-star in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Rawr.); two screenplays (Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters and Patricia Rozema's adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park); and two plays (A Fair Country by Jon Robin Baitz and Burn This by Lanford Wilson).

All at P45 each. Total: P225.

I've got nowhere to stash them for now (my room is near-bursting) except at my office desk--already buckling as it is under piles of papers and playbills and notebooks and souvenir programs and bad PR write-ups and more books. That's my desk in the picture. Hardly the glamorous newspaper work area some of you may think. We work in Lifestyle, but our corner is actually one drab, workaday place, which suits our lives of everyday harried efficiency just fine.

In fact, I've not seen any strikingly neat, organized, elegant or glamorous newsroom--not in the three newspapers and one magazine office I've worked at, and that one even published fashion and home decorating rags. Movies that capture the world of the newsroom convincingly: Alan Pakula's All the President's Men, Ron Howard's The Paper. Locally, that would have to be Mike De Leon's Sister Stella L., especially the all-too-authentic back-and-forth between Jay Ilagan as the hot-blooded reporter and Liza Lorena as the sympathetic editor hamstrung by government censorship (hello, Panorama circa '80s.)

When I was helping edit Entrepreneur Philippines magazine, we published so many inspiring stories of ordinary men and women who prospered by putting up their own businesses, no matter how small at first. Chief among the lessons they often shared was to focus on a field that was close to your heart, that occupied your passion and time and perhaps skill, and that could then begin earning for you.

I wrote and read and watched movies--that was my passion. A bookstore-cum-DVD shop was the most logical step for me. Having been a faithful customer of Book Sale for years, I first inquired about its franchising options (this was in 2003). The fee was P20,000, I was told; I had to find my own space and pay for my own rent. It should be in traffic-heavy places like a mall or a supermarket corner. The books would come in by consignment every week or so.

Now, I didn't want an ordinary bargain bookshop. I thought my familiarity with titles and my own preferences could somehow be converted into something extra--an edge that would make my Book Sale (I would call it Book Sale Plus!) a cut above the rest.

I would spend time segregating the stocks that came in: "serious" literary titles (Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, Iris Murdoch, A.S. Byatt, etc.) would not be mixed up with potboilers and bestsellers by Danielle Stelle and John Grisham. Good non-fiction titles would have their own spot, separate from The Celestine Prophecy and the Left Behind series.

This wasn't being snobbish, I thought, since I would still carry all titles. It was merely a way to help different customers find what they needed more easily, without having to dig through bins that contained everything in a big jumble.

As for movies, with DVDs rapidly replacing cumbersome laser discs at the time, I imagined allotting a corner of my bookshop for a DVD-rental business--but also with a twist. My collection, too, wouldn't be like what other video-rental stores had, with their reliance on Stallone-Seagal-Van Damme and whatever other (mostly commercial) titles the Videogram Regulatory Board deigned to approve for release locally. No, I would import Region 1 DVDs of classics, arthouse hits, festival titles, cult favorites, foreign films--titles that weren't easily available in the country. My store would be a haven for cinephiles and cineastes and anyone who liked good films. Already, I had a name in mind for it: Cine Arte. And a tagline: Not your usual DVD movies.

O di ba.

My dream book shop remains a dream, while my DVD-rental idea ran aground with the explosion of bootleg DVDs of astounding variety, which bred brand-new cineastes out to build their own personal film hoard. So nowadays I'm the proud owner of a decent library of rare, must-see movies which, aside from bragging rights, gains me not a single penny. So much for Cine Arte and my clever tagline.

But ayos lang--I think of my DVD library as a form of continuing education. Without having spent effort (and money--leche) acquiring all these movies, how could I have come across, say, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte? As for Joan Crawford embodying syphilis, I'd have to revisit Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? to see for myself. Perhaps tonight, after I'm done with the book and its Bette Davis putdowns.


rudeboy said...

OOh, Bette Davis.

"Fasten your seatbelts - it's going to be a bumpy ride."

feistyphi said...

Wherever your Book Sale Plus and Cine Arte would rise, you'll have regular customer in me! Go Sir! =)

nvrnrvn said...

For a second, I regret buying 649-peso worth of a novel.

feistyphi said...

Sir regarding this "potboilers and bestsellers by Danielle Stelle and John Grisham"

Is this Danielle Steele or another author? Because for one thing, i really don't know who Salman Rushdie is. Hehehehe... Just for clarification.

gibbs cadiz said...

yes, it's danielle STEELE. sorry for the misspelling. :)

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