Jul 11, 2005


This Sunday I went to the St. Lawrence flea market. This is not a regular stop for me, but I go once or twice a year tops, and seldom buy anything but a cup of coffee. Anyway, this particular afternoon, I was chatting with one of the vendors while I perused his CD's for sale. He was telling me that the lady who ran the market was going around telling all the vendors that effective the following week, any "flea market" items could no longer be shown. She instead prefers that people instead focus on selling antiques or interesting collectibles. Understandably, this irked a lot of vendors who sell books, music or videos at their tables.

In one way, it's making this venue into a completely exclusive (shall I say it? snobby) kind of affair- the event will then just be a specialized market that the common people shouldn't or hopefully wouldn't be interested in. On the other hand, is that a great loss, really? It is amazing how many vendors actually think they're going to sell a warped, scratchy, musty, water-damaged copy of Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits for five bucks. Hello? Been to a buck bin at Salvation Army lately?

But here's where it starts getting interesting. Who still gets to show their "flea market" stuff? The guy who sells grey market DVD's in the back corner!!! A lot of Toronto film geeks might know who I mean- he's been there for as long as I remember selling pirated copies of such esoterica as horror, sex, JD, and rock and roll movies. Well in recent times, he's gone digital... hence he no longer sells illegal VHS dupes of Herschell Gordon Lewis movies for forty bucks a pop.

Instead, he's selling stuff like REEFER MADNESS on DVD for 15 bones in jewel cases, with the shittest inkjet printing I have ever seen on the front covers and the DVD stickers themselves. Go to Sunrise records, and you can get a more legit copy of this for five. The next issue of ESR will be the "all rock and roll" issue, and to get ready for it, I have been meaning to score copies of THE TAMI SHOW and THE BIG TNT SHOW- neither of which are legally on video. This guy is selling each of these for 15 apiece, and even though that is not an unreasonable price for a DVD-R of a hard-to-find grey market item, I was totally turned off by the crappy inkjet art on the sleeves and the stickers! Instead, I got both off eBay at considerably less than what I would have paid for this claptrap.

The moral of this story is not just that even as a grey market connoisseur, I still have aesthetic values to uphold. Instead, this is another classic case of the weird kind of exclusionism that goes in the indie scene in general. Someone lays down ground rules, but somehow, there is one fraction of the population that is immune to them. Why do the rules work here and not here? Thus, this darkly amusing chronicle is a microcosm of how any kind of fringe event is being taken away from "the people", primarily by upstarts who do this as an excuse to keep who they want in the organization, and piss on all the rest... the participants and the public.

Frankly, if the guy is still allowed to shovel his crap there, fine. I might need a DVD-R of "American Bandstand" real soon.

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