We had a family lunch last week at South Depot Taco Shop, just off the Square on Van Buren. Always satisfying, and it was nice to gather over queso. But the outing also had me reminiscing about the business that occupied that space in the 1990s: As Seen on TV.
What made ASOTV work was Robert Freeland’s passion for film and his willingness to order the obscure, great, and gloriously bad alike.
At the counter was a request list. You’d mark down what you’d like him to stock in the store, with your name and contact info. One night I wrote a request for Pay Day, an obscure Rip Torn movie from 1973 that I’d happened to catch on TV a few years earlier (trivia note: It was Pay Day that Jimmy Buffett went to see at a drive-in theater, an experience that inspired the song “Grapefruit, Juicy Fruit”). The movie depicts about 24 hours in the life of drugged-out, drunk country singer Maury Dann (Torn), filmed in Alabama. The acting is top-notch, and most of the songs were written by Shel Silverstein. Please, please, order it on the interwebs and watch it.
Anyway, Robert looked to see what I’d written and immediately said, “Pay Day? Oh, yeeeeaaaah. Rip Torn.” Then he went on to talk about the film. He was the first person I’d encountered who was even aware of it (this was before the internet really picked up enough steam to feature information on everything under the sun).
I like burritos. I really do. But I do miss brick-and-mortar video stores—specifically ASOTV.
— Tad Wilkes, email@example.com
As Seen at the Taco Shop: Video Free Oxford
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