Letters From the Editor


Those DVDs you see all over New York, the ones the guys sell on the sidewalk – with the Xeroxed covers and all that – the ones you walk by and wonder, How do they already have Starsky & Hutch on DVD? You know those. They work, you should know.

Bet that they don’t have the THX sound option on there, mind you. Though you may be surprised at the quality of the DVD menu itself. And that, awfully nicely, you can skip right past the interminable trailers.

I know all this because I’ve seen a number of these street-made DVDs lately. Now, I haven’t been buying them – not too into buying movies, really – but I’ve borrowed a few from friends. When I first opened one I thought there was no way it could possibly play in my DVD player, no way at all. What with the home-printed label, the cover printed straight from the Web.

This will never work, but then: It does, quite miraculously. As well as any movie on any DVD you could find anywhere. Perfect, clear, digital quality. Letterboxed, even.

Though I do worry about the label spinning off inside my DVD player.

* * *

The first time I saw a bootlegged movie was in the early ’80s, and it was nothing less than The Empire Strikes Back. A friend asked me over with the very enticing offer of, ‘Would you like to come over and watch a movie?’ (Or something like that.)

‘Sure. What?’

Empire Strikes Back’

I dropped the phone, totally in shock; the movie was still in the theatres and I mean I didn’t even have all the action figures yet.

And when I got over there I was treated to a BetaMax of that second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, still fresh as it was in our collective conscious, in everything we cared about. I’d only seen it at the theater a week or so before, and here I was, actually watching it at somebody’s house. Wow. And it looked just like it did at the theatre.

Because there, in the foreground, were the backs of the audience members’ heads, framed between the bottom of the television screen and the wiggling, horizontal ears of Yoda.

‘This is just like at the movies!’


Which is weird, because those cameras back then were huge; sneaking it inside the theatre must’ve been quite a task.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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