I'm not a "watch the news in the morning" kind of guy, so it's odd the number of times in my life that I have happened to turn on the news on days when something monumental is happening. One of the days was September 11, another was the London subway bombings, and yesterday, it was the day that there was a huge fire at Queen and Portland.
Although it's probably not a neighbourhood I'd like to live in, it's one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Toronto, and seeing it in flames was very depressing.
Although my beloved Ghandi Roti was safe on the north side of the street, several businesses with unique and very valuable stock were completely destroyed. Of these, the one that makes me incredibly sad was Suspect Video.
In a world with a Blockbuster and Rogers Video on every corner, Suspect Video was a glorious, shining exception to the rule. I can't imagine a video store less like Blockbuster - in fact, it may have been the complete opposite. Where Blockbuster had dozens of copies of the latest formulaic romantic comedy, Suspect would have none. Where Blockbuster sold candy and chips next to the checkout, Suspect sold Hellraiser and Jesus figurines.
Almost everything in Suspect's collection was rare and unusual, and this is where the effect of the fire will really be felt, though I don't want to overstate it, since all things considered, Suspect was a video store not a museum. Suspect's collection was rare, weird, and wonderful. I know for sure there were titles in stock that won't be easily replaced, if at all (where do you get a replacement copy of Barely Legal Lesbian Vampires (the movie where every word makes the one next to it better (if only something made the movie better)) anyway?) but it's not even the discs and tapes that are the real loss.
Without meaning to be disrespectful to the staff of Suspect, (in fact, meaning to be complimentary) working there was a slacker video geek's dream job, and it showed in the store. I think it's impossible for someone to be intimately familiar with all the weird movies in Suspect, but if anyone was, it was the staff, and they would attach descriptive personal notes to the movies to help guys like me make our choices. These notes weren't mini-reviews necessarily, and they weren't even always positive. Sometimes there would be more than one note on a movie when members of the Suspect staff couldn't agree on whether a movie was brilliant or trash. Even if the movies can all be restocked and even if the crazy decor could be recreated, those notes are lost to the ashes and the ages, and that's what makes me saddest.
At least there is still the Markham Street location of Suspect, so all is not completely lost.