Back in 2006, I was writing for a website called Collectors Quest, a startup endeavor all about collecting. It had huge dreams, an awesome tenacity, and ultimately, a lack of focus which caused it to plummet into the forgotten archives of the Internet.
In 2006, it was also really cool to write snarky things about offbeat, amateur stuff you found at garage sales. The sassier, the better. Below is that post, edited for clarity, but more or less explaining the importance of a videocassette I’d discovered in the early 2000s called Creating Rem Lezar. It’s also the origin of the philosophies of this site. I wrote this before the rest of the internet discovered the wonders of this film, but I’m glad that more people have found it over the years.
Sometimes, collecting can set off a chain of events that can significantly alter the course of your life, sending you places you’d never otherwise go, and enabling meetings with people you’d never have met. You may discover a talisman that hints at the convergence of all things. Alternately, that cursed monkey’s paw you just picked up might lead you straight into disasters of nuclear proportions. Sometimes all of these things happen at once.
It started on my birthday. I was turning 24, and I wanted to do something that kicked the asses of every previous, stupid non-eventful birthday I’d ever had. Somehow, this desire to kick ass translated into meeting a girl I’d never met before for an epic flea market extravaganza and sushi, and she was amazingly tolerant on both counts. I didn’t expect that I’d be setting off an array of events that would span the next year, all starting with a videotape called Creating Rem Lezar.
My new friend’s appreciation for obscure VHS tapes had re-awoken my own interest in pseudo-cinema, but I was mainly there for the overpriced 1990-era action figures. Still, I paid two whole dollars for that Creating Rem Lezar videocassette, even though it was held together by priority mail tape and a sheer unwillingness to die. The cover had already promised things that I couldn’t imagine – a man in blue from mullet wig to toe, a gold headband, a pixelated floating head… and two small children entering a cave with a stranger? The tagline, “Every child has a Rem Lezar” pretty much solidified it for me… what was a Rem Lezar and why didn’t I have one growing up? It was because of my glasses, wasn’t it? Is that why I was denied the requisite Lezar that all children apparently had?
[Here’s where I originally wrote some especially over-the-top, sassy stuff that isn’t worth repeating. Instead, I’ll say this:
The plot is simple, but somehow leaps and bounds above anything else 1989 had to offer by way of VHS cinema for kids. A couple of kids who seem to be struggling socially discover that they have a shared vision of an imaginary friend, and that sends them on an adventure together… or maybe they just fall asleep on a mannequin in a shed, quite probably exhausted from their crime spree of stealing mannequin parts and scraps from JoAnn Fabrics. A fair amount of musical numbers ensue, and you’ll be humming them for days.]
I’m not even sure if Rem Lezar is an hour long, because once you hit ‘play’ on the VCR, time folds in on itself and loses all meaning, so I don’t know how to quantify it. Be sure to look up the word ‘quixotic’ before you start the movie, because it’s used about eight thousand times, and probably only properly used once.
My abject fascination with this movie led to me mentioning it frequently online, and from this, a girl from Ohio and I began a correspondence about it. It’s always really exciting to find a kindred Rem-spirit, [and it was definitely something special before Rem Lezar became a semi-viral Internet punching bag.] Subsequently, that correspondence led to a drive to Toledo, Ohio, all the way from New York, the true home of Rem Lezar. While this might seem like a flimsy premise to journey on, when you’re 26, most reasons you redirect the course of your life tend to be pretty flimsy. So I was going to move to Ohio to live with a married couple because one of them loved Rem Lezar like I did. What could possibly go wrong?
I had my doubts about making a nine hour drive to a destination that most people make an effort to travel away from. When your state’s travel guide is titled “Ohio : Michigan’s Dreadful Armpit”, you should probably make other plans. But still, the universe conspired to misguide me by delivering a truly magical and spontaneous trifecta of appearances by Rem Lezar himself on TV.
Your average person probably doesn’t know who Jack Mulcahy is, but he deserves to be known. Once, he pranced around New York City with two children wearing a blue wig and didn’t even get arrested. In 2006, Mr. Mulcahy hadn’t had a huge role in anything too recognizable yet; stuff in Sex and the City and a moment on Saturday Night Live, and most notably, a part in Porky’s and its sequel. On the eve of my journey, I would suddenly spot him in three commercials in rapid succession. Not only would he appear as a man with a guitar in a Snickers commercial, but he’d also leave a small child in front of an oncoming train in a PSA, and then lament the suppression of his pesky herpes. As someone who looks for the divine coincidence in the everyday, this was enough to set my resolve. Surely Ohio was destiny! Rem Lezar has said so!
Toledo was weird. I never moved there, and not too long after my visit, my friendship with those people dissolved over a perceived MySpace Top-8 sleight than never actually happened. They soon got divorced and sold their house. I would have been homeless, nine hours from New York, and alone. But something good came of it all.
I realized that I had the confidence and independence to do things. Since then, some friendships have reformed, and others have dissolved irreparably, but were it not for my ever-growing collection of videotapes of things too horrible to ever transfer to DVD, I’d have never driven clear across Pennsylvania and seen the carved wooden bears at the rest stops. I wouldn’t have become lost somewhere in what I think was the Poconos. I wouldn’t have put so many miles on my car. And I’d still feel relatively cemented in place, here in my tiny rural town. I’m now inclined to believe that the pursuit of tiny eccentricities will forever be rewarding, if you keep your eyes open, and collections are a good place to begin.
The thing that I enjoy most about collecting is the network of interconnectedness between people, events, items and history that all things will form if you investigate them. While some people are inclined to believe that collections are just an accumulation of inanimate, materialistic objects for display, the collector sees the life in these items, the past and the future suggested by the present.
Blue hair and all.
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C. David is a writer and artist living in the Hudson Valley, NY. He loves pinball, Wazmo Nariz, Rem Lezar, MODOK, pogs, Ultra Monsters, 80s horror, and is secretly very enthusiastic about everything else not listed here.