I’ve never been to New York City, but I have unfortunately watched a lot of TRL. Apart from Carson Daly’s just-do-it-for-the-paycheck insight or every guest’s just-do-it-for-the-publicity pandering, my most vivid mental image of the show is that colossal gleaming red tampon of a Virgin Megastore. Always the backdrop for freak-out heavy hordes of Fred Durstites or Christina Aguileriacs shouting their lungs out on the neon streets of Time Square, I can’t imagine how anybody in the studio could look down on that swelling crowd of shit-losing scream-sacks in front of America’s most garishly insipid music Mecca without launching into some treatment-bound tirade that no commercial break or flippant Daly-esque remark could ever segue out of memory. But those bad times are over. The hatred is no more, and calm reigns in its place. Tranquility rushes over me like a waterfall of Eskimo kisses, because not only has TRL vanished into the cold, fetid air of unpleasant recollection, so too shall the Virgin Megastore in April.
I’m probably so contented with Virgin’s closing because I know that neither you, me, nor any other human being with a BitTorrent client caused the highest-volume music store in the United States to shut its doors for good. Instead, the haft of the executioner’s axe lies in the hands of two real estate companies, Related Cos. and Vornado, who took over the Virgin Entertainment Group of North America in August 2007. According to a Vornado executive, Virgin only pays $54 per square foot in rent while the market rent in the area is $700 per square foot. Despite the store’s $55 million in annual sales, which amounts to $6 million in annual profit, tapping into a potential real estate goldmine is apparently too sweet to pass up. Yep, great idea guys, close down one of the few profitable record stores in the country so you can pool all your resources in the most reliable, risk-free business venture possible: real estate.
Well, at least we weren’t responsible for this one, ye proud illegal downloaders of the world. Although it can be kind of fun to pseudo-anarchically claim responsibility for dismantling a significant piece of a major corporate entity, it is nice for once not to be blamed for the music industry’s swirling voyage down the capitalist toilet.