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Another Correspondence I Had with Netflix Regarding Not Receiving Breaking Bad in a Timely Fashion

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Correspondence I Had with Netflix Regarding Not Receiving Breaking Bad in a Timely Fashion

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2009 03:32:40 +0000

Dear Customer Service Representative,

   I have been reticent to write, since up until now, I have been a huge fan of Netflix (and your most outspoken vocal proponent).  Your wide array of movie choices, convenient (and affordable) payment options, and they fact that you are not those soulless bastards at Blockbuster are just a few of the reasons I have championed your services to friends, family, and co-workers alike.  But all that is about to change.
  For THREE WEEKS I have had at the top of my cue Breaking Bad, Season 1, Disc 1, and what comes today?  Fucking "Legally Blonde II."  A stupid movie my girlfriend put on our cue, without my knowledge.  And Breaking Bad?  Still "a very long wait."  This is unacceptable.  You are Netflix!  You have, like, a bazillion dollars.  What?  You can't afford extra copies?
  I'd threaten with a return to Blockbuster, but truth is I'd rather burn out my eyes than every give those soulless creeps a penny of my hard-earned money.  But I don't think threats are necessary.  I think you are going to do the right thing here and send me my Breaking Bad, Season 1, Disc 1, for this one simple reason.  Once upon a time, in the land before Netflix, Blockbuster ruled the movie-renting world, and they did so with an iron fist.  And there was no room to negotiate.  Didn't like the fact that Bad Lieutenant only came in big brother edited format?  Try complaining, and you'd get a kick to the pants out the door and an extra large box of Goobers to the back of the head.  And now here we stand at the precipice, and, Netflix, you about to make the same mistake.
  I hope this isn't true.  Because we don't need a return to those Dark Ages.  But your indifference to my movie-watching needs--the needs of a LOYAL, LONG-STANDING CUSTOMER--makes me wonder.  Which is awful.  Because this is bigger than I.  And it is bigger than you.  This is bigger than the needs of one man who is going to have to suffer through another night of the "will they or won't they end up together" romantic comedy.  This is about choice.  It is about right and wrong.  This is about America.  Blockbuster paid for its hubris.  I pray you don't go down that same road.  

                                                                         Joe Clifford

PS Don't try coddling me with movie vouchers.  I have enough movies.  And don't waste both our time with apologies and excuses.  Losers do that.  Save that weak-ass shit for the Communist Bloc.  This is America.  Where results matter more than wishy-washy intentions.  Send me Breaking Bad, Season 1, Disc 1, and keep your good name just that, or incur my wrath.

*Ed Note: Netlix did not respond to this e-mail.  Shortly thereafter I cancelled my subscription.


At January 29, 2011 at 5:18 PM , Blogger Richard said...

Of course, you're right about the big picture. Once these companies that capture a consumer trend become dominant, they streamline for higher profits and hyperdrive toward extinction. No one misses them but the people who made them so big and arrogant retire in maximum comfort. Lesson unlearned. Thanks for staying dangerous a world anesthetized by big and little screens.

At June 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

Ok I'll bite - I've had some bizarre experiences with Netflix lately. Films come in almost at random now, and for the most part are crappy, but in bizarre ways reflect my tastes. The last one was "Libeled Lady,", not bad, with Spencer Tracy, on the other hand "The Dr. Who movie" not so good. The films on the que seem to be the only ones that don't get delivered.

And since I have a story for everything, I'll add this: in 1971 when I was 16 my father got me a summer job working in the County Hall of Records. My initial job was picking people for jury duty for the following year- they had these cards, with the names of registered voters - these constituted the jury pool for the Central Ward of Newark (NJ), which just had the big riots a few years before.

I'm told to take out every seventh card for the jury pool, if the card is marked that the person had just served as a juror, I go to the next card and take that out, because they don't want to make people serve two years in a row.

I do that for a few days, but by then it was boring beyond belief - all day picking out every seventh (or sometimes eighth) damned card. So I get the brilliant idea, instead of every seventh card I'll pick out only the names that sounds Muslim (since it was an African American area, ground zero for the riots, plenty of those). That's good for a day or two, so then I go on to Jewish names, then Irish, then odd sounding names etc. At the end, I was picking out only the people who had previously served the year before.

The lesson here is this: don't give jobs like this to people who will fuck up your system - pay well, train well and don't ask a 16 year old screw-up to do important work. Especially, since I suspect that people just like I was are at work in Netflix distribution, having a big laugh as they send out all these bizarre films (actually that sounds kind of fun).

At June 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

That jury story is fucking AWESOME!

At July 2, 2011 at 3:32 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

You must have had those strange summer jobs. Since I can’t resist blabbing on I tell another story -
One summer I worked at the County mental hospital, a gothic place called Overbrook Medical Center. This was a sprawling facility with dozens of buildings, and included an area called “Hilltop” which was the old TB ward. When I worked at Overborrk, Hilltop housed the troubled teenagers. I was always trying to get assignments up there since there were some cute (albeit disturbed) girls. I remember the eyes of one of them as I write this.
So, my 18th summer I get a job working at the mattress shop, which made mattresses for the hospital and County prison out of foam and this linoleum like covering. It was uncomfortable as hell, since you couldn’t sweat through the linoleum. It was also an invention of one of the workers, and was made on this machine right out of “In the Penal Colony” from the one time I saw a mattress being made This was done in one sizable building and had lots of mattresses piled high. One person was in the shop, a middle aged black guy, who told me that there wouldn’t be any orders until September
And that was pretty much it. There were a group of about 10 people in the building, all black. The building also functioned as a storeroom for hospital cleaning supplies, but I never saw anyone coming in for any reason. The staff played alot of poker. Since I wasn't wearing hospital work clothes, they would send me out for bottles of "Red" - Johnny Walker Red which they would sip from cups while playing or telling stories, watching TV or just generally fucking around.

At July 2, 2011 at 3:33 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

Everyone has these bizarre experiences in summer jobs, and I doubt that this is any different from others. I spent three summers at that hospital, including a month cleaning windows in a an old brick colossus of a place called the "Star Building" which was constructed ca. 1880, where they housed what you would call the 'chronics.' That wasn't a pleasant experience - we would clean windows in the day room where they would have a television going with lousy reception, and the patients would panic if you asked them to move out of their seats for a minute. Others would be too far gone. I remember seeing lots of small rooms with beds that had restraints on them....

Reading the medical records was a trip too - there would be diagnoses like, "schizophrenia undifferentiated type" or "Dementia" and other quaint titles. The old time alcoholics would get "Korsakov's syndrome" about which I found out much later, when reading a book called "Mona Lisa Overdrive." One other thing I noticed was that if a patient wasn't discharged within a year they weren't getting out - all the discharge records were within a year of admission. And these were the days when all you needed to get admitted were signatures of two doctors - we are talking about before the Supreme Court decision.

At July 2, 2011 at 3:35 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

The patient correspondence to the doctors was sad, since there were some who complained about other people were using devices on them. It was kind of a cuckoo's nest atmosphere, but Kesey left out the bureaucratic indifference that is pretty much ingrained in this type of facility.

The patients would ask you to light their cigarettes, others would ask you to get them cigarettes, some would ask you to be their friend, as did one nice older woman who wrote to me, perhaps with something else on her mind (I never responded).

No matter the diagnosis the treatment was always the same - thorazine, it was automatic. So, for the ones who were ambulatory, you would see them sitting on benches, all with the same vacant stare. Sometimes you would hear "blue alert" (or something like that) which was a patient running off the grounds.

A few years prior to this I remember visiting my friend Mark there, he developed early onset schizophrenia, which I now know was hastened on by the LSD we used to take. He died of a heart attack when he was 17 - apparently in rare cases thorazine can lead to heart attack. I remember the people in the records room talking about it my first summer.

Wow - and this is what happens when you put caffeine, a computer, and a blabbermouth together.

At July 2, 2011 at 3:52 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

You should get one of these blog things. You've got a lot to say--and A LOT of great stories. I, like many I'm sure, have always been fascinated by those stories of madness. At least I was when I was younger. Then my (first) wife was diagnosed with schizoid-affective tendencies, and it just became sad, y'know. But there is definitely a book in there somewhere. You should put all these pieces together...

At July 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

Thanks - I get started and can't stop. As you well know, and as Ricky pointed out on a note somewhere, writing is HARD. My step-father (former PR guy for some interesting people, including some famous - and not so famous - borsht belt comedians - I am restraining myself from telling his Barabra Streisand story, from when he was Elliot Gould's roommate in college and Streisand was Gould's girlfriend) started a few books, never got anywhere. One of his Dostoyevskian pieces of wisdom was that in order to write you had to suffer, that the process of writing was a form of suffering. According to him the only way to write is to basically lock yourself away, and go to it, but that while you are doing it you are..well..suffering. I;m not sure if I agree but since I never tried it I have no idea.

At July 3, 2011 at 4:40 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

When I was younger (I'm 54 now) I tried to write, but it is hard - not the process of writing necessarily, but the getting down to doing it, consistently is hard. You can't just do it one day, you have to do it for weeks, or months, or more - ' Catch 22' took 12 years!

With three children, one just out of college, one in college, one daughter about to start, plus two hours of commuting to a somewhat demanding job (which also requires me to and actually taught me how to write) leaves precious little time.

And, when you are in this situation, you can't afford to slip up at ANYTHING - you have essentially four people counting on you - for the last 25 years there is no way to well. FUCK UP, because once you are on that straight and norrow, and you need focus.

At July 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

That being said, those friends I do have who chose not to do the 'normal' route work more than I ever did doing what they are doing. For example, you know that being a junkie is HARD WORK - you have to balance all of the shit that comes in a day, plus you need money, then you have to take care of your self morning, noon and night, and society doesn't exactly make it easy. So, in a sense my friends like Ricky who went that route really ended up working harder than I ever did - and this is something that I'm discovering more and more as I get older. Funny how Ricky didn't really get in touch with me until he got himself together - I suspect that he really went to ground all those years. And when he was up here he did tell me about his utter lonliness, and his almost complete insanity when his mother died. Ricky has two brothers who are twins, with whom he had a complicated relationship - I wonder if he kept up with them during this period.

At July 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

interesting that you like Springsteen - I saw him at the Stone Pony when he was first popular. A couple of years prior to that he showed up at my father's restaurant - they had put an ad for weekend musicians - guy with a guitar sort of thing - and my dad turned him down because he looked too 'scruffy.'

Anyway, don't ask me why I write all this stuff - it's really Ricky you know. Everytime I write here all the memories come flooding back. The first time I saw Ricky I must have been 7, in 1964 and he and some other kid who later became my friend as well were on some swings in his back yard. That's when Ricky was living with the monster. My mother used to go up to see Ricky's mother and hang out - one time Brody drove her home and refused to let her out of the car until she gave him a kiss - she did manage to get out, but never said a word about it to my father because she knew my father would murder Brody. And she told me years later that Rona - Ricky's mother - told her that the only way she - Rona was going to get rid of Brody was to kill him.

At July 3, 2011 at 4:42 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

Strange stuff, but tawdry too. When Ricky moved into our apartment complex when he was maybe 10, I was nine, we were hung out all the time - right through high school.

More than enough said - I am trying to get two of Ricky's friends to post on your blog. One will do it, the other, "Lou" from Ricky's book, might. His story is fascinating - a bizarre tale of wandering back and forth across the country.
And he is far more ambivalent about Ricky than I am.

Your story is interesting as well - is it your intention to tie those pieces together?

On the other hand, there's no reason to tie anything together, fiction works too.

and that's it for now,,,,

At July 3, 2011 at 4:54 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

"Dementia Praecox" - that's it - the very sad diagosis for the oldest patients at the hospital.

At July 3, 2011 at 5:01 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

They have all been put together. I have an agent for the memoir, Junkie Love (you can read excerpts at, but no book deal. I, too, am a dad, though not four of them! But I understand about the time and commitment of writing, and ultimately it is rather fruitless. I mean, in terms of getting "paid back." Still, we live in an amazing time to be able to share one's work. That's what we're doing here, right? How we met. I wrote something about Ricky, you stumble upon it, and voila, a friendship. Or something like that. Whatever you do with these stories you have, whether it's sharing them here or just keeping them for yourself, I think it's a great thing you're doing. It keeps people like Ricky alive in a way, and plus you get all your own "shit" out, feelings and whatnot. I'm not a big touchy-feeler, but writing is therapeutic and cathartic and the best parts of literature are the ongoing dialogue.

At July 14, 2011 at 4:50 PM , Blogger Petronius said...

I had this lengthy note written, but it got somehow destroyed when I pressed the wrong key on the machine - anyway I was out for a few days to get a 'procedure' - I was petrified about anesthesia - first time, what an irony. But, needle goes in, lights go out. Scary.

Damn - I just don't have time to repeat all of it - I had some questions about publishing, some friend of mine got a book published - "California Justice" a bathroom book about vigilantes in California. Not a money maker, and he said forget about fiction. But if you have an interesting story to tell, you can write, I guess you plug away. And if you enjoy it.

And you are right - every time I write about Ricky it comes back to me - Ricky moved in the garden apartments where I lived when I was seven or eight - we were pretty close - our mothers were close, he was a year older, so it was like an older brother thing. When he went junkie, and I say this again, I was clueless - fighting my own demons as well. But even when I didn't heat from him I always thought we would get together - and if he ever needed anything, like family I would have been there.

And you are right about writing being cathartic - it's get it down, and it's ...permanent..Anyway, always lots more to say..funny that I can go on this blog and literally can't stop writing when I have my own blog and can't put a damn thing on it.

I'll check out J-love - is there a e-mail attached to this I can send out "Almost Fiction" if you are interested - it's almost a novella, and goes fast. -31-

At July 16, 2011 at 9:09 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Happens to me all the time... (And, yeah, is my personal e-mail address, if you want to send anything!)


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