Most of us normal people see the recent closing of Borders and so many other Chestnut Hill stores as a calamity, but the ever-hopeful Jim Harris has found a silver lining to the ever-darkening cloud. (Photo by Brian Rudnick)

I had a dream last week that I headed over to TLA Video in Chestnut Hill to get something to see me through the next impending snowstorm. Just as we walked into the store, I mentioned to my wife that the shelves looked strangely empty, when a man rushed by me, clutching a pile of VHS tapes, yelling, “THEY’RE CLOSING! THEY’RE SELLING EVERYTHING!”

I looked around and saw sheer pandemonium, people fighting over the few remaining titles and clamoring at the counter like frenzied sharks. Everywhere there were people moaning and wailing. A few were passed out on the floor. Others were stepping over them. Small

children and pets were wandering around unattended. The shoplifting alarm was sounding continuously. I thought I heard gunshots coming from the action/adventure section.

Without even thinking, my Marine training kicked in. (I was never actually IN the Marines, but I have seen a lot of John Wayne movies.) I karate-chopped my way up to the counter, grabbed a clerk by the lapels, and shouted, “GIVE ME ALL YOUR ‘STAR TREKS’ — RIGHT NOW!”  After forking over the equivalent of my next two mortgage payments, I stuffed 256 episodes under my jacket and plowed my way out to the street, secure in the knowledge that I had rescued at least a small piece of American heritage.

And so, yet another source of art and information is gone from our midst. First, Borders at the top of the Hill, and now TLA at the bottom. Soon, all media will be distributed by faceless proprietors somewhere out in cyberspace who will be able to control what you see

and when you can see it.

Everyone will be required to own the latest digital receiver and be registered on the grid. And don’t bother phoning, emailing or texting them to protest that you got the wrong movie; they won’t be  responding. Welcome to the new world order, boys and girls.

On the bright side, all of the store closings have paved the way for a plan that I have which will help Chestnut Hill and some unemployed folks to make a little money. It’s called “Clue: Chestnut Hill,” and

it’s a live-action version of the popular board game in which players move around the board collecting clues from which to deduce which suspect murdered the victim, with which weapon and in what location.

Players would each pay $1,000 per game to figure out who is killing Chestnut Hill, with one-third of the kitty going to the Community Association, a third to  a rent fund for remaining businesses and the remainder to the player who solves the murder.

The locations would include Borders, Solaris Grille, Intermission, Melting Pot, Joseph Bank, Magarity Chevrolet, Good Food Market and TLA. The celebrity “suspects” would include: The Fraudulent Pharmacist, The Deceptive Developer, The Very Cool Video Clerk, The Shifty Senator and The Clueless Councilwoman.

All of the above are either unemployed or soon-to-be so, but as of yet, none has officially agreed to participate. My people are talking with their people.

All gaming participants would be given golf carts to travel between locations looking for clues, and play would occur between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. so as not to interfere with regular traffic. They could not go near Wissahickon Park to interfere with the mass murder of the park’s deer population. The whole thing could be videotaped and sold to ESPN. Hey, if people will watch reruns of Eastern European bicycle races and guys playing poker, they’ll watch anything.

So there you have it. My plan would create revenue, glitz up Chestnut Hill’s public image and provide good, clean family fun to boot. The only thing I still need to do is get permission from the corporate

owners of “Clue.” Meanwhile, I’m watching “Star Trek” episode 24, season two, “The Ultimate Computer.” It’s about a future world controlled completely by machines. Far out, eh?