So there I was on a Saturday morning before the Mall opened, at the Mall. As usual, don’t ask.
Is there any place more soul destroying than a decrepit old mall? If there is, it’s that mall before the doors open and the lights come on. As I walk past the run-down furniture store – and yes, they sell run-down furniture - the lights go up on the jewelry across the way, the furniture, the early morning dance studios. The music starts slowly and the salespeople come to life like plastic automatons of some bygone horror film, the circuit is closed and the rusty sales force creaks to life, again. This ancient mall is a palimpsest of stories, the hopes and dreams of sales and vendors and con men, written and crushed out and rewritten until the walls themselves can tell the stories, money, money, sell, sell, fail, fail, fail. We should accessorize our thirst, dance, relax, the walls tell us, beaconing us in, come in, buy something.
There are two massage parlors, open early, for the discriminating shopper to get their freak on in the early morning before the roving bands of stroller-toting exercise moms take over the halls. There is a “D&D Security Training Academy,” which doesn’t seem to feature anywhere near as many swords or dice as you would guess.
They have anchor stores. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the purpose of an anchor to drag along the bottom and impede progress? Right. They have two of these. I think this explains a lot, really.
There’s a store called Columbia Linens. Columbia is the poetic name used for the female personification of the United States – there are 35 places in the US with Columbia in their names, along with at least 5 songs, a university, and the odd space shuttle. Linen, a textile made from flax, is valued for its marvelous coolness in hot weather. In this store, Columbia Linens, therefore, we should expect to find flax-based cloths that are either made in the US or printed with themes that might have something to do with the Americas. Right? No, of course not. They don’t carry anything to do with the US, nor do they, in fact, sell linens. Mostly they sell furniture of the Late Shitty period, and a lot of Far East knickknacks. They do, however, have a display of Van de Graaff elephants, in front of a framed needlepoint rendition of Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
I mean, fucking electric elephants. I’m sure someone asked their boss, “Hey, where the hell do I put this thing?” and got an answer of, “Um, put them in front of, Christ, I don’t know.” Where else would you put them?
Now, I’ve been to New York City, and I don’t remember seeing anyone wearing this. Maybe I didn’t get to the right part of New York. I tend to think of this as Los Vegas Fashion, but what do I know?
I love the serial entrepreneurs as well. There’s a place called Eyebrow Designer 21. Me, I would probably have given up on this idea after the failure of Eyebrow Designer 8 or 9, but this guy perseveres. Good for him.
So, the mall. In the end I outwaited them and accomplished what I came for, and possibly more than that. After all, I now know where to pick up a steady supply of Van de Graaff elephants, which I can sell for a stiff mark up while wearing my New York Fashion go-go shorts. What more could a guy ask for?