Monday, July 06, 2009
Coming to a Mall Near Me...And You Too.
This is not a picture of the Del Amo Mall as it stands today. It is what it may look like within the next couple of years. I love a great mall and without apology, I will come forward and admit that, despite all of my anti-consumer rhetoric, I like heading out from time to time and browsing the shelves of the Gamestops, Brookstones and Suncoast Video store. There is something genuinely American about having a Pakistani, Kiosk operator try to sell me a Chinese made Che' Guevara, Ipod protector or rhinestone encrusted, diamond shaped belt buckle. That's why, I was so incredibly distraught by a visit I paid to the Del Amo Mall this weekend. The Del Amo is the former holder of the world's largest mall and has appeared prominently in Bad Santa, Jackie Brown and Valley Girl. At any time of day the Del Amo is packed to the rafters with eager shoppers, dropping bundles of cash on shit they don't need. So, when my wife suggested we go to the mall, the day after Independence Day, in the middle of the afternoon, I was expecting to relive a scene from a Romero flick. However, that did not happen. Instead, it appears that this mighty fountainhead of capitalism, has been ravaged by the DEPRESSION (YES, we are in a DEPRESSION!).
Many of the stores, have been closed down and operations in the ones still up and running have been scaled down considerably. The post-apocalypse consumers wander the corridors like going into any of the shops will give them leprosy; it is a sad thing to see. With few exceptions, the mall is a former shadow of itself. People are buying at the Gamestop; perhaps a reflection of the desire to escape the misery of life in the wake of the Bush years. The Chinese chair massage guy nearly tackled me when I walked past his shop; now empty except for the faint smell of patchouli and ass. Even Brookstone, where they were trying to sell self-sustaining eco-systems (a couple of dwarf frogs, a bamboo shoot and a snail in a tiny plastic bowl) at $40 a pop, has resorted to slashing prices on the other useless shit they sell.
People are walking the mall, staring at the things they wish they could buy, take home and let depreciate on a shelf somewhere; being unable to afford even a months supply of weight loss tea, most of the consumers are left staring at those few who are walking around with bags of merchandise. Oddly enough, while we are all in an economic shit storm, there are some of us who can still afford vacations, shopping sprees at the mall and driving SUVs that get 4 miles to the gallon. I'm baffled by the new dynamic of our economy and I'm left wondering when this terrible shit is going to end; though if you ask Joe Biden, he and BO had no clue it was as bad as it really is until just recently.
I think perhaps it's time to re-examine why we let the same people who have brought this mess on us, continue to keep what is not theirs for the keeping. Of course, the Rush Limbaughs of this world, have got the NASCAR fans and Sarah Palinites convinced that if you tax the shit out of the rich, they will hide "their" money and we will suffer worse for it. I would argue that, in this depression and long before it, they managed to hide "their" money just fine. The difference is that now, all one has to do is go to a shopping mall if you want to see them hide it in plain sight.