Friday, July 28, 2017
Mall of America 25 years
We have spent the entire day, a Saturday, shopping at the Mall of America, which this year turned 25 years old. At one of the 312 stores we went into, possibly Eddie Bauer, which used to be in a very different, larger space, the young, unperceptive salesperson asked my wife and I if this was our first time visiting the Mall.
Laughing lightly at the outlandish errancy of this question we said "No", finding the question vaguely insulting in the bargain.
After all, could he have possibly been more wrong? Do we look like look like weekend tourists from (shudder) Chicago?
We practiced for The Mall of America before that salesperson or the Mall of America were even born, way back in the notable early seventies malls of major metropolitan suburbs. A quarter century ago, already seasoned, and with eyes wide open, we went to the very opening of Mall of America like it was our birthright. We have eaten at mall restaurants that are now long forgotten, visited more stores that no longer exist than an average mall can even count, and can chart a vast array of our life changes through various shopping trips to this mall. We defended The Mall of America before a panoply of confused friends and acquaintances who found our affection mysterious and strange and still wince in baffled horror at a simple statement like "We spent Saturday at The Mall of America." We endured the quarter century agony of the mall's continuing inability to have one decent coffee shop. And we still burn with the bitterness of the tragic, yes tragic, conversion of the central mall amusement park from the glorious, and appropriately local, Camp Snoopy theme, to the entirely bland and scattered "Nickelodeon" theme. We understand that however much any of us in the Twin Cities might like Claes Oldenburg's Spoon and Cherry sculpture, or Mary Tyler Moore, or one of our crappy sports teams, to be the symbol of this city, it is all futile. Across the world we are the home of The Mall of America, symbol of both us, as a Metropolitan area, and also of all retail sales everywhere, and thus, of America itself. It is the shining, outlandish, tawdry fantasy beacon of Capitalism.
Yes, Capitalism itself is a fantasy that will consume us all. It is an ever devouring shark (which, coincidentally, we have in the Mall of America Aquarium, where one can walk through a tunnel of sharks!). This capitalist dream will disfigure and destroy everything we love and admire and hope for in the world. It is shorn of a heart. It is broken, mad, and unappeasable. Because of the runaway train, or, er, runaway shark, of capitalism Donald Trump is President, seas rise, and slaves toil. The rich get richer and there is no future for your children. You were mad to have them anyway. Everything will be eaten by Capitalism as it knows not the cessation of hunger, and one day, horrifyingly not long from now, one person alone will own everything there is to own in the whole world, but it will all be nothing other than poisoned water and ashes. That is the inevitable endgame of Capitalism.
But in the meantime, believe you me, The Mall of America can be a lot of fun.