a day without Orange Juliuses

On Saturday I went to a ukulele-strumming competition. No, not really, but it seems like every week I go to some weird place and then write about it like some vaguely scornful anthropologist. I was actually at a bowling alley, which is also a pretty weird place on a Saturday night, but that’s not the point. The point is that the bowling alley was surrounded by a decaying, boarded-up shopping mall in Westminster, which is sort of like, I don’t know, the Staten Island of Denver. It’s the kind of town whose notion of spiffing itself up evidently consists of changing all of its street signs into Times Roman font, meanwhile every business not located next to the Interstate is going under. The bowling alley looked to be the only building for a quarter mile around that had functional neon lighting. Soon they’ll probably start tearing down the mall, which I visited a fair number of times when I was little, mostly with my grandparents, who lived nearby, and plowing it under.

The irony is that that kind of familiar indoor mall probably has more historical value than the 150-year-old outhouses that local governments and historical associations are always trying to preserve. If there were to be no more traditional indoor malls, how could future generations understand the ’80’s? The mall is the answer to some of the most fundamental questions about life at that time: What did people in those days do with their spare time? What did they worship? What did their mating rituals consist of? Instead we seem to be headed towards more outdoor shopping centers, or in other words: back to the strip mall, in slightly prissified form. A friend of mine was explaining that this way the building owners can save a bunch on heating and cooling costs. The message to their customers clearly being: maintain your own damn body temperature!

2 Responses to “a day without Orange Juliuses”

  1. Tom Says:

    The brand new mall around the corner from me in Bristol has circumvented this problem by having a roof, so it looks like an indoor building, but not attaching it to the sides properly so it keeps the rain out but not the air (and not providing any air-conditioning or heating). http://www.sir-robert-mcalpine.com/files/project/6430/Picture_001____Main.jpg. Maybe they want the shoppers to move around faster. Incidentally the mall has been dogged by controversy because the developers originally wanted to call it Merchants Quarter. That was deemed insensitive because Bristolian Merchants were really hot on slaves back in the day, so they named it after an Italian explorer instead.

  2. Curt Says:

    I wonder if the name Wal-Mart will someday become taboo for similar reasons.

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