Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts from the MOA

     So I spent the day today at the Mall of America, Company, and I was struck by a couple of things.  First of all, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of the whole thing.  That is way more mall than anyone ever needs at any time.  When you have a facility that is so large it a.) can contain several roller coasters and b.) has multiple versions of the same store (that's right, kids, there were several stores that were represented more than once in the MOA) then it is too large.  That is a very simple rule I should think.  I am not sure what is so great about the Oakley store or Journeys that they should have to have multiple stores but apparently you need to be able to see them everywhere you turn in the mall.  Oh that and Caribou Coffee stores, they are on every corner there is.
     I also learned that foreign people love the Mall of America, which sort of scares me a little bit.  If people are coming from Europe and the Caribbean all the way to Minnesota in order to go shopping in a place that doesn't tax you on essential items - and if that is the experience and vision of America that they get - then I am troubled.  Because that is not good.  What that means is that our country is about nothing but buying things and selling them in a giant building with no windows that look outward and no clocks on the wall.  Hell, the whole experience and thing is even named after our country, and the more I think about what that says about us to the rest of the world the more I sort of start to squirm in my seat and adjust my necktie, as if it is getting awfully hot in here.  I don't think that the French or Argentines would ever settle to have a worldwide destination mall names after their country.  Even the gigantic one in Canada is just named the West Edmonton mall.
     What really struck me, though, as I walked the giant mall on a weekday afternoon, was the sheer number of Coasties that I saw.  They were everywhere, in all their various forms, and it sort of made me want to vomit.  The term "Coastie" is used on many Midwestern US college campuses to refer to students who come from the east or west coast to study, but at the University of Wisconsin-Madison it has come to refer to "a privilaged East or West Coast transplant often a woman of a certain look: black tights, Ugg boots, oversize sunglasses, and sporting a Starbucks cup" to quote a 2009 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Bingo.  That is the look.  I saw it over and over and over and over and then over again today as I wandered about the mall.  I am not going to get into some of the socio-economic or race and religion-related aspects of the term, I am talking about that specific look, except they were Caribou Coffee cups.  If you expand it to include super dark and super skinny jeans, the numbers really leap off the charts.  I have seen this look before for sure, but I don't think I have ever seen it in such highly concentrated numbers as I did yesterday walking around the MOA.  I think that if someone were doing research on Coasties I would have to call them to let them know that I found a new congregation ground.  Boots and tights?  I just don't get it.  And why the sunglasses inside?
      So those were my thoughts as I viewed the MOA for the first time.  Exciting, no?  Other than that I just sort of thought of it as a giant mall pretty much in line with all the malls that I have seen before.  And it is alright if that is what you are into. 

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