Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Mall at 4:30 a.m.

These days, I'm writing about malls: enclosed malls, theme malls, mega malls, power centers, and lifestyle centers. It's for a chapter in my book on omnitopia (check out the node to learn more). To that end, I recently traveled to Alberta to visit the West Edmonton Mall, where I stayed for three days in the Fantasyland Hotel, which is integrated into the property. Here's a tiny excerpt


At 4:30 a.m., I leave my room for an early morning walk through the mall. While the shops close at around nine, the mall’s concourses are open all night long, and not just to hotel guests. Joggers, for example, use the mall as an indoor track. Its grand spaces and long vistas are also filled with the sounds of floor cleaners. In their nearby enclosure, the mall’s flock of flamingos are asleep, each perched on one spindly leg, their heads coiled and burrowed backward into their wings. I commit to not waking them, but manage to roust them from their slumbers anyway, just standing there. Virtually all of the birds startle each other into alertness, and they begin to stretch and preen themselves before plunging their heads back among their feathers in what appears to be a rebellious effort to return to sleep despite my presence. There’s something delightfully unauthorized about wandering a mall before the shops open, living a childhood fantasy of transforming a public place or, more accurately, a corporately owned place used by the public, into a private enclave. For many boys of my age, that fantasy manifested itself in the construction of “forts,” the heady realization that these pillows owned by parents or some other authority figure (grandparents, in my case) could be transmogrified into something uniquely mine, a safe place.


By the way, if you're curious, the International Council of Shopping Centers provides a terrific place to learn basic mall terminology, and it offers an excellent collection of publications and periodicals.

1 comment:

Matt Novak said...

Wow. You have quite an amazing site here. I feel like I've learned so much in the short time I've spent here. The concept of omnitopia is especially fascinating. Keep up the good work.


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