It will be an icon of the Bush years -the call to shopping after the terrible days of 9/11. I went to have some lenses changed on my glasses. My prescription had changed and I decided I couldn’t wait the several weeks that Costco or the neighborhood optician would ask. So I went to Lenscrafters at the local mall.
Being a workday, it was eerily empty. I dropped off my prescriptions and went for a walk. I dropped in on the Apple Store to meet with the Geniuses. My Apple related questions ranged far and wide, but I was angling for a replacement on my iPhone. It had been acting up, dropping calls in the middle of important phone calls and not during trivial ones. I asked if upgrading my hard drive myself would void the warranty (yes). I asked if Airport would recognize my USB hubbed hard drives as network drives (yes, but go to the support section). My iPhone was rebooted and reset to factory settings. He also pulled a wad of lint out of my headphone jack. I was to return for an exchange if the phone kept dropping call -nice man, a true genius. I bought a 500gB hard drive for his troubles.
I wandered over to the J Crew store -I always feel like it is a fossil of the 80’s, the last time it was ever close to being edgy and new. I have a fondness for what they call critter ties -silk ties with little emblematic animals or symbols embroidered on them. They are an expensive attachment, going for about 60 bucks a pop. My favorites: the classic Whale which is a ripoff of the J Press original, and the Shark. I was in a bidding war for a vintage J Press whale tie on eBay, but the bastard at his trading desk outbid me to the tune of 185 dollars -I was just curious to see how high he’d go, and glad that he won the damn thing. I’m happy with my knockoff. Abercrombie and Fitch blares its techno at me, its doors framing the unblinking face of a glammed up boy selling his body for food.
I stop by the FYE (For Your Entertainment) which sells CD’s and game cartridges -this mode of distribution is obsolete for me through iTunes, Hulu, Pandora, and a plethora of other entities, but for most of America who can’t afford broadband, this is it. No cable modem has a bandwidth advantage over reality, but the visceral pleasure of looking at an album cover cannot be matched by eyeing a CD jewel box. It’s a shriveled era, and the store is empty. “May I help you” sounds more like, “Move on.” I do look suspicious with my parka of many pockets and laptop bag with more pockets.
I go up past the fountains -would it be wrong for me to scoop out a few bucks to get a latte? I drop by the Orange Julius, and grab a small one, which would have passed for a large one back in the day. Two o’clock arrives and I meander to the Lenscrafters. The gal has only some of my glasses ready, but her round face comes in loud and clear -she’d be drop dead gorgeous if she ran on the treadmill thirty minutes a day. But the same goes for me. We’re going to missing these extra calories in a few years…
I should feel relieved after spending this time after lunch, but I leave anxious for an America so depleted of credit and cred.
Soon after I posted this, this article (link) in the NY Times was published about the troubles in US malls. It’s a basic reorganization going on, where people will have to live more hand to mouth within their means.
Did you pick up any fun items at J.Crew this time?
Nope -the only critter tie I kinda sorta liked was a martini glass on navy, which coincidentally is the tie of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital General Surgery Residents that they give out among themselves. These ties and the striped Rep ties use to be associated with organizations (gentleman’s clubs, country clubs, Regiments) and were not just fashion items. It is emblematic of fashion in the US that the popularizers of the exclusive and unattainable are the bread and butter of mall chestnuts like J Crew, Anne Taylor, Brooks Brothers-lite, and Talbots. And fuhgeddabout Ralph Lauren who became as universal and air and water. It allows the great unwashed to dress like Boston Brahmins in khaki uniforms that are offset by white and swatches of cactus, boysenberry, and plumwhassail.