More Reporting on the Land of the Weird April 6, 2006Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism.
OK. We just got back from four days at my in-laws. They live in a section of suburban Seattle that is very close (but not in) to the two richest communities in Washington State.
There is a mall, Bellevue Square, that targets these two uber-swank communities, as well as the more prosaic, middle class neighborhoods as well. It contains 158 stores.
I tend to go to malls for one of three reasons:
- To shop for clothes (and that as quickly as possible)
- To browse books
- To people watch (this last only when I'm waiting for my wife to get done with her portion of #1).
Far and away, when I go to malls, the primary purpose is #2. Perhaps there are others out there that share this odd tendency with me.
Of the 158 stores that Bellevue Square has to offer, it has exactly ZERO bookstores.
That's right, not one.
Five years ago, the mall sported three bookstores; B. Dalton, Waldenbooks and Borders. Borders proved to be so superior in selection that they drove the other two chains out.
But then, Borders' lease came up about two years ago, and BellSquare wanted to jack their rates. Enormously. And Borders said, quite rightly, I think: "Jam it. We'll simply leave." And leave they did. Leaving Bellsquare devoid of booksellers. As they have been now for over two years. Near as I can tell, BellSquare has done nothing to bring in new book merchants. And the space the Borders once occupied has been vacant ever since they left. You better believe that BellSquare would have been better off with Borders still in that space, even at the lower rent level, than having 3 vacant floors for years on end.
What does it say about a culture, when you visit the the bazaar that serves a region's toniest community, and you see that this bizarre bazaar has merchants committed to one of the three following things:
- Clothing/body attention (bath stores, make-up, jewelry and so on)
- and tchotchke stores (tchotchke being a word of Yiddish origin [I believe] that stands for "stuff."). Places committed to the gathering of junk that might be used once in the next decade.
NOTHING that serves the mind. (the video store and a music store have to stretch to meet that requirement). Nothing that teaches. Nothing that requires the mind to actively engage itself.
How can one have such an upscale mall as this that has no bookstore of any kind? How can such a mall/bazaar be so careless about the learning of the community?
Because the Mall, like its customers, cares nothing for learning, or bettering oneself. All they care about is the acquisition of STUFF, and making oneself look good. Even if the inside is rotten. BellSquare, and its customers, are culturally bankrupt. They know nothing for themselves; they only consume what the greater world, through TV and newspapers, tells them to consume. And as the rich continue to coddle themselves, so the rest of culture will also fall.
How much farther is this culture going to decay?