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The Mall of America

(Reprint from News: August 17, 2001)

August 15, 2001

 

I spent four days in Minneapolis with my friends, Mark and Jayne, then got my truck ready for my trip back to Oregon and hit the road.  Before leaving Minneapolis, however, I had to stop by that sprawling temple of American consumerism known as the Mall of America, located in the suburb of Bloomington.  I don't enjoy shopping and I've never understood the mostly-female desire to shop.  Of course, women don't understand the male phobia about asking for directions, to which I can proudly claim, "Guilty As Charged."

 

Here's the ever-clever Randy Newman singing It's Money That Matters.

Requires a RealPlayerIf problems, see Help.

 

Anyway, I wanted to see the Mall of America because, well, it's there.  The Mall was built about 10 years ago and for many years it was the largest shopping mall in the world.  I believe there's a mall in Canada now (in Edmonton or Calgary, I forget which) that now claims that dubious distinction.  Amazingly enough, the Mall of America itself has become a major travel destination and there are actually package tours that cater to shoppers which fly them to Minneapolis, bus them each morning to the Mall, then fly them back home after a few days of blissful shopping.  I find this type of behavior absolutely unbelievable, but then certain women -- and you know who you are -- have never understood why I refuse to ask anyone for directions.

 

To be honest, I'd been to the Mall of America once before.  Mark took me there when I visited Minneapolis in 1995 because we wanted to find Michael Fay, the snotty American teenager you might have read about who got caught spraying graffiti on some buildings in Singapore in the early 1990s.  As punishment, poor Mikey got caned on his backside by the Singapore authorities.  

 

From what I understand, writing graffiti in Singapore is really stupid because it's a very dogmatic country.  Singapore even outlaws chewing gum because people might step on a discarded Juicy Fruit.  Then there are the urine detectors installed in the Singapore elevators that sound a loud alarm if anyone should happen to pee while riding up to the 5th floor (I'm not kidding).  Anyway, after Michael Fay and his sorry behind returned to the U.S., Mark had read that he got a job at the Sam Goody's record store in the Mall of America, so Mark and I dropped by to say "hi" back in 1995.  Unfortunately, though, Michael wasn't working that day; he was probably writing graffiti in the parking garage... or maybe chewing some gum...  or possibly peeing in an elevator.

 

The Mall of America is arranged in a giant circle that covers 78 acres and has 520 stores on three and, in some places, four levels.  As if all the screaming stores weren't enough over-stimulation, there's a seven-acre theme park in the middle, the largest indoor theme park in the nation.  The theme park, Camp Snoopy I think it's called, has 26 rides including a roller-coaster and a water-flume, a 6,000-square-foot LegoLand play area, a two-story miniature golf course and giant balloons of Peanuts characters, including Snoopy (needless to say, my respect for Charles Schulz took a big hit).  Both fascinated and disgusted, I spent an hour walking completely around the mall, and in a daze from all this blatant capitalism, staggered my way to the exit.  

 

In a lot of ways, the Mall of America reminded me of Las Vegas:  there's lots of noise and excitement, there aren't any clocks so you can't tell what time it is, and it's primarily designed to separate visitors from their money.  My visit to the Mall was intriguing, but an hour in this place was about all that I could tolerate so, with my senses on "overload" and feeling extremely suffocated, I returned to the parking lot and drove off.  All without spending a penny.  And without peeing in an elevator.

 

    

Above left:  Getting my truck ready for my trip back to Oregon.  That's my 12" subwoofer on the floor, a DC-AC inverter in my cigarette lighter that I use to charge my laptop and camera batteries, and my MP3 receiver.  I mounted a 150-watt amplifier behind the seat and recently installed custom-fitted seat covers.

Above right:  My truck's padlocked strongbox, which I made out of 3/4" plywood.  This is where I keep my laptop, camera and other valuables locked up when I'm not carrying them.  I bolted the box to the bed so it can't be lifted out. 

 

       

Above left:  After leaving Mark and Jayne's house, my first stop was the famous (or infamous) Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the U.S. and second-largest mall in the world.

Above center:   The Mall contains the largest indoor theme park in America with roller coasters, water rides, and a huge Snoopy balloon.  Good grief!

Above right:  I escaped the Mall after an hour and without spending a single penny.  A fascinating place, but get me outta here!

 

 

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