The Mall of America
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."
ever-clever Randy Newman singing It's Money That Matters.
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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
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.
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.
of America is arranged in a giant circle that covers 78 acres and has 520 stores
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
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
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
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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