Now it's more or less just a place where old people go to die. We've actually sunk to the point of considering a mall to be one of our most interesting institutions!
A few years ago, there were malls. Heck, there were always malls... they just grow on suburban sprawl, like interesting colors of fuzz grow on extremely aged refrigerator contents. At some point, the mall scene changed a bit, when the Dolphin Mall opened. The largest mall in Miami-Dade County, Dolphin Mall opened to a massive crowd. It was so special, being... *gasp*... a NEW MALL!... that consumer whores sat in line on the roads for about five hours waiting to get in on the first day! They were greeted by a modern, clean, "state-of-the-art" (I hate this phrase with a passion, I really do, so therefore I will use it in describing things I hate, k?) shopping mall, at just barely over 40% occupancy.
What they saw in this hellhole, I do not know.
Fast forward to very late 2005, when it came time for me to actually need to buy clothes. Previously, I would usually just take a day to go up to Sawgrass Mills, South Florida's largest mall, and be somewhat LESS disappointed with the shopping experience, actually coming away with stuff.
This is not part of the Dolphin Mall Experience.
I got in there somewhat early in the day, and the mall was crowded with tourists. I do not understand this one bit... "Hi, I am on vacation! Let me go to my destination city's MALL; nevermind that it has excellent weather and beaches and such! I want to place myself inside a large climate controlled box!" Yes.
Within minutes of arriving, I saw one of my worst pet peeves in practice: the kid-leash. You know what I'm talking about... or, hopefully, you don't. There are three different varieties; one that's a body harness on a long strap, one that's a wristband on a long strap, and one that's just plain f'ing WRONG. This was the latter. I saw this kid walking a bit behind his mom, practically clawing at the thing trying to get loose. It took a moment for the disbelief to clear, and for me to realize what I was actually seeing; the kid-leash consisted of an actual dog leash, tied around the kid's neck. Sometimes, I wonder just what sort of traumatic childhood memories this brings about in later life... I mean, there are people who are into bondage in later life, but I doubt any small children enjoy the experience. (If they did, this would kinda scare me.)
Of course, Dolphin Mall is the single place where I have seen the most kid-leash offenses... ever. Hands down. I think they added a Stupid People Attraction Field Generator as a carrier current system on the mall's electrical wiring.
Now, let's get on to the serious, hardcore illogic. First off, most of Dolphin Mall consists of one sort of store. Once I paint the mental picture here, you'll realize you've seen about six dozen of these: Utterly, blindingly white, brightly lit store, with the same Mr. Generic Trance CD on endless auto repeat, bleached wood floor, shiny chrome store fixtures, and all of eight different varieties of extremely overpriced garment for sale (maybe four different sizes of each variety). It looks a lot like an Apple store, but with practically no CONTENT. I stepped into one of those stores (the name failed to save to longterm memory, and that's probably best), which sold only 'vintage styled' jackets and extremely 'distressed' jeans. I looked at a price tag on a pair of jeans. I lol'd. I think it was around $160.
The other type of store Dolphin has is the Mr. Random Megastore. Uh, Burlington Coat Factory, Sports Authority, yeah... those are quite useless. Fun fact: The actual coat section of Burlington Coat Factory is tiny. Everything else? Pure, unadulterated stupid crap.
That's a category most of Dolphin's stores fit into: Pure stupid crap. They even have an entire store dedicated to stupid junk adverised by infomercials! Wooooow.
After walking through the mall for a while, immersed in great amounts of proverbial crap... well... it became time to deal with the existence of not so metaphorical crap. I needed to go spend some time on the porcelain thinking chair. Yes... what follows is probably the most disturbing public restroom experience I have ever had. I found a stall with a clean toilet and everything, but the door didn't lock correctly. I didn't particularly care about that, hanging my ~30 lb. backpack on the coat hook on the door of nearly any restroom stall has the effect of nicely bending the partitions so the door is wedged shut. But it was only after I began, uh, downloading to the tubular underground network, that I discovered the truly disturbing part: There was a 'glory hole'* to the next stall. I do not know how it was physically possible, being that the stalls were open on top and bottom (and a few other places too), but it seemed that icy cold air was blasting from this under pressure... just to remind me of its frightening presence. I jammed it full of about half a roll of toilet paper. If anyone had entered that next stall, I probably would have clawed my way up the wall and exited, terrified, through the CEILING. That was just... wrong.
Back out in the somewhat less terrifying section of the mall, where the actual stores reside, I realized something strange: Nobody was carrying shopping bags. See, usually, when you go to a mall, you are buying things. Not here, apparently... for there is just nothing worth buying.
I have it pretty difficult when it comes to shopping for clothes. You all remember that I'm not normal, right? Yeah. Most of my clothes are either black or of dark colors, and simply cannot contain any logo contamination whatsoever. Unfortunately, 'designer' clothing seems quite popular, and by 'designer' I undoubtedly mean 'graphic designer', who designs a corporate logo to be embroidered or printed onto every garment 'made by' a particular company, as its sole 'design' feature. I'm guessing that most of these clothes are actually made in China or elsewhere, and sold under multiple different brand names, with the only difference being whose logo gets slapped on there. Particularly with t-shirts, they could just be generic Hanes, Gildan, Anvil, or whatever... with a custom label and printing. Of course, you'll have a hard time finding anyone who charges that much (up to $60?) for custom printing a t-shirt, unlike buying one with someone else's logo on it at the mall!
In other words, modern market analysts say I do not exist. Nobody wants clothing that isn't a fabric billboard, and this was reflected in the selection at the stores there. I also have a waist size that does not exist; there is no 36, only 26, 28, 30, 32, .... 40, 42. (My size used to be 34, and hopefully will be again, before long... of course, that doesn't exist either, so there's no difference.)
Eventually I came back to where Sam Ash and Hot Topic are (pretty much right across from each other). I will now consider that to be the Zone Of Destruction. See, my mission was to go to the mall in search of clothing, but I just had to go look at the shiny things at Sam Ash...
... Or more like, the destroyed things. It looked like a squad of five year olds armed with claw hammers had attacked everything in that store. I kinda wanted to try out one of those CD turntables, too... but no, every possibly removable part had been torn off. I also saw a section where they were selling used equipment... unfortunately, they left all this exposed to their... interesting... clientele, which had done the same thing to it. Niiiice. Can you believe I found a Mackie 36 channel mixing board in there with every knob, that's like.... over a hundred... missing?!
Just for the heck of it, I tried Hot Topic, since I remembered at one distant point in history actually getting a pair of cargo pants I liked there. The first thing that hit me was the awful hip-hop blasting from the speakers in there. The second thing that hit me was the CLIPPING on the awful hip-hop. I thought about how audiophiles evolve... clearly, they start out as appreciators of music, listening to recorded music using their equipment... but at some point, something horrible happens, and they start listening to their equipment using music instead. I decided to try listening to their equipment using their music, and it just made me want to burst into the back room, find the active graphic equalizer with all the channels set to +16dB, and fix that shite hardcore. Or just smash the system. One of the two.
The store was in just about as good shape as the audio system. I had last been in there when a friend of mine worked there, and it was in good order. Now, I'd declare it to be totally destroyed.
There was actually a line headed for the mall exit at this point; apparently, a very large tour group was being reassembled there. I left on the next bus to International Mall across the street, and actually got my shopping DONE.
Dear Dolphin Mall: I will never get back the time I wasted today, but... you can still redeem yourselves in my opinion: Send me two MDTA tokens to replace the ones I wasted coming to that hellhole you call your mall, and the return trip... and I'll be happy.
* This is the, uh, more family friendly... and definitely niftier, definition of this phrase, as linked. There is no way in hell I am linking to its other context.
Mall Directory - Exit