Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shopping in Camazotz

This is some old photo of the Chicago Marshall Fields. Back in the day. When you dressed up to go shopping. Hats, dresses. My grandma would take us downtown for our back to school clothes. Maybe we'd have lunch at Fields. With Grandma it was just "Fields." My great Aunt Bobbie also loved to go to the downtown Marshall Fields. Not the suburban ones. She couldn't walk far so she'd tell my mom they'd just pull up to the front and, "God will provide." My mom would imagine the crowds and traffic and would doubt the luck of getting a spot out front. Lo and behold - a spot would ALWAYS be there for Aunt Bobbie. Our family still invokes her name if we need parking space help. I don't know if it would work for non-family members - someone could try and let me know.

Even though I'm 42, I still have that urge right as the air gets cooler, for some new shoes, socks and a sweater or two. I found these certain kind of hiking shoes I like. And I went back to store and they still made them. The same style! That never happens. I fall in love with some shoe or food or a guy - then the next time you want that thing - it's gone. Or different. REI had one pair - but out in Maple Grove. And they don't transfer their stock. Maple Grove is supposed to look like a little town with a main street. A main street with all chain stores. Remember the town of Camazotz from the book, Wrinkle in Time." All these malls look the same. Oh look a restaurant - wait it's a Buca. Donuts - Krispy Kreme. No independent anything. No cute stationery store. Or drugstore. Or indie coffee shop. All chains. Comforting icons of capitalism. And those scary twisty mall parking lot streets that go curling on forever. Not a grid or straight line. I go out there buy the shoes. And then try to leave. I keep twisting around. I see a Byerly's grocery store. So I load up on non perishable food in case I can never get out. Then I see a Hampton Inn. I may have to get a room if this turns into Hotel California (I cannot believe I am quoting the Eagles - and I hate the fucking Eagles) See how bad it was:
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'

Following a bunch of other lost souls, I finally stumble on a sign pointing back to the highway. I escape. It's a long way back from Camazotz. Although it wasn't my time, I yearn for the days of dressing up, going to a real downtown, grid streets and a big department store. Those days are gone like many of the stores in real downtowns. The twisty streets in the suburbs are winning and I fear it will all be one great Camazotz life style center. Yuck!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Circus of travel

Like Billy in the Family Circus taking one of his “directional paths,” that was how I made it to work today. Thanks MNDOT! Because of the 35-W bridge collapse, they’re adding lanes to I-94 and had to close it. The Marshall Street Bridge is the closest street to I-94. I get in the car on autopilot and get on Marshall. And wonder why in the hell everyone else is as well. And on a Saturday. Oh shit, the highway is closed. I decide to drive a few miles south to the Ford Bridge to cross. And then I have to go north again to get back to work. What slayed me were all these SUV cars driving like babies. It’s like that scene in the movie, “Cars” where they have to teach the scared SUVs to go into the mud. Aren’t they supposed to be fearless in those big gas-guzzling pieces of shit? I have a Saturn Vue – some call an SUV. But I drive fast. Even in the rain. I only wish I had the ability to make that thick dashed line like Billy when he was meandering all about instead of doing what ever he was supposed to be doing.