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Cory Doctorow

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Doing my part to save the nation's economy . . sort of

One of the sunny Southern California shopping malls -- can you see the faint, slightly darker yellow circle inside the rectangular yellow square toward the left?  

There was a time so many years ago where a Saturday visit to the mall was a grand adventure.  Within 40 miles of my home, even now, I have at least a dozen malls from which to choose.  Those malls, like the one I visited yesterday, now have at least one and usually two of their "anchor" department stores now left empty.  Inside these malls, there is a real mix of traditional shops and all other types of uses for all of that empty space.  The one I visited yesterday now includes a Navy recruiter, a large movie house, a gym/sports club and many "mom and pop" type of retailers.

And, yesterday, I stepped out in faith and did something I had not done since early December 2007 - - I went on a shopping spree!

Here comes the "sorta" part:

I went to a large book store and, armed with six book store gift cards, picked up a primer on baseball, a quirky murder mystery novel and a very pretty special edition photo magazine as a birthday gift for my partner (yes, I used a gift card to buy a gift.  12 months ago I would've been a cheapskate.  Now? I'm thrifty!).

Then, I rifled through the clearance racks in a large discount clothing store as well as the two remaining traditional department "anchor" stores in the mall.  For an early Saturday afternoon, though, the mall seemed quite empty.  Most of those there were either sitting around chatting with each other and/or entertaining their kids on those "slide a quarter in" kiddie rides.  Even as I got close to noon, the food park was maybe 20% full.

I was almost grateful for the lower back pain I get after doing a lot of stop-and-start walking so I wouldn't realize how much the atmosphere in the mall has changed in the last few years.  I might well have picked up on subdued mood had I not been listening to my MP3 player (shopping to the beat).

For a couple of hours of buying clothes for $10 or less and taking advantage of all the sales, I checked out "Watchmen" at the moviehouse attached to the mall.  I have not read the graphic novel on which the movie is based.  In spite of this, I really enjoyed the movie.  I got the impression the story is less about the costumed heroes and more about the human condition.  Ambitious subject matter for a movie now showing on thousands of movie screens.  I can well imagine why, no matter who writes/talks about the movie, the opinions are passionate.

Now that I've singlehandedly saved the economy in this part of the country yesterday, I'm taking today off to prepare for a job interview tomorrow.  

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