At least there are palm trees

imageAll my travel documents and my work contract say that I’m in San Diego. That’s a bit of a stretch. I’m 30 minutes north of the airport, which puts me in pure Cali suburbia. Other than the sunshine and occasional palm tree there’s actually not much reason to go outside.

Well that’s being a bit harsh; there’s a mall nearby. It’s about the size of the Capitol Mall but minus the grass and the free education. It’s really a collection of large malls creating a contiguous super mall broken only by a requisite city street or two. One of the collection is so big it has it’s own winding, internal street, expediting travel across the expanse.

My first reaction when I experienced this beast was to recall the movie Aliens. As the movie comes to a climax, Sigourney Weaver discovers a gargantuan mother alien popping out eggs with abandon, presumably to populate the universe with creatures of her ilk. At my super mall, there’s hardly a chain—restaurant, retailer, or supermarket—that’s not represented. This is the mother of all malls dispensing litters of chain stores that spread across the continent devouring all local retail culture in its path. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

One thing that is not a stretch is that this mall has absolutely nothing unique about it. The stores are the same ones you find across the country, nothing local. Some malls in suburban Alexandria VA are butt ugly but quite eclectic. You can dine cheap at a Chinese, all-you-can-eat buffet then go next door and enjoy an Egyptian hookah. A little further along you can pick up all those hard-to-find African spices you might have been looking for. These are places where you get 15-year old TVs fixed, not buy new ones. A few trees would be nice but there definitely is some soul.

Posted by patrickj on 01/12 at 06:22 PM


El Salvador is a land of malls and anti malls; malls for the well to do and anti malls for the rest. We lunched on manufactured chicken at the end; at the beginning we visited a project designed to enourage people to grow their own. With help from the local Baptist church and Presbyterians in Gananoque some women have got themselves chicken coops. This is really basic development. The coops have cement floors and corrugated something roofs, but the uprights are cut from the bush; not a two by four in sight; I was quixotically disappointed that they bought the mesh to keep the chickens in. Surely there is some local fibre they could have tied together to make mesh.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  08:54 PM

The mall is very much part of our lives. Practically all shops of some sort find themselves in a mall. In fact, downtown Laval is at the intersection of two highways and the most densely commercialised (stores per square kilometre) part of Québec! What a place. The mother mall has done her work here. The mother mall has been bearing offspring for sometime now and her children are very much part of the lives of the lavalois. In our climate and depending on whether you’re talking about a region or a local mall, malls are having become important meeting places for seniors and others that don’t work during regular business hours.

I frequent two malls where the proportion of seniors is important and much time is taken over a coffee. Of course the store owners don’t always appreciate this kind of clientele, but the socialisation of these urban structures has become the norm now. The huge parking lots are ugly and environmentally disastrous, but the distances from homes and the weather mean that shoppers use vehicles. Once again the difference between local and regional malls is important. Most seniors live within walking distance of these local malls.

Some of the mother’s first offspring have matured well and have become diversified. They provide a decent variety of stores without going huge. Other offspring have been on steroids and have grown too fast and the tendons around the big muscles are strained. They are uglier, pimples all over (big parking lots), little variety (only chain stores) and are even more environmentally disastrous. These are the power malls.

This latest child of the mother mall makes little sense in this climate as there are no common heated spaces. One must drive from one store to another which means starting cold motors to drive less than 3 minutes. Walking is hazardous as there are no sidewalks! These are the super regional malls, the latest version. I hope they don’t last long even though there is a small one under construction not far from our homeOver time they will suffer. For a being to age well it must have good health. A mall needs a balanced balance sheet. As the smaller mature malls have maintained this balance it will be difficult for this latest version to do so as they have taken up so much space. It will be difficult for them to reduce and been more space efficient when space becomes rare. One of local region malls went to layered parking and reduced parking surface to increase mall surface. Power malls won’t have this option. They won’t have to diversity to survive.

This ramble is far from the talk about chicken coops, but I know little of chicken coops except for the ‘broche à poules’ that we buy for some odd building projects. Home made or environmentally sound projects are the way of the future. These power malls are like the last generation of SUV’s that the American auto makers believed in because of the profit margin. Hopefully they will starve to death leaving the health and diverse malls for the seniors to walk about before sitting down for a long coffee! Development and redevelopment tensions are constantly at work and it is fascinating.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  08:56 PM

The Mall is the market in the deep burbs. It is slow during the day when most are working but is a buzz on Saturday, say noon. I was there yesterday.  While Julian and Margara drifted off to get a birthday present I sat around with Adrian near the food court, overlooking Mississsauga City centre/slash Square One and beyond, the CN tower.I was in the posh mall, the one I get to at 70km/hr. The humble one is walking distance from home but far enough to use the car just because the difference between 15 and 60 minutes is significant. We have power malls. They have identified themselves with penguins and Wallmart. They love big parking lots. When I returned from Mexico I had no idea about enormous parking lots. They have stop signs and they have to deal with snow, which wasn’t an issue in Mexico. As John said, the mall with staying power has places for people to meet and sit and buy a lottery ticket.

No one in this period of financial crisis has mentioned what causes the imbalance we are experiencing. Supply exceeded demand. Someone made too many loans, made too many cars, produced too much food… so I can shop at 6km/hr or 60km/. The mother mall will colapse because of supply and demand. The big power malls will be reduced to chicken coops and what we used to know as barns. We will need food nearby. My first experience with a box building was a Costco in Tijuana 1989. Remember, that was when Tim didn’t know money.When I got to Canadian Tire Dunnville in 2001, I counted the number of light bulbs to fill the place. I’m not a chicken but that is what the market looks like.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  08:58 PM

Egyptian hookah and African spices, yummy sounds like a great place. I’m definitely going to have to put this on the list.

Posted by Mya  on  10/31  at  12:43 PM

Nice blog patrick.

Posted by acne no more review  on  08/17  at  11:44 AM

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