Living in New York you are constantly barraged with tourists who treat the streets and sidewalks of your daily life as an attraction. After a few years you get used to it (although the holiday season can be especially harrowing.) Pushing past those slow-walkers, remembering how you used to be one (that is, if like me and many others you are a transplant and not a native.) Cursing their inefficiency at the MetroCard machines, rolling your eyes and biting your tongue on the sales floor of Barneys when they ask what's the cheapest piece of Juicy Couture you have to sell them as a gift for their daughter back home. Okay, maybe that last one was just my regular hell. But I wasn't born here. Lord knows as a college freshman I was getting drunk at Bull McCabe's on St Marks place endlessly shopping at Trash and Vaudeville and Religious Sex (R.I.P.) I think first year New Yorkers qualify as extended tourists. There is the honeymoon interim period until the pacing of the city sets your heartrate pumping.
Every time I go home I seek out what used to be the most regular and mundane activities and locations. I am always supremely excited for that first hometown visit back to the grocery store, the supermarkets of my youth, warehouses of smoked meats and a hot-dog section 30 feet long. And, gasp, if there is a mall trip, I'll just about lose it. My sacred pilgrimage to everything mass-produced, Hot Topic, Pac Sun, Claires, Spencer's Gifts...it's a holy experience.
I like treating the lives of my tourists as an attraction. Relishing the sights that you can't see in New York but are everyday and mundane to locals. And of course, this being a blog, I make sure to bring a camera along the way.
The mall trip happened innocently enough. I drove to Omaha to visit my friend Kelley and spent the afternoon with her. Since I had no money and no agenda I accompianed her on some errands. We returned a few things to Kohls and then went to Von Maur at the Westroads Mall. This particular Von Maur was where 19 year old Robert Hawkins shot and killed 8 holiday shoppers and then himself a year ago today. Strange to be writing this on the anniversary, that was purely coincidental. I'd never been to that location and immediately my mind made the connection. And that was our entryway into the mall.
After Kelley found a suitable pair of jeans and I had texted Brendan as to my morbid location, we went deeper into the mall to browse. Kelley laughed and told me that I was treating the experience as if I was a tourist. I couldn't disagree as I entered Claires, camera in hand.
It was a wonderland of pink. The land of Hannah Montana pop tart dreams. I couldn't even scowl, I just looked around and thanked god the 'tween market hadn't been discovered when I was small because I would have wanted everything in it's walls. So much better than the Claires of my youth, land of free ear piercings with purchase of a starter kit. I think I actually got my second holes done in that very Claires in the Omaha mall when I was 10. It was also the first of many stores (all that we visited aside from Pac Sun) to have a Nightmare Before Christmas display. I had no idea that movie was still so marketable.
The fake hair section was probably my favorite. Although I was very disturbed by the mock Crocs.
But the most disturbing find in Claires and second most disturbing find of the entire day will have to go to the lip balm.
I mean...wow...uhh...eew? The next stop was Pac Sun. Everything was neon and ugly and while I took pictures the neon ugliness didn't really turn out, so let's skip to the glorious beacon of trash, Spencer's Gifts.
This is what greeted me as I walked in. It was the first of many disturbing Heath Ledger as the joker items I saw that day, but by far the creepiest. It's a facemask/hat hybrid. Allow me to demonstrate:
Honestly, I almost bought it. Just like I almost bought the Cheez-Its lip balm. But I had landed the day before with a single $20 bill and I had a goal of not breaking it (thanks mom and dad for feeding me btw!) Sorry Brendan, no Christmas gift for you this year.
Of course I obsessed over the black light posters. ICP, Scarface, Led Zepplin, all the classics. I took more pictures but unfortunately they didn't all turn out. I'm also sure no one else is as fascinated with pictures of fimo lightbulbs and boner coupons as I am, but let's just say I was giggling for about 30 minutes. Adult I know.
And of course, on the way out we saw the obligatory Nightmare display...
Once Spencer's was conquered we had one final destination. The holy grail of mall rats, Hot Topic. I was especially jazzed on this since I'd spent about two hours on IM the night before looking for emo or goth chatrooms with my friend Paul, so I was definitely in the mood for some serious wristband action. I was not disappointed.
Ahh! Seriously the bane of my existence, non-functional fingerless gloves and sweatbands! A whole rack of them, adorned with everything wrong, but oh so right. And speaking of fingerless gloves, any Atreyu fans out there?
No? Well how about these Linkin Park key covers? That get you hot?
Or how about a TMNT chain wallet? This was seriously one of the ugliest things I've seen...like...ever. There is no reason for it to exist. I have no idea why I feel so strongly about it but my eyes want to reject it. The photo doesn't do its hideousity justice.
The jewelry was even better than Claires. I almost bought a cheapo pair of feather earrings until I remembered that crisp $20 bill. But again, I was completely creeped out by another Heath Ledger item:
And really? Already? Damn.
On our way out, exiled from gothville we passed the "Urban" mall store with these amazing numbers, perfect clubwear for a classy night out.
And the one thing I regret not buying is the one thing that reminded me most of home (I'm sure it's available at the Fulton Mall)
Emeinem and 50 Sent? Cloth backpack? Who are those guys on the bottom of the bag? Why are most of them white? Oh and the btw whole 4th wall of the store was made of chain link fencing. Now that's hood.