Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vicious Clowns

"Hey there little tyke. Come play with me. Don't I look nice? Do you like my makeup?"

I detest pretense. Anything fake. I get the sense most others do as well. I particularly despise the attempts to make "town centers" by dolling up strip/power centers comprised of relentless big boxes and other various smaller, but similarly generic national chains.

This is a new "town square" built near my parents' home in the not-so-great-state of PA, which really, is only great at all for two things: Philly and Penn State University. But, I digress. This abomination was actually built in 2007 if you can believe that. Surely, the good folks in local government thought this was actually a good thing: investment! jobs!

But beneath all that makeup, as you can see in plan, is the same ol' same ol' shopping center, completely disconnected from any relationship to the public realm or the community. It is not a part of the community, but in fact apart from it. The jobs are low paying, low-skill, and hence, the individuals are completely disengaged. Only a fraction of the receipts actually stay within the community.

Instead, each night they are zapped to home base in Minneapolis or Bentonville and then further zapped out to investors around the world. Investors, who don't give a shit about your community and whether it is lovable or lasts more than a few years. They DO give a shit about your money though. They're mining for it. Laying traps for the mice.

This is a google street view of one of the deep setback big boxes. Look! It doesn't even look like a big box. Pay specific attention to the fake spire, the fake windows, AND the entirely fake 2nd story. Since google street view took the pics, I'm left to assume that in exchange for these super awesome facade treatments the developer managed to finagle the township into paying for the new "public streets" aka parking aisles through the site. Nice of them.

Beware of these places. They want to be your friend. They need you to be their friend. They feed on you.