Friday, August 11, 2006

NASCAR, Urbania-style; or, The Ballad of Kultury-Fluffy

Way back when, I think I described Urbania as a bit uppity when it considered itself a city; sure, you could say that it has a million people, but only if you included a few of the towns in the general vicinity. Thus, it is, if anything, a sleepy little burg; large enough to rate a Macy's, but not a Nordstrom; an Olive Garden but not a PF Changs; an organic food market, but not a Whole Foods. Dig?

All of this is important, I think, because it explains the truly bewildering urban safari that I had today. Big things were afoot in the Fluff household: I needed gardening bags and hand soap, as well as a host of school supplies (first and foremost a day planner, which someone has finally decided to make in attractive cover-patterns, instead of that gnarly faux croc that I normally settle for). In addition, I wanted supplies for my Martha Stewart twitch--my subscription to Cooking Light is quickly taking over my life and my bookshelves. In a mad brainstorm of procrastinatory glee, I thought: "Gee, if I got a binder, I could cut out all of the recipes I actually like, and then I could paste them in and save room!" More on this boondoggle later. The point is that I headed to the one geographical site that could feed my fix: the strip mall with a Target AND a Staples.

If this were a simple, standard strip mall, it would simply feature chain stores in, per the nomenclature, a strip, right? Yes, well, not in Urbania. Here, they like to build compounds of consumer destinations, such that you have a strip of stores, and then separate settlements of other stores around the perimeter--like the pioneers who were to withstand the first attacks of the savages. Thus, the strip is surrounded by miles of parking lot, which is in turn bounded by a road that encircles it, such that office-supply/wedding dress/pet food crazed shoppers can drive from one store to another in a frenzy of consumer adrenaline. (Much like the way that the demonically possessed, animated vehicles circled the diner where the humans huddled for safety in Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive. Whoa. That's a horrible repressed childhood memory.)

So here's my actual point. Trying to be good and WALK a little, I thought I'd park at the far end of the Target lot, walk to the adjoining Staples compound, get crafty crap, walk back to my car and drop stuff off, and then proceed to the Target, yes? HA! Not in America, no siree! We'll have none of that silly "get a modicum of exercise in your daily activities" you commie pinko!

I did not clearly think through the consequences of having to cross the beltway encircling the Target strip--not once, but twice. I felt like the little guy in Frogger.


It was taking my life into my hands. I ran across the four lane road--in flip-flops (no small feat. and no small feet, either.). You would have thought that I was clubbing baby seals for the honking and death stares that I received. Heaven forbid people drive less than 65 mph in what is essentially an over-grown parking lane! One the way back, I brandished my bags of office supplies in self-defense, against the Hummers searching for the checkered flag.

So, that's the report from Urbania, kids. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to walk between stores in a strip mall compound. You git in yer car and drive from one to the next, like everyone else.

2 Comments:

Blogger Flavia said...

Argh! I hate that!

I grew up in suburbia, but in a place where malls were malls--whether strip or otherwise--and you could walk from one end to the other either inside or at least on an outside sidewalk.

In my new city, the mall-type-areas are just like yours. Huge, crazy, and disconnected. The big stores (Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Circuit City) aren't even within sight of each other, they're marrooned so far apart in their separate parking lot seas.

Why??

(I love envisioning you as Frogger, btw.)

Friday, August 11, 2006 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Why indeed? Since you used the word "marooned," I had to think--isn't there a J.G. Ballard book about someone stranded on a traffic island, unable to get off?

Perhaps if this whole academic gig doesn't work out, we can co-author a novel about being marooned in one of these newfangled strip-malls...

Saturday, August 12, 2006 10:32:00 AM  

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