Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Stranger in a Strange Land
There were no heads on these or any of the other mannekins I saw at the mall yesterday. They used to have heads, hair, and fashionably hostile expressions on their faces. I wonder when headless mannekins became the new standard? Especially weird with the binoculars, eh?
I went to the Pentagon City shopping mall yesterday because I had to go to the Apple store to check out new computers. My beloved old G4 ibook, which still works perfectly, is so out of synch with contemporary standards of computing that I realize I have to buy a new macbook - or be left in the dust.
It's hard to say what was most harrowing about the experience: contemplating spending that much money all in one fell swoop, the idea of becoming unplugged from the internets (God forbid!), or the bizarre nature of shopping malls, maybe particularly the Pentagon City mall.
What I remember best about Don Delillo's great book White Noise was his description of the shopping mall - all the echoing voices and battling store musaks, the chrome and glass and mirrors reflecting multiple versions of the people, and the way the protagonist in the story feels like king of the universe, sending his children out to shop. Because I so rarely go to any shopping mall, whenever I have to, the experience hits me hard. I couldn't help but think of Mr. Delillo's brilliant description yesterday. He was dead on.
The idea of a 'Pentagon City' is strange, isn't it? A shopping mall named for the military hub of the U.S. is even weirder - at least to me. The Metro journey to the mall takes me past the Pentagon subway stop, a place of dense, heavy vibes that is full of billboard ads for computers that can be dropped from planes or hit by bombs without breaking. Is that a good thing? I've seen big, colorful ads boasting about the virtuosity of war planes and other weapons of mass destruction, too. The billboard I saw yesterday from the window of the train featured a desert landscape. The headline was, "They're gone before you even know they're a threat." The Metro train took off before I could make out the company logo so I have no idea what they were selling. Unnerving, though, don't you think?
After checking out all the computers, I've decided to order one through the internet. The macbook will be shipped directly to the house on Tennessee Avenue which will save me from paying the outrageous sales tax and also guarantees I do not have to return to Pentagon City Mall anytime soon. Thank God!!
The Spirit of Justice in front of the Rayburn Building. I'm glad she has a head!