Saturday, February 25, 2006

Opryland Land USA And The International Space Station That Has Taken Its Place

Today I went to OpryMills which is a gigantic mall with everything that anyone could every want housed in a million dollars worth of bright lights, corrugation, and sliding compressed wood chip panels with removable metal rods. Everything is available except for those people that wear a size 14 shoe (15 in Nike). And folks. That is me. Everything in my size at every shoe store looked like the carcass of a crocodile in various colors. Bump that! Internet purchases are in order from Adidas I must say (I almost named this blog All Day I Dream About Sex, but I didn't).

After a somewhat productive morning of tweaking my resume (I was not aware of the revisions that it need, not so much content, it was just a sloppy presentation), helping my mom get ready for the discussion group that she is heading tomorrow, and writing a letter to another academic here in the city, the MOMZ and I went to go see Tyler Perry's latest. I think it is great. The plot and script are a little sore in places. There are many ebonical linguistical cadences for the oh so gaudy Afro-showmenship of it; the plot relies on a heavy usage of soap opera tricks and cathartic timing in revealing family secrets; plus, a there is a good sprinkling of climactical effects sans denouement. There is more than one explosion revolving around the same family conflict. In other words, it mimics black life perfectly. We will have to wait and see what the mainstream critics says about the movie.

I already can read the review in my brain: "What narrative needs more than one climatical after effect? At moments it is too “face value” and too overly dressed. At other moments there are performances that really hit you under the belt. Then at another turn there is comedy. The film could use one more look on the cutting room floor to find some connective tissue for different scenes. At places the muscle hits bone."

Other than that I love watching beautiful people. And Blair Underwood is passionate and . . . well that would give to much away. So go see how much of a mother fucker he is for yourself. Then let's discuss the performance. And the young women playing the part of the sisters were absolutely spellbounding on film.

We saw the movie at OpryMills, the mall where the old Opryland Amusement Park used to stand. It is gone and now there is a mall with a rain forest restaurant and another that is a palatial and roomy aquarium. Me and me mum strolled around. She found some shoes, I found some soy protein and we window shopped for a while. My mom is retired and I have been trying to get her to try some knew things.

We saw the Banana Republic Outlet, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My mom told me to wait for things to be cut down another 40 percent at Hechts or Hecht's or something like that. I explained that Hecht's is not really my style. She then started to look at the prices a bit closer. It is like I have to hint these things to her. I guess AngryblackLesbo is right. When you are away from home for 15 years you end up teaching your family things about yourself that they just don't know.

That can be taken several different ways. For example, later I took MOMZ into an Old Navy for the first time. I told her she could maybe find some “young stuff” there. She was asking about “young stuff” earlier this winter before she left her gig so I wanted her to give Old Navy a try. The first thing she asked the attendant in her very polite voice was "Where are the earrings?"

"So, that is me mum." I thought quitely (I think in different accents in my head sometimes, I am sure it is not a sign of mental illness, don't worry). Never really noticed that about her before.

We then went on down the corridor of grandeur, this superstore/outlet field of dreams, and saw a window to the exotic, a gigantic outdoors men shop where I think you can go fishing in the store, a kiosk with Dead Sea Salts, a Nike Outlet, a Levi Outlet, A Hushpuppy Outlet, an Alabama restaurant (started by the band), and finally that ice cream place where they work out your dessert on marble. OK. It was enough.

The mall is the kind of thing that you kind of hate but love too. It is the same contradiction I found in a Trotskyite and cultural activist friend who loved Ikea and Walmart. Interesting. All of it no? I wanted to have more money so I could buy more things, but strangely I did not feel like I fell into the whole consumption thing. I bought my soy protein, wished I did not buy that diet coke at the concession stand during Medea cause I really wanted a magazine after the movie, and that was about it. itunes is the love of my life. Can't buy shoes in a store. I need some new work clothes but I will buy that piece by piece and that is about it. The mall is just not my thing.

The other thing that I noticed was that American society manifests in the mall. First there were all the wandering eyes from guys at the big shoe outlet where I fell in love with a pair of Adidas. And at another point in Banana Republic my mother and I were looking at some pants and this guy keep looking at me. I put my shit down and ran. Not that I was scared, but damn, it is like cruisey. I have been wondering where everyone is and it turns out that everyone in America is at the mall. It is like our social honey comb, it is where we work without instruction. It is where all those chance meetings happen. I am getting hit on in the mall! In Nashville! Who knew? And after this dry spell of not meeting anyone normal at the bars and clubs. Interesting.

While sitting outside of the Hushpuppies Outlet where my mother was shopping I sat in what was practically a living room set in the middle of a large promenade. The interior designers and architects must have teamed up on this little invention. It is a functional island of masculine idleness in the middle of the great watering hole where women rummage through the Hushpuppies. That outlet is a total joke for me because they only go up to a size 13 in men's shoes. I just sat and listened to the languages flowing around. I felt like a bearded and beached walrus sunning on the rocks. The other guy sharing the living room set looked completely annoyed. His wife came out first. She was empty handed. My mom came out with a pair of shoes.

I guess this is globalization.

All the strolling in the mall -- that southern strolling if you know what I mean -- groups of five blocking the entire passage way cause no one should get to far from granny. They drove from Lawerence county for this you know? And then there are the teenagers. And the preteens. The young guys running around because their parents let them exercise independence, but only in packs. Man, I remember that behavior somehow, somewhere in the mid-80’s I would say.

Everyone is fat from southern cooking -- a fatness meant for all nationalities; and, the men with their wives leaving the outdoor store with live bait, that was a sight -- stomachs and thick legs and loose jeans and cold blue eyes. Deep. Succulent butts, wide chests, teenage girls in denim skirts that they have been cut even higher without a hem, sagging pants and trucker hats. Dull eyes, dialects that are so thick I have to listen hard, overly helpful teenagers, stressed out managers, working class retail. The Levi Outlet revealed my entire high school closet complete with denim shirts and cargo pants. The whole mall was dotted with cowboy hats, little boys in flannel jackets tied around their waste by their fathers and chubby guys from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan or Ethiopia. Even my mom talks about the lost boys. Even the man from the Dead Sea kiosk asked if my mother and I were from Ethiopia. As we walked away my mother said, "Yeah, by way of Alabama." And before that in the car she was upset with the critics that are talking about Kanye West's picture on Rolling Stone as Jesus. She said that Jesus sure as sugar does not look like the one painted in stain glass all over Europe and America. My mother’s underground slave intervals of 1960's “where is my lead pipe and leather glove” rhetoric is becoming more pronounced now. Maybe it is just a subconscious reaction to all the shit she has had to quietly shovel at work for the past 27 years and the circumstances of her retirement (the family nickname for her old boss is "The White Witch" . . . I came up with that one ).

No one is how they seem I am so sure. But I am even more sure that my mother has many people fooled, she is really a little more than militant. Her experiences in Anniston, Alabama going from door to door trying to convince people to pay the poll tax with my grandfather when she was seven has probably influenced me more than I care to think about. Charm and militancy. I think that is me. I am sure that it is her.

But before today, I would never have thought about the mall so much. I go into them so rarely. I really don't like shopping. I just don't. I will buy some clothes and keep moving. But as time has moved on, I am thinking a bit more about my own place again. It used to be that if it was not in Target of Walmart I really did not want to be bothered. Maybe OpryMills is worth a second chance. I was just so bummed out before because the amusement park closed. I would rather take my goddaughters and sister to a roller coaster than to a Bed, Bath and Beyond. I guess it is time to let go.

I wonder if anyone from another city would know what was in Nashville before this.

I doubt anyone would believe me.

I seriously doubt if my childhood is relevant to this place anymore.

I wonder if it is relevant to anything.

The Ferris Wheel and Water Ride are gone.

It is just a mall.

People seem to be just as excited about that.

1 comment:

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