I’ll try to remember the floorplan for you. You walk in through a set of beige double-doors, windowed, the glass has oily smudges on it.
The floor is tiled but the tiles are a sort of aged, yellowish colour. Crooning measured voices from overhead speakers and feet clicking on tiles freshly polished enough to see fragments of face
out back was a sprawling, cracked parking lot with a dense forest behind it. Every spring the bushes would creep forward and weed their way along the gravel patches where the last bits of dirty snow sat.
Lots of kids would have sex back there. Way back in the forest was a shack where you could get cross country skis and explore the trails up the hill. Now, a huge chunk of that forest has been clear cut and storage lockers built in its place.
the rectilinear parcel of land gouges the region. Place succumbs to violent friction. Yet it disguises that fracture with calm enframing in glass
. All appears smooth, coalesced. Is space without break without interval? Or is everything interval? What of the forest surrounding the parking lot? (keep in mind these forests are themselves synthetic, new growth) In the life-cycle of the town we can observe the gestalt communication between the smooth and the striated landscape.
when the Walmart got built we knew it was a death sentence. They put it right on the edge of town where land was cheaper. Downtown was already gone. They shops that weren’t boarded up were struggling to pay rent already. Sometimes one would disappear for a couple weeks and pop up on the other side of the building in a smaller unit. Most of the time they would disappear for good.
I remember the lingering cigar smell around the divey steak house from back when you could still smoke in there. To me it was floral, like old honey. Smelled like the elevator at my grandparent’s apartment.
same with the old malls along the highway.
Whole sections would sit empty, walkway lights turned on but shop windows papered over. It wasn’t long until whatever used to be there was forgotten completely. There were pop machines at the entrance. Some sat broken and empty for years. Some had off-brand cans for 35 cents.
next to the hamburger stand sat three metal tables made out of these sticky, rusted tubes. Everything in there was sticky- the cart handles, the amber cobble stones, the nickel rides, the washrooms. Water fountains pock-marked with gum.
the sears outlet was a small carpeted unit with a drop ceiling and clinical lighting. It had a handful of showroom appliances scattered around the front and a single desk in the back where you could pick up your orders.
you stop into the Rexall, Aisles locked together in tight grids, Little metal picks holding up vacuum formed packaging, Encasing everything in a dull shell
, Surfaces you can always imagine touching but never do. But the aftertaste is crisp, hygienic.
an overwhelming number of planes of glass,
reproducing your body nauseatingly while Escalator teeth chattering together in endless vertical movements like a clunky Windows scrollbar from 2003
a kiosk in the centre of the plaza, the long-deserted residue of a café stand, only the industrial guts left. I got a coffee there once in a small paper cup like the ones you get at the subway convenience booths.
the mall was always dimly lit and artificially cool
, a sad attempt at giving this hollowed out place some life support. Instead it felt like a cave. If health is life lived in the silence of the organs, this place was inflamed. These units all felt so discontinuous from their environment, each particular element stuck out. It was surprising to go back year after year and still see activity.
after the end of video rental, Rogers turned their store into a phone service centre. Before that happened I would browse Gameboy games, hardly ever taking one out. I just liked to read the back of the boxes.
perfect for other rectilinear bodies to slide into, equally transparent,
unassuming, continuously moving, glossily like layers of vinyl or clear nail polish of 2% milk everywhere without ever curdling. And you are just gliding like you are on wheels or maybe hovering entirely down cruel content-aware hallways and we watch as the city slowly metabolizes everything
After a couple of years these places pretty much dried up. One turned into a strip mall and reconfigured itself into four or five big box stores. The other one still has a good convenience store with slushies though. And two years ago a really good shawarma spot opened up. The Walmart quickly expanded into a full shopping plaza, and a whole suburb spread around it. That growth functions as a bedroomer community for the closest city.