Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Bataan Death Mall

Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, MD [Baltimore suburb]

Shout it from the turrets of Medieval Times or the temple of the Egyptian-themed Muvico multiplex: In a just world, Maryland's Arundel Mills Mall would be visible from space. According to Wikipedia, it is "the first enclosed mall to feature a Medieval Times." Sounds like society's got some catching up to do, folks! You can actually enter the MT from the mall, and while you're waiting for the tournament to begin, put away a draft of mead (note: more likely Michelob Ultra or something) at the bar. MT is the mall's southern bookend; at the northern extreme, behold the Muvico Egyptian 24.

Of course, Arundel Mills isn't the largest mall in America, and for all I know, plenty of malls far exceed it. It's most notable, though, for its particularly wearying floor plan, basically a very elongated oval, divided up into five "neighborhoods." Theme-wise, it already spans continents and centuries, and walking around it two or three times gives a person the same feeling. It must take quite a few trips around to get one's memory around the place; a point you remembered on the first trip around might seem to be just in front of you once more, but is in fact a few hundred yards ahead. The trek from FYE to Dairy Queen is particularly arduous, each storefront a bayonet prodding one ahead to a destination from which he'll have to move on again soon.

Exurbcakes: A Recipe

Brain Lab query: "What happens when flavor imitates life?"

-3 sq. ft. richly tanned leather
-10 lbs. wet stucco, preferably dyed a frosting-like shade of pink or yellow
-5 lbs. Starbucks Espresso Roast ("Starbucks Coffee: Roasted over burning SUV tires!")
-1 box Franzia Vintner Select White Zinfandel
-Assorted Elton John, Barry Manilow, Kenny G, and NOW! compilation CDs
-1 pair pleated khaki shorts

-Combine stucco and espresso in a large cement truck; process mixture into a viscous paste.
-Shape mixture into uniform circles (1" diameter is ideal), wrap with strips of leather.
-Remove CDs from cases--the cases may later be used for a creative presentation--and crush discs up into little shards. Sprinkle atop cakes to taste.
-Place cakes on car roof; pick a sunny day to drive around doing errands for 9 hours, using only outdoor parking options.
-Smoke over shreds of khaki shorts for extra flavor.
-Serve with energy drinks, Ensure, or any of Pepsi's "Jazz"-variety colas.

"Take A Ride To Exurbia": David Brooks, The New York Times, Nov. 9, 2004