My friend and I made an excursion to a new mall in Alpharetta yesterday. I say “new;” it’s new to us. It’s been up and running for a while, but it’s an outdoor mall, and we were waiting for the weather to co-operate. Two months ago, we made made an arrangement to see Birdman at the theatre there, but somebody had to go and call it a “plan.” My friend got a better offer to go to a different outdoor mall in Atlanta. That one has an IKEA, and a pub where supporters of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club hang out. My friend is a Manchester United fan, so it was no big deal. I’m a Gooner, so I was like, “Have a nice day.”
Outdoor malls have become all the rage in Georgia; I’ve been to five in the past few years. The one we were at yesterday is called “Avalon,” because if you have to call it something, you might as well call it something pretentious. The one in Atlanta with the Spurs pub is Atlantic Station, which is the least pretentious sounding of the lot. There are two on 141; one is The Forum, the other is “The Mall Formerly Known as The Avenues,” since I refuse to use it’s new, even more silly, name.
That leaves whatever it is they call the one in Buckhead. I call it “The Hole,” for that is what is was from the time everything was torn down on Peachtree Road between Buckhead Avenue and Pharr Road, back around 2007, until the thing was finally constructed. I sometimes refer to it as “Centre Commercial du Frommage,” since many of the Buckhead bigshots wanted to emulate the area along the Champs Elysees, which is only slightly less popular with the locals than the cleaned up Times Square in New York City.
These newfangled shopping areas are set up to look like neighborhood streets. Many have apartments, town houses, and/or office buildings adjacent to them. What it actually resembles is the Warner Bros. back lot. I wandered around Avalon hoping I would find Luke’s Diner. To be honest, I was really hoping to bump into Lorelai Gilmore, but neither she nor Rory would shop at someplace so obviously artificial. And you don’t have to watch Mad Men to know that “neighborhood atmosphere” really means that you are trying to make potential customers nostalgic for something that never was.
Upon arrival at Avalon, I became cognizant of the fact that I didn’t read the guidelines about proper attire. What I am saying is: Everyone else went “athletic casual.” At least I was wearing sneakers. All the shoppers looked as if they stepped out of an ad for Dick’s Sporting Goods, or as if they were on their way to 24 Hour Fitness. They certainly weren’t on the way back, for there was nary a drop of sweat to be seen. It was as if they were Stepford Shoppers, or this was a variation of Westworld, or worse–Los Angeles.
I suppose it makes sense, since Atlanta is the new Hollywood. This week, Buckhead doubled for London, England during filming for Captain America: Civil War, which says something about filmmaking, London, or both. I guess if “Civil War” is in the title, you might as well film in Georgia.
Anyway, after completing our shopping experience, we made our way back to the car; as you do. As we passed by the prime parking spots reserved for electric cars, what we saw was not a Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt, but a Tesla, which pretty much sums up our time at Avalon. It’s not that I have anything against Teslas; far from it. Tesla drivers? Maybe. But at the end of the day, I am more of a Ferrari kind of guy.