In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
Every once in a while, I drop by a nearby mall on my lunch break just for a change of scene, and sometimes to play with the cool stuff at the Apple store. No good can come of playing with cool stuff at the Apple store, but like a moth to a flame...
Yesterday was particularly demanding, so I made a break for it at lunch.
The mall was by far the quietest I've ever seen. Plenty of parking, nearly empty corridors, ample open seating. I noticed employees draped, bored, over counters, openly complaining of having nothing to do.
I've never seen that before.
The always-crowded eateries had no lines, and plenty of open tables. Even the overpriced-coffee place was almost vacant, which simply doesn't happen. Now it does, apparently. On the way out, I saw panhandlers. I've never seen panhandlers there before, and it was a flippin' cold day.
I've done recessions before. I've done 'economic decline' before, having grown up in Northern Town. I've done 'poor as a church mouse' before, having been a grad student on the East Coast. This is different.
It's faster. And instead of leveling off, it seems to be getting faster as it goes. Every few weeks, it's visibly worse on the ground. It's like they're striking the set.
Statistics are useful, and I swim in them. But there's something about 'crowds and lines' being replaced by 'parking and panhandlers' that's a little unsettling.