Joni had some doctoring to do in Yuba City today, so I went along for the entertainment value. While Joni filled out forms and did the obligatory waiting, I took a walk to the Mall.
Yuba City and its sister city, Marysville, has not done very well over the last few years. They have amongst the highest unemployment rates in California. They also have a stratospheric housing foreclosure rate. These two cities are an hour from Sacramento, so during the housing boom, scads of really, really ugly houses were built by shabby builders--selling the houses at (what was then) an affordable half million dollars a piece. Our State Representative, Minority Whip and yoko climate change denier (author of Prop 23), Dan Logue, made his money with his real estate business that sold these ugly cookie cutters to unfortunate people that were told that "housing values never go down".
The bottom fell out of the economy and Dan Logue moved forty miles north to Chico. He is one of the few people left with a steady job, taking State benefits, while regaling state regulations and plotting ways to debunk science.
But I digress.
I haven't stepped foot in a mall in years. This mall is smallish as far as malls go; just three department stores connected by the obligatory corridors of consumption. I didn't recognize many of the stores. The place was empty.
A few Goth teenagers bandied about (Goths make me nervous). A few of the Goths mixed with, what must be a rural Sacramento Valley phenomena: teenagers in wrangler jeans and wearing cowboy hats (cowboys make me nervous too).
Let's explore this place.
As I said, the stores were mostly unfamiliar. They seemed to be catering to mostly teenagers. Obey Propaganda T-shirt stores and other trinket selling places of teenagerdom. Spencers (a store I remembered from my youth) was still selling Beatles Posters. Yes! But they also were selling some very risque lingerie. This was an innovation that I don't remember Spensers selling thirty years ago.
You can tell that this country is slipping into barbarism by the absence of bookstores in malls. The Yuba City Mall doesn't have a bookstore in it; I don't believe this is because of Amazon. Nope. I just don't think people read anymore.
Not convinced we are slipping into barbarism yet? Here's another hint: the Yuba City Mall has a Yuba City Police Officer Station located within it. Is this meant to deter the Goth Teenagers hanging around, looking like they might pull out an Uzi at any minute? Or is crime so common now that the Mall is the perfect place to report a break in, while you head off to a shop to replace the item stolen? I don't know; I don't like it.
I stopped at a T-shirt store. Most of the T-Shirts were promoting gang type items: NorCal (which must be a gang) and Biker themes.
When I was in Costa Rica last January, I had some time to kill in a market in Buenes Aires. I wanted to buy a Che' Guevara T-shirt there, cause, well, I was in Latin America and it seemed to be the thing to do. I did find one, but had too difficult of a time trying to figure out how to wrangle for the shirt. Plus a drunken guy was following me and I didn't feel like accessing my money belt. So I didn't buy it.
At the T-shirt store in Yuba City, they were selling a Che' T-shirt. I bought it. Seemed fitting somehow. Why?
Because malls have become such empty places (literally and figuratively) that a bit of Revolutionary Fervor just might be the remedy. Yes, Che' promoted violence. But, at the same time, he has now reached almost Sainthood status. And Latin America has benefited from their leftward turn. Literacy rates are up; life expectancy is up; hunger is down; in short, there has been a vast improvement in the lives of poor people in Central and South America where experiments in socialism have taken root. The people are benefiting with almost no recognition of the fact in the United States.
I'll wear my T-shirt with pride.