Visit to Maplewood Mall, Wednesday evening, September 23, 2009 from 7:15 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
From my entry on reading the paper about Identity and Malls, this site will not be a suprise. I chose Barnes and Noble Bookstore, a flagship store in the front and center of the Maplewood Mall. I went in and looked over new releases, blank journals, and books on CD. I bought a blank half side journal as I walked in with a small pocket one and they were also on sale. I have a Barnes and Noble membership, so I fed my addiction to paper and writing things down. I walked over to magazines and looked at the science and music ones. I bought a couple to read on topics I have taught on or written papers on. Then I looked at Guitar Magazine, astonished to see Jimmy Page of the former Led Zeppelin group alive and a fairly healthy looking old man on the cover, modeling a new clothes line and holding a beautiful custom built Les Paul Gibson guitar. I had wondered for years what happend to him, and here he was, live and well, lots of long gray hair. I looked around at the people there. Mostly people by themselves, standing or sitting in lounge chairs reading the magazines. Only one young couple having some laughs at some teen or younger adult magazine article. Then I went over to the Starbuck's in the store and bought tea and a pastry and sat down to take some notes. I saw a fellow sit down with his laptop and go to work typing. He was listening to the store public music piped in and seemed to be busy tapping his leg and foot at double time to the music as he hunched over his laptop. At least he would not get a loss of circulation and have his leg fall alseep. Then an Asian couple came in with a baby in a stroller and a young child 3 to 4 walking. They ordered drinks and the guy checked out the car magazines and then came back. Seemed like it was a family night out. They stayed a moment then were off into the larger mall beyond Barnes and Noble. Next a man and woman with white hair came in and ordered drinks. I could not tell the relationship, friends? husband and wife? siblings?
Then watched a man in jeans and a baseball cap come in and go to the car magazines. I could see that magazine area from the table I was sitting at in Starbuck's Cafe within the Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Okay, a magazine here for everyone. They had every possible legitimate topic on the racks. I asked the coffee barristas what time Barnes and Noble and the Mall closed, and they said 10:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., respectively, so I headed out into the larger mall areas for a quick tour at 8:45 p.m. I went to make a pit stop and passed lots of stores and the food court. The merchants at kiosks were closing up, as were some stores. Not a lot of customers, but groups of people from families with kids, to groups of teenagers on their own, in pairs and larger groups walking around. I returned to the main hall area of the mall from the food court and found a bench to sit on. I was writting a lot in my journal. Two women asked me was I writting a journal entry, I said 'yes, for a graduate class.'
In short order, 9:00 p.m. came and shops closed up, then a security guard came over to where I was sitting and said I had to leave. I said certainly and got up and walked back into Stabucks in Barnes and Noble Bookstore, where an unusual thingb happened that I had not expected. It was like the diner everyone goes to after the concert, dance, or the bar closes for the evening. There were all kinds of people that showed up and sat and had soup, food and something to drink. A mom with two young teen girls who were all stylishly dressed and must have been clothes shopping, the gray haired lady and her man/husband/friend. The gray haired lady was hard at work on her laptop while her man read magazines. The guy on his laptop with the twittering, jiggling leg was still there. The music seem like a dreamy teen arrangement with some tamed down Jimmy Hendrix guitar work. Across a divider from me as a high school or college or maybe both woman student. She was hard at work on a paper that looked like it required references and research. Two younger women who looked like they were out of the 1960s were talking animatedlly and then went over to the books area of the store. Twice staff came through the cafe picking up books, reshelving things, checking at the coffee shop. Then came an announcement over the public address system that seemed somewhat like the last call at a bar or the last announcement as an aircraft lands at an airport and the plane is taxiing to the terminal. We would like at this time and so on, bring your purchases to the register, we will be closing at 10:00 p.m. and opne tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. I finished up my 5 to 6 pages of notes and then decided I would take off and head home. It had been interesting. When I was divorced back in 1994, I made regular visits to coffee shops to read and write and hang out. Often I would talk with people I would see there. It seemed like old times in a way. I have heard that coffee shops have kind of a quasi-club-like and community role that they play for society. Sure, you have to buy coffee, but in this setting, I could have pulled books and magazines and read them all evening, hung out, talked to people and passed the time pleasantly.
I do think one could develop some kind of community around a coffee shop depending on how often they went and if they were outgoing and offered friendship to people they might see there over and over again. My best friend and I meet for coffee at various shops in Highland Park and as regulars at these shops have often had some chats with people we meet there, of a variety of walks of life.
For now, that's my entry, Best to you, John