The malls are the soon to be ghost towns
So long, farewell, good-bye. --Modest Mouse
There are two ideas that come to mind when I think of Palm Springs. It's nice to be my age, because I have two ideas and three stories. One of the stories involves dirtbikes and golf bunkers, but that's another story. This is about one of the two ideas, that I am naming the Palm Springs Phenomenon. It is prompted by a headline I read off Facebook. The whole story is here.
The song 'Teeth Like God's Shoeshine' asks the question "Do you have a lot of what you need to survive?" We do, for the time being. We also have a lot of stuff we don't need. It's rather odd to think that there are people on the planet who will never have a garage, much less enough junk to have a garage sale. But when you're rich in America, you have an estate sale when you get low on cash and you don't want to sell the vacation house. Or maybe the vacation house itself is part of the estate sale. When I had money to burn and a house less than chock full of requisites, the Spousal Unit and I would go hunting for garage sales and estate sales. I'm not ashamed to say that it took over 30 years of working in my career before I had enough credit to afford the furniture that all the marketing in the world made me lust after. Now I have the big leather sofa and love seat. Thanks Synchrony Bank!
But isn't this a nice virtuous circle? As soon as I could afford that cowboy comfort, I put the old sofa out on the curb and it was gone in a couple days. And so it makes me think of Palm Springs with its strip of art shops. Now I've met and talked to a few antiquarians and art & crafts dealers and I know that they do what I did, which is troll estate sales for great buys. So it suddenly occurred to me that the Palm Springs strip was very much like other such quaint little expensive business districts. They are right on a main drag which is the first major boulevard that runs parallel to some hills. Hills are where the rich people live, and it's convenient for the ladies of leisure to drive down the hill to the shopping place, indulge their peculiar senses of taste and buy expensive crap to tote back up the hill and show off in their living rooms, parlors and salons. That is until such time as they, die, go broke, or run out of space and donate such queer objets d'art to some charity. Or have an estate sale. Then it's right back into the hands of the not so rich lady who runs the antique shop.
Now surely there are some other virtuous loops of free markets I have left unmentioned. We don't want to give them short shrift, but this particular idea gains significantly in resonance to the affairs of the common man when whole retail chains find themselves on the auction block. On my last trip to Chicago, I learned that Mr. Aaron Montgomery Ward was quite a heroic figure. At least the plaque in that park I read gave me the decided impression. I would like to have as nice an epitaph as he. But what if the luxury of shopping disappears altogether for the common man? What if some large portion of us who think we are economically significant are just working bullshit jobs on Palm Canyon Drive? What if some large fraction of America are just wannabe antiquarians thinking we add value? Well, that would be frightening.
I suppose we all get displaced sooner or later. Enjoy the bright lights while they're still shining.