Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Gurnee blog.

Had a fine long weekend, Presidents Day weekend, but I didn't mull the careers of my favorites U.S. presidents: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James Garfield, et al.

Visited the vast Gurnee Mills mall on Monday, way up north toward the Wisconsin border. We needed to get out of the house; we were going to be nearby anyway; we needed an indoor spot; and someplace that didn't charge admission, though going to a mall is always a financial risk. We'd only been there once before, when Lilly was very small. At that time Yuriko bought some shoes, and I first encountered the Rain Forest Cafe. I took an instant dislike to its faux-eco-rain-forest-poison-frog-50-simple-things-earth-day-la-la pretenses, its irritating concept-is-more-important-than-the-food ambience, and its motto, the word order of which tells all: A Place to Shop and Eat.

A real rain forest cafe would have mosquito coils at every table, and urchins coming by to beg. And it wouldn't have a menu like Bennigan's. Have I eaten at the Rain Forest Cafe? Can I really judge it without actually eating there? No, and yes.

I did visit the ailing KB Toys. Lilly and I did. I can't remember if KB was in any of the malls I knew as a youngster, namely Central Park mall and North Star mall in San Antonio. If not, there were stores like it: moderately sized, brightly lit, stocked with toys nearly from floor to ceiling. The market, typically in the form of a Toys R Us, has bypassed KB and its ilk. KB filed for Chapter 11 this month, and has already closed some of its stores.

I bought Lilly a discount-bin Barbie, one she picked out: interestingly, an African-American Barbie. A little diversity for her horde of Barbies, I suppose. Also in the discount bin: a series of hamsterish dolls, named after Brady kids, and dressed like them. I wish I was making this up: their faces were rodent-like Hamutaro imitations, their clothes like "Jan" or "Greg" or some other character in that long-gone and should-be-forgotten show. Who thought this up? What kind of meetings went on before production was started? I suspect most of them will grace landfills soon.


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