PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Monday, April 30, 2007

That's MY Mall.

I almost went to Ward Parkway Mall yesterday afternoon. I needed to get a birthday & Mother's Day gifts. I would have been gone before the gunman got there, but all the same, it was an eerie feeling.

James was reading one of his bulletin boards, and said, "Three people killed at a Kansas City mall." I didn't quite believe him. "Bannister?" I said. Showing my profiling of the area, but still. I won't go to Bannister mall anymore. There aren't any shops left, and as surrounding stores continue to leave, it's a pretty rough area.
He started searching for the news story.

Right up the street. Six minutes from our house. Two miles. I drive by the mall on my way to work every day. My beloved Chick-Fil-A sits across the Target parking lot. Target, the one I go to sometimes on my way to work. Starbucks. PierOne. McAlister's. PetSmart It's MY mall, goddamn it. OUR mall. Kristin & Justin's gym is there. I scoffed at the first Reuters report that called it "upscale". It's not. It used to be headed for the same fate as Bannister, and then Target came. And the others came, too. And it turned everything around. I was pissed last night. My first reaction was fear, clinging to solitude, isolation, hide from the crazy people with guns. My next reaction came quicker, anger, and it's still there. I won't let fear run my life, I can't. None of us should.

I had a conversation over lunch with an old friend of mine last week, and we talked about the Virginia Tech shootings. I said that our parents, the Boomers, they watched a societal change in their lifetime - hell, they went from no tv to black and white and three stations to plasma color and 1,000 channels. My dad told me about the ice truck that came through their neighborhood, and in the hot summer days, the iceman would give the kids a little chip of ice from the giant blocks, a cool break in the hot Chicago summer. Our parents watched the transformation from 1950's conservatism to a scantily-clad, gyrating MTV miasma. They had many notable shifts from an age of innocence and arguably, simplicity. I believe for my generation - because MTV arrived in our pubescent years, and we eagerly embraced it - our societal change is unexpected violence. Our parents are experiencing it, too, but we were raised with the tube, and everything it brought. We expect violence, but of the calculated cinematic variety. Rambo gets the bad guys. Drive-bys happen in those OTHER neighborhoods. We listen to the music for the cues, that the hero will still exact justice, and protect the American Way. Then 9-11 happened. And Columbine, and then all the other crazy "Let's go wacko and take as many people with us as we can" incidents happened. Yes, they happened before, but they tended to be more family-based. Kill everyone in the house, then take yourself out. Now, public-place multiple-killings have become a new road to fame, a way to tell the world you're really pissed off, that The Man or The Bullies at School are keepin' you down. It's shocking. It doesn't happen in the movies. There's no clear explanation for it. There's no music to warn you. There's no predictor, no way to dodge it.

For three people - and their families - yesterday (the first person was killed at her home & her car was what the gunman drove to the mall), it was an unfair, unexpected fucked-up twist in the fabric of life. The gunman probably got what he wanted, suicide by cop. I'm glad the police were able to get there as quickly as they did, to keep more people from getting hurt and killed. I'll go back to Ward Parkway Mall, and I'm sure I'll feel a little more cautious, be a little more aware of my surroundings. I'll probably feel that way shopping anywhere, at least for a while. Our brave new idyllic world is eroding around us, one gunman at a time.

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posted by PlazaJen, 6:30 AM