Daily Archives: May 14, 2023


Topographia (top-o-graf’-i-a): Description of a place. A kind of enargia [: {en-ar’-gi-a} generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description].

The Willow Harp Mall. Who the hell named this place? Willow Harp? What. Where’s the harp. Ok, there’s giant 30 foot high plastic resin harp outside the mall entrance. It has speakers inside it that play “Over the Rainbow” over and over, non-stop, day and night. But that’s not all. There are flashing lights in the harp’s sound board that flash off and on in accord with “Over the Rainbow.” And then, there is a circle of scraggly plastic willows “planted” around the giant fake harp.

Once you got into the mall you had to deal with the slew of punks that gathered there in the summer when school was out. Give our town’s total lack of anything remotely interesting to punks, they were left with the mall. They gathered in clumps, some of them making out with each other, others sitting stupefied on the latest designer drugs, or blasting Rap music about killing each other. Once you waded through the teenage throng, you were faced with a material extravaganza—all of it for sale. As you push further into the shopping zone, away from the Rap, there is Muzak playing almost imperceptibly in the background. The music is designed to make people buy things on what seemed like an impulse. But it wasn’t. The Muzak was the result of carefully controlled psychological studies. It functioned subconsciously to prompt you to purchase unneeded things. It targets the brain’s acquisition center—the pecuniary cortex, while at the same time stimulating the brain’s Eros escalation channel. The result is nearly the same as falling in love, only in this case it made be in love with a refrigerator, or a soup ladle instead of a person. People would get home with bags of crap from the mall, not being able to account for their purchase, but, for example, feeling deep affection for the salt and pepper set they bought.

Anyway, my favorite part of the mall was the fountain. It had the same lighting scheme as the harp, but without the music. People would throw money in into it to help the homeless people occasionally wandered through the Mall, if they wanted to risk being arrested by the thugs who worked as mall security guards. What that meant was the fountain would fill with coins. I would go “fishing” the fountain and give the security guards 10% of my take. Accordingly, they left me alone as I cleaned out fountain each week. If anybody asked me what I was doing, I told them I was a “Coin Raker” for Salvation Army; that I went around to shoppings malls “collecting” for homeless and indigent individuals and families.

It was a “the greatest scam on earth.” That’s what the newspapers said when I got caught trying to run $5,000 worth of coins through the bank’s coin counter/wrapper. Some skinny guy with a bowtie asked me where I got a trunkful of wet coins. I told him it was none of his business. He called the police. I was dragging the trunk out the front door when the police showed up. I told them I had gotten the coins from under the water. Well, everything came out at the trial. I was found guilty of some obscure crime from a law written in 18th century to to curtail piracy and treasure burying. I was fined $74.00 and given two weeks of community service painting the judge’s house.

Well, anyway, the Mall is the Mall. You can shop there or ruin your life there.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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