Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shopping Centres: The case for and against.

He says: Shopping Centres are great places.

She says: Shopping strips give me what I want.

Let the discussion begin!

* I can't believe the reader turn out, considering it hasn't even been advertised.
People prepared to rot while waiting for the first post.

She says: I'm amending my position to:

"Shopping centres! Woah! What are they good for? Absolutely NOTHING!" or "I really don't like shopping centres."

Let me prepare my case, but in the meantime, here's a little baited hook. The main reason I don't like shopping centres is because I don't like the types of people who hang out there. Sure, I like to watch Kath and Kim as much as the next person (although, yawn, a little old now, n'est-ce pas?) but the people. Oh, my lord, the people. And they look like they think there are in the Best Place in the World. It's like, I can die now. I am at Southland. All is well in my world. I will go to Southland if I have to, ie to get my Chanel foundation at David Jones, but it's in and it's out. No loitering at the pretzel stand, no leisurely browsing of shops. IN AND OUT.

He says: The appeal of the shopping centre is the convenience. One stop shopping is only part of the experience. We used to head indoors during the hot months, not to purchase anything, but to gather, chat, sip Caffe Latte and watch the passing parade of shoppers. Getting compliments from passing grannies for your baby daughter's wonderfully curly hair, others coochy cooing our baby son.

The shopping centre is not only a commercial palace, it's a meeting place. It's a study in human behaviour. Different centres have different characteristics. Highpoint has a different socio-economic feel to Doncaster. Chaddy and Eastland are poles apart. The crowds are different and the sounds are different. I like stopping and watching and seeing what people are doing, what are they buying, what they are wearing. Where else can you go to find a mish mash of humanity?

On the shopping front, the fact that I can find pretty much everything I need in one location is a great thing. I know exactly when these stores are open, there is no pot luck in driving long distances to a shopping strip on a saturday and finding everything is closed at 12pm.

Gotta go now. Lost my train of thought....

She says: I don't need the validation of others to confirm for me how ace my child is. I don't want grannies from GOD KNOWS WHERE pawing my princess. You want respite from the heat? Go swim in a pool. You want mish mash of humanity, go to Victoria Market, or Footscray Market for that matter. Much mish mash at those spots.

Shopping centres are soul-less, soul-less places. Much like casinos, they have no natural light so you can spend hours without realising the time. That's what they want you to do. Stay longer, spend more money, sit on a bench with a pretzel and die there. Move in, everything you need is there. Shelter, food, clothing. But no food for the soul.

I grew up with Chadstone as my local shopping centre. Now that it's the "fashion capital of the southern hemisphere," and despite the fact that it doesn't have Katie Fisher as its face, Chaddy would be my pick of shopping centres if I had to pick one in Melbourne. Sure, I go there sometimes. Sure, I get excited by the fashion and shoes. And yes, I can get my Chanel products there too. But even so, I would rather go to the local shopping strip and have a mini-chat to the g'day mate butcher who once gave me a couple of extra lamb chops for free, to the really nice Italian lady at my green grocer's who smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day, and quake in fear in front of the severely-made-up eastern European women who man the counter at the deli. Their eyebrows are seriously scary.

But back to the mish-mash. To me, shopping centres have no mish-mash. It's all mish-mish. Everyone is the same. Cloned teenagers [well, they are aren't they, wherever you find them] cloned mothers with prams, cloned men, and dull shop assistants. Their life blood is being sucked out of them, by being in those places. You can see it in their faces, they're dying.

But you know I'm glad they're there. Because that means they're not where I am. Most of the time.

He says: The last time I looked up at the many and varied shopping centres I've frequented, the roof was made of glass, natural light pours through.

The shops are there to tempt you much the same as any shop in any street or market stall. Every shop is after your money, therefore, just because they are located in the one building doesn't make them soul less.

As for the people in them, I've never had a issue with them. Security patrols the walkways, giving rowdy teens the evil eye and they back away quietly. No such security in the streets. Bag snatchers and pick pockets prowl the markets waiting for a slip up and the bam, your wallets gone.

Another great thing about the indoor space is the lack of pollutants. One of my pet hates is sitting at an outdoor cafe trying to suck in some fresh air, but all you get is a lung full of someone's Holiday 40's full tar, or the diesel exhaust from that mack truck that just crawled up the narrow street.

PS: I checked out Knox today, the Thomas Train is gone. Sorry I'm not craig.

She says: Hm, I'm not sure where to go with this. About the light, though, the sunlight you say is streaming into shopping centres, I just don't know about that. Yes, if I looked up, there might be glass, or an opaquey plastic, way way up in the heavens. But it doesn't feel like it, you can't get the breeze and the sun on your skin. And the souless-ness of shopping centres, there's no character, all the boxes next to each other. It makes sense for me to say I'm a classic type of house-admirer, rather than modern, I like character, history, age. I don't really like things that are overly sanitised. Which can be the feel of shopping centres. Some are grimy and feel dirty though, the less salubrious ones which we won't mention here.

I've never had a problem with the people either; the 16 year olds with prams don't even see you, as they make beelines for the diva store. This is not at Southland; this is at an unnamed shopping centre beginning with F and ending in Stone. But oddly, I don't think I've ever seen the security guards to which you refer? Curious.

I've never had my bag snatched or wallet stolen at any market or street shopping strip in Australia. But to be fair, never either in a shopping centre. Or on a tram. Or in a restaurant or pub.

Finally, you're right about the lack of pollutants. It can be very annoying being outside and being assaulted by all manner of irritants. But ultimately, I find the amount of irritants in shopping centres outweigh those I find at street shopping strips or markets.

I rest my case. Next topic?

Friday, July 07, 2006


What's it all about Alfie?

I was thinking the other night about a new type of blog. Nothing earth shattering, just something to get me interested in blogging again. I've lost my mojo. One of the contributing factors being that my office is freezing and I don't like spending hours hidden away from the rest of the family. The other factor being that I'm just plumb out of ideas, so I came up with this.

The idea is that MG and I will pick a topic, could be anything, and then we'll draw straws or toss a coin to decide who will take the affirmative and who will take the negative. This could mean arguing for a point of view we don't believe in.

What type of topics will be covered. Well it's my intention to cover many aspects. I don't particularly want to focus on the same issues all the time.
Example: The Tour De France is an exciting event. That was a penalty! Abu Bakir Bashir should still be in jail. Energy concerns, will Nuclear solve all?
Get it?

Hopefully it'll read ok, possibly generate some discussion. Let's see how it goes.

Format: We will post the topic for discussion, which side of the argument we will take and then we will argue out points via the comments section of each post and only allow viewer comments after we've completed the topic. Ideally we'll post a new topic on weekends and close the topic mid week.

In addition, if you would like to suggest a topic for discussion, leave us a comment or send an email to "opinionfreezone @". *

* remove the spaces around the @ symbol.