Coffee heat rising

Unstuck in Time

Disequilibrium, indeed. More like “unstuck in time,” I fear.

I’ve disliked the modernified Scottsdale Fashion Square for some years. Once a pleasant place to shop in tony venues, in recent years it has been upgraded to “contemporary”…another word for “cold,” “hard-edged,” “noisy and echoey,” “engineered to feel hectic,” and…well…”not a place you’d like to hang out if you had some other choice.” So by and large I stay away from it, because a visit there usually devolves into an annoyance of one sort or another.

But…my MacBook needs some attention. Actually, what it needs is a compatible external hard drive, preferably one designed to work with Mac equipment.

Apple kindly closed its store in Biltmore Fashion Park, which was at least moderately civilized. Their other store, in Arrowhead Mall, is too small for its clientele: every time you go there, you find yourself waiting interminably for help, crammed in elbow-to-elbow with a whole bunch of other glassy-eyed folks who are waiting interminably.

So. Let’s try something altogether different, in the Apple Department.

After I seethed my way back across the city and got back into the house, I searched Google for independent Mac technicians, and lo! Found several. One over at 32nd Street & McDowell answered the phone and said to come on in any day this week.

He said to call in the morning of the day I’d like to meet him and make an appointment then. So…by tomorrow I should have regained part of my sanity — whatever is left of it — and so I’ll arrange to get this thing over to him and get HIM to fix it.

Orrrr… As for the hard drive? Says he: it needs to be formatted for the Mac.

Who knew?

Where was I in my planned rant?

Yes, the uglified Scottsdale Fashion Square. It is a long drive from the Funny Farm through unpleasant traffic: a good 30 to 40 minutes, outside of rush hour. When you get there…I swear…every time you surface over there, they’ve changed things around and fucked things up. Now you have to navigate past a trolling valet parking service to make your way up into a high-rise parking garage. Memorize where you left the car. Find the steps or elevator. Memorize which set of steps you used to get down to the ground floor. Then hike.

And hike. And hike.

The Apple store is ALLLLL THE WAY ON THE FAR SIDE of the freshly ugly mall, forcing you to walk up and down steps, through hectic crowds, past endless kiosks selling junk, all the time accosted by the loudest echoing racket you ever hoped never to have to hear. The atmosphere is cold, snobby, overpriced, hectic, and annoying.

Finally I get there. I tell the service rep I have an appointment. I explain that the Macbook won’t talk to the hard drive so there’s no question of backing up data: it just can’t be done. She gives me a blank look. For all the world, it appears that she doesn’t understand what I’m talking about.

I try again: “I would like to buy an external drive that is compatible with this Macbook — preferably one that is made by Apple.”

Blank look.

After another try, I give up.

Furious, I stalk back to the car and head back out through the ever-evolving landscape that is the ever-Los Angelizing Valley of the We-DO-Mean Sun.


Remember when malls were fun to shop in?

Remember when customer service was not more aptly called customer disservice?

Remember when Apple had awe-inspiring, blow-you-away, superb customer service?

The present angst is, I am quite sure, because I am unstuck in time: a creature of another age. And I can tell you for damn sure, the present age is not one I would like to live through much longer. What a flikkin’ dystopia we inhabit!

Driving homeward, homeward, ever homeward across the east/west main drag that in Ritzyville is called “Lincoln Boulevard” and in mittel-America is called “Glendale Road,” (interesting how rich folk get more characters for the words used to describe their thoroughfares, no?), it struck me that the whole city has changed significantly over the past five or six years. Not as annoyingly or as extremely as Scottsdale Fashion Square, but still…a lot. Mostly, in the regions I drifted through, in the form of gentrification of already pretty damn fancy houses. All along the way, houses have been fancified, dandified, and — often — ripped down and replaced with ultra-modern mansions painted eye-searing white.

Neighborhoods are recognizable, but…different.  The whole city is recognizable but different, I guess. Most of it, anyway.

So… Yah. I guess the issue here is that I’m unstuck in time. Living IN the here and now, but not OF the here and now. I feel like I’m afloat in a fluid reality. That which is real is not what was real.

Some squib on the vicissitudes of advancing senility that I read the other day said that one of the ways to stave off dementia is to drive around new neighborhoods. In this city, driving around old neighborhoods is driving around new ones. 😀 Seriously: it was kinda fun cruising through old stomping grounds that no longer look quite the same, and then sliding through the new stomping ground and finding previously undiscovered short-cuts and pass-throughs. If this activity staves off Alzheimer’s, I guess I’ll be buying a whole lot more gas. For awhile, anyway…

Live-Blogging from the Apple Store…

Here’s a little oddity. For the first time in recorded history, I heard an Apple dude remark (to someone else, not me) that he dislikes the dsytopic, gawdawful site Apple moved to in Scottsdale Fashion Square.

It’s slightly less dsytopic than the one in Kierland Commons. But…welll…nooo…maybe not so much.

Scottsdale Fashion Square, like other upscale shopping malls here in lovely Phoenix, has been “renovated” into a postmodern nightmare mini-world: sharp-edged, ugly, noisy,… Oh, yeah: noisy as Hell! Indeed, if I were to design a new Hell for Satan Himself, it would look just like these hideous malls. And Satan’s throne would be smack in the center of the Apple Store.

These places are designed to reverberate. Every wall, every floor, every ceiling is made of echoic matter: faux marble (who knows, maybe it’s real marble), definitely faux granite flooring, four walls of two-story-high glass. As a result, the noise level is fuckin’ deafening. You can’t hear yourself think, much less hear the poor Apple guy, who has to shout to hear himself.

To add to the din, the Apple store has a guy emitting “lessons”, through a loudspeaker, on how to operate this or that or the other complicated software. This one is “Music Lab,” which generates “music” – I’d call it “noise,” but whatEVER. Right now he’s showing how to create a beat, emanating whacka-whacka-whacka-WHACK whacka-whacka-whack-WHACK at high volume. The latter being required so the two people watching can hear it over the ambient racket.

Just the thought of working here…ugh! It’s unimaginable. These people must go home with a splitting headache after every shift. And consider: we have to drive on the same roads with these harried folk as they trudge back home from a crazy-making day in this place.


Not surprisingly, the Apple Genius (they don’t exaggerate with that…) figures most of the issues have to do w/ outdated software, both the OS (which I’ve had to keep in the pre-Christian era because I haven’t wanted to move to Microsoft’s cloud and so needed to maintain the functionality of VERY old Wyrd and Excel programs). He is, however, the first to know that Microsoft has updated versions of Wyrd and Excel that can be installed as resident on the computer, rather than floating in the Cloud.

He proposes I install these. This will create an Issue, because they’ve been changed so many times over the years that they’re totally alien. Effectively, I’ll have to relearn Wyrd and Excel.

As you know, this will mean a Chinese mathematician will shortly fly in the door waving 30 pages of differential equations and crying “we must turn this into English YESTERDAY!”

At any rate, if a miracle happens and I have a few days before the next client surfaces, I may be able to run out to the campus and get one of the librarians to coach me. Except…it’s coming on to Christmas break, so unless I move fast it may be too late to trap one of them before the semester ends.

In any event, I’ll still have the big iMac loaded with the outmoded but mercifully functional Wyrd, Excel, and various Mac programs, so if push comes to shove I can perch in front of that thing to work. The problem is…sitting at that desk is bone-crushingly painful.

Pray for no work…

Mall as Gym?

So we just knew there has to be something worthwhile remaining amongst America’s dying suburban malls.

And no doubt of it, most of them are dying. Not too long ago, I commented on Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arizona’s answer to Rodeo Drive. That entrancing venue along with an open-air shopping center are about the only retail malls in the Phoenix area that can be said to thrive.

Friend of mine and I made a grand tour of Scottsdale Fashion Square a few months ago and found the commerce pretty lively. The rich, after all, are always with us. And when there’s only one Prada store in the whole state, well…

So yesterday SDXB, who appears to be dying of boredom out in lovely Sun City, announced that he wished to schlep to Scottsdale and spend some time hanging out in that august realm.

We arrived shortly after 10 a.m. and were greeted by — wouldn’t you know? — a friendly concierge, who apologized for all the construction. The place was pretty much torn apart, though the stores were trying to do do business around the chaos. Probably because of said chaos, the place wasn’t as crowded as it had been, but new and even more ridiculously upscale stores had been moved in.

We spent about 5 hours trotting around. Then we went to a couple of freestanding stores in central Phoenix, which required us to not walk but RUN across two  major thoroughfares, twice. By the time we headed home, we had gotten our exercise, free, thanks to a three-story shopping mall and a spread out sprawl of storesl

And therein lies a strange tale:

We observed that all the Majorly Fancy-Pants Retailers — Armani, Bulgari, Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo and a slew of others — are clustered together on the west end of the mall. The middle-brow stores that you’d expect to see in an ordinary shopping mall anchored by a department store or two are banished to the east end of the mall, down by the entrance to the movie theater and the greasy-smelling food court.

Hm. Interesting strategy. In effect, they end up with two malls: Rodeo Drive on the Desert and yet another plain-vanilla shopping ghetto for boring chain stores full of Chinese products: J. Jill, Ann Taylor, Express, and on and mind-numbing on.

Remains to be seen how that will work out. Personally, my guess is that most of the custom will go to the elegant stores, and the Chinese-junk stores will languish. Why even bother to go out to buy that junk, when you can order it on line? But why not go out and buy from a Brighton or a Cartier when you are Mrs. Gotrocks, you can afford it, and you have nothing else to do? And no, you’d never be caught dead in a dowdy piece of J. Jill fatlady junk designed to fall apart in six months?

How d’you think this will go, dear readers?