The almost-tragic rootlessness of the (North?) American psyche is mightily exemplified in a New York Times article on The Mall of America. A snippet:

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the problem: We are reliably informed that whatever part of the economic crisis can’t be pinned on Wall Street — or on mortgage-related financial insanity — can be pinned on consumers who overspent. But personal consumption amounts to some 70 percent of the American economy. So if we don’t spend, we don’t recover. Fiscal health isn’t possible until money is again sloshing into cash registers, including those at this mall and every other retailer.

In other words, shopping was part of the problem and now it’s part of the cure. And once we’re cured, economists report, we really need to learn how to save, which suggests that we will need to quit shopping again.

So the mall we married has become the toxic spouse we can’t quit, though we really must quit, but just not any time soon. The mall, for its part, is wounded by our ambivalence and feels financially adrift.

Malls are Nacirema and Naidanac writ large, revealing all the brassy crumminess and deficiencies of taste that these societies celebrate in architecture and mass consumption (how’s that for blanket indictment?). Take a wander through, and peek into for daily doses of mallery. Note that malls are the quintessential securitized Panopticons, bristling with CCTV and private police forces. And don’t let’s get started on mall food, probably the greatest concentrations of high-fructose corn syrup dispensing on the planet (and of deep fat frying too). And mall music…

…described as “pop contemporary adult hottest hits.” South Avenue collects the upscale, chic stores and pipes in “rock adult album alternative.” East Broadway is supposed to feel contemporary and gets “pop adult contemporary/modern.”