A Clear and Present Danger, with Valet Parking

South Coast Plaza is more than just another gleaming temple dedicated to Mammon and all his works, it's The Ultimate Shopping Resort. I know this because that phrase is a registered trademark of South Coast Plaza. So, legally speaking, South Coast Plaza is The Ultimate Shopping Resort®. But as Dickens' Mr. Bumble reminds us, occasionally “the law is a ass”.

News arrives from Bloomington, Minnesota, that the Mall of America, already the country's biggest mall, has announced plans for a major expansion. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The proposed changes, most of which were expected, are part of a broad effort by the Mall of America to appeal to an older, more urbane shopper.

“The first phase [of the mall] was geared towards families with young children,” said Dan Jasper, public affairs director at the Mall of America. “Phase II will have a more upscale, elegant feel, and it will appeal to a wider range of shoppers.”

Clearly, this an act of aggression. In the “Plan Your Visit” section its website, South Coast Plaza, lists hotels, ranging from the somewhat elegant to the overwhelmingly elegant, as an aid to those centering a vacation around the mall. At the Mall of America, “The Phase II expansion will include four hotels with 1,350 total rooms.” SCP tempts visitors by declaring: “South Coast Plaza is more than just a shopping mall. It is a luxury destination filled with exclusive shopping and events and surrounded by art, shows, music, and other entertainment.” The mall's website even provides driving maps showing the adventurous shopper looking for “a more enriching visit” how to reach those surrounding delights (just like all roads used to lead to Rome, all the maps lead to and from SCP). The Mall of America, on the other hand, is surrounded by Minnesota, but makes up for that by ensuring that the shopper need never leave the mall. It has its own amusement park. As for culture, a 6,000 seat performing arts center and a museum are planned for the expansion: “The performing arts center will feature live orchestras, among other acts, and the museum will have traveling exhibits.” There are also plans for a large dinner theater, which the Star Trib describes in terms Minnesotans can readily grasp: “At 74,000 square feet, the dinner theater will be nearly as large as a Target discount store.” Nearly as large as a Target discount store… Clearly, the real target is unchallenged mall superiority.

The danger a Mall of America expansion poses to Orange County should be obvious. True, it's nowhere near South Coast Plaza, and true, the expansion hasn't even been approved yet by local officials, but in the Era of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld none of that matters. Threats, no matter how lacking in a factual basis, cannot be allowed to develop. After all, if we had waited for an actual threat to develop– or even to become a reasonable possibility– we would never have invaded Iraq. And according the Bush administration, that's worked out pretty well. So, on to Bloomington, brave patriot consumers of Orange County– it'll be good practice for Iran.

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