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Minions and Malls - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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Minions and Malls
We don't get out much- and when we do, it tends to be to the Usual Places: restaurants we've liked and are loyal to, and most films at two or three close-by cinemas.  Today, though, for a couple of reasons, we ventured one town over- to see Minions, and to redeem a pile of coupony-giftcardy things for Eleanor's Birthday Eve dinner.

The film was fun- just as it would've been at the Regal nearest us or the AMC with comfy sofa seating. And the meal at Longhorn was good, but hardly the "destination dining" it aims to be; some guy was actually taking phone camera pictures of the cowboy-silhouette framing along the wall behind us because, goll-eee that thar's ART! Or something.

But the strangest part of the experience was just navigating the 2015 world of shopping malls. Around here, that mostly means the Galleria- the biggest, the most exclusive, the weekend destination of thousands of Canadians, and one which, somewhere in the vastness of its bowels, manages to hide an entire movie theater.

----

Oddly enough, Eleanor and I were probably among the first few hundred people ever to set foot on the hallowed grounds of the Pyramid of Cheektowaga.  Pyramid is the name of the multistate mall developer that still owns the place; I knew them from Ithaca, where they plopped a much smaller but still controversial downtown-killer in the then-wilds of suburban Lansing; the Cornell and hippie crowds opposed the effort, passing out Pyramid Mauls bumper stickers which we'd later have fun counting on cars in the mall parking lot.  I participated in some random acts of outrage against the mall machine over the years- helping to soap a water fountain outside the mall entrance to a department store one year, and not snitching when a high school friend of mine routinely used the ticket-window phone at the Pyramid Mall cinema to make long-distance and even international calls on the pretense that he needed to "call for a ride." (I suppose in theory a London cab or rickshaw could've shown up eventually.)

Pyramid had not yet begun building the Galleria when I first moved here, but after I met Eleanor back in our Rochester days, she worked in the construction department for Sibley's, a WNY department store that was the first to build on the Galleria site. We drove out here one day to check out what was then a nearly-ready standalone store waiting for a mall to be built on the back of it. The roads were mud where there were roads at all, and it was a surreal experience, all in all.  Over the years, the thing grew like topsy, reducing most of the other area competition to pages on deadmalls.com (where, ironically, the Pyramid Mall in Ithaca now subsists) and filling its parking lots with the old clothes of Canadians who change into their new ones so they don't have to pay duty on them.

I've been in there maybe a dozen times in the 20ish years since we moved here, usually under duress. It's got the only Apple Store in the area code, so that's taken me there a few times. And I think I came for a free film once, but I only vaguely remember it being on the second level and somewhere near a food court.  Today. while there is a traditional one of those upstairs, most of the Galleria haute cuisine is now in a separate area reached mainly from the car park- the Cheesecake Factory/P.F. Changs Row of Gluttony.

Today, though? I had NO idea where the cinema was inside this monstrously large complex- and nothing from the outside was telling, either.  We saw only one road sign listing the major anchor stores (including Macy's, the eventual successor-by-merger to that longago Sibley's store), but nothing on it said where the theater was. Nor was there a sign anywhere on the outside of the complex. Eventually we pulled into a space and I tried googling it, with no luck. Maps only told me where the mall itself was, duh, and Regal doesn't display a local listing for the multiplex but just shows a nationwide toll-free number. (I wonder if you can still call Hong Kong from the ticket window and order beef chow mein to go;)  So we resorted to old-fashioned technology: I rolled down Eleanor's window and we asked somebody.  She pointed us to Dick's (the most behemoth sporting goods store you'll ever see), up the escalator, down past three aisles of wretched excess, and finally, right before the Sears, a turn to Tinseltown.

It was easier finding our way back, easier still getting across Walden Avenue to the steakhouse (though Google still sadly identifies it with another casualty of Dead Mall Days:



That dead store is boarded up (see what I did there?), with promises of yet more restaurants COMING SOON on big signs. Funny how they do a better job on the signs telling you what isn't there than what is.

We got back on the 90 and passed the whole overdone complex on our right. Eleanor said it reminded her of a Hollywood back lot with just mockups of storefronts- all the glitz without any of the substance.  All that's lacking is a Howard Johnson's with ONE FLAVOR:(
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yesididit From: yesididit Date: July 21st, 2015 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
maybe he was taking a picture to make fun of the horrible cheesy decor?
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