I’m en route to the mall with my daughter and two friends. It sure sounds rough out there for eleven year-old girls. One classmate, who’d surely scream if they heard what this crew were saying about her, is already putting make up on, which is totally uncool, far worse, she doesn’t know how to put it on right. She is reportedly putting on eyeliner so that there is a gap that is somehow visible. I absolutely would not have cut it as a girl. I’m certain I would have been slapdash in my application of eyeliner.
We’re at the Indigo mall. This is apparently cool. I’ve been through so many new malls in Beijing over the years, from the Friendship Store to this that I’ve lost count and assuredly all interest. This seems in no way discernibly different from the big mall environment I ducked in to on Market St. last week in San Francisco, searching for insect repellent. Comforting, depressing, homogeneity: my country’s malignant contribution to global civilization: the mega mall.
Columbia’s contribution to global civilization includes Cumbia. I’ve got Gregorio Uribe, his accordion and his big band up in my ear buds. I’d seen him at Zinc in the Village two weeks back. It was most assuredly a big band with about eighteen people up on the tiny stage. They tore it up that night and he was utterly charming, articulate. I remember admiring the guitar player’s afrobeat guitar chops that I wish were profiled a bit more loudly on this recorded mix in my ears.
The girls went to the food court. I funded it, but figured I’d cut them some space to enjoy themselves. I’m down at the other food-centric amphitheater. Four floors of restaurants stare out on to some kind of center stage where a Lincoln-log, faux rural Chinese New Year set stands, uninviting, beneath eighteen red lanterns. The windows are tremendous and remind me of the departure hall of every airport built in China, during the last five years.