The Beverly Center

One could be forgiven walking down my rather suburban street for not realizing they’re in a major city, or anyway, a major county that for all intents and purposes is one big city. I forget it myself sometimes. The nearest reminder of LA’s gargantuan size is the Beverly Center. It’s an 8-story shopping mall that takes up four full city blocks, or would, anyway, if the streets were straight. Its gravitational force is such that other, smaller malls have been sucked into its orbit, so we wind up with the Beverly Connection, measuring a mere 2 stories, across La Cienga Blvd., and some kind of mall-strip/mall hybrid across 3rd Street.

Nothing so big and idiotic could exist outside a major urban center. It’s the nearest indication to my house that I do indeed live in a happening place.

And it’s a mall. It’s a god damn shopping mall. A great big 8-story symbol of suburban living.

That’s LA for you.

This was all well and good until I went inside. I was in the neighborhood, and I needed to buy the new Bob Dylan and Yo La Tengo CDs. The Beverly Center has over 120 stores. Number of them that sell music? None.

That’s okay, I say, I’ll just check out the bookstores. Oops. Among the 120, there isn’t a single bookstore.

Well, at least I can check out one of those goofy gift shops like Spencer’s, right? The ones that have an endless suply of “Over 40” and/or fart-related jokes to print on coffee mugs? Nope, none of those either.

There’s nothing there except overpriced clothing stores and overpriced restaurants and one movie theater that the locals claim is terrible. There is one store worth visiting, which is Brookstone, a must for every weary traveler in need of a mildly uncomfortable mechanical back massage. But I couldn’t find it.

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