By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
I love it here at Alameda Square. I have since the moment I found it, thrilling at the static charge of cultures forced to rub up against one another, at the way two and three and four of them, when forced, can become their own whole separate community.
But soon enough, it'll all be gone. After twenty years of fighting, twenty years of struggling, common sense and individuality have finally lost out. What Wal-Mart couldn't do, Brighton Corporation (out of Boise, Idaho) has done, acquiring the entire twenty-acre site in June with plans to raze it to the ground and build a brand-new $25 million shopping center with a Lowe's Home Improvement store as the anchor.
So if you're looking for durian, for congee porridge, a phone card or beauty supplies, for a glimpse into an imaginary America with truly open borders and freedom of movement for everyone, I'd suggest you go quickly. There's no place in this city quite like Alameda Square. And once it's gone, there probably never will be again. — Jason Sheehan
4301 East Virginia Avenue, Glendale
I should hate this place, this monolithic beige testament to all that is bloated and oversized and decadent about the United States of Obesity. The parking lot alone is larger than most parks, vast swaths of sizzling concrete, a gray, endless coffin top for the millions of dead prairie dogs below. At any given time, there are as many SUVs in the parking lot as there are on a mile-long stretch of highway, their pilots busily ducking into SuperTarget for some wares, then to Sports Authority for shin guards before sneaking into Fascinations for a mid-afternoon French Tickler.
SuperTarget sits at the middle of all this, a mammoth keystone in a one-stop capitalist black hole. And yet, remarkably, SuperTarget is one of my favorite places in the city. You can find anything you want here — except maybe disappointment. And even if you were able to somehow find disappointment, it would probably be on sale.
Is it the barrage of beautiful women who are inexplicably always at SuperTarget that so attracts me to this place? They help. Hotties browse the makeup aisles while sexy, irate mothers warn their incorrigible sons that they've told them three times already to cut that out. And, of course, one of the little bastards doesn't cut it out, and the mother jerks him by the arm like she's trying to snap a dislocated shoulder back into place. The kid starts wailing, and I sympathize, because that kid loves being in SuperTarget as much as everyone else. But I don't stay sad too long, because his mother be fine. And here at SuperTarget, you don't have to be a good mother to be a hot one.
Is it the fact that somehow SuperTarget has skirted this state's archaic blue laws and we can buy booze here — actual booze, not the watered-down swill they sell in other supermarkets, strange, produce-smelling places that really ought to be barred from using the prefix "super," they so pale in comparison? That helps, too.
But, really, it's more that SuperTarget is abuzz with activity any time of day.
"It's packed in here," I state the obvious to the employee who leads me to the section containing rug grips that you place beneath carpets to keep them in place so that when your ADHD puppy rips across the kitchen, she doesn't slide the rug out and slam her rock-hard head into the wall. The woman is elderly, kind, with white pants and a red Target vest, and she knows exactly where rug grips are kept.
"This is nothing," she says. "You ought to see it on the weekends." She tells me the place clears a quarter million dollars on weekdays, about $400,000 on weekends.
"Of course, all of that stays at the top," she says with a whisper and a wink. We laugh, oh, how we laugh, and then she bids me adieu to continue my fanciful SuperTarget feast. And what a feast it is — for the eyes, for the senses, for the savings, for the soul! Strolling through the bath section, I notice shower curtains featuring both Hannah Montana and Camp Rock, a Disney film starring those mop-topped little heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers. I briefly ponder which preteen sensation I would rather be naked and soaped-up in front of and decide it's the Jo Bros, because I think I could traumatize them into never singing again. And I'd do it all by leering. A hippie pushing an oxygen tank in his cart comes to the same decision, picking up the Camp Rock shower curtain and offering me a 'sup-bro nod.
I move on, past the Super Soakers, which are soooo much cooler than when I was a kid, and slowly I realize that at SuperTarget, if you pay attention, you can see the stages of life play out before you, in a beautiful, interconnected milieu: Over here is a high-school girl shopping with her mom for sheets to head off to college; in the next row is the next evolution of that girl's life, the clad-yourself-all-in-black-Spandex-eating-disorder phase, replete with flamingly gay male arm-toy to tell her her ass doesn't look fat and with whom she will cruelly judge others; down a little farther is the pregnant version of the girl, outfitting her cart in pink and massaging the small of her back; and finally, at the checkout, is the last stage, the struggling-with-the-newfangled-credit-card-machine-so-that-the-guy-working-aisle-13-has-to-come-across-and-do-it-for-you phase. After that, the girl/woman/mother/old woman will return to the earth whence she came, perhaps to be reincarnated as one of SuperTarget's ever-well-functioning carts.