No, let me correct that. It certainly didn't help; it's left me with a welter of conflicting impressions, most of them less than beneficial. I was amused, I was disgusted, I was shocked... in a few cases, I was outright horrified.
I really should fill in some background; what I've said so far has been less than helpful.
The weather today is truly beautiful, the sort of thing I really enjoy. Briskly chilly, mostly blue skies (with the occasional quick shower to keep things from getting too monotonous - the rain actually made things look brighter), and generally pleasant. The leaves have turned all sorts of brilliant fire-hues, and enough of them have come down to provide a delightful carpet upon which to stroll.
I haven't been sleeping well for about the last six months, mind you. No, it isn't illness, and it isn't emotional either - unless you count the general crankiness that a night's sleeplessness induces. No, the cause for my artificial insomnia was construction - approximately half a mile from my apartment, a shopping-center development has been put in place. Trucks rumbling along the street outside my bedroom for much of the night, hauling away dirt, hauling in different dirt, taking away rocks, bringing back other rocks... Heavy construction equipment blaring their 'back-up' beeps; rattles, clanks, and crashes of things being moved, re-moved, and dropped; loud-voiced foremen bellowing at their idiotic accomplices; various bells, whistles, and sirens of different electrical systems. Thank goodness they didn't need to do any blasting.
But, in any case, they're mostly done. (What little remains is mostly interior work, so it won't be as noisy. At least, not from outside the buildings.) Many of the businesses are now open for, well, business. And, considering the nice weather, I decided to do some exploring. What I found left me with mixes feelings, as I've said.
Good Lord 'n' butter, folks, I've been gentrified! Against my will and consent, even!
The place is called Streets of Tannasborne, and it's basically a mall without the mall building; sort of a mall-neighborhood, if you will. It's almost unnaturally clean, especially for a place with construction crews still working in several locations. I suspect street-sweeping crews, and I'm hard-pressed not to imagine gangs of push-broom-wielding sad-faced mimes bound together with ankle-chains being driven through the place at night by whip-wielding overseers. It's just that sort of place. Kind of like the foreign kingdom in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, as filtered through a committee formed of the Brothers Grimm and the Sandman crew.
Anyway, the cornerstone of the whole place is an outlet for Meier & Frank, a three-story cubic-appearing building which appears to have no windows whatsoever. This is a scary image, people. There's something not-so-subtly wrong about it. Fortunately, I can't ever picture myself needing to enter the place, though it will probably feature heavily in some of my darker nightmares - I imagine this is the same type of forboding many people feel about clowns, a phobia I've never particularly shared. There was a pleasant-looking young woman standing outside of the place with a frightening armload of what I suspect were application forms - she was wearing a "dressy casual" business ensemble with that "corporate recruiter" air about her.
Most of the other stores in the place seem to be aimed at the up & coming yuppie crowd - not a book store to be found in the place, or an electronics outlet, or even a music store. I did get a chuckle out of one particular juxtaposition, though - Victoria's Secret, sandwiched between Gymboree and Mimi Maternity. Struck me as either extemely ironic or a serious example of how unthinking community planners can be. I've got to wonder how the management of Gymboree views the placement, though. Not exactly the best message, you know.
I'm not sure what the second biggest establishment in the place is - it appears to be a toss-up between a sports-and-outdoors outlet (aimed strictly at the more photogenic outdoor activities, you understand - snowboarding, mountain bikes, and the like), and that extremely heinous modern evil, Abercrombie & Fitch. A&F was one of the things which most horrified me about the whole place, to be honest. Like all of their outlets, it had those god-awful wall-sized black-and-white pictures of models lounging around looking like an advertisement for a porno version of The Dukes of Hazard, accompanied by racks of clothes that bear no resemblance to what's in the pictures. The clothes in the display windows were particularly bad - denim miniskirt ensembles apparently aimed at girls weighing no more than seventy-five pounds, and not because of anorexia, either. (Sure, you don't promote pedophilia, A&F. If any girl over the age of ten wore one of those streetwalker outfits, she'd be arrested for indecent exposure. Are you certain you don't still have crates of those "naughtily-embroidered" panties in children's sizes somewhere in the storeroom? Those outfits would go perfectly with a set of "Daddy's Little Money-maker" panties, you know...)
Well, I've seen the place, and to be honest, I don't see myself going back any time soon. The place reeked of overly-hyped, glitzy modern degeneracy - it put me very much in mind of a modernized setting for The Picture of Dorian Gray. The only reason I can see for me to set foot in the area again is possibly the restaurants, all of which were too full for me to get into today. P.F. Chang's looks interesting, and I've had a good recommendation from a friend about their martinis, so I may try it at some later date. The Thai Elephant appears to have some appeal, as well, and it's tucked back in a corner so it might not be as crowded, and I've had some good past experiences with Romano's Macaroni & Grill. But other than those three locations, I'm afraid I just don't have any use for the place.