Simply 6 Minutes: Wait, What?

Sometimes I see pictures like this and I don’t really know what to say. I mean, is this a lion dreaming about zebras? A dazzle of zebras telling horror stories about a lion? (Seriously, a group of zebras is called either a herd, a dazzle, or a zeal. I like dazzle. You might like something else. To each his own.)

Or is this one of those pictures you have to stare at until you start to see some other image emerge from the chaos? Remember those? They used to sell them at shopping malls, in those art stores that sold framed posters. Seriously, you could buy a framed Ty Wilson print for $75. That’s $74.50 for the frame, $0.50 for the print.

An example of a Ty Wilson graphic, in case you forgot what they looked like. I think this is “Kiss.”

I liked the Ty Wilson posters (please don’t hate me). They were simple, yet he could say so much with just a few lines. It’s not the kind of art you’ll find hanging in The Art Institute of Chicago or MOMA, but it wouldn’t look bad on the wall of your apartment, if you like it. And I do.

Anyway, those posters I was talking about (I guess they’re called stereograms)…

A stereogram

Allegedly, if you stare at this long enough, a different picture emerges from the chaos. Being one of those people that liked to hang out in shopping malls (back when shopping malls were a thing and framed poster stores were a thing inside the mall), I stood for a couple of minutes looking at one of these, and the proprietress (who hadn’t been doing much: even if there’s a lot of mall traffic, usually the last place anyone stops is the framed poster store, unless they need a gift for someone they don’t like) came up and asked me what I saw. I told her "Madonna playing with a hula hoop." I think she was about to say something nasty, but her phone started ringing and as she went to get it, I beat a hasty retreat and bought a big pretzel at Aunt Annie’s and an Orange Julius somewhere else. Apparently, those are still a thing, or they were, anyway.

The retail business has really been hurt by a combination of Amazon, Walmart, and Covid-19. A lot of shopping malls are either dying, dead, or like ghost towns now, and it’s really a drag. I mean, 10 or 20 years ago, you’d walk into a shopping mall on a Wednesday evening and see a lot of people by themselves, wandering around, not really buying anything. Most of them are out of town on business and they’re just trying to kill an evening, maybe grab dinner at the food court, check out the books at B. Dalton or Waldenbooks, browse the clothes at Macy’s or Boscov’s to see what people are wearing, and hey, let’s face it, people watch. Maybe stop in a little shop where there’s a pretty young woman (or young man) working and helping them kill some time….

Christine Bialczak runs Simply 6 Minutes.

23 thoughts on “Simply 6 Minutes: Wait, What?

  1. It took me a long time to work out how to see the image in those photos, but now I know, it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget (lock and 2 keys). But I swear the strain on my eyes is why I have glasses now, lol.


  2. Stereograms are amazing. When I finally figured out how to stare at them the image that appears is amazing and you really wonder how you couldn’t see it before. So cool. Thanks for the contribution!

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  3. I enjoyed going to the mall back in the day then the crowd changed and the parking lot was a scary place, as well. A sign of the times, and unfortunate.


    1. It really is a shame. I worked at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox for about five years, and if you walked out the front door, Lenox Square was on the left and Phipps Plaza was on the right. (The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead was on the fourth.) Those were great places to go. I’m not sure they are anymore. There was a shooting at Lenox Square and stories of people getting robbed in the parking lot, and it just breaks my heart…


  4. When I was teaching biology I purchased many of the stereogram books. I cut them apart and attached them to numbered folders. I asked the kids to tell me “what they saw.” To tell the truth, I rarely saw much of anything myself. It was a fun activity though.


  5. Yeah, malls had a certain charm but the parking lots were scary and even some of the people hanging around. Probably different for a guy. But those parking lots were really dangerous for women–too big and not well enough lit or policed. I like the open shopping centers that are like little towns now but you walk outside. You can still people watch but the parking is safer and the stores nicer. I remember there was this gorgeous pretzel girl that worked in our mall and it annoyed us because all the guys carried on about her. She was pretty and very well endowed. Blonde.

    I like those kind of pictures.

    And I like a dazzle — only thing for zebras.


    1. I think part of the issue is that they’ve cut back on security staff because there are so few tenants paying rent in the mall. They’re trying to operate with as small a crew as possible. Shopping at the mall and hanging out at the mall have become passé. Walmart and Amazon have all but ended the need to get in the car, drive to the mall, and go from store to store to get what you need, maybe stopping at the food court to grab some lunch or dinner. The outdoor malls are a litle safer because there are a lot of people (relatively speaking) walking around. Originally they were all like that…


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