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.
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)…
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.