Friday, February 24, 2006

Culture Stew at Mall America


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If you hear the rumble of bass, drums and quaking riffs from Tanger Outlet Center after dark, do not be alarmed. It is only a series of soundwaves emanating soon from Output Music’s new store along the northerly stretch of the mall’s pedestrian-friendly walkways.
Those soundwaves, percolating in more sanctioned forms in almost every store in the mall shopping to the hip-hopping of piped-in music for a youth culture, already power the sonic environment of consumer culture anyway.
Alternative music culture is pulsing now, and mutating as we speak, into a form of mainstream culture. Anyone who questions this phenomenon needs to replay this year’s Super Bowl, featuring a Rolling Stones’ sound-check at halftime.
Output Music’s move from the main drag of historic Highway 101 will likely be a showcase for local tastes in music, and a venue for pop culture’s original source, which is, some place local, some place small.
“We will open the new store on March 11,” said T.J. Richardson, owner of the store. “We will have a grand opening on March 17 with live in-store music and a concert in the store after the mall closes.”
One curiousity about his entry into the land of name brand outlet stores is Output Music isn’t a name brand. It will be another mom-and-pop-style, one-of-a-kind store in the land of giants. Also, in addition to new titles based on the hard-edged, idiosyncratic music tastes of those who work there, Richardson has also been busy buying used CD collections from dealers all over the coast. Thus, in a rather subtle but revolutionary way, antiques will be for sale at bargain-basement prices along the shiny new main street of retail-priceland.
Some might wonder if Output will be an attractor for too many tatooed, earring-wearing dudes with skateboards. Of course, those same critics need to wake up: Those darned kids, with their expendable income, conquered Mall America a long time ago.

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