Monday, June 05, 2017

Old Town Scottsdale and the future shock of too much progress

                                                                                                                                                                                                    PNI photo

After being away from Scottsdale, Arizona for at least a decade, the place has changed a lot and right now I'm a little in future shock from all of the designer gloss. Clearly, I do not fit in. An argument could be made that I don't fit in anywhere, but at least my fly-on-the-wall status in life is an opportunity to provide a little counterpoint.

And I probably would not have gone through the trouble of writing this if not for a recent article about a dress code sign in a Chicago uber-pizza place called The Bottled Blonde, which is owned by Evening Entertainment Group, which based in Scottsdale, and has already conquered the Old Town Scottsdale area with about nine different kind of theme venues for the Mercedes-Benz set.

The sign at Bottled Blonde in Chicago, before it was removed due to a wave of Twitter activism for being racist, stated the following: “No Excessively Baggie, Sagging, Ripped, Dirty, Frayed, Overly Flashy, or Bright clothing. No hawaiian, tie dye, floral, skull prints, or anything else obnoxious. No gang attire (leather cuts, colors, or insignias) and no camouflage. No Embellishments or Statement [attire]. No plain white tees, long tees, denim, flannel … or zippers on shirts. … Tank tops before 6 PM only. … No Jordans, Nike Air Max, or Air Force Ones. … Hats must be worn forward at all times.”

There is also a Bottled Blonde in Old Town Scottsdale, so there's the hook, the line, and the sinker. However, while there's a lot more diversity in Scottsdale than there was when I was trying to buy drinks as an underage kid at disco bars, I've also noticed there's very little chance of gang attire being worn anywhere around Old Town, even by white kids.

This is about conformity. There is a certain look so entrenched in Old Town one can hardly imagine "obnoxious" ever existed, even if it could be defined. Men have crew cuts or are bald-shaved. Women wear cleavage. Not sure what else, but I'm sure whatever it is to display it with was bought at an overpriced fashion mall. But the only purpose for whatever is worn is cleavage. That's it. Battleship cleavage propped up for display on incredibly high heels.

These are people who pay retail. You have a bum's eye for clothes? Go to Tempe. Or Flagstaff. Or better yet, France.

Hats must be worn backwards. Eyes must be on two things: either your cell phones or the ubiquitous televisions hanging high up from the ceilings of these places. You could argue every patron gets their own TV, but that's overstating it a bit. But there is a lot of distraction going on in many of these slickly themed youth traps, maybe so you won't notice you are paying six dollars for a PBR or some ridiculous yacht-price for a pizza. 

Oh, and no original live music. People need to be comforted, dancing not too wildly, and most certainly not inspired into any kind of youth rebellion or nuanced emotional complexity.

It begins with the architecture, which is very modern and angled with considerable sharpness. Clearly the people who have had the most fun in Scottsdale are the architects.

The counter-culture may be over, certainly never existed in Scottsdale to begin with, but there are subtle notices of its passing, as well as signs of its legacy in the mainstream. While exploring, I saw a hookah bar and two smoke shops.

Since this is a high-end consumer's oasis, and I'm a low-end guy, I feel pretty invisible during my forays into downtown Scottsdale. The place makes me feel downright Lutheran. I seem to get away with being actual human camouflage.

The vast size of these designer places, blinking in laser bounce and video screens through the windows, reminds me that this is just celebrity longing in full bloom. My post-apocalyptic dystopian eyes always view these things wondering what it will look like when it all dries up and the original dusts of the desert returns. Like tumbleweeds blowing through Disneyland, the un-sustainability of so much progress will eventually get the last good snort.

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