Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ghost malls, the denudation of place, & The Process

Hmm. Been a month since my last post. Guess I fell out of the saddle and have had a hard time getting back up in it.

Since I was in Jersey a couple weeks ago and had an appetite for the ramshackle (having recently digested Sputnik Photos' Lost Territories Wordbook during a visit to Poland), I paid a visit to the The Shops at Ledgewood Commons, colloquially called the Ledgewood Mall.

If there was any mall in Morris County, New Jersey destined to become a ghost mall, it was Ledgewood. Of the three indoor shopping plazas in the immediate area (less than half an hour's drive away), it was the obvious runt. You really only took a trip there when you had last-minute Christmas shopping to do and lacked the strength for another plunge into the yuletide vortices at the Rockaway Mall, or when your budget restricted you from patronizing the upscale mall at Short Hills. Ledgewood didn't even have a food court, and was in a one-story building. In retrospect, the surest sign of its moribundity (even before the Great Recession revealed the depths to which the irreversible rot had seeped) was that Starbucks never bothered with colonizing it. Seattle knew which way the winds were blowing in Ledgewood.

I only remember four of the shops that used to be there, and of them I only remember one by name: Hero Town, the area's premier destination for Magic: the Gathering cards, comic books, and Warhammer 40,000 miniatures. Directly across from Hero Town was an arcade, and for a while it was a pretty good one: in 1997 it had X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, Samurai Shodown 2/Metal Slug/Bust-a-Move, Gunblade NY, and Time Crisis cabinets, and the legendary Twilight Zone pinball table. When I needed a break from Magic during the Wednesday night Arena League sessions at Hero Town, I'd go see if anyone was playing X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, and then head down the corridor to a little eatery that sold hot dogs and Jolt Cola for a dollar each. Most of the other warbling 13- and 14-year-old misfits opted for the nearby pizza shop, where they'd park at a table together and peel open Alliances and Mirage booster packs.

Now that I think of it: none of the shops I patronized in Ledgewood were franchises.

Holy time warps, Batman! I just found a zombie website (last modified in 2007, but clearly much older) listing local businesses in North Jersey. Most of its images are broken, but one of the extant pics is a photo of Hero Town from when it was alive and well.

Quaint memories.

Here's what the Ledgewood mall's interior looks like as of June 2017: