End of the (M) Line
When I first saw this article, "Filling a Mall With Art, and a Few Volcanoes," Metro Mall didn't click in my brain. I was thinking of Queens Center. That didn't make sense. Now, Metro Mall, who most definitely wouldn't have a website, makes complete sense for an impromptu surrealist art project.
My first three years of NYC life, I lived walking distance to the Metro Mall. It was my only pleasure during a soul-crushingly hot summer (I'll have to look back at the temperature records for '98. I'm not sure if it was truly sweltering as I recall, or if I was just experiencing weather shock coming from the NW) without a job or air conditioning.
It was depressing by mall standards eight years ago, so I can imagine the disrepair it has fallen into. I mean, it wasn't a mall. They had a Caldor, which was replaced by a K Mart (it's sad when your anchor store is a K Mart), Levitz, Pergament (like a lower end Home Depot), Fashion Bug, Sam Goodie, and?that might be it. Oh, and Weight Watchers office.
The saving grace was the Waldbaum's, a supremely suburban-size grocery store hidden in the back with a parking lot, wide selection and well stocked shelves. I'd browse the huge big-enough-for-two-shopping-carts-to-pass-each-other-without-incident aisles just for fun (I said it was a disheartening summer, didn't I?). Of course, it promptly went out of business, so I was re-resigned to hitting the dingy, cramped Associated on Fresh Pond Rd. Bah.
I still strongly doubt that Middle Village is a hotbed of cutting edge artistic activity, so it is an interesting choice to stage an art show. (For the record, there's a bus that goes from Williamsburg right up Metropolitan Ave. to this location.) Part of me feels possessive of this near-death mall, like the youngsters shouldn't sully it with their bright ideas. But someone should appreciate its clunky charm before it's demolished or turned into luxury condos. Oh my god, talk about ironically cool.
(As a distracting aside, a coworker recently left to go work for the Queens Public Library system and was assigned to the Middle Village branch, which amused me to no end. It's a bit of a walk from the end of the M line, and I swear to God, is inside of a retirement community. I was always scared of the place. The thought of actually working there is kind of mind blowing.)
Update: Oh, never mind the whole thing. The mall cancelled the show after reading the original New York Times article. Now this makes more sense. I had a hard time understanding how such a conservative, stick-in-the-mud neighborhood would've allowed such a thing in the first place.
Photo courtesy of Forgotten NY.