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A New Year

Crossroads Mall's Inexplicable Fascination

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 03, 2001.

When elected, President Clinton appointed a highly regarded Republican as Defense Secretary and nobody fainted at that bipartisan effort. As we enter the Bush II Dynasty, where for every lunatic Christian attorney general, a less lunatic democrat is made Secretary of Doily Maintenance in the spirit of what only an idiot would call bipartisanship, it is far more reassuring to view the local scene. Sort of.

About two years after they appeared in earnest, we are still seeing people hawking newspapers on major city intersections. They may or may not limit themselves to only serving the people in the right hand lanes, as they should for safety reasons. After the light turns green, it is really annoying for drivers in the left lanes to come to a halt while some nitwit purchases a morning newspaper around noon. Virtually everything in it is useless at that point. It's dangerous - very - and nobody does much about it.

Further, nobody has yet pinpointed the exact date it became legal for business to be conducted from traffic meridians in Boulder. Worse, it isn't exactly business being conducted, since we can assume that the hawkers get minimum wage and there is no way they could sell enough of the papers to compensate for that. It is advertising, as blatant and worthless as the phony telephone survey calls that arrive around dinner time. Newspapers guarantee to advertisers a certain readership, and they have to be seen making the effort, since we all know that absent sports, comics, and horoscopes - which is to say, everything that is not journalism - nobody would buy a newspaper. Hardly anyone would look at one. A daily newspaper is an environmental abomination, a chimera of political strength, a fraud. It doesn't serve anything except the advertisers' illusions and consumers' greed. A newspaper is fourth after television, radio, and the Internet as a provider of information, even to the poor.

Nothing speaks to this better than our very own Daily Camera's nauseating genuflection towards the acreage that is Crossroads Mall. It does so solely for the advertising revenue a successful mall would inflict on their coffers. For the last ten years, as Crossroads' picked up enough downward momentum to produce a Doppler effect audio track that resonates off the Flatirons, the Camera has treated this incredibly obvious, predictable and boring story as if it were of nuclear war, Middle East significance. Sometimes you would think it of the same importance as World War II or even the Ramseys in the lip biting self concern that the editorialists, who are worse every year, append to their coverage in, rarely, their editorials and always in what they insist is news.

As the cure for cancer, world peace treaty coverage that greeted the opening of Flatirons Mall this year attests, all common sense goes out the window in media coverage of malls. A mall, after all, is simply a collection of stores that either have things people want in accessible formats for competitive prices or they do not. Crossroads did not, and for simple reasons. It was too big to live off just Boulder residents, but it wasn't on the way anywhere for impulse buying from, say, Longmont. The overcrowded streets of Boulder, partially provided by the idiots who want malls and convention centers, deterred the very customers they said they wanted. Boulder, after all, is either the destination or not. It really isn't on the way anywhere. Except Nederland and Lake Eldora. Oh. And Ward.

The best use for the mall would be to consider the proposal that CU take it over and make into housing and parking for students, with shops and clubs that appeal to that clientele. This might prevent them from digging up green land now to accomplish the same thing. Of course, it is clear such a use would not benefit the marketing department in the Camera, so this most obvious and beneficial use is not given much coverage. It would remove the acreage from tax rolls for schools, it would kill all the public private bureaucracies (BURA) that have taken on lives of their own through the years, and the property would become state owned. All of these entities have powerful lobby groups dedicated solely to their perpetuation. Nonetheless, an accurate and insightful investigation of this possibility is missing from the coverage of the fate of Crossroads. Wonder why.