Monday, March 5, 2012

White Stripes

In just over two weeks the new “City Creek Center” shopping mall will open in downtown Salt Lake City. It rises from the rubble of the Crossroads Plaza Mall. Someone important obviously believes that this is a good place for an upscale shopping mall. That person is god, and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints has bought high-rise-covering photo-billboards to display 100-foot-tall-lithe models in expensive clothes stylishly ignoring the words “Opening March 22nd 2012”.

The CCC will have foliage-lined walkways and its own creek. In my mind’s eye I pictured self-doubting poets in hip-waders fly fishing rainbow trout in the coiffed indoor waterway, but that would probably go counter to the developer’s general rule for behavior in the mall which bans: “any activity or conduct which is detrimental to or inconsistent with a first-class, family-oriented shopping center.”.

The developer has excreted the foundations for high end malls all over the US, and this general conduct rule is essentially word-for-word like those it created for its other endeavors. Unlike its other endeavors the entity that owns the mall and is co-developing it through their wholly-owned subsidiary called Property Reserve Inc. has a history of using rules that promote such general authority to regulate activities that many would not find objectionable.

The owner of the property is the LDS church. The church owns and operates many secular profit making businesses, but I am unaware of any others as large as the 20-acre CCC. Just across the street from CCC is the original Salt Lake City Temple Square. Wandering around it and the adjacent Main Street Plaza are stereotypical Secret-Service look-alikes complete with ear-bud radios sprouting curly wires out of one of their ears. They are the Church Police.

Recently a video of the LDS-CP made national news. The LDS-CP were filmed vigorously explaining to a same-sex couple that the general rules for conduct made their smooching illegal.

The CCC hopes to prevent such problems with their general authority rules by making photography illegal in CCC. Please don’t misunderstand me; there is significant leeway in the interpretation of the conduct rules. The LDS-CP understand that some transgressions are best ignored. The Main Street Plaza is a popular place for marriage proposals, and these sometimes result in some smooching. I’m sure the jewelry stores in the CCC will also be the scene of one or two kisses. There may even be a little tongue from time to time, but just the tip I’m sure.

The old Crossroads Plaza Mall had a Border’s Bookstore whose coffee-shop’s 2nd-floor picture-windows overlooked Temple Square. I joked that the LDS church must have a stripe of self-deprecating humor to allow people to sip a religiously prohibited beverage from a strategic vantage point overlooking their most sacred of places. I quickly looked over a preliminary list of shops for the CCC and saw no secular bookstores or coffee shops; perhaps the stripe has faded?

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