there’s no doubt about it. in the t-town of my youth woodland hills mall was the king and eastland was a lowly prince.
when given a choice, my gang would rather roam the cavernous halls of woodland, which featured a first rate arcade (a little afterburner anyone?), cool smoking pits and hotter hot dog on a stick chicks. but since our homes were situated in eastland’s realm, our parents were often more amenable to dropping us off there.
it’s funny. although i pretty much worshipped woodland and worked for no less than five of its fine establishments (and was even fired by a few), most of my memories are of eastland. it was at eastland’s unrivaled regis hair salon that i submitted to the horrific “body wave perm” and it was the basement level general cinema location that i indulged in my first makeout movie (robin hood: prince of thieves, if you must ask, and no, i don’t remember the girl’s name), endured the worst sequel in the history of film (major league 2. i still remember walking out of the theater, hating omar epps and wondering why they had to make it into a kid’s movie) and got my first glimpse of the tribulation all of those redneck revivalists were always going on about (i still believe terminator 2 was the primary impetus behind my conversion). at eastland we bought cassette tape singles of “every little step,” rummaged through claire’s $1 button bin, finally got our hands on those air jordans everyone was raving about and, yes, bought our oversized chicago bulls starter jackets. even at the time we realized that eastland was a dirt mall, but it was our dirt mall where our middle class, sears and roebuck sportin’ asses could find refuge from the upper middle class pretensions of woodland hills.
why am i telling you this? because i just recently received news that the prince is dead. after a decade of receding sales, decaying storefronts and the heartless defection of hot dog on a stick simon properties has sold my mall to a heartless California developer who is likely to do 1 of 3 things: bulldoze it, re-develop it into an office park or turn it into a spanish language satellite campus for willie george church.
if i was a gambling man, i’d bet on the office park. but in my heart of hearts I hope it becomes a second home for willie george, for, when the revivalist’s apocalyptic dreams finally come true the signature towers will make a perfect perch for the two false prophets and the fabulous fabric covered roof will make a soft landing spot for the whore and her dragon.
for yet another fitting eulogy to eastland, visit deadmalls.com.
for additional pictures of my fast fading youth, peruse the snapshots at lost tulsa.