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Started: 2006-10-13 21:15:22

Submitted: 2006-10-13 22:54:11

Visibility: World-readable

The mall is dead.

Long live the mall.

Once upon a time, there was an indoor mall in Boulder called Crossroads. This mall was built in a long-forgotten era when indoor spaces were popular, especially in the frigid Colorado winter. There were two stories of shops, several large anchor stores, and a food court. And, of course, plenty of parking.

Then the mall fell on hard times. The City of Boulder, the developer, and the land owners all pointed their fingers at each other. The mall gradually closed; the last time I visited was spring 2003, when there may have been a dozen stores open. By the end of 2004, the only store left open was Foley's; the rest of the mall was being demolished. By spring 2006, Home Depot opened (a "big box" store loathed by yuppie Boulderites). Today "Twenty Ninth Street" (officially spelled without the necessary hyphen between "Twenty" and "Ninth") opened.

(For a slightly more informative history of Crossroads, try this article. Visit Bug me not for logins to all those obnoxious sites that want you to register.)

Yesterday Scott instant-messaged me a link to the new Apple store in Boulder, advertising one important feature: Free t-shirts to the first 1000 visitors. I concluded Boulder had enough Apple-loving yuppies to monopolize the t-shirts, so if I were to waste time and show up for the store opening, I had better show up early.

This morning, I weighed my transportation options and decided to go entirely alternative; I wanted to take the bus (so I could work along the way) but have self-directed transportation when I reached Boulder. (My normal means of transportation are to drive to the bus stop in Longmont, or to drive all the way into Boulder. My employer provides a sexy free parking pass and a sexy free bus pass.) I biked to the bus stop, answered bouncing's phone call along the way (he apparently didn't get my e-mail responding to his e-mail responding to my e-mail trying to formulate the plan), and took the Bolt bus into Boulder. (For some reason I can't quite comprehend, RTD has renamed many of its numbered and lettered routes with single words with no special meaning.) I met bouncing at Folsom St. Coffee Company, which he claims has the "[b]est coffee in Boulder"; I presume he would know, since he works remotely from a random assortment of coffee shops. We carpooled the few blocks to Twenty-Ninth Street and wandered around until we located the Apple Store, which wasn't at the address indicated on Apple's website, nor was it in the location indicated by the Aquaesque circle on the otherwise-crude map of the new mall. We eventually located the store and its queue; a few minutes after 0900 (an hour before the scheduled opening), there was already a good-sized crowd.

I called Apple partisan Swinyar, who decided to take the day off, giving us a few minutes to talk. Although we read each other's blogs, so some of the conversation was references to web content we'd already read. (For the record, Boston is a nice place; last fall, my previous employer funded a series of trips to Boston. Despite getting two flights canceled on one trip, I still managed to have a pretty good time and see a good bit of the city. And, as of a week ago, I now have my tour books and maps back from my former coworker to whom I loaned them. I may have forgotten to post this publicly (although I did mention it in this restricted-reading entry); Bethany is currently in her first year at MIT's Sloan School of Management.)

Uh, right, back to the Apple Store Opening. Immediately behind me in line was an Apple Store opening junkie; he had been to all of the openings in Colorado and carried a Canon digital SLR. I took pictures, including the store I was standing in front of, next to the Apple Store, which had a sparsely-attended ribbon cutting ceremony where the outrageously-sized scissors wouldn't cut the ribbon.

At 1000, the doors opened and the line started moving as the crowd flowed into the store, cheering and high-fiving the army of salespeople who showed up for the event. We made it in as part of the first group. Inside the store was the largest collection of Apple hardware I've seen in any one place before (even eclipsing the computer labs in high school): iPods in front, followed by Mac Books; Mac Minis on the right, Mac Book Pros on the left, iMacs around the edges. I drooled over the expensive Apple notebooks (I dream of triple-booting -- or just virtualizing Linux and Windows under MacOS) and snapped pictures with abandon before leaving after ten or fifteen minutes inside the store, picking up my boxed t-shirt on my way out. It's extra-large, black, with an Apple logo on the front and the text "Twenty Ninth Street" (sans hyphen) and "Designed by Apple in California" on the back.

I biked the rest of the way to work, arriving at 1030, with plenty of time to try to figure out how on earth to implement new sparsely-documented features. Which I've been trying to do all week and it hasn't gotten much better.

(In unrelated news, I stumbled across a link for eye heart brains, advertising a zombie crawl in Denver next weekend. It's sort of like a flash mob arranged in advance.)