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The regular business hours are

9 am to 9 pm.

The hours span the life of the commercial district; the pedestrians on their way to work or returning home, the loitering midday tourists, and the unemployed afternoon shopper. Even at my earliest visits, there have always been people mulling through the 30-40% off merchandise. But not many are leaving the store with purchases. Instead, an apathetic inspection, usually about 30-45 seconds per item, haunts the property like zombies capriciously exiting their gravesite. And the apathy toward the abject CDs or DVDs is

contagious. It isn’t just that each retail product is

a testament of the overproduction of entertainment media today or yesterday, but that the fellow shoppers pollinate your ambivalence by moving from one commodity object to the next, empty handed, silently baby-stepping out of others’ path of ambulation.

Nothing is purchased. Nothing.

Three variatations of Bach’s complete works ironically/paradoxically accompany each

Why am I here? Why are we here?

other on a shelf.

We midday shoppers peruse like we’ve time to kill, as if we know that this carrion will draw no other curiosity.

scavengers. And this attitude of foraging and salvaging, making due with what prevails is

the final hope, the final plan for a capital exchange model. To sell at a loss while going out of competition is the


We are the final

calculated foresight that chose the option ‘bad’ over ‘worse;’ this option is realized in completely utilitarian and ungraceful fashions that could be read as a resentment on behalf of the organism. These businesses have no friends or family to fall back on and their unwanted excess, unlike an individual’s laconic charity in the face of defeat, does not result in generosity or philanthropy . Is it that we in this store are simlpy irresponsibly tempting ourself toward expenditure, irresponsible because our presence here is in lieu of the job from which we’ve recently been terminated? Who’s responsible?

R. Lowell: ‘We are poor passing facts...”

Last night’s experience here was more amiable; the store didn’t have the daylight with which to compete. Pallor skin lit by blue daylight is even more deathly in this masoleum of entertain-

Did anyone ever buy anything at Virgin Megastore?


ment, like phantoms whose eternal quest is both their satis-

faction and damnation. Even at 50% off, the prices are

exhorbitant compared to other stores, several dol-

lars more than Amazon--not to mention infinitely greater than the acute ease of downloading most of the merchandise that is here without leaving the

comfort of your home. Why am I here?

Referential List (for H.D. Thoreau) Bob Dylan, “Blood on the Tracks” [Remaster] Audio Compact Disc, 2004 Virgin Megastore - $16.99 + tax = $18.90 Tower Records - $11.98 + tax = $13.32 Barns and Noble - $9.99 + tax = $11.12 J & R - $9.99 + tax = $11.12 KMart - $9.99 + tax = $11.12 Walmart - $9.00 + tax = $10.01 Amazon - $6.43 + $2.98 = $9.41 = free

The store is separated into

Street level is almost entirely CDs and DVDs, the entrance takes out one corner of the floor, shared with a cantilevered escalator, and the opposite


corner, in contrast with the street side filled with windows, is empty and blackened.


3rd Flo or







You can make purchases on the first


floor; many of the display cases are still full, though without the order each

cooling from recent human hands. The springloaded stanchions obstruct no one. The second floor is CDs and DVDs, accessories, and two specialized corners: classical music and adult movies. Coincidentally, most of the store could be classified into classical movies and adult music.

1st Flo or


and thedisintegrating display cases now


who flurries between the cold register


buy,there is one attendant and another


genre once had. There is no queue to

2nd Flo or


The accessory areas look like hell. Accessories can’t withstand pillaging. They have too specific of display orientation and even the slightest jostle makes them look used, distrusted and, presumably, from its persevering presence,





genres and

categories, definitions and


The classical music section has a man lift in it. While the empty displays of accessory section say there is an end The display cases of CDs and the DVDs , to this enterprise (at least the San archival and intentional, makeFrancisco branch), the man lift evidences a further narrative, one that will guests feel like visitors to this systemacontinue via subcontractors who profess tization scheme more than friendly

ion itself --

observers. Ostensibly, organization of these products was a heuristic device for shoppers locate their purchase

in this catacomb.

arose from a similar, epistemological, necessity.

The classical music section has a man lift in it. While the emptying displays of the accessory section cleaim an end to this enterprise, the man lift purports a further episode, one continued by subcontractors and hired hands who build the beginnings structures of business facilities but also, as is apparent in this case, clean up the remains. After the

store and much of its “essence” is gone, i.e. its merchandise and cultivated aesthetic, this larger industry will temporarily flourish unabashed by visitors. The original service industry, which rose to facilitate this consumer industry, grew out of the latter’s demand and will ultimately perish after its host has died. After the scaffolding will be re-moved, the manual laborers will have but to remove themselves.

most interested me.


The third floor

A lone attendant stands at a register, the last piece on this floor that recalls a former glory. Filling the floor space are groups of empty display cases, mannequins, office supplies (partially used or opened), empty bookcases, chairs, and signage. It isn’t entirely clear where one is allowed access on this floor; the boundary between exhibit and utility has been discarded. Both times I’ve come here the attendant has been busier coordinating with a manager about how much a newly sellable display case or bookshelf should be priced than observing the one or two customers who didn’t turn around at the top of the elevator to just leave. I looked at an unmarked powerstrip from a box of powerstrips and, after the manager deliberated, the price of $15 was declared. Similarly all the items on this floor were overpriced for someone not starting their own small business. Who else would want a display case? Is $95 mannequin is a home decorum price? Another customer base for this formulated as this leviathan crumbled: competition.

Strolling through the final days at Mervin’s and Circuit City highlighted a behavior that manifests itself here as well. Tones of disgust and interest, both intrinsic in scavenging, pervade the store. Rarely is the merchandise purchased; more often visitors return it to the shelf and continue the deríve, as if to stumble upon some deal but, still, the prices aren’t low enough to convince them.

But here a thread of capital’s profit still goes.

The price hasn’t reached the threshold of indifference--in regard to the product, as if purchased out of boredom, or in regard to the financial reality of the purchaser who knows that the cost will change not adversely change that reality. Beyond this threshold is the most interesting state of exchange. It is where there is no clear profit for either party and no clear loss. It is a non-descript and completely immemorable.

Two Deciding Factors of Indecision: -Unclear who is the prey -Unclear if the prey is desperate enough One might expect


There’s still a pulse.

a freneticism to arise between the customer and product, but instead one finds the event horizon of a failed enterprise. Visitors somnambulate through the developing ruin and regardless of outcome, purchase or no, contribute to the havoc. There is no saving the organism at this point. Donald Daedalus, ©2010

Ghost Capital  

Voyage into Virgin Megastore's closing recital