Apr 302015

Today was the first full day it was public that Madison Square Mall had been sold. So how could I not visit?

The vacancy count—the last one I’ll undertake—is 70, up from 57 the last time I checked. It would have been much easier to count the occupied locations. That I specifically noticed, University Collectables, a used computer place, the massage chair place, the slot car track, and the shoe repair guy in the southwest corner are now gone. Mall stalwarts like f.y.e., FootLocker, and Bath & Body Works soldier on.

To lunch. Since my last visit, Sakkio has fallen, as has A Family Affair.


So there are now three functioning eateries in the food court: China King (what it sounds like), Cajun Express (a “Cajun” place serving egg rolls and fried rice), and Greek Gyros. The Greek place is actually pretty good, and the owner is a personable fellow.


There were exactly three other people eating lunch with me in the food court. There were another two young men whose agendas weren’t immediately apparent, but it wasn’t ridiculous to suppose they were less than honorable.

I had gyro smell on my fingers when I got done, but decided I wasn’t going to the restroom. It didn’t feel safe. The desolation is spectacularly surreal.


You could be held up at gunpoint in the middle of the mall and it’s likely no one would see it. If I were a woman, I would not go to Madison Square alone, even in the middle of the day.

With this post, I close my systematic exploration of Madison Square Mall’s decay. That chapter is over. Something new is afoot.

I hope that Madison Square Mall is redeveloped into something that still encourages me to visit.

 Posted by at 9:17 pm
Apr 302015
  • My beloved Madison Square Mall has been purchased, for $5.38/sq. ft., by a Huntsville organization with established interest in effective mixed-use spaces. This is as promising a development as possible, methinks. (Funny; I never considered that a buyer might be local.)
  • I’ve done rather well cultivating a tranquil driving style on my commute over the past several years, but the reintroduction of a daily I-565 stint has been unhelpful. (Wow, can I ever wring some speed out of the Technical Writing Express. It’s all about keeping the engine in the torquey range.) Further growth indicated.
  • Speaking of the TWE, I put a new stereo in it last weekend. The old CD player had quit. (You say “CD? no big deal,” but it kind of is. I really like loading up a bunch of MP3s on a burned disc and forgetting about it.) I’m delighted. I expected restored functionality. I didn’t expect it to sound so much better.
  • Josef Newgarden got his first, but certainly not his last, IndyCar victory this past weekend at Barber. Way to go, man! Many more!
  • No F1 or IndyCar this weekend. I may actually watch Talladega.
  • The sriracha documentary on Amazon Prime video is a kick. Go watch it.
  • Did you know Bonnie Raitt and Michael O’Keefe were married once upon a time? (He was Danny in Caddyshack.) Bizarre.
 Posted by at 7:35 am
Apr 292015

The Grove Huntsville LLC has purchased Madison Square Mall for $5 million in cash from CBL & Associates Properties.

Intriguing indeed. The news of the sale broke earlier today, but we just learned who the buyer was late this afternoon. It never occurred to me that the buyer might be local.

The Grove has two major mixed-use property projects in the Huntsville area already, so it seems safe to assume something interesting and considered is destined for the Madison Square property. Hey, ladies and gentlemen? I had a killer idea a while back. Make this happen!

 Posted by at 6:18 pm
Apr 292015

Driving over the hill into Jones Valley the other day, I chuckled remembering that in high school, Charles and I used to call the section of road I was on “Hell.” We named it that because we drove down there one night when it was really foggy. You couldn’t see anything but the streetlights, and the road maybe 100 feet in front of the car. That was it. If you were trying to come up with a visual for “driving into the hoary underworld,” you could have done much worse.

Why were we going down there? No reason. We rarely had any reason to go anywhere when we’d take these trips. Oh sure, sometimes we went bowling, or to the movies. But a solid percentage of the time, we’d drive 50 to 100 miles in a night with no particular destination. We’d talk and listen to music, but we could have done that in one of our bedrooms, too. What we couldn’t do in our bedrooms was be out.

(And it certainly wasn’t like we had a lot of girl-related activity to consume our respective calendars, unless talking about them endlessly on our junkets to nowhere counts.)

That gasoline was under $1/gallon was certainly an enabler as well. “Five bucks’ worth” these days is a couple of commutes, not an evening of motoring. I suspect there is probably more purpose, more of the time, to kids’ car trips these days.

But then, I’m not sure how common our model of “cruising” was even back in the day. Our peers would often sit in parking lots together, or drive round and round the same space. (The parking lot at The Mall was huge for this for a couple of years, if you can believe it.) But just go? Like, Hughes, to University, to the Parkway, to Airport, to Whitesburg, to Drake, to Triana, to Governors, to 20, to Slaughter, to Madison Pike, to Cambridge, to Shelton, then to 20 again, then eat at McDonald’s or Arby’s in Madison and go home?

I was going to ask if kids still did that, but did anyone but us do it even back then?

 Posted by at 11:00 am
Apr 272015

Excepting my illustrious Usenet career, this is what my first sustained online presence looked like.


This is the Play page. I would like to show you the front page, but I may not have it anymore. It’s not anywhere easy to find, anyway.

I put that site up in 1999 and updated it a time or two a week until I started this blog in late 2006. Interesting that I can see common visual threads between what I like now and what I liked 16 years ago.

Some of it was a bit bloggish, but mostly it was photos and links. I wrote a thumbnail menu structure in HoTMetaL that I liked and stubbornly used it all the way out, even when numerous objectively better alternatives were available.

Still out there and live: My Top 100 Pop Songs of the 1980s.

 Posted by at 6:24 pm
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