Saturday, May 20, 2017

"She's A Valley Girl And There Is No Cure"

My last visit there to the original mall has always haunted me.  I was reminded of the poignant memory after reading Kevin D. Williamson’s article, “Closing Time,” in the National Review this week.

During my high school days at Ulysses S. Grant, and with my girlfriend Trish, I went to what probably amounted of hundreds of movies in the General Cinema Theater on the third floor.  I even saw “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” in that theater.  It was a strange feeling walking out of the theater at the end of the film through the entrance that had just been a location for the movie I had just seen. 

I remember going to Perry’s Pizza, and to the arcade.  I often visited my friend, Debbie who worked at Crabtree and Evelyn inside the mall.  She always seemed surprised to see me for some reason.  “Ah, we’ve spent most of our pre-adult lives in this mall, Debbie, so don't be so shocked.”  Debbie was one of the cuter girls who ever worked in the Galleria, so he naiveté was always excusable in my book. 

I once arrived at the mall around 8:00pm with my friend Robert, I think it was a weeknight, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was filming, “Commando.” As Robert and I arrived at the third floor landing of the escalator, there were big white signs on easels which read, “You are on set of a 20th Century Fox production.  If you enter this area, you give permission for this production to use your likeness in a feature film.”  Robert and I noticed that there was a large group of young people on the north west side of the third floor being used as extras, so I walked over and waited for them to do a few takes.  I ended up on the very right margin of the film in that scene.  You can barely see me. 

If you go to the Sherman Oaks Galleria today, it looks nothing like the original.  The original was an indoor mall, and the current mall is more of an outdoor mall with a few stores and restaurants (and the theater) off of exterior corridors that lead into the structure.

The only remaining part of the old mall that remains is the northern portion of the parking structure.  They extended it in a southerly direction under the new mall, but the northern portion of the parking lot is still pretty much the same as it was.  I can tell because of the cement pillars.  They are exactly as I remember them.

And the last time that I set foot inside the original Sherman Oaks Galleria?  It was when I was already a student at U.S.C.  My mother had planned for our family to go somewhere…I can’t remember…and she told me we needed to get a suit for me.  We went to the Galleria where there were only a few stores remaining.  The clothes store that we went to was on the first floor, on the west side of the mall, a little more than half way toward the north end.  As we walked across the mall floor, I looked up at the various levels, seeing the stores closed all around me with just a few still open. 

It was a little sad and a bit hollow, and yet, I seemed time for it’s demise.  The Sherman Oaks Galleria was a small mall in comparison to the Glendale Galleria, which had already been built, and so the Sherman Oaks location seemed to be now just a little stifling in it’s limited size. 

But what is good about memories is that they always remain.  I will always have the recollections of a teen wandering around the Galleria, going to the arcade, visiting friends whose teen jobs were there, and taking dates to the movies in what is now such a hallowed place in San Fernando Valley lore. 

“Okay fine…fer sure, for sure!”