I have to admit. I like to buy things. I am an all-consuming lemming who'll likely jump off a cliff for a nice pair of leather boots or a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress (what I wouldn't give). At least I'll look good when I'm dead; the undertaker can "vogue" me in my coffin. So I was secretly excited about the new Urban Outfitters branch being installed in one of those perpetually vacant spots that are scattered about Northampton.
I wasn't excited that such an historic behemoth of a building (the Northampton Institute for Savings) flanked by two other historic behemoths, the Hampshire Council of Governments and First Churches, was to be the newest home for the huge clothing retailer. Nor was I excited about such steep competition for the smaller local businesses that appeal to the same demographic, like Faces or 25 Central in Thornes (rumor has it Thornes was to be the home of UO, but the owners of the mall's existing businesses were so up in arms that the project was scratched). So down the street to a building that probably has an ungodly monthly rent (this is another rumor: apparently someone looked in to putting a business in the building some years ago, and the proposed monthly rent then was upwards of 10 grand). Certainly Urban Outfitters Inc., who own five brands and have stores all over the world, will have no trouble making the monthly payment, whatever it may be.
The old bank building was being worked on for months before the store opened last week, it seems. But inside, it doesn't really show. I expected the design to utilize elements of the bank that was once there, like the vault door. It looks like some safety deposit boxes were used as facing for the cash register counter, but that's about it. There is a lot of fake art everywhere that looks like this:
and then there's the randomly placed items that someone thought looked cool, like these:
or this can-topped copy of Spartina written by Massachusetts-born author John Casey:
I find the choice of Spartina here to be a particularly ironic one, since it is a decidedly un-hip book written by a decidedly un-hip guy, and UO wouldn't be caught dead actually selling it (this is probably just evidence that they grabbed some old-looking book without bothering to find anything out about it, but then again, maybe they just wanted to mess with my head). Oh yeah, they sell books by very hip and contoversial authors like Chuck Palahniuk (whose new book Haunted is apparently making people pass out due to it's graphic nature). Don't believe me? Well, just look:
But I digress. I expected all of this. I expected the fake intellectualism literally thrown at the walls (oh, I forgot to show you this:
). I even expected to find some ribald and toilet humor-ish knick knacks. But I expected everything to have a hip and irreverent edge to it, one that had been perfected through research and countless study groups, one that had become so impenetrable and pretentious that nothing that didn't conform to the strictest requirements of being clever, ironic or quirky would ever be allowed to join ranks. I did not expect to find these tucked in the far corner of the store:
These are the stupidest, unfunny, sexist do-dads I've ever seen. I mean, I'm really not that offended–I'm a reasonable person–it's not that these remotes play on dated stereotypes and further sexist injustices, but they are so cliche. There's nothing clever about them, and I'm surprised Urban Outfitters approves of them. They aren't for sale on the company's website, and I don't think these people would be caught dead with one of these remotes in their apartment. Not to mention both versions reduce women to either soulless sex-vessels or simpering, needy creatures. Here's a close-up of the buttons:
The "control-a-woman" remote has buttons that say: cook, clean, leave, remove clothes, and up/down buttons that suppose to increase or decrease her breast size. The "control-a-man" remote says things like: flowers, chocolate, massage, propose, and these up/down buttons are supposed to control the intensity of an orgasm, I guess. Both remotes have a mute button. Neither is remotely funny.