Monday, August 29, 2005

Borders of Reality

Borders is a fantasy land, a place where dreams meet. It combines, in my mind, two of my favourite things: art and capitalism.
I imagine tweedy-jacketed old men roaming the corridors and plucking leather-coated books from dusty shelves; small ancient ladies thumbing their way through encyclopaedias, peering at the spider-like print through bone-rimmed glasses. And in some far corner, a forty-volume Slovakian translation of Shakespeare collapses on a child and it is only one hundred years later that they dig him out and find that he has become an old man.
And then there are the capitalists; important looking gentlemen in suit and ties and power-suited blonde women, striding purposefully behind desks and shouting words like 'growth' and 'market' and 'bonds' and 'potential' over the phones; customers running through the vertiginous rows of books after that elusive copy of The Wealth of Nations or The Road to Serfdom. Gunfights break out in the magazine stall over the last copy of The Onion or The Spectator. Customers corner staff and demand items; and the cowering staff have no chance but to supply them.

But there is a real Borders, too. I've been there. People sit up one end of the store and sip lattes, while at the other end, people browse lackadaisically through the magazine section.
There are pictures of Che. Apparently, there's a new Che autobiography out. All of Michael Moore's books are there, too.
Lost, my eyes filled with tears, I confronted a staff member.
"Don't you have motivational weekends?" I asked her. "Don't you have team building sessions and group spirit? Please tell me that you follow the law of supply and demand!"
"Oh no," she explained. "All the staff here are quite alternative. We're all from Melbourne Uni, and we're all into art, and stuff."
"But what about your bosses? Your managers? Aren't they capitalists? Aren't they ... American?"
"Oh, no," she said. "I really like my boss. She was a member of the Riot Grrrls."
I didn't know who the Riot Grrrls were, but then, I didn't need to know. Devastated, I left Borders that day. I had thought of them as a haven from the awful alternative subculture that had ingested the rest of Melbourne. But no. They had succumbed too.

They were all a bunch of ... hippies!


Rachy said...

It's all lies I tell you, LIES... but Borders is a bit too expensive for my liking anyway... there is a secondhand bookstore around the corner which is just as huge, if not bigger, that you might prefer... I think it is opposite the service station on Elgin Street

Guy said...

Good range, yes, and I can spend hours in there, but they are crushing lovely little niche bookshops and that is sad.

TimT said...

Borders have some good things, some bad things. Between them, and Readings opposite, they absolutely slay the magazine competition. I mean, where else can you find a copy of National Lampoon, The Onion, the Funny Times, or, for that matter, Bust, Frankie, Harpers, the Spectator, the American Spectator - all in the one store?

I'm a bit of a secondhand bookstore fan myself; I know the store you're talking about, Rachel - though they can get expensive, as well.

Guy, last time I was in Sydney, I didn't see any Borders ... have they arrived yet?

Darlene said...

I will never go back to Borders again.

Hippies, arrghhh, I may as well to Readings across the road in Lygon Street, where the books are even more expensive and the selection crappier (and the sales assistants too fashionable for their obvious middle-age).

Guy said...

They are slowly spreading in Sydney. There is on on Pitt Street Mall in the CBD and a couple of others dotted at major shopping centres in the burbs.

TimT said...

Darlene, that description is so good, it should be the Readings logo:

"READINGS: where the books are more expensive, the selection crappier (and the sales assistants too fashionable for their obvious middle-age). "


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