Friday, November 26, 2010

The Black Friday (Flash) Mob

And so, like clockwork, early today -- or, in ever more places, barely after dark last night -- saw the beginning in earnest of the Christmas/Holiday/Advent/End-of-Ordinary-Time Shopping Season.

See, the retailers don't really care what it's called, so long as the ledgers are flush.

Anyways, here in the River City, Black Friday always hearkens back to a happier, easier age -- every year come today, in a way essentially none of us do the rest of the time anymore, the town heads back in droves to the sprawling urban store that, whoever its latest owner, will forever be known as Wanamaker's....

Just, for the most part, not to shop.

It's true -- once the largest retail space in the world, the mammoth square-block landmark (now a Macy's) recalls the days before "doorbusters" and, all around, an era when the sales were the least compelling reasons to enter the temples of commerce: the building's Grand Court still features twice-daily concerts by the organ reputed to be the largest in the world... and, above all, this time of year's main attraction: The Light Show (video) which, for anyone who grew up within a hundred-mile radius, is this community's definition of "Christmas" more than anything else (even, admittedly, the decades-old nightly live creche at 4th and Race) -- something so traditionally sacrosanct it has its own, much-lamented "extraordinary form"... and, in a perfect world, would be narrated by the native-born "Voice of Christmas," himself.

Anyways, all this is backdrop to a "random act of culture" the Wanamaker Grand Court saw some weeks back -- one that's gone viral to no small degree since... and, well, it just seemed like a fitting Black Friday treat/moment of sanity.

For the record, it wasn't in praise of the bargains...

...given the sing-in's lead-in, though, one can't help but think that someone from the local church crowd had something to do with it.

Again, hope you're all enjoying the long weekend... and for those of this crowd keen enough to have taken on the malls today, may your reward have been equal to the effort.

PHOTO: Reuters(1)