This is hard to admit. I was in a mall the other day. The Mall. The Mall of America. The mall was very busy. Parking was stressful, really stressful. Rush hour traffic jam stress is mild compared to the atmosphere of full-on white-knuckle, predatory, winner-take-all Mall of America parking.
Walking into the sterile, cacophonic hive sent me immediately into sensory overload. How do people ingest all these sights and sounds and smells? About forty-five seconds and I was done with that.
In my defense I was there for a good reason. And fortunately the destination was almost empty, perhaps because it had some cultural significance.
A travelling Beatles exhibition centered around the Beatle’s 1965 concert in Minneapolis. The centerpiece of the exhibit was backstage photos taking by the bands tour manager, up close and personal. Fascinating, un-orchestrated.
The exhibit tried to place the concert ion the greater context of American Beatlemania, from the beginning of their first tour in 1964 to their last concert in San Francisco in 1966, a span of two and a half years. The Beatlemania explosion is beyond my comprehension.
The truly fascinating part of the exhibit was that the last third was devoted to Beatles merchandise. I can’t remotely remember it all but made the exhibit worth seeing. At least a thousand pieces of memorabilia. Trading cards, bubble bath, board games, record holders, pennants, coloring books, lunch boxes, wigs and so on. My favorites were some small dolls that had no resemblance at all to any of the Fab Four. The mop top wigs were your only clues.
The fascinating part was not that the memorabilia existed but how much existed, how much was produced. Remember it was only two and a half years between their first concert in America to their last concert ever. I cannot even fathom what that would look like in today’s world. Is it even possible?
Imagine a band going viral and staying viral for two and a half years. Imagine every doo-dad and novelty manufacturer expending all efforts to keep up with demand for band phone covers and wristbands and whatever. It would be kind of freaky.
I suppose boy bands could be considered mini-Beatlemania events though that seems rather blasphemous to ponder. Please don’t throw rocks at me.
So I learned two things: Never go to the Mall of America on a holiday and the Fab Four continues to fascinate me.