Shouldn't a Wal-Mart Be at a Mall?

RECEIVED Thu., Jan. 4, 2007

Dear Editor,
   I don't understand the outrage over a Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall [Postmarks, Jan. 5]. I hate Wal-Mart as much as the next person. But I don't much care for malls, either, which leads me to my point: What better place for a Wal-Mart than a mall?
   What kills me about Austin is this hypersensitivity among citizens that causes knee-jerk outrage over every little change that doesn't reflect "weirdness" or some lost hippie Austin dream that no longer exists. What do you want at Northcross Mall? A Neiman Marcus? Would that have more "cred?" Take a walk down South Congress Avenue, and what do you see? A crazy weird city just stepping to its own cultural beat? Hell no! High-end boutiques and swanky hotels are not weird. Cliché second-hand shops and coffeehouses are no longer weird, even if they aren't called Starbucks.
   I love Austin. I lived there for eight years and make frequent visits, but it's really just a miniature L.A. these days. Or worse, a Branson for hipsters, a tourist destination for the dirty-Chucks-wearing class of beautiful youth. There is a way out of that, of course: Stop the whining about Wal-Marts at malls, and just let things happen. Houston is a cesspool, but there is nothing in Austin as weird as Montrose these days. Somehow you Austinites have to find a balance between "live and let live" and devout civic pride.
Josh Krause
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