Saturday, September 13, 2014

The bottom of the fakie barrel proves lower than heretofore believed, on a visit to South Phoenix

As I passed the $1 toy bin at barrio Kmart, I noticed a baggie doll who appeared to be a belated fakie for My Scene Barbie. A little rummaging determined there's an African-American version (who is determined to hide her face for shame at being involved in this) and. . . a pale blue one?

Remember the people who'd say "I don't care about race, it doesn't
matter to me if you're white, black, or green"? Well...
They are called Glam Rock Dolls, presumably because that's what the random doll-name generator spit out.

I was at barrio Kmart because I'd gotten up at 4:30 on Friday morning with a burning desire to develop a complicated spreadsheet model, stomped in to the office saying "I am in the middle of developing a complicated spreadsheet model, I cannot speak to anybody until it is done," and finished it at 2:30 in the afternoon. Having poured the entire contents of my brain into Excel, I thought I'd leave early and take the Mars Orbit shuttle down to the big Goodwill in Tempe to look for eBay-able items, as rebodying Pocahontas/Rebecca and Bratz Meygan had cut into the planned inventory.

My entire haul consisted of (a) a scoop of Baskin Robbins' pumpkin cheesecake ice cream, which is the most amazing thing to ever hit a cone; and (b) a single Neglected Fashion Doll two-pack where the Swappin' Styles Fashionista Barbie was the desirable item. Swappi came with a completely useless fancy Barbie with long pin curls.

As I left the Goodwill, I developed terrible allergies. My eyes were running down my face as I waited for the #61 bus that goes west along Southern, having developed a dubious plan to take it down to 7th Street, transfer to the #7, and go to barrio Kmart, since I would be passing within a couple miles of it, for so goeth the logic of the bus rider.

I closed my eyes because my sinuses were spewing like Old Faithful. When I opened them, a couple miles west, the bus was trundling past vineyards and cows. (Wikipedia tells me that crops grown down here include alfalfa, cotton, oranges, and ostriches.) Seventh Street turned out to be a corner with a bodega having a yard sale, a school, and a mission. By now, I was in a completely different eco-system. . . and my eyes were still running. The problem had to be something I was carrying on me.

On a guess, I de-bagged by Goodwill dolls and left the unwanted one -- whose outfit had lots of ways to catch allergens -- on the bus bench. Leaving a blond doll in a Latino neighborhood violated my rule that little girls should have dolls that look like them -- but there needs to also be a rule that the dolls don't get to kill me.

When my eyes stopped running, I Googled her and discovered that she was Genevieve from Barbie Twelve Dancing Princesses -- and the Amazon price had me thinking, "Oh no, I've just abandoned the most valuable item I ever nabbed at Goodwill, merely because I like breathing and being able to see!"

Naaah. On eBay, in the condition I'd found her, she'd be lucky to sell for $2.

Barrio Kmart is cleaner, neater, and politer than Black Canyon Highway Kmart, which is why I wanted to go there. It was still empty of customers, but the lights were on.

A little digging through the Just Kidz section -- which stupidly, doesn't face Barbie -- revealed that the Swap Mart Beauty 3-packs ($5) have an African-American version!

Even Mama can't always tell us apart.
On the one hand, points for having dolls with darker complexions, rather than going for ambiguously brown. On the other hand. . . identical? Really? This would be the prime opportunity to do three-packs with three different skin tones: one dark, one medium, and one ambiguously brown. 

Digging is a useful skill at this Kmart, as they moved clearance toys to the garden center.

Yes, of course I climbed over that. In a skirt and heels.
You even had to ask?
The garden center is not air-conditioned. Highs at this time of year are in the low hundreds because we've had a mild summer. It was easily 95 degrees in the garden center, but that is no excuse not to keep digging! Not that there was anything good to dig for unless you were hoping for Barbie as a scuba diver.

My plan, after this, was to take the Central Avenue 0 home, which meant a longish walk to the stop. But wait! There's a gigantic Dollar Tree. The bottom end of the Chinese factories has gotten hold of the "mini" concept -- so while these are presumably intended as minis for Dolores and her ilk, they look more like younger siblings, or possibly fans, for the aforementioned Glam Rock Dolls.

Our major selling point is that we prove that becoming an angel-fairy doesn't bleach you.
Ambiguously brown fairies FTW.
The last store I encountered before the bus stop provided an explanation of why nobody was at Kmart. Meet Fallas, a sort of Latino Steinmart. It was crowded. The clerks gave me plenty of side-eye, so I didn't try taking pictures in the tiny toy section, but it featured the same Monster High items I've been seeing at Tuesday Morning, for the same $9.99 markdown.

Here's the view southwest from the bus stop. The yellow sign is Pizza Patron, famously controversial for accepting payment in Mexican pesos. Down in this neck of the woods, anything important is in Spanish -- it's sort of Quebec, only with tacos.

Mountains indicate we are hitting the edge of civilization.
I did not go to Pizza Patron, nor to Long Wong's, the regional chicken-wings chain that is a reliable indicator of a working-class neighborhood.

This neighborhood was, before the 1970s, the only part of Phoenix where non-whites could buy houses -- Phoenix was characterized as "the Mississippi of the West" for its legalized racism. Phoenix had its own riots in the Long Hot Summer of 1967, though finding out anything requires tracking down the works of ASU's Dr. Matthew Whitaker -- I'm feeling a burning need for the syllabi for most of his HIST 598 seminars. ("African Americans and Indians in the Southwest" -- Akilah Nichelle, Rebecca Chavez, and Elena Rodriguez can re-enact key concepts as a sort of historical pageant!)

Here is the view northwest, where the railing belongs to the Western Canal. This is looking kind of toward downtown Phoenix, not that there's any clue in the environment.

Like Mars, we have canals.
The 0, when it arrives, wallows in a stately manner up Central toward the copper-colored towers of downtown. It passes Chinese-takeway-in-a-bungalow with the prices painted directly on the building. It passes The Duce, which is a combined restaurant-boxing club. It passes the Salvation Army that I always forget where it is. It trundles through the Central Avenue Underpass (scroll down in this Great Bridges of Arizona post) and makes a loop through the park-like Central Station (nearly hitting an oblivious #8) before continuing its wallow northward.

And so one gets home, too tired even to boil-wash.


  1. I felt like I was on the bus with you! Also I have poured my brain into a complicated Excel spreadsheet many a time in the past, so I know how that feels! I could have climbed over those boxes, but I would have gotten my daughter to as she is almost always with me on my shopping excursions. So after all of that, did you only end up with one doll after leaving the blonde on the bus?

    1. I meant I couldn't have climbed over those boxes!

    2. Yup, one doll -- whose hair I still need to boilwash because I got sidetracked into real-life housecleaning. I'm thinking of rearranging the display shelves...

  2. When you are too tired to boil-wash, it has been a long and tiring day indeed. I have had many shopping excursions like that. You leave home hoping for a bounty, travel hinder and yonder and return tired and empty handed. These are our journeys.

  3. You make your shopping a whole excursion. I need to pay more attention to the journey not just the doll. lol

    1. Well, usually I'm on the fairly conventional circuit to suburban shopping plazas... this was off the beaten path!

  4. Well that was a fun read- like I was right there with you. I love shopping excursions. I've even learned to appreciate the ones that don't turn up anything good.

    1. Aw, thank you! Yeah, I actually had a good time in an exhausted way...