Level Six


“I had an idea that everyone here spent their lives in making little sacrifices for objects they didn’t care for, to please people they didn’t love; that they never learned to be sincere and, what’s as bad, never learned how to enjoy themselves.” -E.M. Forster (about 95 years before Fight Club)


Midway up the bubblegum hued ‘SoShow’ shopping mall lies a dragon’s horde of West meets East nerdvana: Beijing Comic City. Transformers, Gundams, vagina-mouthed predatators (including some from the actual movies), all are here. Plastic Schwarzeneggers, plastic Tyler Durdens, even plastic Adrien Brodies if that’s the way you choose to swing.

I know several people who would almost literally excrete some substance or other into their underpants just upon arrival. I, thankfully, am not one of them (but I’m pretty sure some of the other gentlemen that were wandering about are).

I went in like Malkovich: baseball cap and sunglasses, not because I wanted to ride the portal to a world that no man should see, but because I feared a SoShow-induced migraine. Far from looking or feeling like some sort of bell end, this fashion disaster helped me fit right in with many of the pasty faced, shifty eyed, non-descript customers. The whole mall looks like it was designed by a psychopath with synesthesia, possibly while wearing the tie died skin of his dead mother as a pair of overalls.

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If I haven’t made the place sound enticingly horrifying enough, just imagine how much of an eco-system can be generated by a plethora of sweating, smoking overweight Beijingers obsessing over Naruto and One Piece. It’s like Comic Con dreamed up by a seedy, unclean Trump-era heteronormative man sitting around in his underpants and guffawing like Jabba the Hutt.

To the right kind of (slightly south of clean) mind, a whole afternoon could be spent on floor six (let alone the rest of the mall, which hosts a KTV, an ARG gaming center and the hippest of hipster bars). That’s why I went in the late evening.*

There was no piece of plastic powerful enough for me to give up some hard earned qian to fawn over and unbox, although I was admittedly taken with some 90s era turtles of the ninja/mutant/teenage variety.

Instead I ate a tuna-and-egg sandwich and sipped a coffee to quiet my buzzing head, took off the They Live sunglasses… and went to another mall.


*(on Saturdays it’s open until 9.30).

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