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August 20, 2014

Is San Bernardino’s Carousel Mall a New Creative Backdrop?

Written by  Kimberly Johnson
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Carousel Mall, San Bernardino Carousel Mall, San Bernardino Photo Courtesy of Terry Richardson's Diary

Last year, the local youth buzzed with gossip of celebrity photographer, Terry Richardson’s, trip to San Bernardino’s Carousel Mall. Photos surfaced on the photog’s personal blog shining light on the SB County’s kitschy attraction, having been captured through the lens of a highly popularized and controversial figure. Richardson is well known in the pop culture realm, typically photographing covers of Rolling Stone and Vogue, plus pointing his lens into the faces of major pop culture figures such as Beyonce, Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.

Following this bit of attention to our ol’ Carousel Mall—the one that garnered many merry-go-round rides for Generation X-ers and whose food court filled tummies with fresh dipped hot dogs and Cinnabons—there is just one more hint of its transformation into something quite new. Recently, San Luis Obispo based band, Night Riots, released a music video for their song “Back to Your Love,” utilizing the mall as their focal backdrop. The upbeat, electro infused pop-rock track is sort of insatiably catchy, while the visuals offer a bit of romance. In short, there’s a dance solo, the lead vocalist frolics rhythmically through the mall corridors, there are shots of the benches where first kisses were received, store fronts where family shopping trips were spent, and that one corner you spilled your ice cream and cried it out till another cone was salvaged as a replacement. Truly, the video is actually really good. It’s a gentle reminder of the transformative nature of one of our city’s presumably decrepit sites.

While many businesses have uprooted from the mall, beginning in bulk around 2003 when JCPenney—the last of the mall’s major retailers— closed its doors, the location’s strange perseverance is beginning to see it through as a new vessel for a completely different purpose. Could this be the next indoor venue worth utilizing for oddball creative uses (zine festivals, photo shoots, television filming)? Why not? Let’s see more of this. What other venues can follow a similarly intriguing fate?

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