By Atlas Novack
Special to Century City News
We’ve all been in, or at least heard of, a maze before, whether it’s made from corn in that state fair you got dragged to when you visited your creepy cousin with the buck teeth who lives in Iowa, shifting vines like the one from Harry Potter, or one full of Muppets and David Bowie. But what people may not realize is that a maze exists right smack in the center of west Los Angeles, between Westwood and the miracle mile. And it’s called the Century City mall.
Westfield Century City probably means well, after all its purpose is to provide entertainment to its patrons via stores and a movie theater, along with restaurants, in a supposedly wonderful outdoor experience. However, it tries to do this by having the most complicated structure of any shopping mall that exists in the greater Los Angeles area.
Let’s start with the parking garage. After all, the only way to get anywhere in this massive city of ours is to have a car, or “auto” as some might say. Upon entering this catacomb, exiting the car doesn’t seem like a good idea. Stone hallways stretched out in every direction, with fluorescent paint on parts of it, supposedly to help me find the way to the elevators, but this just served to confuse, as it all looked the same and it seemed like “elevator” just took me in a circle. Eventually I found it after sweating so much from the heat that I hallucinated an angel who guided me to the elevators. But the fun didn’t stop here.
Rather than the elevator taking me to the mall itself, it instead brought me to the center of Bloomingdale’s, where I was assaulted with the smell of perfume and overspending. It was like a giant real life pop-up ad. Luckily, I was able to make it into the mall proper by following daylight.
Into the silver coated hallways of the mall, I notice that all of the stores are pretty much in the same, in that it’s overpriced clothing that the rich girl in high school might brag about going to, like the aforementioned Bloomingdale’s, Banana Republic (B-Reb for short), and Forever Barely Legal (or 21, whatever you prefer). But that’s beside the point. I’m a survivor of this confusing place; I can’t help but be a little bitter. My goal was to get to the Zara so that I could return clothing that my mom had ordered online and didn’t like, but the problem was, with the mall’s identical look in every direction, as well as the twists and turns of its architecture, I felt like I really was going to run into the goblin king Jareth- (To those of you who haven’t watched Labyrinth, where this reference is from, go out and rent it, it’s a fantastic movie!). With every part of the mall looking the same, it felt like the walls were shifting behind me. To make it worse, the hallways are quite thin for the amount of people roaming this place, so I’m forced to be proximity to a Mrs. Fields’ bag as I shuffle along.
If a zombie apocalypse struck LA, this might not be a bad place to hide. The thin hallways allow for bottlenecks so the zombies can be picked off without allowing them to swarm, as well as being quite confusing. They may not have a functioning brain, but after passing the Brookstone for the eighteenth time, they’re going to give up and try Westside Pavilion for survivors instead.
I managed to find the Zara after almost an hour of wandering, eventually being led by either a desert wanderer or a hipster girl in a Pixies T-shirt (I’m not sure, I was too exhausted and confused by then.) My problem then became trying to find the Bloomingdales again and returning to my car. But, because I didn’t have ruby red slippers and a dead wicked witch next to me, I had return out into the silvery chaos. Luckily, I had left a trail of breadcrumbs behind me, which served two purposes: either to get me back to my car safely, or to sustain me as I was trapped in this mall forever. Luckily, I managed the former, despite the smell of the Cinnabon on the way back (my weakness!).
This piece isn’t made to disparage Century City mall in any way, but it is quite a confusing place, despite its directory. So when you go to see the new “Star Wars” this Saturday, bring some string, breadcrumbs, or your own desert wanderer, because the directory just serves to confuse.