I love to eat at Legal Seafood. I was first introduced to Legal in 2005 while working as an SAIC systems engineer on Future Combat Systems (FCS). I was part of an SE team which included members from SAIC and Boeing. Since SAIC has a number of offices in or around the McLean area, we'd all flown up there to conduct a week-long face-to-face planning session. At the end of each day we would go over to Tysons Galleria to find a place to eat and unwind. That's when I first ate at, and then fell in love with Legal.
In those days Tysons Galleria was humming with activity. Legal was so busy you waited to be seated. It didn't matter what night or time you went, you waited (even if it was just a little bit). Tonight when I got over there around 6:30 pm I was immediately seated, no waiting. The restaurant, as far as I could see, was only half filled. The entire time I was there Legal never filled. One group would finish and leave, only to be replaced by a new group. Half-full was the steady state.
I finished another excellent Legal meal and went out into the Galleria around 7:30 pm. I found the whole mall pretty empty. There were a few idle shoppers walking about, but none of the boisterous business I'd seen in the past. There was a single kid yelling at other end of the mall from where I stood; I could literally hear him echoing all the way to where I was standing. Four years ago that would not have happened because of the much greater number of shoppers and far greater economic tempo. I even found a dark, empty, closed store to take a picture of, but before I could take that shot I was stopped.
A little mall security officer walked up to me and told me I couldn't take any pictures "since 9/11". Yes, the bloody flag of terrorism was waived at this nearly empty mall tonight because of fear induced by a crashing economy. Here I am, a 6 ft 4 inch white 250lb middle-aged balding Floridian with glasses, dressed in a big blue down jacket that makes me look like Shamu's cousin, walking slowly around the mall with my E-3 and 12-60mm lens attached taking pictures. For a good 45 minutes. Stealthy I was not.
I stood there silently for a few moments, staring down at the now-nervous little mall security officer, mulling my options, slowly considering possible actions and their consequences in my mind. I rather reluctantly decided discretion to be the better part of valor. In this day you need to pick your battles most carefully. Besides, I had enough "evidence" in my E-3 so I turned it off, covered the lens, and left.
The unfortunate legacy of this country's officially sanctioned paranoia since 9/11 will take many years to overcome, especially its use to easily hide a host of other sins. Just as it will take many years and tremendous resources to overcome our horrible economic stewardship that has lead directly to collapsing business everywhere, such as in the Tysons Galleria. It's going to be a long tough slog.
The Jesse Italian furniture store next to Macy's on the top floor of Tysons Galleria. I sat in a chair outside the store for approximately 15 minutes and watched. Not a single customer went into or came out of the store. A great example of the growing collapse of consumerism as we know it.
Just a few extra shots from around the Galleria. If you look closely you can see the occasional individual.