The 'Shroom:Issue 159/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

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It's June! We're about halfway through 2020, and for many of us it's now Summer! Break out those flip-flops and sunscreen because it's about to be hot hot hot, and even if it's not not not where you are, nothing matters anymore so why not just be comfy and have healthy skin 🏄🕶️🌞🍹🌴

To usher in this new season, The 'Shroom will be hosting a 'Shroomfest! What is that, you say? Well, click the link I so helpfully provided, silly! In that it will explain what it's all about, but basically it's a fun interactive debate similar to Splatfests where two hosts will lead two different sides and tussle for your vote. You can participate by joining debates and voicing your opinions, showing creative moral support, or by simply voting! This month's theme will be Heroes vs. Villains! Since Bowser is just such a cutie and amazing father and a well-rounded good and thoughtful friend, I'll be vying for the Villains...although, aren't those qualities heroic? Is Bowser a Hero? When's Super Bowser World???

Next month we will also be having a Dr. Mario theme, so if you feel like you've got something to say about that, please send in a section!!

Also with it now being June, it also means we now have our Anniversary polls open, featuring the Mario, Fail, and Community Awards! You can vote on the Mario and Fail Awards either on the main page or directly on the Anniversary page, and please be sure to also vote on the Community Awards here at this page. With Mario Awards XIV and our wiki's Anniversary events now upon us, please keep up with them on the Awards Board on the forum. Please check it out! And be sure to keep an eye out for presentation slots to be opening up in just a couple weeks!!

Congratulations to Zange (talk)'s Hot Pot Reviews for winning May's Critic Corner Section of the Month!! Be sure to give your love to all of our sections here, and give a shout out to our writers whether in chat or in their forum threads dedicated to their sections. Be sure to vote vote vote!


And now for my regular announcements: We've decided to implement in Critic Corner something similar to News Flush over in Fake News, where no formal sign-up application process is required for one-time or limited sections. From now on if you just want to send in a single review for something you just read, watched played, tried, whatever, you just have to send me your review privately either to me directly in chat, or in a message to me on the forum at least one week before each 'Shroom is to be released! There's no commitment or obligation to provide a full monthly section (although you absolutely can shift it into one if you so choose), just send us your thoughts on a thing and we'll feature it here! If you have any questions or curiosities about this, please feel free to ask!

As always, if you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have openings for more writers! You are free to write for sections such as Character Review and Movie Review, or really anything you'd like to do! There's no pressure to have a huge section; they can be shorter and concise! The application process is very simple, starting with reading the Sign Up page, and sending your application to Ninja Squid, our Stats Manager on the forum. Any idea you have is welcome, and if you have any questions or need help signing up, please feel free to reach out to myself or other 'Shroom peeps!

Section of the Month

Critic Corner SECTION OF THE MONTH
Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Hot Pot Reviews 19 42.22% Zange (talk)
2nd Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 14 31.11% Hypnotoad (talk)
3rd Super Mario Kart Review 10 22.22% Link327 (talk)

Reviews / Opinion Pieces

Don't freak out, MCD is here to set your playlist.
[read more]

Does a classic hold up or spin out?
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Mind your pool etiquette: no Splashing allowed!
[read more]


'Shroom FM

Written by: MrConcreteDonkey (talk)

You're listening to 'Shroom FM, and by 'listening to' I mean reading, and by 'reading' I mean scrolling past.

MAY 2020
SFMalfredo.jpg FREDDIE GIBBS & THE ALCHEMIST - ALFREDO
I've listened to this multiple times trying to figure out how I feel about it, and I'm still not sure. Is it enjoyable? Yeah, but it feels like it should be a lot better. There's a lot of places where I just don't find the production here interesting - it feels a bit too subdued, repetitive, sometimes even generic. It's solid, sure, and works well for the atmosphere, but just rarely develops, just feels like it's there to be in the background. Also, especially near the end, everything can tend to feel a bit too quiet - the ending of the final track especially feels like an anticlimax. Lyrically, the album's pretty strong, and Gibbs' performance is good, though probably not the best I've heard him. The guest spots from Tyler the Creator, Rick Ross, etc. do outshine him a bit. Overall it's good, but always leaves me slightly disappointed that it doesn't get any better.
Best tracks Something to Rap About, Scottie Beam, 1985
SFMchromatica.jpg LADY GAGA - CHROMATICA
You will all be very happy to hear that I enjoyed the new Lady Gaga album Chromatica, or if you won’t then at least my director will and I will not get fired. But yes, Chromatica is a fun pop album on the surface, and even though there's some heavy lyrical content, it doesn't distract much from the vibe. The tracks I like most here are those right at the start (including the two biggest singles) and at the end, meaning there's a bit of a drop in quality somewhere around the middle. I'm also not too big on the features on this album - not that they take anything away from the album, but I don't feel like they add much. That said, everything here is at least solid, and if you're just looking for something fun and energetic you can't really go wrong here.
Best Tracks Alice, Stupid Love, Babylon
SFMuncanto1.jpg NATALIA LAFOURCADE - UN CANTO POR MÉXICO VOL. 1
Un canto por México is a wonderful tribute to, and celebration of, Mexican folk music and culture. It also explores a few earlier moments from Lafourcade’s career, consisting of covers of her earlier work and traditional/classic songs, featuring a wide array of guest musicians. Keeping a collection of songs like this consistent is a difficult task, but Lafourcade and the other musicians featured here execute this effortlessly, everything feels warm and jubilant for the entire runtime. The intricacy of each instrument within the orchestration and Lafourcade’s flawless vocal performance make this a real pleasure to listen to.
Best Tracks Sembrando flores, Un derecho de nacimiento, Ya no vivo por vivir
SFMsetmeonfire.jpg PERFUME GENIUS - SET MY HEART ON FIRE IMMEDIATELY
Perfume Genius is one of those artists that I don’t really ‘get’. Not that there’s anything particularly complicated to ‘get’, it’s just pretty much everything I’ve heard from him has passed me by, and once the track’s over I don’t remember anything. Unfortunately, this album hasn’t helped me much on that front, even though it’s his most acclaimed work to date. Sure, there’s a bunch of tender and beautiful moments, and I enjoy the chamber pop elements quite a bit - but it just doesn't feel like it pushes that vibe as far as it should have. A lot of moments here that feel like they're about to reach a peak, but then fall flat right before the track ends - which is especially disappointing on the last track, as it feels like an underwhelming end to an already underwhelming album.
Best Tracks Nothing at All, Without You, Leave
SFMnodream.jpg JEFF ROSENSTOCK - NO DREAM
One of the most passionate and energetic projects I’ve heard so far this year, NO DREAM is a wonderfully crafted album with great production and a really fun atmosphere. It took me a few tracks to get into it – ‘NO TIME’ is probably one of the weaker cuts, and ‘Nikes (Alt)’ feels like it ends a bit too soon – but once this album gets going it’s an absolute thrill. Rosenstock's delivery is really precise and each line really stands out. The lyrical content here in particular is so vast and engaging, covering a wide range of personal and socio-political topics without ever feeling like it retreads old ground, and the raw energy of the music never undermines the sharpness of the lyrics.
Best Tracks f a m e, State Line, Ohio Tpke, Leave It in the Sun
SFMpetals.jpg HAYLEY WILLIAMS - PETALS FOR ARMOR
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this – based on a) growing very tired of ‘Simmer’ after a few listens and b) not enjoying the first third when it was released as an EP – but it turned out slightly better than my expectations. You could probably remove the first third entirely and the album wouldn’t suffer much. Williams’ vocal performance here is really mixed: there’s certain songs where it just doesn’t feel like it fits, and plenty of moments where she needlessly stretches out certain syllables – plus, the songwriting feels, even on some of the better tracks, mostly derivative. The best stretch of tracks is definitely the final three, which are really energetic, dance-y and a lot more fun than everything else on here. So yeah, overall, not as bad as I thought it'd be, but still mostly average.
Best Tracks Sugar on the Rim, Watch Me While I Bloom, Crystal Clear
FURTHER LISTENING
Charli XCX - how i'm feeling now
Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated Side B
Quelle Chris & Chris Keys - Innocent Country 2
Moses Sumney - græ

Flip or Flop

Written by: HEROWALUIGI (talk)

Mario Kart 64

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Welcome to Mario Kart! Ahhh, the Nostalgia. Mario Kart 64. A staple in the Mario Kart series. The game we all remember from our childhoods. So continuing on from last time with Super Mario Kart we are going up to Mario Kart 64. But.....is this game still great today, or were those rose-tinted memories? Let’s find out!

The Good

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Well....first off, they made it so 150cc is unlocked from the start, which I was mad about not having in Super Mario Kart. They also made Drifting usable, for example in Super Mario Kart when you would drift you would go all over the place but in 64 it is a bit more stiffer and is not a clunkey, A.I. It's still rubber bandy but is a little better and they drive more like a human. They also shortened track times from 5 laps to 3 along with making the cups only four races. I find this to be the perfect balance between short and long. The thing about this as well is that every track was similar and overused in Super Mario Kart. But in 64 each track has depth, is original, and each with a gimmick. I think this is good track design so your game doesn’t get boring. Rainbow Road is the exception but it’s the last track and it’s a blast. They also moved things liked items to Z, along with making it so that CPUs don’t have special items. There is also a way to toggle between three info areas or GUI by pressing c right. The first is where it shows stuff like Lap, who’s in 1st through 4th and time, and map, then the second is the same but instead of a map it shows speed, this one is very helpful for speed runs. The last one shows a detailed square about where everyone is, this is my favorite. And they made it so you can keep going if you are below 4th place. The music is amazing! And they added more items. I feel like they are all great additions and help with the balancing, though I feel like the Blue Shell is a bad item overall due to it being useless to you when you're in the position you get it in.

The Bad

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The computers are still too rubber bandy, if you press c up it toggles your view but it should have more layers, take the Forza series for example, it has a cockpit along with other viewing angles. The game is unplayable at 50cc because the coms are so rubber bandy that you can’t win. They removed the lives feature from the game, I thought that was a useful feature for new players. The controls are way too slippery. They need battle mode and vs in single player and Mario GP to be in 3 player and 4 player modes.

Wrap-up

So overall the game is amazing, still holds up to this day. Rating: 8/10.

Thanks and enjoy the rest of your day. I’m gonna go play some more Mario Kart.

Paper Mario: Color Splash Review

Written by: PowerKamek (talk)

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Hello everyone, it’s PowerKamek! I am back to review Paper Mario: Color Splash in honor of Paper Mario: The Origami King releasing on the Nintendo Switch on July 17.

Paper Mario: Color Splash released on the Wii U on October 7, 2016. It has a score of 76 on Metacritic, which is a good score. This was the first HD entry in the series. I am going to give my thoughts on the game, and give my review at the end.

I actually enjoy playing this game. The story goes that Bowser steals the Big Paint Stars, and Paint disappears from every world. The game does not have the same gameplay as Paper Mario or its sequel, and instead takes the same gameplay of its prequel, Paper Mario: Sticker Star. I am not a big fan of that. However, the game is better than Sticker Star was, here’s why. In Sticker Star, the worlds were bland, and the sticker idea was meh. But in Color Splash, you use Battle Cards. If the cards are white, you have to paint them. Also, you get more paint when you defeat the enemies, and sometimes your Paint Level goes up, which gives you more paint. Also, the worlds are more aesthetically pleasing than the worlds in Sticker Star.

You have a paint can named Huey to help you with your adventure throughout the game. He sometimes has good dialogue. He gives helpful hints to help you in each world/area. Sometimes his hints can be confusing, but personally, I like that because it makes the game more challenging. Sometimes, he doesn’t give good hints at all, and it makes me frustrated. Overall though, Huey is a good partner (even though he doesn’t help battle).

The thing I really like about Color Splash is the sense of adventure. In Sticker Star, I couldn’t really feel the adventure, but in this game I can. You go to different worlds that have different color vibes, which would be the color of the Paint Star. The locations in each world reflect on that. Also, there are all kinds of areas to explore around each location. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can find lots of coins, extra paint, great battle cards, or even Thing Cards!

The only things I don’t like about this game is the fact that there are still no partners (except Huey), and there are not enough different characters. They’re all Toads. Also, sometimes Huey could be really annoying when he’s not so helpful. Other than those things, I like the game!

I will give this game a 7.5/10. The game is good, and is fun to play. I recommend it only if you don’t mind the newer Paper Mario Games, and if you still own a Wii U. I hope you enjoyed this Issue of The ‘Shroom. Thank you so much for reading!

Anton's Half-Baked Reviews

Written By: Hypnotoad (talk)


A brief statement before I continue:

I’m finding it somewhat difficult to find the energy to write a section about my extravagant trip to Paris and all of the luxurious stores I went to here in late-May and June with the injustices facing Black people in my country, the United States, coming to a head once more. Here, and around the world, anti-Black racism and violence has been perpetuated by those in power and those who enforce it, leaving many lives of our friends and family cut short or destroyed due to nothing more than the color of their skin. I take pride in our community here being not just diverse, but actively inclusive, and it hurts me knowing that our closeness and compassion here is an outlier online, in our country, and around the world. We need to do better, we need to hold others accountable, and we need to make change, but first we need to know what’s going on. I ask you to carefully read this, and other verified sources, to learn what’s happening and what you can do, from simple everyday actions of learning and correcting our own ingrown prejudices, to holding family and peers accountable, to direct action in town halls, court houses, and the streets. In this month of June we regularly celebrate LGBT Pride Month to honor the battles fought to ensure that we are treated fairly with respect and dignity, without shame or fear, and we still cannot do that if our black and trans family continue to suffer. We can and must do whatever we can to care for and love everyone; not all lives matter until black lives do, too.

“There can be no Pride if it is not intersectional.”


Paris - Part 3 - Shopping

FINALLY, here in Part 3 is what I cared about pretty much entirely when coming to Paris (..aside from regional Pokémon Go spawns)...shopping and food! As I’m writing this the whole world is going to crap, and one outcome of this is that Disney has been closed for a couple months, and will continue to be closed at least through mid-July, with entry being difficult and questionable after that. This through a wrench into my monthly planning, as I was going to have my summer set of reviews be the Disney World Parks. While I have a foundation already set, and a good amount of food from them already tried, it’s not nearly as much as I had planned, and thus I am unable to write it. Fortunately, I’m long-winded, and found a way to drag out my Paris reviews from being a two-parter, to a four-parter, and now a five-parter!! I sure hope you guys don’t get too sick of what I’m writing as I’m trying to keep it all varied enough with plenty of information!!

At the very least I can rest well knowing that the thousands of dollars I blew on this whole trip will at least log me five whole months of packed reviews. Could I make it six? Seven? Keep going out in public without a mask or any concern for social distancing and hand washing and it’ll be France and the food I have on my shelf all year!


I’m under no illusion that I’ll be providing a how-to guide for a flawless and extravagant trip for shopping through the fashion and furniture capital that is Paris. I’m relatively poor, had a 50lb bag limit, had limited time that had to be shared with other activities, don’t have a home that I own that I can just fill with furniture and doodads, and ultimately just wanted food. If you want to know where to get discounts on high-fashion couture brands or where to find the most luxurious perfumes, go check out Condé Nast or Vogue or any of the wild numbers of wealthy self-employed travel bloggers who have suspiciously powerful families that inundate absolutely any other research into Paris so much that it makes it difficult for normal people to get any kind of vision of how to function within their means. What I can give you is the essential and frivolous shopping I did, some tips to grocery stores, and what I think sucked. That’s why you all come here and love me anyways, right? If what you want are souvenirs then just wander around Les Halles or Notre-Dame for a little bit until heat exhaustion leaves you susceptible to the enchantments of dimly lit Coca-Cola refrigerators, like a moth to a lamp, only to be suddenly surrounded by Eiffel Tower magnets and Sacré-Cœur statues.

Be sure to have a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees. If you want to double dip, also have it be a new credit card that has a huge point or reward bonus for spending a few thousand dollars within a few months, because you’re absolutely going to achieve that. Also let your bank know that you’re going on a foreign trip, as not taking that action may result in your bank thinking something fishy is going on and locking your card until you contact them.

Les Grands Magasins

With Paris being a city known for its fashions and perfumes, it’s a no-brainer that there will be a wide assortment of department stores. While it was an objective to blow all of my money in big stores, I never really plotted out where they all were, except for Forum des Halles because that’s kinda like..the shopping mall, infamous or not. So, let’s start with that one!

Forum des Halles

Felt like more of an event center that just happened to have some shops.

The actual shopping center part of it is a Westfield mall, like, one you can find all over the world and in pretty much every major city in the United States. It felt like one, as well, with there being just a bunch of name brand mall mainstays, H&M, Levi’s, Nike, Zara, Victoria’s Secret, plus a bunch of French ones that I assume are equivalent. Without that tried and true American consumerism upping the ante of a shopping trip into a full-scale day adventure, it kinda just falls flat as a somewhat segregated and sterile selection of neutral stores that seems antithetical to what makes Paris alluring to so many. Maybe this just says that Forum des Halles isn’t for the tourists and patriots, and instead just the everyday contemporary city-slickers. The location reminded me much of the mall underneath the former site of the World Trade Center, also a Westfield mall sure enough, in that it was just a big lump of stores plopped right down around a major transit hub.

Also like Westfield World Trade Center, I find the architecture gorgeous when in it up close, and somewhat refreshing in a city of not much but the same old design all over the place. The shapes are very organic despite being huge and heavy pieces of metal, and, I don’t know, I just find that cool. Just like how the Louvre’s Pyramid caught flak, so did the Forum des Halles, but this time with a real reason instead of uppity posturing. When viewing the structure from above or afar it just kinda looks like a cold pancake plopped into the middle of the city. This structure is actually brand-spankin’-new, officially inaugurated in 2018 as a rework to a 1970s renovation that was seen as a national embarrassment that demolished the original Les Halles. This article here does a pretty good job at detailing the entire mess, as well as this one, with ambitions reaching to the sky and then crashing back down with compromise after compromise. The original Les Halles was a giant above-ground pavilion (with halls, of course) serving as Paris’ centralized fresh food market that was bulldozed and turned into a big hole and an underground shopping center. I admire the attempts to “undo the authoritarian traditions of French urban planning”, which is what haunted the Eiffel Tower a well over a century earlier, but I agree that it just looks like a grab-bag of every enterprising architect around trying to artificially produce an iconic landmark. Much like the compromises of every politician, lobbyist, and architect that went into creating the design, the reception seems equally compromising between their vision of an 8th wonder and ‘the hole of Les Halles’ into a spectacular meh.

Beating out Westfield Forum des Halles as Paris’ most visited shopping center is Les 4 Temps, another Westfield property of course, located a bit west of the city limits in Paris’ segregated modern skyscraping business district, La Défense, an architectural playground free from legal restrictions that protect the ancient city’s underground infrastructure and historical Napoleonic skyline. We neglected visiting that entire area because it just felt really out of the way, but, I’m really a fan of large-scale modern architecture, and there being an enormous mall there too just makes it more enticing if a return trip is ever made.

Boulevard Haussmann

General location of Printemps (Green) and Galeries Lafayette (Red).

Along Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th Arrondissement, just a bit north of the Louvre, are a number of well-known and landmark department stores that define Paris’ shopping vision. It’s also conveniently a gorgeous look at the Haussmann renovations I blabbed about last month. You can get to this area via the métro on the Madeleine station to soak up more of what the area has to offer, or you can do what I did on several trips and get off at the Opéra station, and if you’re feeling more direct you can just sit a little longer and arrive at the Havre – Caumartin station that exits directly in front of the Printemps flagship department store, with the Galeries Lafayette flagship department store right next to it. Both stores comprise of at least three towering buildings, each varying in scaling at like 4 to 10 stories. There’s a few other department stores and huge shopping centers in the area, but honestly, who cares when you’ve got these two behemoths. (I did check out that UNIQLO, though, because I like that store and got some cool Pokémon shirts there.)

I will admit that it was hard to remember which mall was which as I began to sit and write this, as they’re both absolutely enormous, comprise of multiple separate buildings each in the same area right next to each other, serve effectively the same purpose, are constructed in a similar art nouveau style, and are absolutely brimming with all kinds of tourists and commotion that makes it all a bit disorienting and fast-paced. I guess distinction would come with greater familiarity, so if I have any wealthy and generous readers out there please send me a huge hunk of cash.

Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann

With the view still visible from other areas and floors, the Glasswalk feels like it's a gimmick that just gets in the way.

Galeries Lafayette is a luxury French department store chain, with outlets throughout France and a couple into western Europe. Curiously, they also have quite a number of locations in the middle east, including Dubai of course, Kuwait, Doha, and Istanbul. They tried to break into the American market via NYC but it was a failure and closed. This particular location on Boulevard Haussman is their flagship store, and the heightened extravagance makes it known. The sheer scale of it made me feel like I was in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York more so than actual NYC. This store is split between three separate buildings, with La Maison & Le Gourmet (home and food) at 5 floors, L’Homme (men’s) at 4 floors, and Coupole (women’s/main) at 10 floors.

We went to the men’s building first because it was closer and also I’m a guy. While their website has pictures that look familiar, I genuinely like...don’t remember much about shopping in the L’Homme building; everything I (mis)remember about it ends up actually being Printemps. What I do remember are the feelings, though, and what I felt was that it was almost standoffish, I didn’t feel very welcome and it’s likely due to the fact that I wasn’t. I did not have the kind of money needed to peruse the clothes there, nor really the necessity to wear something chic and fresh off the runway. I’m talking, like, easily $80 for a simple shirt, regular-looking shoes reaching past the $200s. I just have no tangible or even imminent need for that, so I guess my eyes just glazed over as I hungered for ice cream.

I guess American malls have similar structures, but more horizontal, and also not one single store that does it all.
With L’Homme being a bust, we went to go catch up with my sister-in-law who was already investigating the women’s building. Right off the bat there was a horse, like, there was just a horse chillin’ by all the makeup kiosks. I was too bewildered by the sight that I unfortunately never got a picture, and instead got out of its way and continued through. The entire ground floor seems to be kiosks of perfume, makeup, and accessories, with literal queues filled with people waiting to receive bags prices into the thousands of dollars. Coming in sight of designer baby clothes that cost more than rent, we decided to flee upstairs. The Neo Byzantine dome, located in the Women’s building, is pretty obviously the main attraction of this particular location, alongside plentiful art nouveau and art deco elements; not sure how those work together but, eh, they do. There’s a little glass walkway on the 3rd floor that juts out into the center of the structure a bit to give a better look at the dome. The walkway has a line and seems to have a draw and importance to it, but it’s tucked away behind some clothes racks and stuff, so I wouldn’t really consider it accessible. As we continued upstairs the prices became more and more accessible, feeling more like department stores I’m familiar with, culminating in the gift, souvenir, and book section on the 6th floor. I still didn’t get anything, but they did have some kinda Asian food kiosk thing that also had ice cream, so my mission was complete.

This place is probably more worth it to gawk at the architecture, glamour, and opulence as the prices will blow your head off. If you’re visiting Paris it’s safe to assume you have a chunk of disposable income that you can blow on stuff, so I wouldn’t turn my nose too much at this. For more history about this store and building, you can check out this site.

Le Printemps

My favorite part out of alllll of this was the air conditioning.

Printemps is a French department store chain with over a dozen or so locations throughout Paris and the rest of France, reaching into some other pockets of Europe and the Middle East. It’s been around longer than Galeries Lafayette but seems to be in its shadow, always talked about in the context of their duality, and doesn’t seem to have curators of culture squawking about it in every corner of advertising space. Printemps is not even arguably more important historically, it’s just a fact. While Galeries Lafayette can go on and on about its construction and architecture, Printemps’ flagship store hits all the same points: incredibly ornate Art Nouveau fixtures and elements, and a huge glass cupola (dome) to be enjoyed inside. But Printemps also had a hand in pioneering several critical aspects of modern-day retail practices, which I’m sure you all must geek out about. They were the first to use electric lighting, implemented elevators soon after their conception, moved the sale of items away from a haggling and bartering system towards marked prices, introduced the concept of markdowns and sales to clear stock, and began window displays to advertise and sell products. Kinda weird thinking that these were, like...inventions, and concepts that had a tangible genesis, but here we are.

Almost felt overly casual with them just on racks like that.
Looking at this could you even guess that this display housed nearly $100k in clothing?

According to my brother it was “much more bougie” than Galeries Lafayette and, well, sure? It definitely didn’t feel as opulent but the quality of products on sale was certainly on par, if not higher. Maybe it’s that it felt a lot more mundane and approachable that we actually walked right up to the designer brands without big flashy displays signaling to us that we don’t belong. I was more enamored with this one as it felt like a unique concept, each floor in each building having its own entire theme. It felt more planned. This store is also split between three large buildings, Beauté-Maison Enfant (Beauty, Home, and Children) at 7 floors, Homme-Printemps du Goût (Men and Printemps Gourmet Market) at 11 floors, and Femme (Women) at 9 floors. The floor themes seem somewhat flexible, as my own map is at odds with a few other maps I’ve found online for it. The only building I went into was the Men’s store because that was the intersection of what appealed directly to me and what I could fit in my bags to take home without paying hundreds in baggage fare. Following what seems to be a trend, all of the accessories were on the bottom floors, followed by incredible luxury items and designers, and then becoming more reasonable as it went up. Very VERY high fashion brands, like, I felt like I shouldn’t be there but there I was with my brother just casually flicking through racks of Versace, Chanel, Moschino like it was nothing. There’s a big mall near where I live that has those colossal name brand shops but they’re guarded and feel incredibly exclusive and judgy. In these it was just like a Macy’s but with shirts that cost a lot. Going up next was sportswear and casual, which was still kinda expensive but was at least within range, and then a whole floor dedicated to the beach. I was drawn in to the summer displays because I find the whole beach aesthetic pleasing, only to discover that the swim trunks started at a price of about $250 USD. By the time I got to the top most floor that wasn’t a restaurant that seemed to take a regular menu and just double the prices, I discovered it was basically a full-scale gourmet market! I’ll get more into L’Épicerie next month when I go more into food adventures, so hold tight as I’ve already typed way too many words and want to chop this review to even more pieces. The rooftop of the men’s store has a garden space, bar, and a little restaurant with a bunch of chairs and tables. It provides a pretty good enough view of the downtown Paris skyline and a sight of all of the cityscape, but honestly looking out any of the windows as you go up provides an excellent view.

Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées

I appreciate the tasteful use of foliage.

Another location of the department store chain, but instead like a mile south located on Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Given the fame and allure that this road has, it’s a no-brainer that there’d be an outlet of this luxury chain here, and apparently as of my visit it’s only been there for a couple months. The company apparently uses this location to test new techniques and brands, as well as appealing to a different market than their flagship--young tourists. Be sure to click that last link if you want to read a lot more words about this specific store, it’s a little more interesting than it seems, I promise. A huge part of this store’s experience is it being staffed by personal shoppers, something that I didn’t partake in or even really notice; only after the fact recognizing that the staff actually acknowledged and approached us more than literally any other place. In retrospect pretty much every luxury store like this had an army of personal shoppers, so I’m not seeing what the gimmick here is unless it’s the fact that it’s ONLY personal shoppers, and the fact that the personal shopping experience elsewhere is likely intended for literal celebrities.

This feels vaguely menacing...
We mostly were on this side of the street because my family wanted to check out the Disney Store, and had literally no awareness that there was an entire mall right next to it. The entryway itself had a hypnotic pull to it, a corridor filled on every facet from floor to ceiling with flashing lights behind glass panels, undulating inwards. Once inside there’s a central circular atrium that spokes outward either into outlets, subsections, or up stairs. The entire place seems to be dripping with white marble, gold, and glass cubes, making it all feel incredibly light and open, sitting between the worlds of classical and modern. Please please please PLEASE click this link because it has an incredibly good view of what the structure looks like, complete with floor plans and cross sections. CROSS SECTIONS!!

Like its flagship, this store was also pretty out of reach in terms of finances. The only thing I really found accessible was the food area and even then it felt kinda barren, almost like an amusement park’s gift shop in terms of selection, and to, continue dumping on it, the layout really wasn’t fluid as there were several dead ends or little nooks that looked neglected. I guess they were still getting their footing, and outfitting every corner was not the priority above a mesmerizing light show. Little sprinklings of themes on display here and there, makes sense as a concept store testing out ideas, but, eh, I don’t know, not for me, I need plentiful varieties on a singular concept. Like, it kinda felt as if the Able Sister’s shop in Animal Crossing New Horizons if all you could shop for was what was on the mannequins and table display, nothing from the fitting room library. If this concept store doesn’t do it for you, the entire area nearby is basically one mall flowing into another, either in a ‘galeries des arcades’ flowing inside a larger building’s bowels, or just standalone recognizable stores that actually have accessible prices and products, so there’s really no loss coming here. Stare at the lights for free, then go to H&M.

Both Printemps and Galeries Lafayette did not seem like places you could actually do some shopping, but rather where you can cash in on some self-care and get a fancy item or two to try or indulge in. Even if the price range is astronomical you still might be able to find some kind of knick-knack or unique item that may be worth it, or at the very least it’s one of the best places to window shop and pretend that you’re staying within your tight budget.

Le Marais

These alleys allegedly are for vehicular traffic.

I blabbed a little bit last month about what Le Marais is, but this month it’s thematically appropriate for me to now blab about what I ended up actually doing there. With the whole area being steps away from my hotel room, I ended up wandering around it quite a bit over several days just kinda dropping in to places without any real plans. One place my brother wanted to go was Merci, I guess some kinda fancy Insta-worthy three-story clothing shop. We never found it because we weren’t exactly using a map as all of the streets were so narrow and splintered in every direction that even Google couldn’t keep track, so more often than not the clothing stores we popped into were wildly high-end small-name designer stores mixed in with hole-in-the-wall falafel shops. Each of these felt pretty abandoned in context with the bustling streets and little corner delis and bakeries flooded with people, as it was only ever like one or two workers in a large gallery space with a couple racks and tables of clothes, with only myself and my brother there looking. The shopping experience did feel personal as a result, like I was someone special, but it also meant I wasn’t left alone and felt the tugging of awkwardness to get something instead of walking out empty-handed in the face of a lonely retail worker doing their best song-and-dance. Sorry, not buying a t-shirt with a paperclip-sized logo on it for €85 just because you personally embroidered it. Thanks for not using southeast asian slaves, I guess. Overall I would recommend wandering Le Marais with a loose plan; pick some key stores you want to visit, have some kind of agenda and predetermined Point A and Point B, and just snake your way through to get there and back. It may be useful to read up on what is even around, because with so many different kinds of concept shops and boutiques tucked away in every nook and cranny, you could end up lost and paralyzed. The trip here specifically also really only gets its full enjoyment if you’re able to take it with one or two close people who don’t mind having some unscheduled window-gazing fun with mutual patience with slowing down and browsing. This is a place to take it slow.

Uniqlo

Seems almost theatrical. Image credit.

Of the clothing stores we found ourselves in, only really three of them stood out enough to me to cast a memory that I could distinguish as unique. Uniquely enough, one of them was Uniqlo, which caught my eye as it was a recognizable store with a shop down in Disney Springs, which I hang out around to blow more money than I should often enough. It’s a fairly recognizable big brand so it’s likely unfair to include this as a limited selection from a location that’s known for its small lines and handcrafted designs, but I don’t give a crap because it’s a place that I went to and enjoyed. Until I walked in I really didn’t even immediately recognize it as a Uniqlo, all I saw was a curious-looking entrance to a courtyard that people were pouring in and out of, with an absolute bombardment of SOLDE SOLDE SOLDE signs inside.

Uniqlo is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer, and retailer. Aside from chic activewear and everyday basics, their fashions feature pop culture, art, and video game references that sometimes look cool. They frequently collaborate with other companies or artists for in-house collections. I got a couple Pokémon shirts that had really top tier designs, as opposed to the trash that was the Mario line. The prices are all pretty affordable, and the styles are unique and functional, which are assets to both tight budgets and pairing wardrobe items. The store is pretty large, with multiple floors and a lot to look at, but the Marais location is hardly special in any way. If you’ve been to any other Uniqlo, you’ve been to this one, too.

Also got some nice work socks that haven’t been torn to shreds in just a couple weeks, so that’s good.

Weekday

Weekday is a Swedish street fashion brand that takes inspiration from and caters specifically to youth, with brick-and-mortar stores in 14 countries across Europe, and shipping around the world. The company has been acquired by H&M, which sought a way to further cash in on the young, fast, and politically-attuned, but remains autonomous in its creative vision. Their entire thing is keeping up with the fast-paced world their young clientele are keeping up with, with fashion that looks straight from the runway without the disproportionate pricing. The clothes are definitely a little bit more than what you’d get at a JCPenney or Kohl’s, but not really by much. I can’t exactly say that this style is really mine to wear, but they do have a lot of quality basic items that can serve to be matched and paired, and I got a really nice pair of black jean shorts that have quickly become one of my most favorite items in my wardrobe. “It’s an approachable, on trend brand that taps very well into the [demographic] by setting price points that are friendly to the casual style buyer,” says some guy named Jeff in that article I posted, which adequately sums up how I feel about Weekday, too.

The Marais location is a two-floor store in a kind of unassuming location lined with a bunch of other clothes shops that seemed a little more, I don’t know, humble?, than some of the others, but actually had relatively affordable prices. The interior design of the place is very minimal, with the whole place looking like it popped up in an abandoned renovation project. Simple plywood furnishings and exposed ventilation help give it that grungy street-look they're representing while still remaining relatively sterile. The location is very fitting for the kind of brand they are, and I recommend clicking that link as it’s to a Streetview map, where you can just click up and down the streets to get a feel for just how much is packed into these tight little streets, as well as all of the graffiti that’s just lovingly left where it is to add cultural texture to the area.

Kilo Shop

Okay, this is the Saint-Germain store, but it's close. Both seem pretty catered to English speakers.
A secondhand clothing store with a unique pricing structure: pay by weight. Their whole angle seems to be turning thrift away from its view as leftover trash and dirty crap, and instead as an ecologically sound righteous duty while still looking vintage and chic. I thought it was a neat concept so I took a peek. The entire place was incredibly cramped, which can be good in terms of the amount of clothing to search for, but bad in that it was incredibly claustrophobic and difficult to navigate without bumping into other people. The prices seemed relatively fair, with an average shirt costing less than $10 USD, but the issue with this was that it didn’t seem like the store had that much stock in light articles of clothing; maybe a couple accessories here and there. Maybe this was biased by the virtue of lighter weight clothes being bought more readily and thus not as available, but enormous and thick jackets seemed to be the bulk of the inventory. Lots of heavy metal and genuine leather coats that felt like they still had a person in them, as well as a lot of military jackets; suspicious amount of Iron Crosses from the WWII era, but I guess the whole area had once been occupied by Nazis and maybe some kids are just getting around to clearing out their grandparents’ attics. If weighted baggage fees were not a concern, and if I hadn’t just moved to Florida, I likely would’ve come home with a few of the coats. It was also like 400 degrees outside and we had just suffered through the disaster that was Jardin du Luxembourg, so any article of clothing that didn’t have built-in air conditioning just didn’t seem appealing. Kilo also apparently has a concept shop that caters to ‘vintage kawaii’ looks, but all of the promo shots of the looks from that honestly just look pretty trash to me. To each their own, I guess.

The Kilo Shop on Boulevard Saint-Germain seemed a lot more interesting as it was a lot more cramped; made me feel like I was rummaging and discovering stuff. Overall there’s probably better places to do vintage, but this was at least the most visual and ready-to-find.


There are absolutely a few places around Paris that I’m almost ashamed, but mostly disappointed, that I missed and neglected that I would definitely want to go back to:

Le Bon Marché, apparently the world’s oldest department store, with grandeur on the scale of Le Printemps and Galeries Lafayette as reviewed above, also with a sizable retail pioneering score tally. On its first floor is La Grande Epicerie de Paris, an enormous fine food and gourmet market. This wasn’t really on my radar at all because it was a bit out of the way and in a blind spot of other places I was visiting; located in the 7th arrondissement, a bit west of the Palais du Luxembourg where there’s not really anything of immediate interest to standard tourists on a time crunch, like myself. The pure richness of this place, filled with top designer brands and $500 shoes, I feel it would be just another place to ogle some nice architecture and some fancy pants chocolates which honestly is enough for me. This isn’t shopping like a Parisian, it’s shopping like a Rockefeller.

Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, more commonly referred to as Le BHV Marais, which seems to be more like a huge Macy’s or department store anchor of a mall. I apparently took pictures right outside of it when I was gawking at all the rainbow flags and crosswalk paint in Le Marais, but it never jumped out as being the kind of store it was. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention? Maybe I overlooked it because I saw housewares and furniture and figured I just simply couldn’t cart any of it back home and going inside at all would’ve been a waste of my time?


N'oubliez pas votre sac réutilisable!! Also, tell me what to review next! You can tell me to do can also be movies, shows, physical actions, trying new foods, music, literally anything and I’ll cover it eventually if it’s not too ridiculous. Just send me a message here on my talk page or PM it to me on the forum. Don't like what I have to say? That's fine, and probably bound to happen because I've been told about how much people like Super Mario 64 and how they feel about any criticism of it! We at Critic Corner will welcome your alternate review of it as a new section for the next issue!

The 'Shroom: Issue 159
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