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Space Oddity: Is the Sony Metreon truly a choice of a new generation?

Vive Le Metreon!

The suburban Oz of Fourth Street

By Norah Forman and Jack Shamama

For native suburbanites whose only recreation options growing up were Denny's and the mall, sometimes San Francisco seems to offer too many options. Sure, chatting about Nietzsche over a soy chai latte, watching drag performance art on top of a building, or freeing Mumia can keep one's chi in balance, but sometimes suburban refugees just need to be in an enclosed space with their peeps, enjoying the fruits of global commercialization.


B-MovieTheater: The Metreon, hell and feng shui


The Metreon certainly offers such a space. However, this homage to multinational corporate giants kicks the cineplexes of our youth in the ass. Not only does it have all the hit flicks and a panoramic view of the city from the snack bar, but it's also home to the first-ever Microsoft store (get a copy of Office 2000 now, even though it's only 1999), a sprawling Discovery Channel store chockful of glow-in-the-dark boomerangs and ladybug stamp pads, a PlayStation store chockful of tweaked-out preteens who are not about to give up the controller to UmJammer Lammy, no matter how nicely they're asked, and a Sony Style store where a girl could spend hours dreaming of the day she could be the owner of a $16,000 HDTV. But that's not all, folks--there's an Imax theater for when you want a little motion sickness with your faux buttered popcorn, special attractions such as "Where the Wild Things Are" and "The Way Things Work," and, of course, the Airtight Garage.

The Airtight Garage is the Metreon's uber-arcade. Leave the quarters at home, because the "garage" is for the big kids, with the latest, most cutting-edge transmedia virtual-reality video games starting at a mere $2 a pop. In another throwback to malldom, budding acne-ridden cocktail waitrons come by your game station periodically to hock various snacky things like fries served with an ingenious north-meets-south "ketchupeño" and cold brewskis. It's like Vegas, only the drinks ain't free, kids.

The most notable game in the Airtight Garage: Hyperbowl, where players guide a real live bowling ball through various computer-generated settings, including the hilarious San Francisco, 2199. All the joys of bowling with no yeasty shoes to return. Who knew spending $5 on Hyperbowl could lift spirits higher than six months on Prozac?

The best part of Le Metreon, however, is found not in the supercomplex itself but across Fifth Street. Denny's is the perfect culinary complement to hours spent in the postmodern suburban dreamland. While the Metreon offers the sushi of Sanraku II and the refreshing and frothy tiazzi of the various Starbucks stationed throughout, who in their right mind can pass up a Buffalo Chicken Burger or Moons Over My Hammie after an RSI-inducing game of Hyperbowl? It just feels right--video games and fried chicken hybrids. Not only is this Denny's a stone's throw from the Metreon, it's also the most stylized and sponge-paintedest Denny's this side of the Mississippi, with ceilings higher than any $500,000 SOMA loft and walls replete with fake French lithographs.

The Metreon is progress. Gone are the days when one could enjoy a quiet evening on the town without being hit over the head by a constant stream of advertisements and corporate propaganda. Anyone who has a problem with the technological revolution can move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The future is now! Vive Le Metreon!

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From the September 13, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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