The Whole Food Market newly opened on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana meets the description given by the security guy I chatted up by the entrance. “It’s like a Disneyland for food shoppers,” he enthused. Meaning the vastness and sensory overload of the gourmet shop were not unlike the famed Anaheim mouse park. The resemblance, I regret to report, does not stop at the aura of entertainment: the prices, too, are Disneylandish.
But it’s worth it! What a store! The produce could star in Veggie Tales. There’s a wine and cheese bar in the middle. And all the animals now on piecemeal display in the meat department lived beautiful lives of pampered gods before that day they were led, minds clouded by mescal and brows bedecked with garlands, to the stained stone altar atop the pyramid.
The escalator endlessly ascending and descending between the vast tiers of underground parking and the World of Men boasts a monumental mosaic by artist Jose Antonio Aguirre. It contrasts the metropolitan contemporary Tarzana (beep beep) with the pastoral Tarzana of yesterday (the sound of oranges). Study the picture carefully, for it includes a SECRET TARZAN:
The untiring Señor Aguirre was busy with his tile cutters and grout out in front, too. The plaza splayed before the shopping complex sparkles and burbles with cheerful fountain pools. At the bottom of the pools our muralist celebrates the life and jungle habitat of Tarzan and Jane in chips of colored stone:
Let future archaeologists make of that what they will. If a home-grown Vesuvius preserves these fountain mosaics under ash, will 41st century scholars hazard inferences about 21st century San Fernando Valley life that are closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs than to Frank Zappa? We can only hope.
Oh, look: it’s CHEETAH!