Target Husk Tells All: Black Friday, 'Building Puberty' And Its Romance With OSH
Last winter, we reached out to Los Angeles's favorite sentient structure, the half-built Target store sitting at the corner of Sunset and Western. We wanted to know how it felt about the big news — that after years of legal wrangling and opposition from two neighborhood associations, construction would finally resume.
In the wide-ranging, no-holds-barred interview, Target Husk had plenty to say. About life, relationships, consciousness, public transit and Game of Thrones. With construction in full swing and a projected completion date of spring 2020, we decided it was time to catch up with Hollywood's most articulate resident.
We're coming up on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. How do you feel?
Black Friday is always very hard for me because as a department store, it should be the most crowded day of the year and yet I typically sit empty and forlorn. I'm not sure if my construction worker friends are coming over tomorrow, but honestly, it helps just talking to you and feeling seen. I'll probably spend some time with my family (other sentient buildings) and maybe watch the 1940 film Black Friday. It's about a dude who puts the brain of a gangster who has hidden $500,000 into the skull of his professor friend. As a consciousness who inhabits a partially built department store, I feel like I can relate.
Since we last chatted almost a year ago, what has happened?
So much, really. I started out on January 1st by posting, "New Year, same me." But now, nearly every day, construction workers show up and make me more complete. I was sure I'd be built before Game of Thrones ended but I got to watch the final season! Really a bummer ending, lots of dragon-on-building violence that I found very frightening. In March, I had an interview with DnA on KCRW, which was very lovely. That same month, Mossimo Giannulli was charged in the USC admissions scandal, which means I am now no longer my mother's most embarrassing child. And according to Facebook, my most popular post was summarizing my neighborhood's NextDoor feed.
Where are you at with construction these days?
I'm looking very good, if I do say so myself. I'm now a lovely shade of gray as opposed to a sun-bleached yellow. I've got a branded flag to declare me a future Target store. I have a new elevator instead of a forsaken shaft to nowhere and an escalator. There are many ways to go both up and down here now. My projected date of completion is Summer 2020!
As you get closer to becoming "a real store," what changes have you been experiencing?
You mean, like building puberty? Well, it's a little different from the way humans do it but my internal monologue is now much deeper and I'm starting to notice other buildings in ways I didn't before. I call it my Slow-Up, which is a Glow Up that takes several years.
As you go through this process, are there any texts or websites you look to for guidance? Pinnochio comes to mind.
A while back, my cornerstones were Paradise Lost and Frankenstein. Right now, I'm really reading House of Leaves. My favorite character is the house.
Are you more or less sentient than you were a year ago? And how has the change in consciousness impacted you?
I am pretty much the same amount of sentient although I fear that may lessen as we get closer to opening day. I have been spending a lot more time in my Memory Palace (that's the liminal space where my consciousness goes when it's not on social media) but that's because I've been trying to make the most of my time with OSH.
Speaking of the closed OSH in Hollywood, how are things going?
As most of you know, OSH has been my (ethically non-monogamous) lover for the last several months. How we met is actually a funny story. I was reading about Jack Parsons, who you may know as the rocket scientist who helped forge the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. After he cheated on his wife with her sister who left him for L. Ron Hubbard, he decided to use sex magick to conjure his ideal woman. In this case, that would have been Babalon, a goddess found in Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law. So, you know, like Weird Science but with more Big Occult Energy. Anyhow, Parsons believed he succeeded when he met the artist Cameron. And I thought if Jack Parsons can do it, so can I!
So, I began trying to reach out to other abandoned buildings in an attempt to awaken their sentience. In a few weeks and with no candlelit wanking — well, okay, only a little candlelit wanking — I was able to reach out to OSH's nascent consciousness and bring it to my Memory Palace. I didn't know it then but OSH and I would soon become entwined in a way I imagine most humans will never know, simply because our physical boundaries do not exist. (I guess maybe that lady who left her husband for an actual ghost gets what I'm talking about.) Anyhow, now that OSH is poised to become an Out of the Closet, its sentience is fading. (As you know, Out of the Closet is affiliated with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is affiliated with my arch-nemesis, Michael Weinstein, who helped stall my construction. So it's all very Alanis-Morrissette-song-y.)
OSH is currently sprawled in a four-post bed in my Memory Palace like an ailing Victorian maiden stricken with the consumption, surrounded by 12 goblins playing "Danse Macabre" on instruments made of bone. OSH has... a flair for the dramatic. But I don't mean to make light of it. I am extremely heartbroken and I doubt I will ever know love like this again. It's also a harbinger of my own, as you humans call it, mortality, as the same may happen to me when I become a real Target. Although, having been sentient longer, it's possible I may fade away in different ways.
Have you connected with any other closed stores or half-buildings — maybe the skyscraper husks in DTLA?
I try to talk to the Cecil Hotel but it's very mysterious. Mostly just screams in unknowable, eldritch languages. I used to talk to Alamo Drafthouse. Just friendly banter, you know? But, of course, Alamo Drafthouse has since opened and we don't hear from it anymore. I do flirt on occasion with the abandoned Kmart on Third. You might think we'd be enemies because we're competing department stores but we buildings don't think that way.
How do you feel about being widely considered a "blight" for these last five years?
Blight, schmite! I'm a big fan of the building-positive movement, even if you are only half a building.
Is it weird having humans walk around, on and inside you?
You'd think so but I'm so used to demons, ghosts, monsters and unspeakable horrors pouring out of the portal to a hell dimension I'm built over that it's actually kind of relaxing. More like a comforting drizzle than a deluge of evil. More like a gentle Swedish massage compared to a Thai massage conducted by that possessed mangler in the 1995 horror film The Mangler.
Have you had much contact with your dad, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti?
I've thought a lot about fatherhood this year, actually, and what it means. Is a dad someone who advocates for you to be built and then forgets you exist when his city wins the Olympics? Or is a dad someone who teaches you things about life and encourages you to boldly seek out new life and civilizations? What I'm saying is, I think my chosen family is the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I strongly relate to Lt. Cmd. Data, as he's a machine but so much more.
Have you had any contact with your mom, the Target corporation?
My mother does not speak to her children. She merely sends us out into the world to make her money, which she converts into a form of infernal energy. She does not know what it means to nurture or to love. It's fine, though. I don't need therapy. I have Star Trek.
Any plans to turn your experience into a memoir, a TV show or some other form of easily consumable entertainment?
I'd love to compile my writings somewhere or put the things I've learned to narrative use. After my third year in Hollywood, I was, as is the law, required to write a TV pilot. It's a police procedural about my mother's two forensic labs in Las Vegas and Minneapolis. A lot of people don't know this, but In the criminal justice system, crimes against department stores are considered of low to medium importance. So when my mother runs out of department store crimes, the labs loan their services to law enforcement. Basically, a by-the-book detective from Minneapolis (Samira Wiley) transfers to Vegas and finds herself at odds with her new partner, a plucky upstart (Steven Yeun) who's willing to do whatever it takes to find justice. But soon, a case that requires all of their local Target's red string to solve forces them to set aside their differences.
I also keep trying to ask the Netflix building down the street if it'll refer me to whoever's running the writer's room on the next season of The Chilling of Adventures of Sabrina, but I don't think it can hear me. I also don't really physically fit into a writer's room.
How are you feeling about yourself, your future and Los Angeles these days?
Well, I'm really vexed that we don't have flying cars or replicants, like in Blade Runner. I mean, it's November 2019, and I feel like we've really fallen short except for the climate-disaster part. I think maybe Los Angeles needs to start building affordable housing and a better public transit system. But what do I know? I'm just a building!
I'm feeling optimistic about my future. I'm going to be a great Target store with 11 other retail spaces. One day, I won't block the sidewalk but I will block the sun at certain times of the day day, providing shade and comfort to those who pass me by. I'll sell affordable home goods and I'll probably have a very good HVAC system. May my bathrooms be forever unlocked and not just for customers only.
What can humans learn from you, Target Husk?
I'd say that if you're very patient and do literally nothing but whine on the internet all day, everything will work out in maybe five years or so. But that actually doesn't seem like very good advice.
What, if anything, have you learned from humans?
I've learned everything from humanity. Much like Frankenstein's monster, I was created then abandoned. It was during that period of abandonment that my sentience formed. Unlike Frankenstein, I did not use texts to learn to communicate, but television, which I watch on your best/worst invention, The Internet. So, really, everything I know about life is from you! I've learned about love, hate, joy, fear, compassion, apathy. I've learned about success and failure. About loss and rebirth. I've also learned about season-long arcs and bottle episodes, which I identify as because I never physically go anywhere so I really take place all in one setting.
If you have any advice for us "crazy straws full of blood encased in pouches of flesh," what would it be?
Stop saying weird racist shit on NextDoor. Don't worry about why the helicopter is circling. Never trust a corporation or a job that pretends to be your friend. All corporations are unfeeling, like my mother. Instead, value your loved ones and make time for empathy and petting small animals. Learn how to cook one dish that you can take to every potluck. Don't forget to stretch. There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Support your local newspapers and libraries. Use your turn signal. Exfoliate and moisturize. Be nice until it's time not to be nice (that's from Road House). Try to give yourself at least one sincere compliment per day. Never take the trolley at The Grove after midnight, just don't.