Angry Buddhist goes worshopping; Pray while you pay


By Carl Rosenstein

Just over a year after its star-studded opening in Soho that witnessed shopping groupies lined up lemming-like on Broadway for days, the London-based Topshop has unveiled a new marketing strategy — to address flagging sales due to the recession — that’s sending seismic waves through the fashion world.

The Topshop C.E.O. announced sometime this fall, Topshop would undergo a makeover. The trendy department store will be rechristened as Top Mosque. The change was inspired by the Cordoba House planned on the site of the former Burlington Coat Factory department store, two blocks from Ground Zero. The C.E.O. stated, “Trendsetting Topshop will remain ahead of the curve by converting our department store, too. We stand to benefit at the register from all of the free publicity. We think it’s a brilliant fit — Top Mosque in Soho. After all, it is the Mecca of shopping. We expect a great increase in sales by the waves of pilgrims who will make New York a must after they’ve completed their Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Following the pilgrimage, how many times can you shop in Dubai?”

Though many members of his board of directors dissented, the C.E.O. remains unwavering.

“For our most devout customers, shopping is already a quasi-religious experience, but our marketing team discovered most lack a true spiritual compass. Now they can find both of their spiritual cravings — trendy consumerism and God — sated by worshopping at Top Mosque. We will be an oasis for the soul. Fashion is big business, but nothing is bigger than religion.”

Topshop’s celebrity guru, the iconic Kate Moss, has designed a burqa thong collection to be unveiled under the Bryant Park tent. Fashionistas get ready. Bristol Palin has consented to join the catwalk.

The progressive Cordoba House will feature an auditorium with Corinthian leather seats, a health club, library and camel rides around Ground Zero. Not to be outdone, Top Mosque’s new layout includes a henna tattoo salon and raw bar. Prayer mats will be conveniently placed in dressing rooms so shoppers may genuflect to themselves. Minarets as water towers are proposed for the roof of the landmarked structure for the D.J. to call the faithful. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has yet to calendar the item in what promises to be a fractious hearing.

Mayor Bloomingdales supports the transition on constitutional grounds, but believes the Supreme Court will decide whether Top Mosque is exempt from real estate taxes. The mayor commented, “We must not infringe upon the First Amendment right of ‘Separation of Mosque and State.’ This is America where we sanctify the business of religion and the religion of business, and that’s the bottom line.”

In New York City, the conversion of deconsecrated churches and synagogues to discos, condominiums, garages and dog kennels is nothing new. But never before have we seen the reverse: department stores converted to houses of worship. In a related development, the Tea Party is crusading to amend the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal rights. Their kampf, to secure the equal right of Christian churches to open in secular shopping malls. They claim malls are America’s true cathedrals and should aptly have churches, so that “Christmas can be observed where it belongs — in a shopping mall.”

Bill O’Reilly brayed on Fox last night, “It’s time to put Jesus back into Christmas shopping. That said, Jesus would not shop at Top Mosque.” Taking the idea further, he called for drive-thru, fast-food chapels. “It’s a match made in paradise, so harried suburban commuters could conveniently order a bacon cheeseburger and a shake along with their prayers.”

Also weighing in is performance artist Reverend Billy. He explained, “During the upcoming holiday season, I will comfort all reprobate worshoppers. Their sins can be absolved at the Church of Stop Shopping. Our choir will hold redemption services outside of Top Mosque. Hallelujah!”

Michelle and Barack have not revealed whether they will take the first family shopping at Top Mosque. During his recent press conference, Obomba chafed at how his wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as tensions with Iran, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Palestine, Libya and Somalia, are merely coincidental and not a crusade against Islam, but a poorly disguised C.I.A. strategy to steal their oil. He then stated, “The Constitution guarantees the right of my family to go shopping anywhere, but Michelle already has a sleeveless, fuchsia burqua she wears to intimate gatherings at the White House.”

A shopping president has a precedent on Broadway. In 1863, prior to her husband’s address at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, shopaholic Mary Lincoln dragged Abe to Broome St. and Broadway to shop at Haughwout department store. This cast-iron palazzo was the Tiffany of its day. She selected a porcelain tea service for the White House.

The exchange of ideas and goods between New York and the Middle East has a history lengthier than a Saharan caravan. In 1867, fabled Haughwout designed chandeliers and candelabras for the Sultan of Oman to illuminate his harems in Muscat. Shortly thereafter, the first falafel stand opened on the Lower East Side.

It is written: “To make good hummus you have to crack some chickpeas.”