By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 16, 2006 at 11:33 AM
Visiting the mall during off hours can be an interesting people watching experience, as I discovered this morning when I had to make a first-thing visit to the Apple store at Mayfair.

The store opens at 10 a.m, but I got there about an hour early to get a cup of coffee and a primo spot outside the door in order to get dibs on the "Genius Bar."

Instead of a deserted mall, what I found was a hive of activity and inactivity.

For every truck driver unloading produce into the P.F. Chang's, there was a couple sitting on the plush chairs in the mall chatting. For every maintainance worker pushing a cleaning cart, there was a mother strolling with her young kids. Alongside the mall walkers -- expected -- were people on cell phones apparently doing business -- less expected.

In the Barnes and Noble, there appeared to be traveling salespeople conducting business from the cafe. There were also groups of teens milling about doing, well, doing nothing.

There were also people waiting outside stores that weren't open yet. I know why one of them was me, but I wasn't sure what could be so pressing inside the Pottery Barn as to warrant the expectant customers. With five minutes of lifting the gate, the Apple store had more than a dozen people inside, at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday!

In the end, I came to realize, again, the truth of the argument that the mall is the modern American equivalent of the town square. Even when there's no apparent reason to be there, we just can't seem to resist.
Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.