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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Abandoned explores The Great American Pyramid, current home to Bass Pro Shops

Illustration for article titled Abandoned explores The Great American Pyramid, current home to Bass Pro Shops
Photo: Raymond Boyd (Getty Images)

The pyramids of Egypt are extraordinary monuments to the culture, scientific achievements, and grandeur of one of the ancient world’s most powerful empires. The Great American Pyramid, on the other hand, is mostly a monument to the strange path of excess capital in the postwar United States.

In the latest video from Abandoned, Jake Williams explores the history of Memphis, Tennessee’s Great American Pyramid (a.k.a., the Memphis Pyramid, the Pyramid Arena, The Pyramid, the Tomb Of Doom, and the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid). The bizarre structure dates back to the mid-1950s when a man decided that the American Memphis needed a bit of Egyptian Memphis flavor. In the 80s, that man’s son managed to actually get the project underway. He envisioned The Pyramid as a sports arena and wanted it painted gold. Over time, it was also pitched as a music venue and museum, and it ended up attracting a whole lot of public funding.


“Soon there will be another occasion for awe. Soon mankind will be dazzled by a new wonder of the world,” an old investor’s video states atop triumphant music. “A vibrant message will ring out: Feel the power of the Great American Pyramid.”

Anyway, the building is now a Bass Pro Shops. The road to its current fate started when people discovered that its shape meant that acoustics weren’t great for live music and athletes found the huge empty space above them “intimidating” when trying to play. Tourists weren’t very interested in it either and basketball games held there ended up losing money. It sat neglected then entirely abandoned until, in 2010, Bass Pro Shops took up residence and turned its interior into a lavish, swamp-themed retail store and bizarre hotel.

(Before then, human pork roast Alex Jones made videos claiming The Pyramid was cursed because its creators were occultists looking to further the Illuminati’s mind control schemes. Weirdly enough, his claim that these dastardly villains “put a crystal skull on the top” is actually true; there’s one welded onto it.)

Now, the Pyramid stands as a tomb filled with broken entrepreneurial dreams—and aisles upon aisles of fishing rods, bow and arrows, and camo jackets. One day, when the alien archaeologists come to make sense of our vanished civilization, they’ll have to conclude that America was a nation that treasured nothing more than shopping for outdoor sporting goods and eating together in strange concrete huts.

Watch the entire video here.

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.