Glendale Mall: American Consumerism in All Its Glory


By Carol Johnson

During our trip to California, we flew into Los Angeles to visit Carol’s two kids, Amy and Brody. Having been long-time residents of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California, Los Angeles has always been a mystery to us, a somewhat exotic make-believe place symbolized by Disneyland and Hollywood.

We had booked a motel in Glendale, a town located next to North Hollywood, where Amy lives with her husband Nick. Coming from India, everything about Glendale seemed foreign. Its pristine streets lined with expensive upscale condominium blocks seemed too exclusive for us humble ex-pats. Our first day there, we went on a walk to explore this place.

Across the street from our motel, there was a narrow alleyway that led to the new Glendale Galleria Mall. I think California invented the contemporary shopping mall, and the idea is still being perfected. This mall is a good example.


On the other side of the alleyway we emerged into the glorious Mall, seen below. A faux Eiffel Tower looms over the central plaza that is surrounded by four-story condominium buildings whose ground floors are occupied by upscale stores and restaurants.


In the center of the mall is an open “park” with green grass and a water fountain.


Near the fountain there was a colorful invitation to a children’s play area.


“Side streets” radiated from the central plaza. They weren’t actual streets, but just pedestrian walkways lined with more shops. There was even a parking area for baby strollers. I think many of these strollers were probably pushed by a nanny, not the actual mother who has no time for things like this.


Most of the stores were outposts of the biggest retailers in the world. Of course, Apple Computer was represented here.



We had fun photographing the window designs. Richard was taken with the mannequins that had no faces. “Your face here, if you buy me,” they said. Or, alternatively, “We’re just vacuous tools of the American retail economy.”


More store windows. The reflections create amusing visual effects.




Some of the interior displays were fantastic in their clever design. Everything shouts “BUY ME!” Again, note the faceless mannequins.



Of course, Disney always maintains a presence at these contemporary malls.


We wandered into the lobby of one of the condominium buildings. How elegant! Who can afford to live in these buildings, we wondered? They have valet parking, to give you an idea of who lives here.


Carol insists on maintaining her expat identity by sporting her precious Team India cricket jersey. These wealthy Glendale residents may live in luxury, but I bet they don’t know the difference between a googly and a leg bye!


We got some good views of the Mall by going in the glass elevator up to the roof of one of the buildings.


Back on the street, the visual senses are assaulted by color and reflection. So elegant!


Here’s one of the numerous sidewalk cafes along the way.


There were the tracks of a trolley that ran through the whole mall area, another reason to come and bring your kids.


Hop on and hop off at your favorite retail outlet.


And for junk food addicts, fifty ways to challenge your health.


Returning to where we entered the Mall, we get another look at the pretentious display of American “exceptionalism,” using symbols borrowed from Europe.


While we stood there, music began to play and the fountain began to dance in time to it. We even have a video of this. (See below)


Here is a short video of the fountain, dancing to the music of “It’s a Wonderful Day.”


On our first day in Southern California, we had so much fun snapping photos of a lifestyle that we have left far behind us in our retirement journey. But our adventure was abruptly ended when we were approached by a security guard who told us to stop taking pictures of people. Apparently a woman had complained to the authorities about the two elderly people who were threatening her family’s security by taking clandestine snaps. We were so saddened by the prevailing fear among these privileged Californians. Oh, America, what has become of you?


12 Responses to “Glendale Mall: American Consumerism in All Its Glory”

  1. ashokanjana2000 Says:

    Dear Ms.Carol and are among us – ‘Indians’, and we are excited to give various poses for your cameras, as you well aware ..missed you people and were eagerly waiting for your blogs..!!

  2. cspacenz Says:

    maryjoma writes: “Smart answer but it doesn’t work on the spiritual path ”

    Silly me, I should have known you might be on a ‘spiritual path’, what a lovely, quaint idea that is. Self-righteous and deluded, you must be very special !

  3. cspacenz Says:

    @maryjoma writes: “As for cspacenz’s comments: I don’t even want to think how your lessons will come to rid you of your arrongance”

    The good news is that you don’t have to concern yourself about my apparent ‘arrongance’ in the same way as I don’t have to be concerned with your self-righteousness !

  4. maryjoma Says:

    Nice pix. I hope you had a good time with family.

    That said, do you really think there was nothing wrong with taking photos of other people’s children without their parent’s permission and posting it on the world wide web where God knows what crazy ideas may come to crazy people. To top it all these are the kids of giga wealthy people who have challenges of their own – ask Patty Hearst or Calvin Klien.

    I know with the proliferation of cameras and cellphone varieties, people take pix without thinking but when you are walking the spiritual path we must stop and realize that every one is an image of God and is entitled to his/her privacy – be it a rich kid, a poor sadhu, a bird or an animal or a flower. When or if you are really doing the spiritual practices, you will reach a point when you come to that realization.

    As for cspacenz’s comments: I don’t even want to think how your lessons will come to rid you of your arrongance.

    • marilynsandperl Says:

      In my opinion, I personally feel very blessed to live in a world where artists, photographers, and filmmakers have taken the images of flowers, birds, animals, and humans and shared them with the world.These images have often made a huge impact on society -capturing exotic places and important historical moments. I know they have opened up my world. In my opinion, it is God’s glory, which is meant to be seen.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      I also feel the people are the photographic subject that is most interesting, and what is best, often are candid shots. Most places this is fine, some places it is not. It depends on the culture. I am saddened that this seem to be not so true in the USA. It seems that fear has taken hold of more people there.

    • maryjoma Says:

      I agree – IF you do it with their permission. Even Bhagavan said ask a tree for permission before you pluck a fruit or a flower.

      Otherwise it is a form of entitlement or stealing or invasion of privacy – now I don’t mean it in the way politicians do but in a very deep spiritual way.

      For now, keep this at the back of your mind. As you evolve on the spiritual path, you will realize what I am saying at a deep cellular level. A lot of people I know in Tiruvannamalai have experienced it. It just happens very suddenly and then you realize you were always aware of it. I guess it is one of blessings of being with Arunachala.

  5. Ronald Faraldo Says:

    It´s ALL just part of the dance.

  6. marilynsandperl Says:

    Hahaha! Fifty ways to challenge your health…that’s funny! So glad to hear from you, Richard and Carol! But I don’t know what’s up with Glendale. You must have walked into some strange parallel universe.(And it looked like there were others filming the fountain dance, too!) Our malls certainly don’t look like that out here in the Boston area! Glad to see Carol wearing her Team India cricket jersey! Miss you guys!

  7. mysticresearcher Says:

    “Coming from India, everything about Glendale seemed foreign.”

    I think, if anything that Hollywood forgot to do or has to do, is a film on an American returing to America and discovery its glory in its majestic style and power.

  8. cspacenz Says:

    Ahhh yes, the photographing of people has become a boig deal these days. I have seen a mother walk up to someone with a camera and demand strongly they delete photos, right then and there, that included her children. I had similar happen in Munich a couple of years ago where I was taking a photo os a general scene and and elderly woman on a bike came up and insisted I delete that shot, which of course I didn’t do !!!

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