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?
Tags: glendale mall