I am working in Glendale (6 days, weeks, months?) on a “clip” TV show, inside a late 1950’s notable work of red brick architecture that stands at a jaunty angle where it meets Brand Boulevard.
Most weekdays, at lunch, I walk along hazy Brand Boulevard.
Nobody who lives in Los Angeles should be so greedy as to look a pedestrian oriented environment in the mouth, but I cannot help myself. My critical powers sometimes compel me to hate things I should love. Brand Boulevard is one of these.
Yes, it is remarkably clean. It seems safe, not too dirty, planted with trees and now studded with advanced parking meters that abolished the idiocy of one meter, one car. Like Palin’s Alaskan oil revenues, one communal meter pays for all.
Along the sidewalk, I pass crowds and restaurants filled with very well fed people. Many of them are dressed in tan or black and have stuffed every square inch of their bodies into tan suits and tan khakis. They pour out of large, horizontal, tan colored, air sealed office buildings and into a tan city where the air is never pristine enough to see a blue sky. This is a sepia coated city, sitting alongside the glorious Verdugo Mountains, but one is no more aware of the altitude than if they were in Normal, Illinois.
As one proceeds south, there is a sudden artificial mirage, appearing out of nowhere. It is the AMERICANA at Brand!
An antique streetcar carries passengers around a security patrolled outdoor mall. Ornate lampposts, green squares of sod whose lines are still visible and distinct, Santa’s House, and a strange steel structure which looks like a decapitated Eiffel Tower. These set pieces are arranged, along with Federal style brownstone fronts and Parisian apartment houses. Luxury touches include uniformed valet parking and enormous crystal-type chandeliers hanging above the street.
I wonder what it is like to live in the Americana, for the builder (Caruso) has made it possible to call this ersatz town a home. You cannot smoke or take a photograph if you are a visitor to the Americana. But lets say you are on your balcony, one of the many that overlooks a shopping garden with 24 hour a day piped in music, light shows and dancing fountains: what must it be like to have your private space be so totally appropriated and seized by these theatrical surroundings?
I don’t care to live in Glendale, which is mostly full of well-meaning monotony. But I also wouldn’t want to live in the Americana, a child’s fantasy of what a grown up city might look like. Both extremes, of dullness and over-stimulation, are critical elements of life in greater Los Angeles.
In Glendale, one descends into tanness and awakens in a musical color-filled daze.