Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Americana, Shmamericana

The last thing we needed in Glendale was another Mall. We already have the Galleria. We have the Marketplace and we have the … uh … oh yeah – the Exchange. Another mall was just going to create more traffic problems downtown. It wasn’t going to promote world peace. It wasn’t going to improve the standard of living for the average Glendalian. So, along came Americana and I was sure downtown was going to hell in a hand basket. That’d be it. Gridlock city USA. We’d have a few more stores and some more restaurants – most of which we could get to with a short drive to Pasadena. Aside from that, a new mall just means more traffic. We don’t need more traffic.

The boys needed to go to Barnes and Noble. Yes – in my house, “I’m out of books” qualifies as a need. Enough of a need that even after a long day of cleaning out the Garage, (which is a long day indeed) I happily let the boys jump in the truck and we were off. Our deal at Barnes & Noble is pretty simple. They get 30 minutes to choose two books. This is because one of the boys could take forever choosing one book and the other, given more than five minutes will come back with a wagonload.

Now I know Glendale. It was five PM. Gridlock city waited, but I outsmarted the traffic patterns and took Harvard straight in to Americana. (That’d Harvard street – a Harvard grad would have taken Brand … but that’s a subject for another day). The boys and I drove straight into the parking lot, (I steered – they coached) – saw a sign that said there were 90 spaces on the third floor (none on the second and the first is evidently for people who are more important than me) – went to the third floor and found a space and parked. Wow – ok – so we’re at Americana. So far it’s a clean parking garage with big spaces – which I have to say is great. But it’s still just another mall.

We went to the elevator and got on and a guy in a suit was there to push the button for us. This actually saved a fight. In my house Matthew (11) loves to push the button and Mitch (14) loves to torture him by getting to the button first. Matthew could get there first because he’s generally faster, but he doesn’t because he tends to stop and smell the roses … but I digress. Anyway, they burst into the elevator and immediately recoil against the windows as there is a man in a strange – Disneyish outfit standing there to push the button for us. Hm .. maybe the Galleria has these too, but if they do I don’t remember.

We jump off the elevator on the bottom floor onto the carpet(?) and head out into the mall. I have to admit that here, at least for a moment, I was a little lost. I felt a little like I’d just walked under the train station into Disneyland. Josh Grobin and Celine Dion were singing a duet on an invisible sound system, the Jewel City diner was busy and there were people everywhere. Here another weird thing happened. They looked happy and they were all looking at me. What is this, an Old Navy commercial? No, wait, they weren’t looking at me (thank God). They were looking at the fountain. By the way – I mean everybody. Cheesecake Factory waiters and waitresses, shoppers, strollers, gawkers, all were transfixed watching the fountain, um … ok – Dance, to the music.

“Don’t get distracted boys, you’re on the clock.” We all proceed to Barnes and Noble. Ah .. familiar ground. We ride the escalators to the third floor and .. holy cow … the place is huge. Feeling doomed to beatings later because we can’t choose only two books or get out in less than ½ hour I head off to cook books while the boys head to their respective sections. Not more than 15 minutes later, they’re back. Happy. The books they wanted are here. Reading can ensue at home. The world is spinning on its axis. We’ll be ok.

We headed back to the car, riding the escalators up and admiring the…wait…. Ok – yes …. the chandelier, in the parking garage. Not just any chandelier, a kind of a cool, deco number that must be at least 15 feet tall.

I drove out of the parking lot thinking, God Bless America. Not God Bless Americana mind you. Just, God Bless America. In America, if somebody has a vision and the energy and wherewithal to make something happen, they can make it happen. Sometimes it can take longer than it should, because those of us with less vision may want to slow things down to make sure we will not be pained, but in the end a good thing can be done. That’s what Americana is … a good thing. As we drove back out of the parking lot and off toward home I had a little time to think about what it was that had given me this sense that the world must actually be ok. After some reflection I decided that it was simply that the Americana is just basically, right. There is beautiful space, some great things to watch when the people are a bore, cool stores and restaurants and a quality of construction that transports a person to another world. What a lovely surprise.

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