Unclassified Info: Checking out the less-beaten path

I was on my way to Home Depot last Saturday when I happened to find myself on the corner of California and Central avenues. It’s not normally the route I take, but I’m the kind of person who often deviates from my usual path — a habitual pattern of always seeking a more efficient solution and not wanting to be predictable in case my siblings decide to pool their money together and hire a hit man.

But that’s another story.

At this particular intersection, I noticed two of the corners were dirt lots surrounded by the obligatory chain-link fence. At first I didn’t think much of it. But then it occurred to me that I had no recollection of what had been on those two corners prior to their current weed tenants.

As I searched my brain, I gazed northward on Central. I then saw the windows of Cort Furniture brightly painted with “Going out of Business” and “Everything Must Go”.

The cumulative evidence of failing businesses saddened me. Not that these three pieces of property are the only signs of economic hardship around Glendale. Two prime corner business locations at Broadway and Brand — the former Borders and Mervyn’s — now sit empty, the latter since 2008.

Many businesses have left the Glendale Marketplace. And no doubt there are other vacant properties and offices in the surrounding area.

I’m sure much of it has to do with natural selection. Borders was the victim of a society that reads less and buys more books over the Internet than from brick-and-mortar establishments. And Mervyn’s clearly failed to provide the types of goods and service people were willing to support en masse.

Then there’s the Americana at Brand and Rick Caruso. It’s the bright, shiny penny that has been grabbing a large share of consumer’s attention. I’m not indicting Caruso for developing it or for his desire to expand it all the way to Temecula. He has every right to put up his vision of what people want and if it works, what can you say?

I concede his iteration of a shopping center with al fresco dining and a choreographed fountain is slightly more appealing than the one across the street with a handful of frogs that spit at passersby.

That said, does the allure of a singularly successful shopping area in Glendale help or hinder the city as a whole? Is the Americana on the way to becoming the only game in town?

As I sat in my car staring out at the empty commercial lots and doomed furniture store, I cursed myself for falling prey to the glitz of the Americana, which has succeeded in turning my head with great regularity. When I think of going out, I am often quick to consider going there first and other places second.

In short, I have become a victim to that thing I try to avoid — routine. I was taking the same route. My moves were becoming predictable.

As I was struck by that notion, I decided a change was in order. I needed to deviate off my own beaten path just like I do when I drive. Perhaps I would find something better in the process. If not, at least I would throw my sibling’s hit man off the trail for another week or two.

I had wanted to see the movie “Cowboys and Aliens” for months. I’ve been enamored with the title since I first heard it. In industry terms, the name itself is the perfect elevator pitch. Who wouldn’t want to make a movie called “Cowboys and Aliens”? You barely even have to explain the premise! Genius! Again, I digress.

Since it was just released, I knew the crowds were something I didn’t want to face. I’m not a big fan of mobs, which got me thinking about my options. I discovered the film was playing at the Marketplace. This was my chance to break free from the hypnotic trance of Carusoville and support a business elsewhere in Glendale.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I walked into the Marketplace theater five minutes before show time, without having to stand in any lines or dodge any trolleys. Once inside, I remembered how big the theaters across the street from the Americana are! Evidently, a lot of people have forgotten because I saw the movie with about 24 other people.

No crowds. No people talking behind me. No teenagers texting in front of me. It was glorious.

As I left the theater and headed home, I wondered how many people had endured a crowd and waited in line across the street to see the exact same movie — and had done so for the promise of the bright, shiny penny.

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at gh@garyhuerta.com.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World