Intersections: Finding the good and strange in Glendale

Last week, I watched with delight and surprise a one-minute video that hit the Internet this month under the title, "Hello Glendale."

Complete with filters that gave a dreamy green tint to L.A.'s iconic palm trees, the ceremonious pouring of alcohol and scenes of bowling, roller skating and cycling in the city, it made me see Glendale in a completely new light — dare I say, a really cool light.

The video and website of the same name — which carries the tagline "Let's Get Acquainted" — was so hip, so smooth, that I started to wonder who could have been behind this production. Maybe this was the answer to the year-long survey some time ago that deemed Glendale as boring and called for a rebranding campaign for the city with the slogan, "Your Life. Animated."

But as I watched it again, and then one more time to let it soak in, I couldn't help but wonder if it was the correct type of light I wanted to be viewing Glendale in, whether the video represented all sides of the fourth-largest city in L.A. County.

The video featured businesses such as Brand Bookshop, Eden Burger, JAX Bar & Grill, Mario's Italian Deli & Catering, The Famous, Rudy's of Glendale barbershop, Jewel City Bowl and The Americana at Brand.

That last one wasn't selected at random, as some domain sleuthing revealed the campaign and shiny new website belonged to Caruso Affiliated, developer of the shopping community and several other properties in Southern California.

The buzz around my social networks indicated that there were some who felt it wasn't an accurate representation of the Jewel City.

"There was a certain demographic that was totally underrepresented here," wrote one Facebook user under the "Hello Glendale" video.

Another on Twitter cautioned the makers of the video to "check the cutting room floor and try again."

Yes, the one-minute video, as many noticed, made no mention of Glendale's Armenian and Middle Eastern influence, nor did it highlight other diverse ethnic characteristics in the city, including the Korean, Thai and Mexican businesses found throughout the landscape.

A few argued that some of the businesses featured were owned by an ethnically diverse group of people and that their appearance in the promotional video had a greater chance of attracting more people to Glendale, which seemed to be the purpose anyway, than other businesses would have.

After digesting the comments, I was left torn, but still very intrigued. Many more viewings of "Hello Glendale" later, I felt like I was watching the moving Instagram account of someone much cooler and hipper than I.

Of course, asking for everyone to be represented in a short (and might I add premier) video of what seems to be a so-far-successful marketing campaign for a city might be asking for a bit too much, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing.

Perhaps that had to do with my unapologetic love for all things cultural, as well as all of Glendale's fascinating quirks that I fear would more than likely remain in the "uncool" category for an advertising specialist charged with improving the flow of people to a city — from the intriguing stories found in the crevices of Forest Lawn to the rich detail to fascinating products lurking inside the city's ethnic grocery stores.

Also considered "uncool" may be the fact that the Glendale Library boasts one of the largest and best collections of books on cats, or how about a generous visual slice of the people who enjoy life in the city by just spending a few, often hilarious hours in Conrad's?

My appreciation for Glendale comes from a different place, one that I could have only arrived at by staying long enough to peel back the city's layers. At the very least, I hope this video inspires others to seek out all the good and strange sandwiched between "boring" and "animated."


LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at

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