LOS ANGELES - Ten months ago, I accompanied a visiting Australian columnist, Tim Blair, on a fact-finding mission to inquire whether there is a correlation between worldwide anti-war slogans and American public reality. Our first (and last) stop: the Glendale Galleria shopping mall.
Glendale is a middle-class city of 200,000, 10 kilometres due north of downtown Los Angeles. Though Disney headquarters is just a skate-ride away, and Hollywood a five-minute drive, the Galleria is psychically farther from Tinseltown than is Toronto. There are fewer grips and aspiring B-actresses per capita in Glendale than in LA or Toronto. You're more likely to bump into Sean Penn in Baghdad, or Charlton Heston on Mount Sinai.
STOP MAD COWBOY DISEASE! Among the 150 or so stores spread out over three floors and two wings, we found a single sad outlet hawking cowboy boots to an unimpressed public. A half-dozen sneaker retailers, meanwhile, were thick with teens in baggy pants and wallet-chains. Los Angeles may be an under-appreciated cauldron of country music, but around these parts you're more likely to see snakeskin on a left-leaning punk-rocker than anyone with access to The West Wing, let alone the White House.
THE AMERICAN FLAG