We're in Los Angeles for a long weekend while I attend the Association of Health Care Journalists convention in a hotel next to Universal Studios.
We took in Universal City Walk, a larger-than-life, hyper-theatrical, open-air shopping mall near the entrance to Universal's theme park. City Walk combines the most extreme elements of tackiness and conspicuous consumption that America has to offer.
So let me get this straight. People who live in boring track-home neighborhoods without the kind of walkable shopping areas that form the heart of real communities get in their cars and burn high-priced gas driving to this giant fake main street that's little more than an overpriced movie set where they mingle with strangers they'll never encounter again.
Welcome to the American dream.
Mall operators redeemed themselves a bit by showing us ABBA's classic "Waterloo" video on the big big screen that overlooks City Walk's main plaza.