Americana at Brand meme master on ‘greatest crime of all time’

Written by Zeke Reed

Mr. Glen Dale created this original meme using a photo of host Steves Chiotakis’ pen. Credit: Mr. Glen Dale.

Americana at Brand is a luxury shopping destination in Glendale and one of developer and former mayoral candidate Rick Caruso’s prize properties. It is also the inspiration behind a buzzy meme account featuring LA-specific inside jokes. 

Americana at Brand memes operate across Twitter and Instagram with over 140,000 combined followers. The account pokes fun at local landmarks, niche neighborhoods, and collective woes over getting to LAX, finding parking, and dealing with inclement weather.  

The person behind the account is notoriously elusive, and his voice was modulated for this segment. He even visited the KCRW studio in full disguise, wearing a gold bodysuit, sunglasses, Dodgers hat, and a t-shirt with an image of the Universal Studios minion that overhangs the 101. He calls the roadside icon the “Statue of Liberty of LA … it’s the best thing we’ve got.”

Mr. Glen Dale, as he prefers to be known, claims concealing his identity is to preserve the mystery and intrigue driving the schtick. 

“I prefer to remain anonymous … because I think it's funnier if you don't know who it is. … I can be incognito and can go to the Americana [where] no one recognizes me. It's like the greatest crime of all time. … I’m like the Glendale Banksy.”

Despite his professed criminality, he’s never been served with a cease and desist from Caruso or his mall. To the contrary, they once invited him in for coffee.

“I came in ready to fight or not fight … and they just wanted to meet me. I left like, oh, I don't know what just happened. And that was it.”

When the account started, it was dedicated solely to the mall and its cross street rival the Glendale Galleria. But when the pandemic struck, Mr. Dale broadened the scope of his enterprise to take aim at all of LA.

“Angelenos are very fickle people, me included” he notes. “Anytime the weather is more [or less] than 70 to 80 [degrees Fahrenheit], we complain.”

Mr. Dale’s process for creating a meme starts one of two ways. 

“I’ll see a funny picture, and then I'll try and think what's the LA equivalent of trying to make this into a meme. Or I will be driving around LA, and I'll see something funny, and then I try to visualize the joke through memes.”

Beyond complaints about the weather, traffic, and LAX, he heavily features several unconventional LA icons like the “Mother of the 110.” The “mother” is a multistory mural of violinist Julie Gigante that lords over the freeway downtown. 

“It's been there since I was a kid. … She has been burned into my brain. … People have commented that they've seen her more than their real mother.”

Mr. Dale frequently shouts out the account’s namesake mall, which he claims is “the greatest mall in LA.” He is quick to put it above Caruso’s other crown jewel, The Grove, which he calls a “disaster zone.”

Among his favorite spots at the Americana is famed Taiwanese dumpling house Din Tai Fung, whose founder recently passed. Mr. Dale claims it is the “greatest chain ever … it kicks the Cheesecake Factory’s butt.” The restaurant is notorious for only sitting people when their entire party arrives, a frequent source of content for Americana at Brand. 

Despite his viral success, Mr. Dale claims not to have made any money off of his memes. He views them as a side hobby to his day job as a comedy writer. When asked about grand plans moving forward, he says that the account has already surpassed his wildest expectations. 

“When I created the account, I never thought more than 1000 people would follow it. So all of this is truly just gravy. I never expected it to go this big.”

So what’s the secret to his success? Mr. Dale believes it comes down to being hyper-targeted in his approach. 

“I'm just speaking to those people that have been asked to take someone to LAX, or have been stuck on the 134 by Forest Lawn [Cemetery], or have been on that terrible eight-way intersection in North Hollywood, or have walked up the Hollywood Bowl to their cheap seats and got all sweaty before the concert.”

True to form, he even memed host Steve Chiotakis’ DIY palm tree made from a marker and scotch tape — by turning it into both the In-N-Out Burger logo and the palm trees on Highland Blvd. 

Host Steve Chiotakis’ pen is turned into the In-N-Out Burger logo by the meme master behind Americana at Brand. Credit: Mr. Glen Dale.