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Chatting with the creator of Americana at Brand Memes about what it takes to be a successful presence in L.A. discourse and the accounts’ surprising real-world impact.
If you’re a terminally online Angeleno, you’ve probably encountered Americana at Brand Memes. Every day, the popular Twitter and Instagram account cracks jokes about the weird quirks of the Americana, the city of Glendale and other L.A.-area oddities. If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by the sheer size of the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, felt trapped in the Burbank Empire Center’s parking lot, craved Zankou Chicken or dreaded the thought of picking up a friend at LAX, you’ll find Americana Memes highly relatable.
While the accounts’ creator would prefer to remain anonymous, he did share a few details about himself: The Southern California native who now lives in Glendale near the Americana is a comedy writer who primarily worked in TV. While he won’t say much more, Los Angeleno was able to speak with the brains behind Americana Memes about how the mall inspires him, the account’s bizarre real-world impact and its opposition to Americana developer Rick Caruso’s mayoral campaign.
[The following conversation has been edited for space and clarity.]
Los Angeleno: So what inspired Americana Memes?
Americana at Brand Memes: A while back, I went down a rabbit hole of finding ultra-niche meme pages on Facebook. I found this one that was “People Who Work at Movie Theater Memes.” What they were talking about was so foreign to me, but they were getting lots of likes and engagement. It was fascinating. Someone else showed me their small town in upstate New York had a meme page with stuff like jokes about a weird three-way intersection without stop signs. It gave me the idea that Glendale should have one — specifically about the Americana. At the time, I kept finding myself at that place and felt like there were so many weird things about that mall.
L.A.: This has been a three-year journey for you.
A.B.M.: I know, it’s crazy. Truly when it started I was like, “This’ll last three days, and I’ll get 10 followers.” The opposite has happened. I never thought it would last so long.
L.A.: So what’s kept you going?
A.B.M.: Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with A) people liking it and B) there was a transition when the pandemic hit [and] I started making memes about the greater Los Angeles area. I felt weird making memes about a place I didn’t want to encourage people to go to, but I found people would like when I’d talk about the then-unbuilt Target on Sunset and Western or Cugurt in Los Feliz, which isn’t around anymore. It started engaging people on a larger level, and [that] encouraged me that this had legs that could go on a long time.
L.A.: So what’s the weirdest thing at the Americana?
A.B.M.: I’ve been inside the apartment complex a couple of times and never saw another soul the entire time. It’s very nice, but it’s also very weird. You can’t hear the Sinatra from the fountain or any of the customers while you’re inside. … There’s a pool and fitness center above the Katsuya, RIP. It feels like you’re at an entirely different place.
L.A.: Who knows that you are Americana Memes?
A.B.M.: My close circle of friends knows because I’ve been talking about ultra-niche memes for a while now.
L.A.: Have you ever felt tempted to reveal your identity?
A.B.M.: Not really, I like the anonymity. When accounts put their creators front and center it ruins the illusion. You’re like, “Oh, it’s just some person.”
L.A.: When were you last at the Americana?
A.B.M.: I was there two days ago. I usually go once a week, but at the height of it, pre-pandemic, I was there almost five days a week; it was on my walk. I was constantly there just trying to find new and funny things. The pandemic killed that momentum, but I still find myself there once or twice a week.
L.A.: Let’s talk about how Americana Memes has influenced the real world, starting with the Nicole Kidman AMC Theatres ad. When AMC shortened the ad in December, you launched a Change.org petition demanding the full-length version be restored. And they did it! Citing that petition as one reason why. Did you expect it to be successful?
A.B.M.: No, not at all. I was mostly doing it so I could tweet a picture of the Change.org petition, and I thought, “Either I photoshop this or I make it.” And making it was less work. I don’t think I proofread it or anything because I thought nobody would click this link, but it ended up with 600 signatures, which took me by surprise. I was just making it for the meme! To find out they restored it because of that was kind of shocking.
L.A.: You recently got a shoutout on NBC’s “Mr. Mayor.” Did you know about that beforehand?
A.B.M.: No, that was a wild thing. I got a notification that Ted Danson mentioned me in a tweet, and I assumed it was somebody who changed their name to “Ted Danson;” the real Ted Danson’s not tweeting at me. I opened it and went, “Oh, my god.” I watched the episode and found out it was on national television because I assumed it was an outtake. No writer has said, “Oh yeah, I pitched that joke.” The credited writer for that episode is Tina Fey, and I don’t think she knows Americana Memes. But still, a wild thing. I never expected that could happen when I created this account three years ago.
L.A.: I love that in the episode you’re considered part of the L.A. press. On Twitter, Danson described you as a “cultural institution that must be protected at all costs.”
A.B.M.: That’s the hall of fame for me. That was the day my phone, as me, started blowing up. All my friends texting me that it was crazy.
L.A.: On the subject of mayors, you came out in opposition to Americana developer Rick Caruso’s mayoral campaign the day he formally announced he was running. When did you decide you needed to comment?
A.B.M.: I feel for like a year or two he’d been talking about it, and it was on my radar that he might run, as he had threatened to in the past. I’d been kind of stressed about it because I don’t want people to think I support him or that I’ve been platforming him because I created this account about his mall. So when he announced, I was like, “OK, I have to say I don’t support him.” And I hope people knew that before, that just because he made a mall I like walking around does not mean I think he should be running the city of Los Angeles. I’ve been taking it day by day at the moment. It’s a very hard subject because I want to make fun of him, but I don’t want to be flippant about it either. It’s a serious thing, and he’s essentially trying to buy the election, which I feel powerless to even try to stop.
I find myself in a very weird position. When I created the account, I never thought I’d have to worry about the Los Angeles mayoral election. Now I feel a little responsibility to say something when he does stupid things. I’m still figuring it out.
L.A.: It must give you some relief that his campaign is based out of the Grove and not the Americana.
A.B.M.: Yeah, as a Glendale resident, I can’t vote for the mayor, but since the account talks about Los Angeles, I feel like I have to be on the ball when he says stuff. It’s a weird time for the account.
L.A.: I’d say you’ve managed to keep the serious political stuff in the voice of Americana Memes. I see you’ve also been retweeting another parody account — Rick Caruso’s Yacht.
A.B.M.: That’s a great account. They’re focused on Rick Caruso and that’s great. I’m trying to spin a lot of plates trying to be funny while also bringing him up when it’s relevant. Rick Caruso’s Yacht is very focused on the mayoral campaign, and I want to make sure I don’t turn overnight into a fully political account.
L.A.: Has there been any blowback to your criticism of Caruso?
A.B.M.: A little bit on Instagram. On Twitter, I don’t get a lot of people pushing back. It seems like for the most part, people are on board [that] a billionaire shouldn’t be running the city just because he created some malls.
L.A.: By the way, how do you respond to events so quickly? You had Will Smith/Chris Rock memes up within half an hour of The Slap happening.
A.B.M.: I just try to keep my finger on what’s going on as much as possible. The internet moves so fast, so I try to be as quick as I can. … I have a rule that if it takes more than 10 minutes to come up with the meme, it’s not worth doing.
L.A.: It probably helps that you have a set of recurring gags you can always come back to — like your first Will Smith post was about Din Tai Fung.
A.B.M.: It’s nice to have a vocabulary of stuff everyone’s already on board for that I can use — but I have to mix it up. I can’t keep going to the same well.
L.A: Have you ever made a post you were afraid was too niche? This is already a niche account, so have you ever thought of something and wondered, “Is anybody going to get this?”
A.B.M.: I haven’t done it in a while, but the gigantic bump when you enter the parking garage on Brand for the Americana. For some reason, I always think that’ll be too niche, but people always resonate with it. I haven’t tried to tweet about it yet, but I’ve always felt that Mike Diamond, “The Smell Good Plumber,” might be too niche.
L.A.: So, we’ve come to the final and most important question: If I’m going to the Americana, where should I park?
A.B.M.: You know the answer to this, it’s the Galleria! Although the ticket taker at the AMC told me he parks on Harvard, so that’s the new scoop I’ve got.