Regardless of the deepening recession, corporate America is working its socks off to get the nation's suddenly impoverished consumers to part with their hard-earned dollars.
An hour's drive from LA's Westside, where a shell-shocked middle-class is digesting the collapse of its share portfolios, the advertising industry has unveiled a new weapon in its battle for what remains of our wallets: "musical" roads.
The first was installed last month in Lancaster. It involved a highway being fitted with ingenious rumble strips that hum the William Tell "Overture" when driven over 55 mph.
For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the whole thing was supposed to advertise Honda Civics. But soon local youths began driving there in the middle of the night and waking residents. So last week, 18 days after it had been installed, Lancaster's musical road was unceremoniously flattened.
In this neck of the woods, advertising is constantly intruding into daily life. The other day, it emerged that 4,000 of the 11,000 billboards polluting LA's skyline have been illegally erected. The city's authorities seem unwilling, through either incompetence or corruption, to crack down on the problem. Part of their reluctance is cultural: you only have to clock the number of advert breaks on US TV – or watch an episode of Mad Men – to be reminded that America was built on branding and that commerce will always win the battle against peace'n'quiet-loving locals.
Back in Lancaster, the mayor, Rex Parris, is bizarrely (given this week's controversy) planning to further swell his coffers by letting other advertisers turn streets into "musical" roads. Thus his city will effectively become a civic jukebox.
It's a bold way of solving a budget crisis – and goodness knows, California's bankrupt local authorities need those right now – but I'm not sure I'd care for it in my backyard.
Flynt nails Palin as joke
Proof, were it needed, that Sarah Palin has completed her long journey from political sensation to national joke: The Los Angeles porn baron Larry Flynt just made an X-rated film starring a lookalike of the Alaskan governor, called Who's Nailin' Palin?
Its plot is a satirical triumph: two Russian tank drivers run out of fuel on the outskirts of Wasilla and knock on the door of a McMansion. It turns out to belong to the governor, whose husband is away racing his snowmobile. You can guess the rest...