The Improbable City.


Somewhere on top of a mountain in Beverly Hills, a mathematically harmonious modern home, constructed in 1958, was recently restored. A friend of mine lives there, in this plain, but startlingly simple box, where the sun writes straight lines and dark shadows on the white walls.

I had asked my friend if I might photograph a stunning human being inside the stunning house. So, last Saturday, I brought my medium format YashicaMat 124 camera, and the male model, Curt, up to the house and spent about two hours capturing a man at the peak of his physical condition, inside a 52 year-old building made anew through structural and cosmetic work.

Today, I spoke to Curt and he told me a story: only hours after we collaborated on these photos, he was robbed by gunpoint in Silver Lake. Two young thugs put a gun to his head and stole his bag, his phone, and his wallet. But they did not take his life.

That is the paradox of life, I guess.

It’s not to say that violence doesn’t happen in other places, but in Los Angeles it is so frightening because our sense of sybaritic luxury softens our defenses. We bask in the warm sun. We are filled with the rhythm of a sexualized and trance-like life. It lures us into a false sense of calm: we are in an endless cocktail hour. The day is mellow and then comes murder. The sun falls behind the mountain, and the water fountain in the garden plays, and the lavender, jasmine, roses and rosemary blow gently through the open door. A cat jumps up on the couch, the Santa Anas blow the palms, and the Angel of Death is on the street, hunting for her next victim.

And you thank, once again, (who that God?) that a young man, in the prime of his life was not extinguished by random and appallingly inhuman murder, while he was taking a stroll through Silver Lake.

One thought on “The Improbable City.


    Not sure if we’re headed for higher rates of crime. And based on the above, not sure if crime statistics are prone to being manipulated to make things look better than they really are.

    The downturn in the economy and now, more crucially, what some people — would-be or actual thugs included — may perceive as a more permissive culture and system (echoes of trends in Venezula or Mexico?) could pose a double whammy.

    However, considering that Los Angeles continues to draw in a mostly lower-income, lowly educated demographic, and a large number of those in other categories relocate to the fringes of the region or other cities, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone if an uptick in crime starts to manifest in areas like Silver Lake, or Echo Park, or borderline neighborhoods.


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