If one were seeking calmness, emptiness, and quiet, a strange but real place to find it might be found on Victory Boulevard, north of Alameda in Burbank.
Here, after 6pm, on a Friday evening, between the close of business and the setting of the sun, I walked, with a friend and a camera, along this stretch.
Back here, in the shadow of the mountains, somewhere east of the Golden State Freeway, the old Burbank hangs on, consistent in its ethos of cleanliness, orderliness, workaday business and enterprise, un-self conscious, without irony, quietly fixing cars; selling donuts, batteries, oil and lube jobs.
One-story buildings are occasionally broken up by 1970s English style castles and 1990s glass block offices. But the silent majority of style remains firmly in Dwight D. Eisenhower’s hands. There is no litter, no graffiti, no people selling things on the sidewalk, no people laying on the sidewalk or sleeping on benches, no dog shit on the grass.
But some people are suffering behind the tidiness.
At the very beginning of our walk, a middle-aged man was smoking a cigarette outside of a motel near Frank’s Restaurant. He told us he was an animator and had two sons, ages 13 and 15. He had lost his job, and later his home, and was evicted and now living in temporary housing room with his kids. He was white, and perhaps a little younger than me, friendly and well-spoken.
Yet, he too embodied something old and old time in his friendliness, as if he had stepped out of the Great Depression and into one of Dorothea Lange’s photographs.
I didn’t take his picture but his words are seared into me.