Last night, I met Ash for the first time.
He came over to do some social distance photos.
He was born in Egypt and came here when he was five. Ash lives with his mother and his 5-year-old son in Reseda. He is divorced and hurt his shoulder playing pool. Slight, medium height, shaved head, he has a kind, soft, shy demeanor.
Like most these days he has work and no work. I didn’t ask more. Nearly a quarter of the people in Los Angeles have no jobs. But Ash is sadly cheerful. He is devoted to his son and his scents. I asked my subject to wear a mask except when I photographed him.
We walked around my neighborhood, after 6, when the light was dimming and people were walking dogs and children. Some had masks, others did not.
You would never know something malign was afoot in the land.
There is a mid-century calm on the blocks that radiate off Kittridge west of Kester: Saloma, Lemona, Norwich, Noble, Haynes. The houses are nearly 70 years old. Not rich enough to be torn down, not quite poor enough for decay, they are like their residents: solid, homely, neat, clean, enduring without drama.
Except for the walkers, there are hardly any people outside. Nobody gardening, nobody socializing, nobody doing anything social.
This area has been dead at night since “I Love Lucy” went off the air.
There are a couple of houses for sale. I saw one, a not pretty ranch house with an asphalt driveway and crummy design. It’s for sale at $1.2 million. Another fancy one with a vinyl fence in front is just under a million.
Who is buying these houses? Not the unemployed or the homeless.
One just sold across the street from me, a fancy Z Gallerie style redesigned Spanish home, $1.3 million. It had been remodeled, non-stop, for four years, the owner lavishing last minute changes on the property while vacationing in Turkey and Mykonos. Just when you thought the remodeling was over, a new element was added, like a chandelier in the carport, or double oversized Buddha heads overlooking the hot tub.
Earlier this week, the new owners moved in. Yesterday, roofers came to pull down all the clay tiles and re-roof it.
Some have discretionary income, others line up in their cars to get bags of donated food.
Last evening, on the streets around here, the little ranch houses from the 1950s were going into another night. A man was testing paint colors on his garage. Along the sidewalk, beside the house with the American flag and the backyard basketball hoop, an old man with a red bandana mask walked with two little girls and their dog.
And Ash from Scent Trails was leaning against a tree, perhaps dreaming of his next lilac infused adventure.