A friend and I took a longish walk through Bel Air early last evening. The Bel Air Hotel on Stone Canyon (portions of which are getting a little too Kardashian for my tastes), winding west on Chalon Road, up and down steep hills, up Funchal Road and then south on Bellagio down to Sunset, and then back to Stone Canyon. A quiet, settled vibe. Most of Bel Air is Neverland. Immense calm, a sense of the past. I don’t care about the wealth — I care about feelings of serenity, the sound of crickets, the proliferation of nature. Hundreds, thousands of old, well-trimmed trees. Gates, gates and more gates. Ivy-covered brick walls, adobe walls, ivy growing everywhere, the wonderfully calming fragrances, the subtlety of the lighting outside dozens upon dozens of handsome Old Spanish homes. It smells like Tuscany, like the hill country of Vietnam. And there’s very little of the vulgar, over-lighted, nouveau-riche homes you see here and there in Beverly Hills, homes that are mostly owned by clueless types (people of Middle Eastern ancestry are certainly among them), people who will never understand that the homes of wealthy folks with a touch of refinement always exude a submission to history…old-world, low-key, pre-WWII stylings. The only unpleasant aspect was the traffic — people in a hurry, driving 35 or 40 mph around sharp curves, areas where 25 or 30 mph would have been more like it.