Episode #125: A Farewell to the Caravan Book Store & The Challenges Facing L.A.

Caravan Books

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Join us this month as we talk with Donald Spivack, former Deputy Director of Policy & Operations for the CRA-LA, about the two biggest challenges facing Los Angeles: Homelessness and Open Space. We’ll also visit with Leonard Bernstein, second-generation proprietor of Caravan Book Store, which is closing at the end of this month after nearly 56 years. It is the last shop left on Downtown’s historic Booksellers Row.

We’ll also discuss the unwelcome sale of the Japanese-American landmark Historic Wintersburg for a possible self-storage facility, the Vermonica problem, big changes at the Los Angeles Times as the reporters unionize and a new era of local ownership begins, with the Save 7500 Sunset petition the community rallies to save Parisian Florist and other historic Sunset Boulevard small businesses from an out-of-scale redevelopment project, Tom Bergin’s on the ropes again, hope for retaining some of William Pereira influence in the new development proposed for his Metropolitan Water District HQ, sleuthing the shock demolition of Lawrence Halprin’s taxpayer-funded Crocker Court on Bunker Hill, Malibu’s surfing zone is added to the National Register and we hope this is good news for the neglected Adamson House, outrage and organizing as the Port of L.A.’s redevelopment arm breaks promises made to the Ports O’ Call tenants and San Pedro community and changes to San Gabriel’s outdated preservation policies.


February Sunday LAVA Salon: Poem Noir

March Sunday LAVA Salon: The Los Angeles Mall Reconsidered

LAVA Forensic Science Seminar: Wrongful Convictions: Investigatory Case Studies From the California Innocence Project


RIP Caravan Book Store (1954-2018). The last survivor of Downtown L.A.’s bookseller’s row is closing on 2/24, and with it goes a big piece of Los Angeles’ literary heart. See the 3-D scan.

Caravan Books

Betrayal of preservation promises at Historic Wintersburg, a significant Japanese-American landmark in Huntington Beach.

Can Street Art Be Moved Without Destroying It? Atlas Obscura tackles the Vermonica problem. The Cranky Preservationist stops by, too: Episode 15: Not Vermonica Blues.

Big changes at the Los Angeles Times: the reporters have unionized, then the inept Chicago owners sold the paper to a local owner. The looming question: will the Times be able to remain in its namesake building, which it no longer owns?

A petition is launched to “Save 7500 Sunset” seeking to preserve two blocks of small businesses in Hollywood, including Parisian Florist, one of the finest vintage storefronts we’ve got.

Tom Bergin’s is on the ropes, again.

Renderings released for proposed redevelopment of William Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District HQ: much demolition, but also partial restoration of the low-rise building at the heart of the complex. The sunscreens, removed, we believe, to stymie the landmark nomination, are back.

A civic disgrace: Department of Building and Safety issued a demolition permit in TWO DAYS just before Christmas, then Lawrence Halprin’s significant, taxpayer-funded Crocker Court was destroyed with no public notice. And of course the Cranky Preservationist has something to say about it: Episode 14: Bunker Hill Re-Redevelopment Blues.

Southern California culture spreads its influence around the globe. And now Malibu’s surfing zone is on the National Register, for layers of significance ancient to modern. Maybe now the state will invest in proper restoration of the magnificent tiled Adamson House, which needs some love.

Outrage and organizing as the Port of L.A.’s redevelopment arm breaks promises made to the Ports O’ Call tenants and San Pedro community

San Gabriel, rich with history, gets L.A. Conservancy recognition for beefing up its outdated preservation policies.



Episode #124: The Symbionese Liberation Army & A Vintage Arcadia Xmas

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Join us this month as we talk with author Brad Schreiber about his book Revolution’s End: The Patty Hearst Kidnapping, Mind Control, and the Secret History of Donald DeFreeze and the SLA and the upcoming Esotouric bus tour inspired by his research. We’ll also visit with Linda Jensen and her son Adam Wadlow, multi-year winners of an Arcadia Beautiful Holiday Decoration Award for their astonishing display of vintage, illuminated Blow-Mold plastic figures.

We’ll also discuss: our 2017 Los Angeles historic preservation survey, design problems emerge with Agence Ter’s proposed Pershing Square revamp, the Los Angeles Conservancy and Zev Yaroslavsky advocate for preservation of William Pereira’s endangered CBS Television City, the mysterious demolition of Lawrence Halprin’s atrium in Wells Fargo Tower, developer seeks to demolish William Kesling’s fine streamline moderne Wallace Beery house, encouraging news about Sheila Klein’s lost public art installation Vermonica and the collapse of the restored Van De Kamp’s windmill sign on the Arcadia Denny’s.


January’s LAVA Sunday Salon featuring Nathan Marsak on the Aesthetics of Bunker Hill (Sunday, January 28)

Two Days in South LA: The 1974 SLA Shootout tour (Saturday, February 10)

Wrongful Convictions: Investigatory Case Studies From The California Innocence Project (Sunday, March)


Brad Schreiber’s author website. Brad’s book Revolution’s End.

Esotouric’s 2017 Los Angeles Historic Preservation Survey

Pershing Square: attempts to give L.A.’s oldest public park a high-tech revamp are stymied by parking garage topography.

An impassioned plea from Zev Yaroslavsky to preserve William Pereira’s endangered CBS Television City.

Why has a public garden on Bunker Hill been mysteriously demolished? The Cranky preservationist objects to the loss of Lawrence Halprin’s only atrium design.

Wallace Beery’s streamline modern house at risk.

Encouraging news about beloved public art piece Vermonica.

After just 18 months of service, the restored Van De Kamp’s windmill fell off its tower. We just saw it in action.



Episode #123: The Triforium + Topographic Map: Preserving Joseph Young’s Mid-Century Marvels in the Heart of Downtown Los Angeles

Triforium by Joseph Young


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Join us this month for a special episode dedicated to the iconic Civic Center artworks created by Joseph Young (1919-2007), and the various ways that the City and County of Los Angeles are maintaining them. We talk with Clare Haggarty, Deputy Director of Collections for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, about the restoration of Young’s mosaic fountain Topographic Map, on the north side of Neutra and Alexander’s Hall of Records building. We also talk with Cecily Young, one of the artist’s daughters, to learn about The Triforium, his visionary multimedia installation located a block away on the city’s Los Angeles Mall.

We’ll also discuss the city’s removal of Sheila Klein’s Vermonica, East Hollywood’s greatest civic attraction (May 5, 1993-November 21, 2017), two new videos from the Cranky Preservationist, Musicians’ Union Local 47 passes the first hurdle to becoming an Historic Cultural Monument, the proposed demolition of Welton Beckett’s Parker Center, Echo Park’s Jensen’s Recreation Center rooftop sign restored, Grand Central Market’s new owner announced, somewhat encouraging changes to the development plans for William Pereira’s neglected Metropolitan Water District HQ, concerns that the 75-year-old Silent Movie Theatre isn’t closed for long in the wake of Cinefamily’s implosion and the last days of Beverly Hills stationer Francis-Orr (since 1924).

Closely Watched Trains

Esotouric gift certificates are on sale thru 12/24  

A statement from Sheila Klein about the removal of her artwork Vermonica. RIP to the beautiful Urban Candelabra, East Hollywood’s greatest civic attraction (May 5, 1993-November 21, 2017).

The Cranky Preservationist, who loves Los Angeles and HATES what you’re doing to it, returns! Episode 12: Sweet Sidewalk Blues (on Facebook or YouTube) and Episode 13: Golden Arch Hawk Taco Blues (on Facebook or YouTube).

Musicians’ Union Local 47, a landmark of Hollywood and civil rights history, passes the first hurdle on the road to becoming an Historic Cultural Monument.

City estimates about half a billion dollars to tear down Welton Becket’s iconic Parker Center. Adaptive reuse would save millions, and a landmark. Meanwhile, Welton Becket’s young associate Louis Naidorf asks why Los Angeles would demolish a pleasant, adaptable office building like Parker Center.

One of L.A.’s coolest animated signs, the Jensen’s Recreation Center bowler, lives, in its latest restoration by Paul Greenstein.

Grand Central Market celebrates its centennial, quietly changes hands. What’s next for L.A.’s historic breadbasket?

Although the project description remains nebulous, hints of adaptive reuse and respect for William Pereira’s legacy are perhaps on the menu as SOM and James Corner are hired to rework the architect’s neglected Metropolitan Water District HQ in Victor Heights. Learn more about our Pereira in Peril campaign here

Cinefamily has officially shuttered. Their tenancy is just another blip in the 75-year history of the Silent Movie Theater, and we hope this Los Angeles landmark isn’t dark for long.

Beverly Hills stationer Francis-Orr (since 1924) is closing forever on 12/30.

URLs for interviews:

The Triforium Project

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission

Episode #122: Bunker Hill & The French Village: Two Lost Los Angeles Neighborhoods Taken By Eminent Domain

6655 Alta Loma Terrace. 1923. Ray G. Smith, architect.

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Join us this month as we talk with Gordon Pattison, Bunker Hill native son, about the reopening of Angels Flight Railway and other ways in which his lost Victorian neighborhood survives.  We’ll also visit with Elona Anthony, to hear about how her late husband Steven took on the Los Angeles establishment in a one-man battle against the eminent domain seizure that threatened his beloved storybook cottage.  Hollywood museums, land grabs, ideological zealots, police surveillance, historic preservation: The Siege of Fort Anthony is a complex and powerful story that is as relevant today as it was in 1964.

We’ll also talk about the L.A. Weekly’s 2017 Best of L.A. selection of this show as “Best Podcast About L.A. History” (yay!), concerns raised about the proposed Crossroads of the World mega-project, tenants complain of alterations to Rudolph Schindler’s landmarked Sachs Apartments, Craig Sauer’s new 3-D scan of Lloyd Wright’s Sowden House, how the interior of John C. Austin’s 1902 Hiram Higgins house was ruined, Ports O’ Call shopkeepers suing over redevelopment evictions, public outcry against rezoning threat in Burbank’s sleepy Rancho District, a modest proposal to do something more public with the 1870 Merced Theater, CBS Television City is the newest Pereira in peril and the historic 1920s El Cid facade is partially demolished. Plus two exciting new videos from The Cranky Preservationist, who is cranky about Parker Center’s pending demolition, and the loss of public access to Kay Martin’s Bunker Hill paintings.

Closely watched trains:

L.A. Weekly 2017 Best of L.A. – Best Podcast About L.A. History is our own You Can’t Eat the Sunshine

Preservationists and Cultural Heritage Commission express concerns about proposed Crossroads of the World mega-project.

Tenants raise the alarm over alterations to Rudolph Schindler’s Sachs Apartments, a city landmark. 

Explore an L.A. landmark in 3-D #6: Lloyd Wright’s Sowden House, Mayan Art Deco marvel or Black Dahlia crime scene? 

If you ever wondered why Los Angeles needs an interior landmarking ordinance, the ruin of John C. Austin’s 1902 Hiram Higgins house tells the tale.  

In the face of redevelopment, the historic Ports O’ Call shopkeepers are fighting, and suing, to protect their livelihoods. The Port of L.A. can afford to help these little fish.

Burbank’s sleepy Rancho District under rezoning threat as longtime Pickwick Bowl / Viva Cantina owners seek to cash out. Petition link.

Since funding has stalled for the plan to turn the 1870 Merced Theater into a modern TV studio, why not aim for a more public use. Restaurant? Hostel? More on the theater here.

File under: (yet another) Pereira in Peril. CBS Television City to be redeveloped?

Eater LA picked up on our scoop on the demolition of a third of El Cid’s historic facade, got a quote. 

The Cranky Preservationist, who loves Los Angeles and HATES what you’re doing to it, returns! Episode 10: Have You Hugged Your Parker Center Today Blues (on Facebook or YouTube). Episode 11: Kay Martin’s Lost Bunker Hill Paintings Blues (Facebook, YouTube).

Upcoming Events:

We Celebrate Our Tenth Anniversary

From The SLA to DNA–November 5th Forensic Science Serminar

Wrongful Conviction Workshop–March 4th Forensic Science Seminar

October LAVA Sunday Salon–Public Art In The Civic Center

Richard’s Birthday Bus–November 25th

Episode #121: Once Upon A Time in French-Speaking Los Angeles & Early Days of Angels Flight on Old Bunker Hill

Shows El Aliso (and by extension the Vignes property). Attributed to Henri Penelon

Shows El Aliso (and by extension the Vignes property). Attributed to Henri Penelon

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Once Upon A Time in French-Speaking Los Angeles & Early Days of Angels Flight on Old Bunker Hill

Join us this month as we talk with C.C. de Vere, creator of the Frenchtown Confidential blog, who pulls back the velvet curtain to reveal the deep yet forgotten Gallic roots of the city of Los Angeles, the subject of her free LAVA Sunday Salon and walking tour on September 24. We’ll also visit with Nathan Marsak, star of the viral video series The Cranky Preservationist, about the re-opening of Angels Flight Railway and the lost landscape of old Bunker Hill, the funicular’s original home.

We’ll also discuss:

Angels Flight Railway’s starts and stops. Our preservation petition helped get it going again.

Family bankruptcy puts Richard Neutra’s lyrical post-and-beam Chuey House (1956) at risk of demolition.

Concerned Palisades neighbors hope to landmark John L. Kennedy House, the 1930 Spanish gem bought by notorious landlord Jerome Nash. (PDF link)

Hollywood Heritage files landmark application for (Chaplin-owned?) Formosa storybook cottages Casler Village Court, whose pretty neighbor was just demolished. (PDF link)

Daffy midcentury charm alert: the world’s first Cinderella Home is on the market in Downey.

The Cranky Preservationist Episode 8: Los Angeles Times Parking Garage Historic Bas Relief Blues Blues (Facebook, YouTube).


LAVA Sunday Salon (September 24)

LAVA Sunday Salon (October 29)

The 1910 Bombing of the Los Angeles Times with Detective Mike Digby

Forensic Science Seminar: From the SLA to DNA

Richard’s 49th Birthday Bus Tour – In Search of Imperial California

Episode #120: Boyle Heights Blossoming: Everything’s Different at Ray & Roy’s Market

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Join us this month for an episode dedicated to the vibrant, historic and soulful neighborhood of Boyle Heights, centered on the southeast corner of 4th Street and Camulos. We’ll talk with Yolanda Diaz, who recently purchased Ray & Roy’s Market, which was founded by a Japanese father and son after internment. Yolanda has a fresh new vision for this community hub, which includes inviting 15-year-old Isabel Peinado to create an ambitious, hand-painted mural about female empowerment on the market’s long west wall. What won’t change? The vintage walk-in freezer, which famously serves the coldest beer in Boyle Heights!

We’ll also discuss: the pending revival of Angels Flight Railway, East L.A. roadside attraction The Tamale back on the market, Downey’s neglected band-owned Rives Mansion to be sold, the rededication of Victory Memorial Grove in Elysian Park, concerns about Onni Group’s out-of-scale Afton & Vine project, another suspicious fire on the historic southern campus of Rancho Los Amigos, the awful new Bringing Back Broadway-funded LED lighting scheme on the Bradbury Building and Los Angeles Magazine only tells part of the story about the troubled Gage Mansion in Bell Gardens.

Introducing The Cranky Preservationist, who loves Los Angeles and HATES what you’re doing to it. Catch all the rants on Facebook or YouTube and RSVP to attend his LAVA Sunday Salon in search of lost Art Deco.

Angels Flight is coming back, and soon will have a tall, shiny neighbor. But how will the new tower treat the past?

Back on the market: the world’s biggest tamale, delighting travelers along East L.A.’s Whittier Boulevard for nearly a century.

Victory Memorial Grove: after a lot of elbow grease, a neglected corner of Elysian Park is once more a place of honor and reflection.

Afton & Vine: Hollywood development aims to move historic bungalows around like pawns on a chessboard, demolish 1930 Deco market.

Downey finally does something to protect its National Register Rives Mansion, which badly needs an owner who cares. It will be listed for sale shortly.

More suspicious fires at Rancho Los Amigos. We’re as sad to lose historic buildings as we are that our homeless neighbors aren’t housed in them.

Los Angeles Magazine takes a look at the Gage Mansion preservation problem, but fails to cover all the drama of our ongoing public access battle. We have been visiting, and more recently being denied access to visit, the Gage Mansion for the past decade on our twice-yearly South Los Angeles Road Trip tour. The preservation and public access problems are even more dramatic than this piece suggests, and it’s important to note that, while surrounded by private property, the historic house is held in the public trust. To get the scoop, join us on the bus in February

The awful new Bringing Back Broadway-funded LED lighting scheme on the Bradbury Building facade. (Corner view. Third Street view.)

Episode #119: Secrets of Llano del Rio and Utopian Los Angeles

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Join us this month for an episode dedicated to Llano del Rio, the socialist cooperative experiment that hosted its final May Day celebrations in the Antelope Valley one hundred years ago this month. Our guests are historian Paul Greenstein & artist-archivist Karyl Newman, who co-host a special Esotouric bus adventure, Desert Visionaries, on Saturday, June 17.

We’ll also talk about the judge’s decision that may save Kurt Meyer’s ladmark Lytton Savings from being demolished, a status report on attempts to reactivate the city’s neglected Lummis House and the latest from the Sinatra Bungalow preservation efforts.


Karyl Newman’s website.


Subject: Los Angeles Lovers at Bob Baker Marionette Theater (5/12)

LAVA Sunday Salon: S.A. Griffin on Charles Bukowski (5/28)

Siege at Fort Anthony at Central Library (6/8)

Esotouric’s Tenth Anniversary calendar