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ESOTOURIC NEWSLETTER

December 12th, 2013

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Artist Joe Holliday (AKA Senor Stretchy Skin) engages in acts of peril and wonder at the Downtown Los Angeles Art walk

Gentle Reader. . .

We don’t do it often. Maybe once or twice a year. All the same, there are few L.A. experiences more transformative than to step into the cavernous Great Hall of John Parkinson’s Union Station, stride back towards the tracks and settle into one of the massive art deco armchairs that straddle the central path.

Inside the beautiful building, nearly unchanged for 74 years, the passing parade is like an un-choreographed ballet starring a cross-section of the city’s people. We gaze at their unselfconscious faces, their flying coat tails and swinging arms, listen to the echo of their footsteps bouncing off the Spanish tile, all of it framed in a symphony of reds and browns and golds and glimmering beams of light.

From that art deco armchair, we feel like we are truly in and of Los Angeles.

We don’t do it often, maybe once or twice a year. And we couldn’t do it today even if we wanted to. For as of Monday, Metro, the civic agency that recently purchased Union Station, has banned anyone not holding a ticket from sitting down in the station.

Metro admits that the seating ban is in response to an increase in the number of homeless people seeking shelter during these long, cold nights. Some of them are mentally ill, some are not clean. Passengers complain of feeling unsafe.

Union Station is not a homeless shelter. It lacks the basic facilities necessary to serve such a role. We understand that Metro finds itself in a difficult situation. But we don’t believe the proper way to deal with negative public behavior is to restrict the positive. That’s the same fearful, short-sighted attitude that robbed Los Angeles of the beautiful tropical garden that was Pershing Square, and gave us a concrete slab with an oozing inverted fountain at one side. Six decades on, we’re still trying to undo the mess that was made.

Metro needs to find a better solution. Because when signs go up that say “You are not welcome here,” it’s not just people who are without another warm place to be who are turned away.

It’s architecture buffs who want to sit down in a National Register building, the last great American train station ever built, and marvel. It’s Raymond Chandler fans who’d like to read the second chapter of Playback in the room it describes. It’s the theater producer who is thinking about renting the space and putting on a show. It’s the art student who longs to draw the crowds. It’s a tourist, exhausted from exploring Olvera Street, who seeks to take a load off their feet.

It’s ten thousand different people, each of them poised to enjoy a uniquely Los Angeles experience that they will take away and treasure for the rest of their lives, who are having that experience denied them.

Metro, we know you’re listening: this is a bad response to your problems. Be more creative, be more compassionate, be more brave. Give us back our Union Station. Take down those petty signs.

Share your thoughts with the Metro board here.

We’d like to thank all the folks who have ordered a Subscription to the deluxe special edition of Kim’s mystery novel about the young Raymond Chandler, The Kept Girl. By popular demand, we now have shared Subscriptions good for two. Subscriptions remain available through Christmas, with the book out early next year. More info is here.

Just added to the Esotouric Emporium of (mainly) L.A. lore: holiday book selections. If you’re struggling to pick something special for the curious souls in your life, we might just have the answer.

We’re on the bus this Saturday with our final tour of the year, Pasadena Confidential with Crimebo the Clown. Come meet the sex-crazed rocket scientists, rampaging simians, assassins, oddballs and fiends who make this neighborhood so very beguiling. Join us, do!

Upcoming Tours & Happenings

  • PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL – SAT. 12/14
  • Crimebo the Clown is the special guest on our final crime bus tour of 2014, a very proper excursion into all the horrid tales the white-gloved ladies of the town would rather we not tell. They say each community gets the crimes it deserves, and Pasadena’s have always been extraordinary. Climb aboard for rough trade, rocket science, monkeys run amok, suicide leaps, devil worship, madmen and assorted evils that will forever change the way you look at Pasadena.

  • LAVA SUNDAY SALON – SUN. 12/29
  • You are invited to be part of a transformative downtown experience. The Sunday Salon is the free monthly gathering of our creative consortium LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. From noon to 2pm, at Les Noces du Figaro on Broadway, we hope you’ll join L.A.’s most innovative artists, writers and performers to enjoy good company, hearty comfort food, and presentations from fascinating LAVA Visionaries. This Salon is dedicated to a single topic: the fascinating international initiatory order called the Ordo Templi Orientis, or O.T.O. While the roots of O.T.O. lie in Freemasonry, it separated from that tradition a century ago under the leadership of noted magician Aleister Crowley. O.T.O. has a rich history in Los Angeles stretching back to the 1930s, when Wilfred Smith and Jack Parsons led Agape Lodge in Pasadena, the only fully operational O.T.O. body in the world at the time of Crowley’s death in 1947. At the Salon, following a brief presentation on the nature of the O.T.O., Star Sapphire Lodge, the O.T.O. body serving Los Angeles, invites you to join in a celebration of the Gnostic Mass, the central ritual of the O.T.O. We are pulling out the stops to make the final Sunday Salon of 2014 a gathering to remember. Don’t miss it!

  • THE REAL BLACK DAHLIA – SAT. 1/4
  • We kick off the 2014 tour season with our most popular crime bus tour, which we always schedule around the anniversary of this iconic, unsolved Los Angeles murder mystery. Our excursion begins in the historic Olive Street lobby of the Biltmore Hotel and ends in time for you to take tea and crumpets where Beth Short waited out the last hours of her freedom before walking south into hell. After multiple revisions, this is less a murder tour than a social history of 1940s Hollywood female culture, mass media and madness, and we welcome you to join us for the ride. This tour always sells out, so reserve your spot today.

  • RAYMOND CHANDLER’S LOS ANGELES – SAT. 1/11
  • Join us for a journey from the downtown of Chandler’s pre-literary youth (but which always lingered at the fore of his imagination) to the Hollywood of his greatest success, with a stop along the way at Tai Kim’s Scoops for unexpected gelato creations inspired by the author. We’ll start the tour following in the young Chandler’s footsteps, as he roamed the blocks near the downtown oil company office where he worked. See sites from Lady in the Lake and The Little Sister, discover the real Philip Marlowe (Esotouric’s exclusive scoop, and the inspiration for Kim’s novel The Kept Girl), and be steeped in noir LA.

  • CHARLES BUKOWSKI’S LOS ANGELES – SAT. 1/18
  • Come explore Charles Bukowski’s lost Los Angeles and the fascinating contradictions that make this great local writer such a hoot to explore. Haunts of a Dirty Old Man is a raucous day out celebrating liquor, ladies, pimps and poets. The tour includes a visit to Buk’s DeLongpre bungalow, where you’ll see the Cultural-Historic Monument sign that we helped to get approved, and a mid-tour provisions stop at Pink Elephant Liquor.

  • HOTEL HORRORS & MAIN STREET VICE – Saturday 3/1
  • From the founding of the city through the 1940s, downtown was the true center of Los Angeles, a lively, densely populated, exciting and sometimes dangerous place. After many quiet decades, downtown is making an incredible return. But while many of the historic buildings remain, their human context has been lost.

    This downtown double feature tour, hosted by Kim Cooper, Joan Renner and Richard Schave, is meant to bring alive the old ghosts and memories that cling to the streets and structures of the historic core, and is especially recommended for downtown residents curious about their neighborhood’s neglected history.

  • PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL (WITH CRIMEBO THE CLOWN) – Saturday 3/15
  • The Crown City masquerades as a calm and refined retreat, where well-bred ladies glide around their perfect bungalows and everyone knows what fork to use first. But don’t be fooled by appearances. Dip into the confidential files of old Pasadena and meet assassins and oddballs, kidnappers and slashers, Satanists and all manner of maniac in a delightful little tour you WON’T find recommended by the better class of people! From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination (with a visit to Sirhan Sirhan’s folks’ house), “Eraserhead” star Jack Nance’s strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons’ death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour’s dozens of murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that’s as fascinating as it is creepy. Passengers will tour the old Millionaire’s Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall and discover why people named Judd should think twice before moving to Pasadena.

  • WEIRD WEST ADAMS – Saturday 3/22
  • On this guided tour through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, Crime Bus passengers thrill as Jazz Age bootleggers run amok, marvel at the Krazy Kafitz family’s litany of murder-suicides, attempted husband slayings, Byzantine estate battles and mad bombings, visit the shortest street in Los Angeles (15′ long Powers Place, with its magnificent views of the mansions of Alvarado Terrace), discover which fabulous mansion was once transformed into a functioning whiskey factory using every room in the house, and stroll the haunted paths of Rosedale Cemetery, site of notable burials (May K. Rindge, the mother of Malibu) and odd graveside crimes. Featured players include the most famous dwarf in Hollywood, mass suicide ringleader Reverend Jim Jones, wacky millionaires who can’t control their automobiles, human mole bank robbers, comically inept fumigators, kids trapped in tar pits, and dozens of other unusual and fascinating denizens of early Los Angeles.

  • CHARLES BUKOWSKI’S LOS ANGELES – SAT. 3/29
  • Come explore Charles Bukowski’s lost Los Angeles and the fascinating contradictions that make this great local writer such a hoot to explore. Haunts of a Dirty Old Man is a raucous day out celebrating liquor, ladies, pimps and poets. The tour includes a visit to Buk’s DeLongpre bungalow, where you’ll see the Cultural-Historic Monument sign that we helped to get approved, and a mid-tour provisions stop at Pink Elephant Liquor.

  • THE REAL BLACK DAHLIA – SAT. 4/5
  • Join us on this iconic, unsolved Los Angeles murder mystery tour. Our excursion begins in the historic Olive Street lobby of the Biltmore Hotel and ends in time for you to take tea and crumpets where Beth Short waited out the last hours of her freedom before walking south into hell. After multiple revisions, this is less a murder tour than a social history of 1940s Hollywood female culture, mass media and madness, and we welcome you to join us for the ride. This tour always sells out, so reserve your spot today.

AND FINALLY, LINKS!

  • The monkeys spared him so he could build beautiful banks.
  • Gathering 1st & Alameda subcultural memories ahead of the wrecking ball.
  • Brookledge, the most magical spot in town, needs you!
  • An L.A. icon, scrapped.
  • Kim contributes a deconstruction of James M. Cain to the new Noir Erasure Poetry Anthology from Silver Birch Press.
  • Bringing the grim world of L.A. Noir to life.
  • A deep listen to our podcast from urban chronicler Colin Marshall.
  • Using preservation tools to save a house and a view.
  • Hollywood may stay small after all.

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yrs,

Kim & Richard

Esotouric

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