Gentle Reader. . .
This newsletter is a birth announcement: weighing in at 12 ounces (each), orange of cover, black of ink and white of page, our little bookish baby The Kept Girl was published on Saturday, February 1. She's just perfect!
We're celebrating all across the blogosphere with a virtual book tour, and are thrilled that Kirkus Reviews, one of the "big four" book review outlets took notice. And in the real world, Kim has a number of readings and events in the works, where we'd love to see you.
This weekend is the 47th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena, and it's a must for anyone who loves beautiful and unusual printed matter. We're thrilled to announce that our favorite purveyor of exquisite, astonishing and offbeat American books, Howard Prouty of ReadInk, will be the book fair's exclusive dealer of The Kept Girl. Better still, he even has a few free Book Fair passes available if you act fast. Stop by Booth #803 to pick up your copy of The Kept Girl . . . and maybe a little something special that was actually published in 1929.
Love is in the air, and we're here to make it easier to satisfy your sweetie this Valentine's Day. . . not with anything saucy, but with a gift sure to scratch their itch to discover the nooks and crannies of Old Los Angeles. Through February 14, we're selling discounted Pair Passes on the Esotouric bus. Save $72 on two shared adventures, and all the headaches of getting the wrong thing, when you click here.
We're back on the bus next weekend, with our provocative tour of the real rise, fall and reinvention of that most beguiling and infuriating neighborhood, The Lowdown on Downtown. Join us, do!
Upcoming Tours & Happenings
Please join us this evening at Skylight Books in Los Feliz to celebrate the publication of Kim's new 1920s mystery novel The Kept Girl, the fact-based tale of the Great Eleven cult that escaped from the bus tours where it was originally featured to become something new. Kim will read from and sign copies of her book, and toast you with complimentary beer courtesy of our sponsor, Lagunitas Brewing Company.
Come discover the secret history, and the fascinating future, of a most beguiling neighborhood. This is not a tour about beautiful buildings–although beautiful buildings will be all around you. This is not a tour about brilliant architects–although we will gaze upon their works and marvel. The Lowdown on Downtown is a tour about urban redevelopment, public policy, protest, power and the police. It is a revealing history of how the New Downtown became an "overnight sensation" after decades of quiet work behind the scenes by public agencies and private developers. This tour is about what really happened in the heart of Los Angeles, a complicated story that will fascinate and infuriate, break your heart and thrill your spirit. Come discover the real Los Angeles, the city even natives don't know.
Come on a century's social history tour through the transformation of neighborhoods, punctuated with immersive stops to sample the varied cultures that make our changing city so beguiling. Voter registration, citizenship classes, Chicano Moratorium, walkouts, blow-outs, anti-Semitism, adult education, racial covenants, boycotts, The City Beautiful, Exclusion Acts and Immigration Acts, property values, xenophobia, and delicious dumplings–all are themes which will be addressed on this lively excursion. This whirlwind social history tour will include: The Vladeck Center, Hollenbeck Park, Evergreen Cemetery, The Venice Room, El Encanto & Cascades Park, Divine's Furniture and Wing Hop Fung.
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 month, LAVA Visionary Joe Oesterly, author of Weird Hollywood shares offbeat tales from his weird road travels, and introduces Count Smokula, a 496-year-old accordion-playing vampire from the vaguely Eastern-European nation of Smokesylvania. Plus, poets Fred Voss and Joan Jobe Smith will read poems of life, love and work in Los Angeles. (Linda King, previously scheduled to appear at this Salon, regrets that she is unable to attend.) A free architectural walking tour (registration required) follows the Salon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 month, historian Tom Sitton, author of The Courthouse Crowd: Los Angeles County and its Government, 1850-1950, takes us on a tour of a rogue's gallery of early L.A. politicos. Then the focus turns to 1929 Downtown and Kim Cooper's new mystery novel starring the young Raymond Chandler, The Kept Girl. Kim will discuss the process of transforming real true crime stories into fiction, and ace cover artist Paul Rogers will share how he discovers remnants of L.A. history in the landscape and turns them into contemporary illustrations.
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.
In our very occasional guest tour series, a delightful excursion that only comes around once a year, the Tom Waits bus adventure hosted by acclaimed rock critic David Smay (Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Swordfishtrombones). This voyage through the city that shaped one of our most eclectic musical visionaries starts in Skid Row and rolls through Hollywood and Echo Park, spotlighting the sites where Waits was transformed through the redemptive powers of love and other lures: the Tropicana Motel, Francis Coppola's Zoetrope Studios, the raunchy Ivar Theatre and so much more. Join us for a great day out in 1970s Los Angeles celebrating the music, the culture and the passions of Tom Waits.
Ride along on a very pulpy path on a wide-ranging tour that digs deep into the literature, film and real life vices that inform that most murderous genre, film noir — from Double Indemnity (where Raymond Chandler's Hollywood career intersects with Cain's) to The Postman Always Rings Twice to Mildred Pierce and beyond. The tour rolls through Hollywood, Glendale and old Skid Row, lost lion farms, murderous sopranos, fascist film censors, offbeat cemeteries — all in a quest to reveal the delicious, and deeply influential, nightmares that are Cain's gift to the world.
Forget Hollywood, babe, 'cause the quintessential LA town in definitely El Monte, its history packed with noirish murders, brilliant thespians, loony Nazis, James Ellroy's naked lunch and the lion farm that MGM's celebrated kitty called home. See all this and so much more, including the Man from Mars Bandit's Waterloo, when you climb aboard the daffiest crime tour in our arsenal, and the only one that includes a dumpling picnic at a landmark playground populated with fantastical giant sea creatures!
- THE KEPT GIRL BOOK RELEASE PARTY – Thursday, 2/13
- THE LOWDOWN ON DOWNTOWN – Saturday, 2/15
- BOYLE HEIGHTS & THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY: THE HIDDEN HISTORIES OF L.A.'S MELTING POTS – Saturday, 2/22
- LAVA SUNDAY SALON – Sunday, 2/23
- HOTEL HORRORS & MAIN STREET VICE – Saturday, 3/1
- PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL (WITH CRIMEBO THE CLOWN) – Saturday, 3/15
- WEIRD WEST ADAMS – Saturday, 3/22
- CHARLES BUKOWSKI'S LOS ANGELES – Saturday, 3/29
- LAVA SUNDAY SALON – Sunday, 3/30
- THE REAL BLACK DAHLIA – Saturday, 4/5
- CRAWLING DOWN CAHUENGA: TOM WAITS' L.A. – Saturday, 4/19
- THE BIRTH OF NOIR: JAMES M. CAIN'S SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NIGHTMARE – Saturday, 4/26
- BLOOD & DUMPLINGS CRIME BUS TOUR – Saturday, 5/3
AND FINALLY, LINKS!
The Spring Arcade, one of our favorite buildings, is getting a little tastier.
And its landmark (though not landmarked) radio towers will remain.
A "new concept" for the already perfect Caffe Dante, since 1915.
Are trendy "urban villages" tomorrow's nightmares?
The mermaid lobby wishes to lodge a complaint with the illustrators' lobby..
Enjoy Broadway while you still can — the streetscape master plan is coming.
And we'll be talking about the threats facing the historic boulevard on the next free LAVA Broadway on My Mind walking tour.
Modernists arise! Don't let pencil pushers crush this daffy portico!
Farewell to a fellow traveler.
Not so fast, foes of Culver City's retro ice rink!
Tiki community rallies to find a suitable home for Rufus, the Bahooka's famous carrot-eating fish. (And shame on the wicked family who left him behind in the dark.)
KEEP THE TAGS AS THEY ARE FOR EMPHASIS SO THE SIGN OFF IS NOT LOST
Kim & Richard