Clifton's Cafeteria still closed. #broadwayonmymind #dtla by @esotouric
Gentle Reader. . .
What a thrill it is, to watch a grassroots cause take wing and soar.
This week, our friends who've been fighting to protect the endangered libraries of New York City from trustees who seem more interested in making lopsided real estate deals than managing a world class collection succeeded in their quixotic campaign to Save NYPL!
Early on, we shared tactical suggestions and insights gleaned from our own library activism, the Save LAPL campaign that successfully fought a proposed $1/book loan fee for delivering desired titles to L.A.'s poorly stocked branch libraries. It only took about 800 emails from incensed citizens to put the brakes on that terrible idea in 2008.
But what Antonio Villaraigosa sought to do to our city's readers was small beer compared to the horrible NYPL plan. The lion-flanked 42nd Street branch, the greatest public research library in the country, stood to be gutted, its stacks transformed into an internet cafe. The beloved Midtown branch was to be sold off to developers and replaced with a highrise. So, too, Brooklyn's Pacific branch.
And it all seemed like a done deal, until a few Girl Scouts and their parents made a video, a few writers and their friends sent some letters, a few journalists and their editors asked some questions, and the whole corrupt house of cards came crashing down.
So hip hip hooray for our friends at Save NYPL. They took on Goliath and popped him right in the moneybags.
Still, it leaves us wondering: why do smart, passionate citizens of great cities have to fight so hard to stop clearly misguided ideas? It's frustrating to see all that creative energy dispersed on preserving what we already have, and leaving nothing new behind. And even when they do succeed, these grassroots campaigns are brutally hard to fight, and deplete the psychic stores of the souls who take them on.
In a better world, such passion would be tapped. Savvy cities should take advantage of their activist citizens and give them the responsibility and power they've earned. We'd love to see Save NYPL organizers on the NYPL board of trustees, looking out for the libraries and making them better. Now that would be a win for the ages. Here's hoping for wiser days ahead.
We're off the bus this weekend, but back with a noirish bang next Saturday with RAYMOND CHANDLER'S LOS ANGELES, and a stop at Scoops gelato for moody flavors inspired by the master. Join us, do!
Upcoming Tours & Happenings
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.
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, we devote the entire Salon program to the theme of Electronic Music and Circuit Bending, the intentional creative mis-use of electronic devices intended as children's playthings, presented by Andy Ben, Jeff Boynton and Mona Jean Cedar. Plus, Fanny Daubigny with an interlude on translator Louise Varese and her work with 19th century French poetry.
Go East, young ghoul, with our newest crime bus adventure. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured and a mad dad ran amok. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.'s oldest cemetery and home of some memorable haunts and strange burials. Visit East L.A., where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride–and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood's myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder.
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 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.
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, we celebrate the spirit of otherworldly creativity in Los Angeles. Speakers include Craig Berry, an initiate of Ordo Templi Orientis, who will take us on a journey through the magical world of Jack Parsons, rocket scientist and mystic. And Milt Stevens of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, which for many years met at Clifton's Cafeteria and counted Jack Parsons among its members, will take us on a guided tour of 20th Century science fiction. After the Salon, Richard Schave leads one of his free Broadway on My Mind walking tours (free, reservations required).
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.
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.
AND FINALLY, LINKS!
The last set of eyes.
Good eggs, Chicago style.
KCET, too, asks WTF CD1? (Trigger warning: photos show construction crew trampling and destroying archeological artifacts.)
And in Miami, development halted as archeologists do what they do best.
When archivists promise the moon.
The river giveth.
Good work, citizen preservationists! Your complaints about the destroyed golden facade at 735 S. Broadway have triggered a permitting investigation.
The Spectator asks: What Would Raymond Chandler Do?
KEEP THE TAGS AS THEY ARE FOR EMPHASIS SO THE SIGN OFF IS NOT LOST
Kim & Richard