Gentle Reader. . .
Winter is coming, with long hours of chilly darkness, and we're winding down our calendar, as we do each year before the holidays.
But before the Xmas break, we're delighted to be co-hosting a little shindig in honor of a fine new collection of Raymond Chandler's biographical writings, compiled by Barry Day. The event is free, with a reservation required, and will be followed by a walking tour of Chandler's downtown.
It will be especially pleasant to gather downtown with bookish friends, since our monthly LAVA Sunday Salon is still on hiatus.
As we dig into the history of cultural movements in Los Angeles, we ever lament the contemporary lack of suitable gathering spots, where a likeminded group of souls can come together, break bread and talk freely of the life of the mind.
As winter comes, this season of transformation, we mourn the loss of our Salon's past homes: Clifton's Cafeteria, three years closed now, and the newly shuttered Les Noces du Figaro. Congenial places, staffed by absent friends. Our city is diminished by their loss.
For all the benefits of this post digital age — not least of which is the ability to send these missives out widely, without licking a single stamp — how sad that it isn't easier for groups to freely gather, to discover, to be transformed by their coming together.
Well, this weekend's programs ain't free, but we think they're worth the ticket price, and you can't beat the company. We're back on the bus this Saturday, with a Weird West Adams crime bus tour (use the code "weirdsville" on check out for our gift to you), and in the crime lab Sunday (just a few seats left) for an historic forensic science program. Join us, do!
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.
Join LAVA in the teaching crime lab of Cal State L.A. for our quarterly forensic science seminar. This time, we'll explore a pair of fascinating historic murder cases, and compare the techniques used to analyze them with modern methods of evidence collection and interpretation. Featured cases are Louise Peete's chilling serial killing spree, and the still-mysterious shooting of racketeer Charlie Crawford and muckraking journalist Herbert Spencer. And your ticket purchase supports the advanced research of the Criminalistics graduate department, where CSI breakthroughs are being made.
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.
For Richard's once-a-year birthday bus adventure, we invite you to climb aboard for a 7-hour excursion exploring some of the greatest buildings in the Southland that you've never seen–unless you go to a lot of funerals. The tour is hosted by Nathan Marsak, America's wittiest historian of mortuary architecture. Come discover the beauty, secrets and unexpected modernism of Sunnyside Long Beach (1922), Community Mausoleum Anaheim (1914), Fairhaven Santa Ana (1916) and Calvary East Los Angeles (1936). Lunch is included and much merriment will be had. Visit the tour page for more information on this one-time-only event and reserve your spot today.
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.
LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association and The Larry Edmunds Bookshop invite you to join Barry Day for a celebration of his new book, "The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words" (Random House). There will be a short talk and questions, followed by a book signing and free walking tour of Chandler's Downtown haunts, hosted by Richard Schave and Kim Cooper. The event is free, but reservations are required.
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.
AND FINALLY, LINKS!
Sad to see the Ruskin Art Club clubhouse pass into private hands, but glad to see they're starting to host programs at alternate venues.
Jack Parsons, our favorite occultist / rocket scientist/ star of the Pasadena Confidential tour, to get a mini-series.
"I remember a time when we attacked homelessness, not homeless people."
When jazz set the Olympic Auditorium on fire.
Rockford would barf. Evict Kissel Co. from Paradise Cove.
Chilling memories of daddy dearest.
Our friends, the sign guys.
Hypnotic scenes of traffic and urban flurry, 1966 Los Angeles.
Something smells at the Pierce College farm, and it ain't manure.
Buried in this piece about Ray Bradbury's house, a weird message from the LA Conservancy, who are apparently no longer "preservationists."
Kim shared some thoughts on the provocative claims that a black L.A. detective inspired the naming of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.
KEEP THE TAGS AS THEY ARE FOR EMPHASIS SO THE SIGN OFF IS NOT LOST
Kim and Richard