Dumb Ideas Leave Scars edition





October 23rd, 2013


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Entering Fante's house

Gentle Reader. . .

Since the summer, we've been hosting free Broadway walking tours after our monthly LAVA Sunday Salons. The fourth one is this Sunday. These "Broadway on My Mind" tours were born out of worry–for beautiful Broadway, among the most intact commercial theatre districts in the nation, is slated to get a civic makeover in advance of the proposed streetcar line.

We think it's important to bring people to Broadway now, before any of the Streetscape Master Plan's phases are implemented, to familiarize them with what is so special about the place, the many small, seemingly unimportant features which combine to create such a beguiling whole. An educated community is one that can stand up for its landmarks, and when necessary mobilize to stop changes that might leave our city less lovely than it is today.

It has been our privilege to introduce the nooks and crannies of this glorious boulevard to hundreds of passionate urbanists, and to walk its glittering terrazzo sidewalks–which, we hasten to remind you, have no protection from demolition or alteration–with some of our favorite local historians and storytellers. If you've missed these tours, you can watch them on our YouTube channel: (#1, #2, #3).

So this week's bombshell news that the streetcar project has been pitched to the public with a deliberately inaccurate accounting of costs, by a city council office that only pretended to understand the complicated and expensive work needed to implement a massive infrastructural project, gives us pause.

For all of Broadway's proposed physical changes hang on the hook of the streetcar project. The Streetscape Master Plan is intended to provide a polished backdrop for this transit loop. Private developers have bought long-derelict and underutilized buildings along its route and are investing millions to have their properties ready to benefit when the trolley first goes "clang-clang-clang."

But if there isn't going to be a streetcar, which suddenly seems very likely, then maybe it would be wise to cast a critical eye at the design changes which have been proposed and promoted by the streetcar's advocates. For it's one thing to make a mistake in choosing a paint color. It's quite another to permanently transform an historic space, quickly and on the cheap. Yes, Broadway is going to change and evolve. But we'd rather see that happen organically, slowly, and for reasons that make sense beyond framing a trolley that may never come.

We're on the bus this Saturday, with a most noirish tour, Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles, winding through downtown and Hollywood time capsules, and featuring booze-infused gelato selections at Scoops. On Sunday, we invite you to attend the free LAVA Sunday Salon, celebrating the burlesque queens and Bible Ladies of old L.A. After the Salon, Richard's free Broadway on My Mind walking tour awaits. Join us, do!

Now read on, for all the news you can use. 


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 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. Afterwards, Richard leads a free Broadway walking tour (reservations required). This Salon features Leslie Zemeckis on the history of Burlesque as a distinctly American art form, and Professor Paul Rood on the forgotten world of the Bible Women who ministered to the down and out of old Los Angeles. The Sunday Salon is an amazing gathering of the nicest and most thoughtful folks anywhere–you don't want to miss this one! 

Ride along on a very pulpy path as we explore The Birth of Noir: James M. Cain's Southern California Nightmare, 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. 

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.




  • Hark! the (wonderful, irritating, mysterious) sounds of 1920s NYC.
  • The Garden of Allah lives, kind of.
  • You're perfect, don't ever change.
  • Something, but not much, comes to the Southwest Museum.
  • Leimert to Larchmont?
  • Save the World Stage.
  • West Hollywood's wrecking ball is too busy.
  • Treasured towers talk.
  • Angelenos in ink.
  • Downey, which recently tore down the most important buildings in West Coast aerospace history, admits it's clueless about running a space museum.
  • Lisa Napoli rides along on our Skid Row history bus.



Kim & Richard


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