Here Lies LAVA edition

 

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ESOTOURIC NEWSLETTER

September 11th, 2014

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Speakeasy tour at the King Eddy Saloon! #dtla by @esotouric

Gentle Reader. . .

A big part of our identity is wrapped up in our off-the-bus guise as the proprietors of LAVA, a loosely-knit consortium of cultural creatives who for 39 months (not entirely sequential) have gathered on the last Sunday in Downtown Los Angeles to share research into the mysteries and wonder of Southern California.

The LAVA Salon has sparked lasting friendships, inspired journalists to craft compelling feature stories and served as an incubator for some of the most intriguing historical research being done anywhere.

LAVA's Salons have remade themselves as gay Hollywood banquets, and spilled out onto the street for impassioned history, architecture and public policy walking tours of historic Broadway. In short, the Salon is the fuel for all our creative fires, a place to promote, celebrate, explore and transform the city from within.

If this sounds like a eulogy, it's only partly that. Yes, the LAVA Sunday Salon is on hiatus, effective immediately, due to the unexpected announcement that Les Noces du Figaro, our home base for these last nineteen gatherings, is closing for renovations. And we deeply regret that this means that we won't be presenting Marc Chevalier's LAVA Visionary of the Year Lecture on Hollywood's great tailors in September, or Part 2 of Darrell Rooney's life history of Jean Harlow and a preservation primer on how to make a star of an all-but-demolished bit of streamline moderne in October, or some wonderful winter treats that had yet to be announced.

But the Salon has been displaced before, and we've learned that these unexpected hiccups can have profound and positive effects. Yes, we could probably find another place to hold the September talk, and those after. But since the universe apparently has other ideas, we're going to respect her whims, and wait.

Rest assured: the LAVA Sunday Salon will be back, as will the Broadway on My Mind walking tours, freshly rested and better than before! And until then, we'll be pouring this unexpected gift of time into historic preservation campaigns, podcast production (many Salon speakers were first featured here) and some top secret collaborations that we know are going to blow your mind, in the best way. And of course we'll continue hosting free history presentations and crime lab seminars, which you can find over on the LAVA calendar, along with beguiling events hosted by a wide range of LAVA Visionaries. So let's agree to miss the Sunday Salon, but not too much. And let's not be strangers while we do.

We're back on the bus this Saturday, with a Weird West Adams crime bus tour. Then on Sunday, under the LAVA umbrella, Brian Kaiser talks Batchelder tile at Angel City Brewery. Join us, do!

Upcoming Tours and Happenings

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.

Go East, young ghoul, and 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.

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. (Please note that, due to circumstances beyond our control, Crimebo the Crime Clown will not be joining us on this edition of Pasadena Confidential. The tour will contain all the same crimes and stops, but there will be no clowning around.)

Dear friends, it is with no small amount of regret that we are putting the monthly LAVA Sunday Salon and Broadway on My Mind walking tour series on hiatus, effective immediately. Both events take place at Les Noces du Figaro restaurant, which is closing down for several months of renovations. We will be working closely with Jonathan Mgaieth of Figaro to determine a relaunch date as soon as the restaurant reopens, hopefully in early 2015. So stay tuned, and we hope to see you at other LAVA events in the meantime.

New from the deranged minds of Esotouric, an historical crime bus tour meant to honor the lost souls who wander the hills and byways of the "streetcar suburbs" (Echo Park, Silver Lake, Elysian Park, Angeleno Heights) that hug Sunset Boulevard. Climb aboard to see seemingly ordinary houses, streets and commercial buildings revealed as the scenes of chilling crimes and mysteries, populated by some of the most fascinating people you'd never want to meet. Featured cases include Edward Hickman's kidnapping of little Marion Parker and the bizarre "Man in the Attic" love nest slaying, plus dozens of incredible, forgotten tales of Angelenoes in peril. Guests will also see some of the most beautiful historic architecture in Los Angeles, including a visit to Sister Aimee Semple McPherson's exquisite Parsonage, her one-time home, now a museum

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.

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.

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.

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.

This is a special day-long edition of our Raymond Chandler bus tour of historic locations in Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, coinciding with the 2014 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and departing from the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach. In addition to visits to The Oviatt Building (The Gillerlain Company in The Lady in The Lake), The Bank of Italy (where Chandler was employed by The Dabney Oil Company), The Barclay Hotel (site of an icepick murder in The Little Sister), The Mayfair Hotel (where a suicidal Chandler kept his mistress), Paramount Studios, Raymond Chandler Square and other iconic locations from the life and work of the master of Los Angeles noir. The excursion includes a no-host lunch stop at Les Noces du Figaro in downtown Los Angeles, and a shopping visit to Hollywood's Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the famous cinema collectors store which directly descends from The Stanley Rose Book Shop, whose proprietor was the model for Geiger in The Big Sleep.

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.

  

AND FINALLY, LINKS!

  • The greatest damage was to the commons.
  • Beware the busybody with a law degree. Vivian Maier's work, rescued from a storage unit auction, may be lost anew.
  • Whatever happened to LBJ's Daisy Girl? She's thriving — in Goldwater country!
  • Drew Street: a cautionary tale about developer-fueled density run amok.
  • On the absurd new claims that Jack the Ripper has been DNA-typed.
  • British documentarian scoops the LAPD. South Los Angeles and Lonnie Franklin's victims deserve better.
  • Speak up to help preserve Parker Center!
  • A little movie magic hides demolition plans in plain sight.
  • A gentle request from our friends at Angels Flight Railway, still in mothballs pending NTSB approval of its new braking system: please let Congressman Xavier Becerra know that you appreciate his support of our beloved funicular, and hope to ride it again soon.
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    yrs,

    Kim and Richard

    Esotouric

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