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ESOTOURIC NEWSLETTER

September 5th, 2014

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Warner Building, Pasadena, 1927. #artdeco perfection #pasadena by @esotouric

Gentle Reader. . .

In late July, a venerable old water main under Sunset Boulevard, which had provided the fluids to cool the brows of tough little men digging oil wells, to dapple the expansive lawns of silent screen stars and power the fountains of Jazz Age soirees, catastrophically failed, sending millions of muddy gallons pouring through the lowlands of the UCLA campus.

Our immediate concern was for all the irreplaceable printed matter held by the University's Special Collections Libraries. Happily, campus topography directed the flood away from these treasures. Cars and playing fields were ruined, but the shelves were spared.

And this week, we determined to visit the Young Research Library to pay our respects to this magnificent civic resource. All you need is a piece of government ID to obtain a reader's card, your hard plastic passport into a comfortable room lined with glass cases of Aldine Press titles in impressive leather bindings. We gave our call slips to the young woman at the tall desk, and moments later she delivered Kim's box of Raymond Chandler's letters and Richard's box of the contents of Clifford Clinton's 1930s file cabinets and directed us to take our seats.

As Richard marveled at the copious documentary evidence of prostitution, gambling and assorted vice obtained by Clinton's private investigators, Kim dug into the chronicling of a great bookish friendship, Raymond Chandler of Los Angeles and La Jolla and James Sandoe of Boulder and Ashland.

Sandoe was a university librarian, critic and early director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who was among the first to believe the mystery fiction genre worthy of serious consideration. He came into Chandler's orbit as a fan, but soon became a friend and intellectual foil. Their correspondence, dense and unfolding over the years, chronicles a lost world of literary experience, where a book could fall out of print and be lost until a lucky confluence of connections brought it back into the light.

And so it was that in May 1949, Chandler asked if Sandoe knew where to find a copy of Nathaniel(sic) West's decade-old apocalyptic Hollywood novel The Day of the Locust. Sandoe promptly sent him the University of Colorado Library's copy on indefinite loan.

Although Chandler's letters have been anthologized in book form, and make for wonderful reading, they have by necessity been heavily edited. A true Collected Letters of Raymond Chandler, with replies from his varied correspondents, would fill several bookshelves. So as a lover of Chandler and West, how exciting it is to read his initial thoughts on that weird and haunting book, impressions that evolved over several weeks.

"I find it boring," he notes on May 20, 1949. "Excellent in detail but nothing to draw one on." But he keeps reading, and what he reads bothers him a lot. On June 2, he writes "The whole book, excellent as it is in many ways, is a suicide note. I feel absolutely convinced that this man would have killed himself — and perhaps did — although he is supposed to have been killed in an auto accident in El Centro. It is not tragic, not bitter, not even pessimistic. It simply washes its hands of life."

How lucky we are in Los Angeles, to have these fascinating letters, and so many other treasures of culture, available for anyone with an interest to peruse! If you haven't paid a visit, why not?

We're back on the bus this Saturday, with a downtown double feature crime and social history jaunt, Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice. Join us, do!

Upcoming Tours and Happenings

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.

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.)

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 are delighted to present the LAVA Visionary of the Year Lecture, Marc Chevalier's presentation on The Master Tailors of Golden Age Hollywood. Who made Clark Gable look the part of a superstar? Who dressed Humphrey Bogart, the Ice Follies, and an entire generation of Filipino migrant workers? Who led Liberace from traditional white tie and tails towards outfits shimmering with Swarovksi crystals? The long-forgotten master tailors of Hollywood's golden age, that's who! While Tinseltown's great dress designers — Adrian, Irene — remain well-known, the tailors whose genius rendered Fred Astaire and William Powell impossibly suave have faded into obscurity… until now. Join Los Angeles retail historian, and LAVA Visionary of the Year, Marc Chevalier, as he reveals the marvelous, surprising stories of Hollywood's top three tailors, whose extraordinary careers rose and fell with the movie industry. After the Salon, Richard Schave leads one of his free Broadway on My Mind walking tours (free, reservations required).

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!

  • Save the Phantom of the Opera set.
  • Los Angeles, before we got here.
  • A snapshot of gentrification in Highland Park. (Parenthetically, the author appears unaware that the Lummis House's longtime tenant, the Historical Society of Southern California, has been evicted by Recreation and Parks).
  • Related: evicted camper speaks out on Arroyo Seco homeless sweep.
  • Crafting the dead.
  • Academy museum proposes unsettling changes to city landmark May Company Building.
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    yrs,

    Kim and Richard

    Esotouric

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