Without a Map edition
Storm coming over the El Sereno hills, from @esotouric on Instagram.
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On Sunday, the AP published a feature about the controversy surrounding architect Thom Mayne's recent demolition of the Cheviot Hills home where Ray Bradbury lived and wrote for fifty years.
Though not quoted, Richard provided a lengthy background interview, bringing reporter John Rogers up to speed on the new demolition notification ordinance that Mayne rushed to circumvent, the sometimes contentious landmark nomination process, recent funding cuts in L.A.'s Office of Historic Resources and the worrying fact that Bradbury's home was somehow omitted from SurveyLA's historic resources report on Cheviot Hills.
The piece was especially timely in light of Tuesday's launch of the SurveyLA website, the public face of the decade-in-the-work collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and the city's Office of Historic Resources. This is an interactive digital map pinpointing significant properties throughout Los Angeles, built on the open-source Arches platform. (Hear the Getty's Tim Whalen talk about the project on our podcast here.)
SurveyLA can be an important tool in the recognition, and hopefully the preservation, of the city's historic resources--especially those in far flung neighborhoods where historic preservation isn't dinner table conversation. Los Angeles needs this, desperately.
But with an Office of Historic Resources that lacks the funding to handle its ordinary work, is it any surprise that a tour of the (admittedly incomplete) SurveyLA map reveals gaping omissions?
Our first search was for the writer's home we helped to save. The landmarked Bukowski Court is on the list (erroneously listed as still vacant), but not the much handsomer bungalow court apartment complex across the street.
In the Hollywood hills, the still-active 1930s ashram Vedanta is not listed, nor the stunning Krotona Theosophical temple compound above. Also missing: the unaltered 1927 United Lodge of Theosophists Hall at 33rd and Grand, which experts now believe may possess the oldest continuously operating neon sign in Los Angeles.
In Elysian Park, Barlow Sanitarium is listed, but not Dodger Stadium. At the north end of Echo Park, we find Angelus Temple, but not Sister Aimee Semple McPherson's adjacent Parsonage house museum, nor the contiguous historic bible college. And yet just to the east, data points for the Angeleno Heights neighborhood turn the map into a veritable pincushion of historic house listings.
Downtown, the 19th Century Charnock Block at Fifth and Main is absent. Over towards Skid Row, there's no King Edward Hotel or King Eddy Saloon. At the corner of 3rd and Broadway, the Million Dollar Theater is listed, but not Grand Central Market.
In the densely packed 600 block of South Broadway, a wonderland of turn-of-the-century architecture, only the Palace and Los Angeles Theaters are listed--not Schaber's or Clifton's Cafeteria, not the Forester Building, not the Tahoma Building (Bullocks), the Hollenbeck Building, the Norton Building (Zukor's), Story Building, not Desmond's and not the J.E. Carr Building.
These, and other omissions, suggest that SurveyLA simply was not ready for publication. We don't know what political or economic forces might have steered its early release, and we're troubled by the thought that developers might use this glaringly incomplete document as tacit approval for the demolition or alteration of an historic property that was left off the map.
After all, Thom Mayne could have made that argument about knocking down Ray Bradbury's house. According to SurveyLA, it didn't matter.
It gives us no pleasure to deliver such a critical report on SurveyLA. This is an important project with the potential to empower communities to recognize and preserve their unique treasures. We sincerely hope it will receive the funding necessary, and find a way to incorporate citizens' essential input, so that it can become the rich and accurate SurveyLA that our city needs and deserves.
We're back on the bus this Saturday with Wild Wild Westside, a crime bus tour that peels back the lid on the weird side of life by the sea. Join us, do!
WILD WILD WESTSIDE - SAT. 2/28... For the first time, we've set our true crime sights on points west of Robertson, and the results are truly mind-boggling. Originally offered in our 2008-2009 seasons, this revived crime bus tour spotlights some of the weirdest, most horrific and downright unbelievable crimes of historic West Los Angeles, Venice and Santa Monica. You'll thrill and shudder to tales of teenaged terrors, tortured tots, wicked wives, evil spirits, cults, creeps and assorted maniacs. Get on the bus to meet Weird Ward, the boy husband of the nefarious cult leader who compelled her followers to carry her departed victims all across 1920s L.A. (as featured in Kim's novel, The Kept Girl), and the peculiar Helen Love, who nearly escaped justice when she willed herself into a coma during her very odd murder trial. Along the Venice shore, you'll see where a pair of real life witches tortured their own Hansels and Gretels as neighbors pretended not to hear the tots' cries, and marvel at the grand hotel that was formally a flop house for ex-junkies in the Synanon Cult. Come discover the real and terrible history of L.A.'s westside, on a tour so wild, we had to say it twice. (Buy tickets here.)
WEIRD WEST ADAMS - SAT. 3/7... 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. (Buy tickets here.)
PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL WITH CRIMEBO THE CLOWN - SAT. 3/21... 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. (Buy tickets here.)
HOLLYWOOD! - SAT. 3/28... A brand new bus adventure! Climb aboard the Esotouric crime bus and discover the unwritten history of the sleepy suburb that birthed the American dream factory. From literary lions to criminal masterminds, terror plots to teenage thrill seekers, music mavens to abiding mysteries, the neighborhood is packed to the rim with with fascinating lore and architectural marvels. You won’t see the stars’ homes or hear about their latest real estate deals, but we’ll show you where some colorful characters breathed their last, got into trouble that defined the rest of their lives and came up with ideas that the world is still talking about. So for unforgettable stories you won’t hear on anyone else’s Hollywood tour, climb aboard and discover the secret heart of the city we love. Tour stops include Crossroads of the World (Robert V. Derrah, 1936), the Château Élysée (Arthur E. Harvey, 1927) and the sites of the legendary Garden of Allah hotel and Schwab’s Drugstore. (Buy tickets here.)
HOTEL HORRORS & MAIN STREET VICE - SAT. 4/11... 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. (Buy tickets here.)
THE REAL BLACK DAHLIA - SAT. 4/18... Join us on this iconic, unsolved Los Angeles murder mystery tour, from the throbbing boulevards of a postwar Downtown to the quiet suburban avenue where horror came calling. After multiple revisions, this is less a true crime 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 do not delay. (Buy tickets here.)
ECHO PARK BOOK OF THE DEAD - SAT. 4/25... 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. (Buy tickets here.)
CHARLES BUKOWSKI'S LOS ANGELES - SAT. 5/2... 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. (Buy tickets here.)
RAYMOND CHANDLER'S LOS ANGELES - SAT. 5/9... 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 The Lady in the Lake and The Little Sister, discover the real Philip Marlowe (the inspiration for Kim's novel The Kept Girl) and get the skinny on Chandler's secret comic operetta that we discovered in the Library of Congress nearly a century after it was written. (Buy tickets here.)
SPECIAL EVENT: CRAWLING DOWN CAHUENGA: TOM WAITS' L.A. - SAT. 5/16... 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. (Buy tickets here.)
As featured in this week's podcast, this curated collection of vintage Herald-Examiner live music photos from the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library is just the thing for the pop, or pit, lover on your list.
The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper is a fact-based mystery set in 1929 Los Angeles, and starring the young Raymond Chandler, his devoted secretary and the real-life Philip Marlowe in pursuit of a murderous cult of angel worshippers. Available on all Esotouric tours, autographed on request. You can order the paperback (with or without the deluxe foiled art deco wraps) direct from Esotouric Ink here. Also available from Amazon and for the Kindle, free with Kindle Unlimited!
The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles is a collaboration between illustrator Paul Rogers and our own Kim Cooper. Featuring 50 iconic noir locations, the map is packed with surprising lore and gorgeous artwork inspired by the vintage Dell Mapback mysteries of the 1940s. It is available online from Kim's website and Amazon, and on our tours. (Looking for Aaron Blake's out-of-print 1985 Raymond Chandler map? Click here.)
FORENSIC SCIENCE SEMINARS
Four times a year, we gather in the teaching crime labs of Cal State Los Angeles under the direction of Professor Donald Johnson to explore the history and future of American forensic science. Your $36.50 ticket to the Hot Lead and Hot Leads presentation benefits graduate level Criminalistics research. Join us on Sunday, March 15. For more info, or to reserve, click here.
FROM THE VIDEO VAULT
Now on the Esotouric blog, a virtual visit to Clifton's Cafeteria, circa 2010. Click here to see.
In the latest edition of You Can't Eat the Sunshine, we discover an archive of L.A. music photography and threat facing the very first Taco Bell. Click here to tune in.
Help bring an L.A. icon back from the dead. Join the campaign to restore John Parkinson's 1910 design for our greatest lost park.
The LAVA Sunday Salon is our monthly cultural clearing house of new ideas presented by LAVA Visionaries, the most fascinating folks in town. Back from hiatus, the Sunday Salon returns on March 29 with LAVA Visionary of the Year for 2015 Nathan Marsak on L.A.'s lost Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Free, reservations required.
We discovered Raymond Chandler's most delightful literary secret. Now we need your help to stage his comic operetta in Los Angeles!
Need an L.A.-centric gift in a hurry? Visit The Esotouric Emporium of L.A. Lore, our curated guide to the best in regional books, films and artifacts. How about a gift certificate for a bus adventure into the secret heart of Los Angeles, a solo 6-Pack or shareable 12-Pack? We also carry vintage photos of lost Bunker Hill as well as earlier scenes, Charles Bukowski-inspired fine art prints, Raymond Chandler maps (vintage) or (contemporary) and 76 ball antenna toppers.
Wild Wild Westside (2/28)
Weird West Adams (3/7)
New Tour: Hollywood! (3/28)
The Real Black Dahlia (4/18)
Echo Park Book of the Dead (4/25)
Charles Bukowski's L.A. (5/2)
Raymond Chandler's L.A. (5/9)
Special Event: Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits' L.A. (5/16)
Eastside Babylon (5/30)
AND FINALLY, LINKS
Remember: WeHo, where great buildings are routinely demolished, is run by terrible people.
New York is fortunate to have its walker in the city.
The mentalist story is horrifying on so many levels.
No, Harper Lee did not write a second book.
The parking lot that was the historic Union Rescue Mission slated for residential development.
Remembering June Fairchild, a great Los Angeles soul.
The King Eddy saloon can be yours.
SoCal Connected asks: What price Bringing Back Broadway? Longtime tenants facing eviction, for a speculative transformation.
"Groundbreaking" for a new viaduct.
The sweetest thing you'll see all week.
The last person who should be shaping homeless policy is a developer who bought property next to a shelter.
Wither Thelma Todd's beach cafe? (It's not landmarked, and there is no on-site parking, so we're waiting anxiously to hear what the new owners have planned.)
SUPPORT OUR WORK
If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history and would like to say thank you, please consider putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Your contributions are never obligatory, but always appreciated.
Kim and Richard