See George Mann's Los Angeles Shimmer and Shine in Fabulous 3-D

Gentle reader,

Happy Christmas greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

Have you been missing the comforting holiday tradition of celebrating with family at Downtown’s classic cafeterias? Tomorrow at noon we go live with A Love Letter to the Cafeterias of Old Los Angeles. For this holiday program, we’ll celebrate culinary visionaries, tracing the famous and forgotten cafeterias that once dotted the Southland, and the fascinating things that happened within. Tune in for a full tray of vintage cafeteria philosophy, architecture and lore, with a virtual plate of multicolored confetti jello on the side.

Next Saturday (1/2/2021), it’s Pershing Square, Los Angeles: the History, Tragedy and Potential of Our Original Central Park, 1866-2020. You won’t believe how much history can be packed into one small slice of public space, as we launch our new year of programming with a plea to the City of Los Angeles stop messing around and bring the great park back. Joining us in this urban treasure hunt are architect John Parkinson’s biographer Stephen Gee, and Courtland Jindra, who sleuthed the mystery of the park’s missing siege cannon.

And just announced for January 9 is George Mann’s Fabulous 3-D Views of Los Angeles. You won’t want to miss the improbable tale of the spaghetti-limbed vaudeville star who reinvented himself in mid-life as a commercial photographer capturing cool 3-D views of Southern California for display in a custom viewing device invented with the help of pal Bill Lear of Lear Jet fame. We’ll be joined by George’s son Brad Smith and daughter-in-law Dianne Woods, and 3-D photographer Chris Casady. The webinar features never before seen photos and wild tales that you won’t want to miss.

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can watch the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see The Weird World of Programmatic Los Angeles Architecture through Saturday night.

Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, Ohio River Valley, Bunker Hill, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Chandler,Black Dahlia,Dutch Chocolate Shop,Bradbury Building, Tunnels, L.A. Times Bombing, 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for A Love Letter to the Cafeterias of Old Los Angeles.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—A Wartime Obsession Shared Beneath The Flickering Neon Tubes of Lompoc's Rice Bowl Café—we share one of the wildest things anyone has ever told us about how a landmark came to be built. Here’s a hint: a little bit of Hitler lives in Lompoc.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for (or gifting) the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Gift certificates are available for any webinar in our library or upcoming calendar, starting at $10. Printed matter? We’ve got a swell selection of books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.


We're dark until public health officials determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to weekly webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.


HOLIDAY GIFTS: For your last-minute December shopping needs, we have emailable $10 gift certificates redeemable for any of our webinars. Maybe add a book or vintage map? We want to make it easy to give the gift of Los Angeles history, culture, mystery and delight to everyone on your list.

What to get for your picky sweetheart who loves Raymond Chandler? The best of all the 1787 Brasher gold doubloons, but natch.

We can't imagine Hollywood without Miceli's. Please help! Federal aid is needed for the hospitality field, but Los Angeles is long overdue for enacting a legacy business registry to help keep gems like this one around for another 72 years.

And another iconic Hollywood restaurant has put out the tin cup seeking help from its community to keep from closing forever. Help Save La Poubelle Bistro, 1969-?

What’s new in city permits? Hollywood’s Knickerbocker Hotel, which removed its historic neon sign in October with no permits, retroactively seeks approval for exterior alterations. Was the original sign destroyed?… Historic-Cultural Monument nomination submitted for the time capsule mid-century house at 9743 Pali Ave. in Tujunga. If accepted, they can use the Mills Act for restoration funds. HCM nomination submitted for the magnificent row of old oaks that shade North Hollywood High School (1929). And another for the Wyckoff Residence on Abbot Kinney: "Lot has not been on the market for over 30 years.... this Silicon Beach property will not last!" See its most recent use.

Did you miss the red hot Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council meeting, when community members seeking to landmark German Hospital demanded answers about toxic dust and why the City Attorney threatened arrest if it wasn't demolished? Audio is here and you’re encouraged to sign the neighbors’ petition: Stop Hazardous Demolition in Boyle Heights Immediately.

Bring back the Federal Writers’ Project! We’ve consulted the archives of the 1930s L.A. edition, and they are full of gold nuggets. Thousands of terrific writers are eager to get to work in telling the American story.

We were happy to get a big stack of Vermonica flyers from the Department of Cultural Affairs. The sheet identifies the streetlights in the sculpture and all the people who made it happen in 1993 and 2020. Honored to be so prominently mentioned, and delirious that the Big V is here to stay!

Los Angeles is so fortunate to still have the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre as a living, performing, evolving troop that has fundraised enough to pay rent next year. Compare them to the stilled puppets crafted by Meredith Bixby in Michigan, which charmed generations and now live in boxes and online. (And when you click that first link you’ll find a special Xmas performance.)

Inspired by our remake of It's A Wonderful Life starring Eric Garcetti as George Bailey, historian C.C. de Vere has rewritten A Christmas Carol as a cautionary tale about the potential demolition of Taix French Restaurant.

“And there’s nothing wrong with fairy tales, believe me. I raised myself on fairy tales, and the biggest one I would never dream of happened to me, so I know they can come true.” - From Lillian Michelson of Hollywood to the whole world, with love.

A visit with Dr. Taylor of Detroit.

Urban explorers around the world remember sites that have fallen to the wrecking ball this year. When the lights come on again, we will be shocked to see how busy the construction trades have been, erasing useful, historic places so developers can profit.

Our friends at Judson Studios took on an impossible stained glass commission, captured on film. Sign up now for a free festival pass to see this documentary and the rest of the Slamdance virtual program in February.