They Say That You Never Step Into The Same Grand Central Market Twice

Join us for a century's journey through the beating heart and soul of multi-cultural Los Angeles, to meet the vendors, patrons and visionary owners who have kept it humming since 1917

Gentle reader,

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.

As the nights grow longer, our cats friendlier and the sunsets more spectacular, we’re looking ahead to 2021, and mapping out our virtual calendar.

So picture us at the dining room table, surrounded by scraps of paper, passionately arguing about the face we show the world through our public events. It feels a lot like those early Esotouric years, 2007-10, when we were feverishly developing the new tour ideas that would either click and become standards in our repertoire, or be offered once or twice and then vanish back into the archives.

Some of those tours that didn’t quite make it were canibalized to become part of other excursions, written up in blog form, or featured in one of our guidebooks or historic maps. Others are lurking on our hard drives, hoping they might be included in a webinar—like The Evil Spirit Murder Case, a centerpiece of the retired Wild Wild West Side true crime tour, which blew a lot of minds anew in our Hallowe’en program.

Even though not every idea we ever had for a bus tour has translated into a smooth and replicable ride, we learn so much every time we set out to stitch the past onto the fabric of the modern city. We learned how to look at Los Angeles the way transit planners do, as a series of veins and arteries, some suitable for heavy traffic—like a coach class bus packed with eager urban explorers—some happier when hardly anyone is there at all. It’s exciting to be able to revisit certain stories that were impossible to tell within the structural limitations of a large group tour, but lend themselves comfortably to the webinar format. These old friends are a pleasure to get to know anew.

Two months into our second career as weekly webinar producers, we’re developing a sense for what works in this new medium and what kind of stories you want to hear, and there are some cool things coming down the pike. So stay tuned as each week we announce the latest in a series of immersive time travel trips that will take you through Los Angeles and beyond.

Just announced for Saturday, December 5 is A Cultural History of Grand Central Market, 1917-2020. Join us for a celebration of the iconic Downtown Los Angeles melting pot, as it has evolved over a century to serve the needs of generations of Angelenos, and to hear from new owner Adam Daneshgar about what’s next. We’ve been digging through the archives to tell the untold story of the vendors, patrons and visionary owners who have made Grand Central Market the multicultural heart and soul of Los Angeles. To learn more or sign up, click here.

Tomorrow’s webinar is A Visit to Lost Bunker Hill with author Nathan Marsak, featuring cameo appearances by Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison and The Cranky Preservationist. Nathan is one of our oldest friends, so you can expect tales of youthful antics along with a fascinating portrait of the lost neighborhood that’s the subject of his new book, Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir. Nathan will be sharing photos that haven’t been seen anywhere else, so this one is a must for lovers of old Los Angeles.

And on November 28 we’re celebrating Richard’s birthday with the first in a new series, The United States of Preservation: Esotouric’s Ohio River Valley Virtual Vacation Road Trip Webinar. This is a virtual adventure to scratch your traveling itch, with stops at four fascinating places within easy driving distance of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: the historic towns of Johnstown and Steubenville, the scrumptious old school Mehlman’s Cafeteria, and the Hare Krishna ashram and National Register landmark Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold. Joining us at each stop will be one of the preservation people who keeps these special places alive and relevant, to answer your questions.

Want to hear more? We went Facebook Live to whet your whistle for last Saturday’s Charles Bukowski webinar, and we're not going to let a squirrel fight distract us! Plus previews of the upcoming webinars about lost Bunker Hill and the virtual vacation road trip through the Ohio River Valley.

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 This is Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles through Saturday night. Raymond Chandler, Black Dahlia, Dutch Chocolate Shop, Bradbury Building, Tunnels, L.A. Times Bombing and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for A Visit to Lost Bunker Hill with author Nathan Marsak.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Exploring the Hidden Spaces in Skid Row's Baltimore Hotel—massive Pennsylvania iron infrastructure, a claw foot bathtub graveyard, and a penthouse pad that needs a lot of love. Not a subscriber? Sneak a peek here.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. 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. Or you can reserve a gift certificate to join us for a tour once we're back on the road (tour gift certificates will also be redeemable for the lower priced ticketed webinars while tours are on hiatus)... & 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.


Road Trip! Although public bus tours are on hiatus, we still get around on our social distancing road trips around our beloved Los Angeles. Be a virtual backseat companion when you click the #esotouricroadtrip hashtag, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Craving West Side comfort food classics? Now the Apple Pan and Nate 'N Al's both have outdoor seating.

From the 1960s through the 80s, Tom Sewell roamed Los Angeles with a camera, documenting the vanishing programmatic architectural oddities and sometimes snapping the only known photo of a weird building.

We are very worried about the Olvera Street merchants, as the multi-generational family businesses struggle with no school groups, tourists or business lunch trade. The city should continue to waive rent collection into 2021.

To disability advocates, the Fernald State School in Waltham, MA is a site of human rights abuses akin to a death camp. The local Lions Club plans a ticketed drive-thru holiday light show at the ruined institution, which still has no memorial on site.

If you like the way our webinars look, you can thank the "PowerPoint killer" Mmhmm, which we have been enjoying as beta testers. It's now available to all Mac users.

Barricades, Boulders, and How LA’s Public Space Became a Battleground for the Commons. (With our beloved Pershing Square as the lead image—restore! )

During the Q&A of the Charles Bukowski webinar, viewer Michael Steven Martin asked our thoughts on Jill Biden campaigning on his line "What matters most is how well you walk through the fire." We had no idea—did you?

Transit history buffs: here's your chance to be involved with the newly formed Historic Highway 99 Association of California. US 99 runs up the spine of California, and is a fresh lens for viewing the state. We just hope there is a happier theme song for US 99 than Richard Buckner’s "Lil Wallet Picture”!

Apparently, somebody inside LAPD or the City Attorney's office leaked this report on the $700,000 City Council settlement with LAPD Lt. Raymond Garvin of the Bomb Detection Canine Section. Taxpayers should know why these big checks get written on our account.

The new management of the American Cinematheque went to the Hollywood Reporter to announce what Netflix has planned for the landmark theatre, and we have serious concerns after reading the puff piece

Viva Vermonica! L.A.’s Iconic Lamppost Artwork Will Shine Again. Stay tuned for our announcement of a COVID-safe relighting ceremony.

Good grief, even Richard Nixon's home is at threat of demolition by a developer. In a cancelled 11/18 public hearing, the city of Whittier was scheduled to argue 15844 Whittier Blvd. is not significant, even though Dick and Pat were registered to vote here when he became Vice President. Background on this curious case.

“It’s easy to dream here…” muses our pal Josh H., in his moody new video "Designing a 1930s Art Deco Drive-in," featuring the fantastical neon-spired Noctambulant (located somewhere off the Arroyo Seco Parkway), and the very real Formosa Cafe. Dream on.

Encouraging news from the Academy Museum, which finally sees the value in bringing some of Debbie Reynolds' magnificent collection of cinema costumes into the galleries. Too bad the jaw dropper pieces were sold to settle debt years ago.

Displaced by a developer, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater moved into its new Eagle Rock home just before COVID, and it is struggling today. Please chip in to help keep this iconic Los Angeles landmark around for future generations.

We (still) get mail! Digging the latest issue of Jay Hinman's zine Dynamite Hemorrhage #8, dedicated to the legendary Los Angeles punk publication SLASH and featuring revealing interviews with the colorful characters who created it. $6, cheap!

This week was Richard's birthday and to celebrate, Kim made an almond cake that took two days. The custard topping was rich to start with, but then the recipe called for more than a stick of butter! It's so delicious. Make it yourself for a special occasion.

November 19, 1912 - One of the weirdest crimes in Los Angeles history--so memorable, it inspired the first episode of Dragnet—was Carl Warr's Human Bomb attempt to destroy L.A. City Hall. The tale is told in fact and in fiction.

Another grim anniversary: Remembering all the idealistic people, the public servants and the powerless children who perished at Jonestown. Jim Jones had good ideas, poisoned by ego and paranoia.

Ever wonder about 1724 Highland, the new apartment complex in Hollywood with the restaurant space that had a huge gas explosion in 2017? Renters are suing over illegal Airbnb units and a "lack [of] the basic characteristics necessary for human habitation.” Yikes!

It seems incredible, and not in a good way, that it took LACMA until late November to open their outdoor spaces, and when they do it’s in a bummer branding partnership with Miller Lite. The more we think about it, the more we hate it. First LACMA rubbed our locked down noses in demolition of the historic campus, now it mocks our inability to gather for holiday celebrations. Pass.

We hear that A to Z Nut Wagon, a treasure of old Los Angeles, is on the market. Swing by the Boyle Heights landmark to stock up on healthy nuts, dry fruit and spicy jerky, and let us know if you decide to become its next caretaker.

One of our favorite Angelenos is Seymour Rosen, who cozied up to the academy to get the financial support to document the weird old America that he saw vanishing. Oh, for a time machine to visit the "I Am Alive!" LACMA exhibition (1966).