Throwing A Life Preserver To The Larry Edmunds Bookshop
because what's the point of reopening Los Angeles, if much of what's cool and unique is lost before we do?
Yesterday, we helped our friend Jeff Mantor, who has spent 29 years keeping literary and cinema history alive at the Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard, set up a GoFundMe campaign so that the 82 year old establishment doesn’t become a victim of the coronavirus.
Above: On a recent Raymond Chandler tour, Jeff Mantor displays the 1969 Larry Edmunds storefront recreated for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood”
Like so many of our friends who operate small businesses, Jeff is finding that the promised Federal loans and grants can’t be counted on to come quickly, as the weeks tick by with no end date in sight for the mandated shuttering of their shops.
So he swallowed his pride, which is considerable, and sent out a plea for help—not just for his own financial survival, but because he recognizes that while he is the legal “owner” of the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, he is only the current knot on a golden thread of caretakers who have kept this precious cultural resource humming on the Boulevard, from Hollywood’s Golden Age through the sleepy 1960s and into the sleazy 1970s, through subway construction sinkholes and redevelopment schemes that favored corporations over independent entrepreneurs, and into the challenging hyper-gentrification of the Garcetti era.
Through it all, Larry Edmunds has stuck around, and today it is the last shop standing from what was once a thriving Bookseller’s Row.
We always look forward to our visits on the quarterly Raymond Chandler tour, where we describe the writer hashing out the details of his debut novel, The Big Sleep, in the back room of the shop’s earlier incarnation, Stanley Rose, across the boulevard next to Musso and Frank.
We watched with love, hope and worry as the link to the GoFundMe started to circulate on social media last night, and as of this writing are thrilled to see more than 250 individual donors have heeded the call, depositing a kitty of more than $14,000 to help keep the lights on a little longer at this precious place.
Jeff’s goal to keep the shop alive is $100,000. If you’re able, won’t you please contribute a few bucks, or share the link, or think of “The Lare” when shopping for books or film memorabilia? When you do, you’ll become one of the knots on the golden thread, too. And you’ll always find a friendly port along the dirty boulevard, when the lights come on again in Los Angeles.
Speaking of loans and grants, self-employed tour company owner-operators like us are still not eligible for any financial aid, so we’re especially thankful that quite a few of you good people have shown your support by signing up for the paid tier of this newsletter.
It’s a lovely feeling to know that you believe in us and want to stay connected, and makes the present uncertainty less stressful all around. The first of these special subscriber’s posts is coming soon, so stay tuned.
And everyone can chime in on the comment section of this edition of the newsletter, which is something new that the Substack format allows. Let’s treat this as the virtual equivalent of those mid-tour coffee breaks, where we can talk about our shared passion for Los Angeles lore with folks who don’t think we’re nuts for loving the relics and landmarks of earlier times.
You can also look forward to the return of our free You Can’t Eat The Sunshine podcast, reformatted to suit the social distancing times with a more conversational structure, featuring some of our preservation pals calling in from around the Southland. You’ll find new episodes on the website, or you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
WANT TO 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. Need a good read? 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... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.
AND WHAT'S THE NEXT TOUR? WHO KNOWS?!
We're dark until public health officials determine that groups can gather safely. But we've got 132 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers (and new episodes coming very soon!), and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus new Cranky Preservationist videos. And while we're not shipping physical books right now, Kim's 1920s cult mystery novel The Kept Girl is available as an ebook.
The June 7 forensic science seminar with arson and bomb expert Ed Nordskog has now been postponed, and will be re-scheduled as soon as Cal State Los Angeles allows outside events back on campus. Snag your spot soon for Detective’s Casebook: Profiling Serial Bombers & Mothers’ Burning Rage, because it will sell out!
yours for Los Angeles,
Kim & Richard
AND FINALLY, LINKS
In LACMA News: Has LACMA lost its way?… Our public comment: Los Angeles County Supervisors, shut down LACMA demolition… Artnet spotlights LACMA’s glaring public corruption problem…. Do We Have to Say Goodbye to LACMA?… Save LACMA Files Its Ballot Measure To Hold The Museum Accountable… LACMA continues demolition amid quarantine… Who says billionaire board member Lynda Resnick isn't giving back during the pandemic? She's uploading videos telling kids all about her doggies, and to wipe runny noses on their sleeves. We'd prefer she withdraw that big demolition pledge!… "The Death of Bing Theatre" video by artist Gary Baseman and preservation pal Victor Atomic… LACMA’s gala opening celebrations on KNX-AM’s Kaleidoscope (March 25, 1965)… A shot across Michael Govan’s bow from Save LACMA… Artist takes advantage of reduced security to install a show on the museum facade… Los Angeles Times: LACMA has begun demolition. Where are the gallery plans?.... Save LACMA!
New Cranky Preservationist Video: Our natty anti-hero Nathan Marsak returns, to celebrate a wacky Downtown L.A. roadside gem that rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a recent blaze. Episode 26: Reports of the Death of The White Log Coffee Shop Have Been Exaggerated.
New on the Esotouric blog: Downtown Los Angeles Development, Jose Huizar and the Bishop Mora Salesian High School Slush Fund… From the Pereira in Peril campaign to save the Los Angeles Times buildings: April Fool: Times Mirror Square EIR Challenge Rejected, or “Nothing to see here, G-Man.” Featuring Jose Huizar's incredible Schrodinger's Streetcar.
The Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, unable to perform in their new digs, have created At Home Happiness, with puppet making videos, podcasts, playlists and wacky PSAs to keep kids big and small creative, calm and cracking up in quarantine.
It was wonderful while it lasted, but Angels Flight Railway is once again out of service (August 31, 2017 - March 30, 2020). If you're downtown, please keep an eye on this treasured landmark, so it can again take Angelenos to the heavens some sweet day.
Fascinating piece on how Los Angeles cemeteries and mourning families are adapting to make funerals safe in the time of coronavirus. No Qingming tomb sweeping ceremonies this month, but we believe the ancestors understand.
Cheers to pulp fiction scanning superhero zatoichi01, who put a set of all 49 covers for Avon Murder Mystery Monthly (1942-1950) up on the Internet Archive. Hot, strange stuff!
The Built Environment Resources Directory (BERD) contains more than 48,000 (!!!) Los Angeles County cultural resources listed in California's Office of Historic Preservation’s inventory. Download the excel file and discover the wonders in your own backyard.
Alton, Illinois is a lovely river town with a rich vein of local ghost lore, and a mayor who's mad to demolish neglected buildings, among them the pottery studio of ex-Angeleno Art Towata. Hope the pandemic slows the wrecking ball.
Yikes! The buyers the L.A. Conservancy brought in to "save" Richard Neutra's Chuey House think they're qualified to improve on his design. With this property, and John Lautner’s own home just listed for $1.6M (cheap!), it really is a shame Michael Govan hasn't made good on his promise of LACMA collecting distinguished L.A. buildings.
The inspiring tale of how the 750 Edinburgh Bungalow court was saved, by neighbors pulling together and fighting hard for a little piece of the California dream that was just too sweet to lose.
Little signs of light at the end of the quarantine tunnel mean a lot these days. Heritage Square Museum peeped through its magic spyglass and saw hope in the fall. The Victorian Tea and Vintage Fashion Show has been rescheduled for September 26.
Bonnie Beckerson of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society nimbly debunks the abiding myth of slave-driving Kentucky Colonel Blanton Duncan, rumored keeper of a smuggling tunnel packed with booty and bodies.
RIP Stan's Donuts of Westwood Village (1965-2020). When the world opens up again, we sure hope a new donut maker will rent this iconic shop and keep the sweet history alive. But we’ll always have Huell Howser’s visit to remember Stan by. And the Chicago franchise ships nationwide.
Huzzah! It's the birthday week of Milt Larsen, that inventive impresario who helped create The Magic Castle, brought mirth to the Variety Arts Theatre and Mayfair Music Hall (and in Montecito today), and salvaged L.A. landmarks before the wreckers came. He made a mean menu, too.
Today's virtual road trip: 1) Fire up the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve livestream; 2) Tune in to You Can't Eat the Sunshine podcast #68, as Ranger Jean welcomes you to her fluttery orange slice of Southern California heaven.