When He Blew Up The Los Angeles Times, He Found The 19th Century Crime Was No Match For 20th Century Detectives

plus Vermonica (which is better than Urban Light), bilious billionaires and their pet museum directors, art deco angels and much more.

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.

In the last newsletter, we shared our excitement about the impending start of work on restoration of Vermonica (1993), Sheila Klein’s vintage streetlight sculpture that was remuddled by the city, and is now coming back under her supervision.

We’ve spent a few happy hours at the site this week, and have been documenting the artwork’s transformation in photos and video. You can, too, using the hashtag #vermonica2020, or just check Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see what Vermonica’s visitors are sharing.

As LACMA’s historic campus is demolished, leaving Chris Burden’s derivative installation Urban Light (2008) as the museum’s main presence on Wilshire, we feel particularly encouraged to see the original vintage Los Angeles streetlight sculpture coming back to East Hollywood in a beautiful new location.

Unlike LACMA, where billionaires and their bad ideas rule (at least for now) and where blatant plagiarism is celebrated by a clueless carpetbagger museum director, Vermonica is an expression of one community minded artist’s vision, brought into existence through a generous collaboration between the City of Los Angeles, volunteer workers and a private property owner, and revived in response to public demand and our preservation advocacy.

Soon Vermonica will stand permanently as a beacon of hope for Angelenos, a promise that if we work together, the most beautiful things can happen. It doesn’t seem quite real yet, but maybe it will once you visit and tell us what you think!

Saturday’s webinar is “Los Angeles Underground: Sleuthing Tunnels Lost & Found,” a cultural history of subterranean development in heart of the city. Just added to the program is a special guest: Nathan Marsak, our longtime collaborator and author of the new book Bunker Hill, Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir. Tunnel construction brings out the nuttiest aspects of the Angeleno character, and we’ve got some wild tales to tell… and maybe a treasure hunt for the more daring among you to take on.

On October 31, Kim will share “13 Uncanny Los Angeles Crimes & Mysteries” from her big book of vintage true crime tales, selected to virtually unsettle and beguile you on this strangest of Hallowe’en days.

And just announced, on November 7, is “The 1910 Los Angeles Times Bombing with Detective Mike Digby.” Tune in as Detective Digby takes us along on a scrupulously researched self-proclaimed bomb nerd’s journey through early 20th Century Los Angeles, bringing one of the nation’s most convoluted criminal conspiracies to life and interpreting the crime scene analysis and investigation through the lens of 21st century techniques. Preview the story with this Spectrum News 1 video feature from Mike’s Esotouric tour about the crime, then sign up for a wild time travel trip.

We went Facebook Live tonight to preview our next few historic Los Angeles history webinars. Are we ghosts, or just a little blue? Click the pic and see for yourself.

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember that if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can tune in to the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see “Shaking The Raymond Chandler Tree: New Discoveries About L.A.’s Master Detective Novelist” through Saturday night. “Black Dahlia Days: Sleuthing out Beth Short’s Southern California,” “Inside the Dutch Chocolate Shop” and “Inside the Bradbury Building” are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for “Los Angeles Underground: Sleuthing Tunnels Lost & Found.”

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Leafing Through UCLA Special Collections' Eclectic Southern California Menu Holdings—rare artifacts from Walt Disney's Commissary, The Garden of Allah, Googie's, plus fried chicken, streamlined survivors and rose-hip soup. Not a subscriber? Sneak a peek here.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history and would like to say thank you, please consider signing up for the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Looking for something L.A.-centric to enliven your collection? We’ve got a swell selection of local history 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.

Video Vault: The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles' contribution to the Archives Bazaar is a sweet film about the salvaged Richfield Oil building angels and the Art Deco enthusiasts who hired cranes to bring them home…. The Carnegie Observatories annual open house is virtual, with a chance to explore some backstage spaces not typically open to the public… So happy to see this footage of the Internet Archive accessioning Lillian Michelson's Cinematic Research Library, the homeless archive that's had film fans fretting for years. It's all in one place and in good hands, at last!

New on Frenchtown Confidential: road tripping Los Angeles, in search of streets named for our French pioneers. Maybe you can help C.C. with one of the street sign photos she's missing.

Happy news for late night Googie coffee shop fans: Swingers GM Stephanie Wilson is the new owner of the shuttered neighborhood favorite, and it's reopening!

Lone Pine is now a neon destination, thanks to a project to restore the town's vintage signage as a way of giving back to the region that supplies Los Angeles' water.

UCSF has agreed not to destroy Bernard Zakheim's WPA murals. A conservation firm has been hired to remove the room full of art telling the story of medicine in California, with a prominent role for L.A.'s own Biddy Mason.

Onni Group: we will demolish William Pereira's 1973 L.A. Times building and restore the damage, better than new. Also Onni Group: responsible for maintaining streetlights in Vancouver neighborhood, they're burned out for years, residents scared to go out.

Two CEQA appeals filed by neighbors against what they view as corrupt "off-menu" upzoning of 10555 West Bloomfield, a green oasis in the heart of Toluca Lake featured on Nathan Marsak's R.I.P. Los Angeles blog.

Preservation alert! Paul R. Williams' Morris & Lena Shuwarger Residence (1938) on Beverly Glen sold in February for $6.7 Million. Now an estate sale offers "fixtures and demo items for sale, including fireplace, vintage wall treatments, bathrooms."