Southern California 1931: Amongst the burgeoning urban sprawl built atop bulldozed orange groves and the bitter realization that you can’t eat the sunshine, recent emigré James M. Cain found a kernel of truth and his voice, which would eventually distill through his novels, ”The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Mildred Pierce” and “Double Indemnity” and subsequent film adaptations into the unique American genre: Film Noir.
How did this East Coat sophisticate go from managing editor of “The New Yorker” to populist novelist accused of writing dirty books? The tour explores Cain’s L.A. from Hollywood to Glendale and along old Route 66, and includes illuminating visits to Forest Lawn Memorial Park (a Glendale institution and site of the funeral of Mildred Pierce’s “other” daughter, Ray), the Glendale Train Station where the “Double Indemnity” murder plot played out, and the punch line to a Billy Wilder joke so subtle, it’s taken 63 years for anyone to get. The tour will also cover the artisans who transformed Cain’s tales into film, including Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner, each an important contributor to the Film Noir canon.
The Pershing Square Restoration Society invites you to attend the Pershing Square Renew Launch Party, the first public event from the new non-profit organization “dedicated to supporting and facilitating Pershing Square’s revitalization.”
Pershing Square Renew says “Join us in the heart of Downtown for a fun-filled night of music, art, food, ice skating, interactive games, and prize-giveaways. Although this night will be about having fun and celebrating with the community, it will also be an opportunity for you to weigh in on your hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a renewed Pershing Square.”
Background information: In 2013, the Pershing Square Task Force was formed with the intent of “Re-Envisioning” the historic park. Public response has overwhelmingly supported a different model: the restoration of the 1910 John Parkinson landscape design that was demolished in 1951 to put in underground parking. More than 1500 people have signed the petition asking for restoration and the campaign has been prominently covered by The Los Angeles Times, Which Way LA? and Curbed.
The Pershing Square Task Force has since been replaced by Pershing Square Renew. Pershing Square Renew recently announced their intention of holding a design competition for Pershing Square; Councilman Jose Huizar confirmed that the historic 1910 John Parkinson design can be entered, and that a public vote will select the winner.
Supporters of the campaign to Restore Pershing Square are encouraged to attend this event and share their hopes for a return to John Parkinson’s 1910 design for the park, or other ideas which occur to them. All are welcome–please spread the word!
Go East, Young Crime Fiend! For years, the devoted and demented crime historians of Esotouric have been stockpiling hideous 20th century crime tales from the east side of the Los Angeles River, and waiting for the perfect moment to spring them upon an unsuspecting world. That moment has arrived. On the Eastside Babylon tour you’ll discover fascinating, little-known neighborhoods and the grim memories they hold. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured and a mad dad ran amok. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.’s oldest cemetery and home of some memorable haunts and strange burials. Visit East Los Angeles, where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride–and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood’s myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder. All this, and so much more on Eastside Babylon, Esotouric’s exploration of L.A.’s most horrifying forgotten crimes.
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.
A Special Event Esotouric bus adventure: Richard’s one-time only Birthday Bus Tour of Public Mausolea of Los Angeles & Orange Counties hosted by Nathan Marsak.
For Richard’s once-a-year birthday bus adventure, we invite you to climb aboard for a 7-hour excursion exploring some of the greatest buildings in the Southland that you’ve never seen—unless you go to a lot of funerals.
Lunch is included in the ticket price.
The tour is hosted by Nathan Marsak, America’s wittiest historian of mortuary architecture. At each of the mausolea that we visit, Nathan will share the histories and structural secrets of these magnificent structures, revealing their compelling narratives through vintage photographs and insights into the architect, engineer and civic groups that funded each project.
During our on-the-bus portions of the tour, Nathan will argue a slightly more esoteric point: showing how the development of both these public mausolea and of Modernism in Los Angeles were concurrent and connected. They shared many of the same goals and tapped into the same revolutionary material: concrete, with its plasticity adapted to vernacular styles based on indigenous forms and innovative local building methods, and which also served the need for a durable and hygienic space. By tour’s end, Nathan will reveal these seemingly traditional structures as standing firmly within the West Coast Modernist canon.
Public Mausolea to be visited:
Forest Lawn (formerly Sunnyside Memorial Park) (Long Beach, 1922, Cecil Bryant, architect). This Spanish Renaissance gem is a showcase of ceramic tile design by the local CALCO Pottery headed by Rufus Keeler, later of Malibu Pottery. It contains unusually fine examples of pictorial stained glass, and its dome with its suspended Foucault’s Pendulum is a breathtaking architectural space.
Community Mausoleum (Anaheim, 1914, Charles E. Shattuck, architect). Constructed by the Pacific Mausoleum Company of Los Angeles. The interior tile and white Columbia marble is by Musto Sons-Keenan, and the cast iron & bronze grillwork by Pacific Ornamental. The proportions of the building are perfect Classic Greek Doric: narrowing shafts, triglyphs over the architrave, extending pediment. The ventilation, sanitation, and drainage are all patented designs of Charles E. Shattuck.
Fairhaven (Santa Ana, 1916, Charles E. Shattuck, architect). An Egyptian-Beaux Arts masterpiece conceived of by the visionary cemetery developer Oliver Linden Halsell, it is constructed of granite with thirty-two different kinds of marble and stone used on the interior floors and walls.
Calvary Mausoleum (East Los Angeles, 1936, Ross Montgomery, architect). The facade is Art Deco-Moorish-Hollywood, complete with processional columns capped with triumphant angels. The interior is inspired by Tuscan church interiors of the Quattrocento, rich with marble and stenciled faux wood. The mausoleum was financed in large part by Estelle Doheny, and is the final resting place for both she and her oilman husband Edward. For many decades, the bishops of Los Angeles reposed here, too, before being moved to the new downtown Cathedral in 2002.