July 5, 2012

Gentle reader,

This is a small note to update you on LAVA’s occasional forensic science events in the Cal State Los Angeles crime lab, hosted by Visionary Professor Donald Johnson.

We’re very pleased to announce that, starting with the August crime lab seminar, these events are co-sponsored by the California Forensic Science Institute. You can learn about the broad spectrum of CFSI’s work in the field at http://www.cal-fsi.com

We’re currently developing our fall crime lab seminars, which promise to be very interesting indeed. We can’t tell you more until a few more pieces fall into place, but if you stay tuned to this channel, you’re sure hear all about it first.

The next event on the LAVA crime lab calendar is COLD A LONG TIME: SOLVING A 22-YEAR-OLD FORENSIC MYSTERY, on August 26. You can reserve your spot at the link below.

We hope you’ll hoin acclaimed true crime author John Leake and trace evidence expert Lynne Herold, Senior Criminalist with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, for this special presentation based on John’s latest book “Cold A Long Time: An Alpine Mystery,” winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher Award—Bronze Medal, True Crime.

The Mystery: In August 1989, Duncan MacPherson, a pro hockey player, disappeared in Europe. With no help from the police, his parents searched the Alps looking for him. They found his car near the gondola station at the Stubai Glacier, a popular ski resort near Innsbruck, Austria. The car had sat in the lot for six weeks without being reported. Fourteen years later, Duncan’s body was found at the resort. What happened to Duncan MacPherson? In order to answer that question, true crime author John Leake sought the expertise of trace evidence examiner Lynne Herold, whom he knew had served as a key witness in the prosecution of international serial killer Jack Unterweger, the subject of John’s first book.

Join John and Lynne as they team up a second time to solve the 22-year-old forensic mystery of Duncan MacPherson’s disappearance. Through presentation of physical evidence recovered from the scene, eyewitness testimony, chronology of events, additional evidentiary research and peculiar gaps in the forensic records, crime lab attendees will follow John through the steps by which he discovered a shocking cover up and the answers for which Duncan MacPherson’s parents had been searching for more than a decade.

We hope to see you at the event on August 26, but you’re most welcome to check out LAVA’s other interesting events, including a series of historic true crime tours on the Esotouric bus.

Please visit the LAVA website, Twitter or Facebook page (links below), or sign up for the main LAVA Flows email newsletter at the LAVA site for regular updates on events outside the crime lab.

Kim & Richard
LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association

Sat, 01/10/2015 - 12:00pm

"This bus tour... has established itself as an L.A. classic." (The Los Angeles Times)... The Black Dahlia murder in 1947 is the most compelling unsolved crime Los Angeles has ever known. What Jack the Ripper is to London, the Torso Killer to Cleveland, the Black Dahlia is to L.A. And yet unlike those other cases, the name Black Dahlia refers not to the killer, but to the victim. What was it about Elizabeth Short that keeps her the object of obsessive fascination by writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, cops and readers, more than sixty years after she was slain? The Real Black Dahlia Crime Bus Tour seeks to answer this question by intimately exploring the last weeks of Elizabeth Short's life, asking not "who killed her?" but "who was she?" The tour takes us from the human hustle of Main Street to the serene lobby of the Biltmore (the second-to-last place she was seen alive), to the newspaper offices and the Greyhound station where she checked her bags, and concludes at the site where her bisected body was found in Leimert Park and with a little known suspect who lived nearby. From the few personal possessions she left behind to the friends who scarcely knew her, from the mass hysteria of the investigation with its fruitless leads, wacko suspects and false confessions, the tour reveals all that's known about this enigmatic black-haired girl who reinvented herself at whim, and shows how she came to be the unfortunate symbol of her time and place.

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 12:00pm

"[This tour is] a poetic journey full of rare insight into the life of a man who's come to represent the ghettoized contingency of the City of Angels.” (Tanja M. Laden, Flavorpill)... "Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's LA" from Esotouric focuses on Bukowski’s great passions: writing, screwing and Los Angeles. We’ll take in the canonical locations of his life and myth: the Postal Annex Terminal where he gathered the material for “Post Office,” the De Longpre apartment where he briefly experimented with marriage and fatherhood, one of his favorite bars and liquor stores, and many other spots. Along the way, we’ll explore the people and ideas that made up the warp and weft of Buk’s rich inner life. This Esotouric bus adventure is hosted by Richard Schave. The tour spans Bukowski's personal city, from Skid Row to once-genteel Crown Hill, to Bukowski's favorite East Hollywood liquor store, the Pink Elephant. Esotouric has made its name with true crime bus tours (Black Dahlia, Pasadena Confidential) and explorations of literary LA (Raymond Chandler, John Fante, James M. Cain). Now they turn their creative attentions to Bukowski, the prolific poet, novelist and screenwriter whose rough-hewn tales of boozing, wild women and rotten jobs never obscure the deep vein of sweetness and hope that runs through all his work. 

Sun, 01/18/2015 - 12:00pm

To purchase a ticket for this special event, click here. If you'd like to be contacted when another crime lab tour and lecture are scheduled, subscribe to LAVA's occasional Crime Lab Newsletter.

Join us in the Cal State Los Angeles teaching crime lab for an afternoon’s inquiry into the history of forensic science in Los Angeles, in support of new research coming out of the Criminalistics Department. We are delighted to announce a return engagement by LAVA favorite Ed Nordskog, Senior Arson Investigator for the LASD and author of "'Torchered' Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists and Fire Raisers" and "Freaks and Fiends: Obsessive Arsonists in the California Foothills." Ed will present in detail on how two of his most fascinating recent investigations were solved. Case #1: St John Vianney Catholic Church arson, Hacienda Heights. In April 2011, a brazen arsonist entered the church sanctuary and carefully ensured its destruction. Two priests sleeping in the attached building narrowly escaped with their lives. You’ll marvel at the two-year, multi-agency investigation, the bizarre suspect and how toilet paper became the key to breaking the case. Case #2: Marijuana Shop Fires. Beginning in 2009, black street gangs began firebombing marijuana dispensaries throughout the Los Angeles basin, with a large number occurring in Hollywood and West Hollywood. Watch as the facts fall into place through the recently concluded four-year investigation, resulting in the convictions of 11 conspirators and a surprising ring leader.

By the end of Ed’s presentation, attendees will have gained familiarity with the real-world experience of a top arson investigator, and with the shadow worlds inhabited by two very different types of arsonist. Copies of Ed Nordskog’s books will be available for purchase during the program.

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 7:00pm

Join us in the gorgeous National Register Pasadena Central Library, as true crime historian/novelist Kim Cooper discusses and reads from "The Kept Girl" (Esotouric Ink, 2014), a 1920s mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler, his devoted secretary and the real-life Philip Marlowe all on the trail of a murderous cult of angel worshippers. Accompanying Kim is husband Richard Schave, her partner in Esotouric bus adventures and LAVA - the Los Angeles Visionaries Association, and the designer of this 1940s-inspired paperback, the debut publication of their L.A.-centric press, Esotouric Ink. Kim's illustrated talk will draw on her years of research into the lost lore of Los Angeles, with a focus on the bizarre Great Eleven cult, which ensnared dozens of credulous Angelenos in their mystical rites before one disgruntled ex-believer brought the whole enterprise tumbling down. You'll hear about Raymond Chandler's pre-literary life as an oil company executive, the idealistic L.A. policeman who is a likely model for Philip Marlowe, the real woman who inspired the character of Chandler's secretary Muriel, and the terrible secrets revealed by the fraud investigation in the Great Eleven's activities. Richard will share insights into how he used cutting edge computing tools to evoke the look and feel of a mid-century book, and Kim will talk abut the deluxe Art Deco wraps created for the Subscribers, whose pre-publication support covered a big chunk of the print cost.  The talk will be followed by a Q&A, and copies of "The Kept Girl" and "The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles" will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 12:00pm

Bungalows. Crime. Hollywood. Blondes. Vets. Smog. Death.

This was Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles, which resonated under deft and melancholy fits from his writer’s bow.

Join Esotouric as they go down the mean streets that shaped his fiction, and that in turn shaped his hard-boiled times, in a four hour tour of downtown, Hollywood and surrounding environs: The Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the Hotel Van Nuys, Paramount Studio’s gates, and much, much more, including a Chandler-themed gelato stop at East Hollywood cult favorite Scoops.

Through published work, private correspondence, screenplays and film adaptations, we trace Chandler’s search for meaning and his anti-hero Philip Marlowe’s struggle to not be pigeonholed or give anything less than all he has, which lead them both down the rabbit hole of isolation, depression, and drink. 

Exclusive on this tour: the fascinating story of Raymond Chandler's lost comic operetta "The Princess and the Pedlar," a bombshell in Chandler studies, discovered by co-host Kim Cooper in 2014.

Tour passengers will have the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of Kim Cooper's mystery novel "The Kept Girl," inspired by this tour and starring the young Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe on the trail of a cult of murderous angel worshippers, as well as the new "Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles."

Sat, 01/31/2015 - 12:00pm

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.