Once a year, LAVA hosts a walking tour along the historic paths that have delineated Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Tour guides for 2014 were Nathan Marsak & Richard Schave (1947project), Rev. Andy Bales (Union Rescue Mission), Prof. Paul Rood (Biola) and Sr. Lead Officer Deon Joseph (LAPD). Read more about this walk here, or click here to see the tour video.
Author: Kim Cooper
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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.
In July 2013, LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association launched a series of free walking tours along Broadway meant to raise consciousness about the Broadway Theater and Commercial District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the pending implementation of Strategy One, Phase One of the City of Los Angeles’ Broadway Streetscape Master Plan. Each walking tour follows and departs from the free LAVA Sunday Salon.
This month’s tour was hosted by Richard Schave (Esotouric/LAVA) with Donald Spivack and Gordon Pattison. The themes were the architecture of Robert Brown Young, The Spring Arcade building, gentrification of Grand Central Market, affective ownership, the Pantages and the Cameo and Roxie Theatres. The last half of the tour goes into the complex public/private sidewalk preservation and funding issues along Broadway and how temporary changes enacted for the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan are impacting expensive permanent street and sidewalk work.
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.
From the founding of the city through the 1940s, downtown was the true center of Los Angeles, a lively, densely populated, exciting and sometimes dangerous place. After many quiet decades, downtown is making an incredible return. But while many of the historic buildings remain, their human context has been lost. Esotouric’s downtown double feature tour is meant to bring alive the old ghosts and memories that cling to the streets and structures of the historic core, and is especially recommended for downtown residents curious about their neighborhood’s neglected history. The Hotel Horrors portion is a true crime and oddities tour featuring some of the wildest, weirdest, goriest and most memorable happenings in historic hotels like the Alexandria, St. George, Barclay and Cecil. Get on the bus to see inside some of these legendary locales and find out where Night Stalker Richard Ramirez liked to stay and the hotel that saw a visit from the Skid Row Slasher, and where two traveling chocolate salesmen laughed so hard they fell backwards out a window to their deaths. You’ll also explore the fiery curse that repeatedly leveled the St. George Hotel. Included are some light hearted stories to help the blood and gore go down. The Main Street Vice portion is a social history tour celebrating the ribald, racy, raunchy old promenade where the better people simply did not travel, but kicks were had by all who did. Burlesque babes and dirty picture parlors, mummified western outlaws and old time tattoo parlors, wax museums and pawn brokers, “professors” offering sex lectures and magazine peddlers with nudie Marilyn Monroe calendars under the counter, sophisticated steak houses and nickel donut dives — these were the pleasures and the people to be found along Main during the first half of the 20th century, a street that every Angeleno knew offered more (yet less) of what could be seen anywhere else. On this tour, we’ll visit the scenes of some more unforgettable debaucheries and share stories of crime, smut, passion and commerce. Climb aboard for a time travel journey back to the downtown that’s not there anymore, and the surprising amount of gems that survive.
Bruckman Rare Book Friends present Kim Cooper discussing and signing copies of her latest book, The Kept Girl, 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 her 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.-focused 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 began just above the library on Bunker Hill and 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 a downtown 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 about the deluxe Art Deco wraps created for the Subscribers, whose pre-publication support covered a big chunk of the print cost. Copies of the paperback and deluxe Art Deco Subscribers’ edition will be available for purchase after the talk.
Validated parking is just $1.00 with library card at Westlawn Garage, 524 South Flower Street. For ADA accommodations, call (213) 228-7430 at least 72 hours prior to the event.
On this guided tour through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, Crime Bus passengers thrill as Jazz Age bootleggers run amok, marvel at the Krazy Kafitz family’s litany of murder-suicides, attempted husband slayings, Byzantine estate battles and mad bombings, visit the shortest street in Los Angeles (15′ long Powers Place, with its magnificent views of the mansions of Alvarado Terrace), discover which fabulous mansion was once transformed into a functioning whiskey factory using every room in the house, and stroll the haunted paths of Rosedale Cemetery, site of notable burials (May K. Rindge, the mother of Malibu) and odd graveside crimes. Featured players include the most famous dwarf in Hollywood, mass suicide ringleader Reverend Jim Jones, wacky millionaires who can’t control their automobiles, human mole bank robbers, comically inept fumigators, kids trapped in tar pits, and dozens of other unusual and fascinating denizens of early Los Angeles.
There are even some celebrity sites along the route, including the death scenes of Motown soul sensation Marvin Gaye and 1920s star Angels baseball catcher Gus Sandberg. And the architecture too is to die for, as the Crime Bus rolls down the elegant streets of old West Adams, lined with gay mansions, adorable bungalows and signs of a century’s decay which only enhance the neighborhood’s charm.
The tour also offers an overview of the neighborhood’s many early subdivisions, and a groundbreaking court case that helped end housing discrimination nationwide.
Passengers on this eye-opening, funny and informative tour will forever see the West Adams district in a new light. It is highly recommended for natives and newcomers alike, crime and history buffs and anyone who likes to seek out the unexpected.
For the first time, the true crime archeologists of Esotouric have set their sights on points west of Robertson, and the results are truly mind-boggling.
Originally offered in Esotouric’s 2008-2009 seasons, this newly revived crime bus tour spotlights some of the weirdest, most horrific and downright unbelievable crimes of historic West Los Angeles, Venice and Santa Monica. You’ll thrill and shudder to tales of teenaged terrors, tortured tots, wicked wives, evil spirits, cults, creeps and assorted maniacs.
Get on the bus to meet Weird Ward, the boy husband of the nefarious cult leader who compelled her followers to carry her departed victims all across 1920s L.A. (as featured in co-host Kim Cooper’s acclaimed mystery novel, “The Kept Girl”), and the peculiar Helen Love, who nearly escaped justice when she willed herself into a coma during her very odd murder trial. Along the Venice shore, you’ll see where a pair of real life witches tortured their own Hansels and Gretels as neighbors pretended not to hear the tots’ cries, and marvel at the grand hotel that was formally a flop house for ex-junkies in the Synanon Cult. Come discover the real and terrible history of L.A.‘s westside, on a tour so wild, we had to say it twice.
The Pershing Square Restoration Society invites you to attend an announcement from Councilman Jose Huizar and the Department of Recreation and Parks about a proposed new direction for Pershing Square and the former Pershing Square Task Force.
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.
Apparently in response to the popular support for restoration, the Pershing Square Task Force has changed its name to Pershing SquaReNew, and announced a new mission statement. It is now identified as “a non-profit dedicated to supporting and facilitating the park’s revitalization–along with a number of efforts that will not only restore Pershing Square, but place Los Angeles on the map of inspiring, world-class public spaces.”
Please join social historians Kim Cooper and Richard Schave (LAVA, Esotouric) at Pershing Square to hear what sort of restoration Pershing SquaReNew is proposing. (Sorry, author Stephen Gee will not be able to attend.) After the announcement, these principals of the Pershing Square Restoration Society will lead a free walking tour of nearby John Parkinson buildings, including those around his namesake Square. All are welcome–please spread the word!
Dark Deeds…Harboiled Anti-heroes…and REVENGE! – A panel discussion of Noir Fiction with Sisters in Crime. Featuring…
CRAIG FAUSTUS BUCK (Moderator) is an L.A.-based journalist, nonfiction book author, TV writer-producer, screenwriter, short-story writer and novelist. Among his six nonfiction books, two were #1 NYT bestsellers. He wrote the Oscar-nominated short film Overnight Sensation. He was one of the writers on the seminal miniseries V: The Final Battle. His first noir mystery novel, Go Down Hard, which his agent is currently shopping, was First Runner Up for Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award. His indie feature, Smuggling for Gandhi, is in preproduction. Stark Raving Group published his novella, Psycho Logic in May, and the novella’s prequel, his short story “Dead End,” is a current Anthony Award nominee.
KIM COOPER is the creator of 1947 project, the crime-a-day blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia and Pasadena Confidential. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the cultural and forensic science salons of LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. Kim’s books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her debut novel, the fact-based The Kept Girl (“Commendable” – Kirkus) stars the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe sleuthing a murderous cult of angel worshippers.
CHRISTOPHER J. LYNCH has written for numerous local and national publications. He also is the author of the One Eyed Jack series about a professional blackmailer. The debut novel in the series was a 2013 Shamus Award finalist. He is currently writing an authorized biography of the iconic child actor Ken Osmond, (Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver). Christopher enjoys mountain climbing and once trained and led eleven blind hikers to the summit of 10,000 ft. Mount Baldy, the third highest point in Southern California. A documentary film is being made of the adventure.
GARY PHILLIPS: Gary Phillips draws on his experiences ranging from teaching incarcerated youth, director of a political action committee to delivering dog cages in writing his tales of chicanery and malfeasance. His latest are the ebook novella The Essex Man: 10 Seconds to Death, a homage to ‘70s era paperback vigilantes; being co-editor and contributor to Black Pulp, an anthology of retro, revisionist pulp goodness; and has co-written episodes of Midnight Mover, a noirish webseries about a PTSD suffering Afghan war vet turned bodyguard-chauffer for an escort service of aging porn stars – what could go wrong?