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.
Join us on a day-long excursion to explore the Southern California dream as it has manifested through creative residents of the Antelope Valley from the 1880s through 1950s, and how these historic spaces continue to serve and inspire the community. The tour includes a hosted lunch at St. Andrew’s Abbey.
Tour stops include:
- Llano del Rio colony ruins (1910s)
- St. Andrew’s Abbey (1950s)
- Antelope Valley Indian Museum (1920s)
- Aldous Huxley’s Pearblossom Ranch (1940s)
- Western Hotel Museum (1880s)
ABOUT LLANO DEL RIO
Llano del Rio was a hard work socialist co-operative colony founded by the lawyer and philosopher Job Harriman, who very nearly became Mayor of Los Angeles in 1911. On May Day, 1914, Harriman’s friends moved en masse to the Antelope Valley, settling a 2000-acre village site along progressive, socialist ideals. In late 1917, most of the colonists walked away from their desert home, with many residents continuing on to New Llano, Louisiana. The evidence of their desert adventure still survives in ruins spread across the high desert floor.
Joining us as we explore the ruins of Llano del Rio is expert guide, historian Paul Greenstein (co-author of Bread & Hyacinths: The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles). Paul will tell stories of the colonists’ colorful adventures set against a backdrop of the conservative Los Angeles power structure, personified by Job Harriman’s arch-nemesis, Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis.
ABOUT ST. ANDREWS ABBEY
St. Andrew’s Abbey is a male Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of the Annunciation located in Valyermo, on the San Andreas Fault. The monastery’s history is a rich one. In 1929, St. Andrew’s Abbey in Bruges, Belgium founded St. Andrew’s Priory in China, where the monks of the Priory conducted missionary work. In 1953, during the Cultural Revolution, the monks were expelled from China, along with all other foreign religious workers. In 1955, they purchased the Hidden Springs Ranch, and have made their home in the high desert ever since. The purpose of St. Andrew’s Abbey is to carry on the ages-old tradition of the Order of St. Benedict: Prayer and Work. The Abbey serves as a retreat center, and is noted for its distinctive mid-century modern ceramic wall hangings, launched in 1965 with designs by Father Maur van Doorslaer, O.S.B. (1925-2013). We will enjoy a home-cooked lunch at the Abbey. After lunch, Father Patrick will give us a brief tour of the grounds, and you’ll have an opportunity to purchase souvenirs and their signature ceramics in the gift shop, or visit the used bookstore.
Joining us for our luncheon at the Abbey will be Olivia de Haulleville. As a child, she often visited her aunt and uncle, Aldous and Maria Huxley, in the nearby town of Llano. Huxley wrote his only children’s book, The Crows Of Pearblossom, for Olivia. Olivia will talk about her life with Aldous and Maria, and her own spiritual pilgrimage around the world, for which her friendship with Aldous uniquely prepared her. Copies of her compilation book Pilgrimage to Java and the limited edition channeled work the fairy’s tale … an autobiography will be available for purchase and signing. More book purchase details will be included in your pre-tour email.
ABOUT THE ANTELOPE VALLEY INDIAN MUSEUM
The Antelope Valley Indian Museum is an early 20th century eclectic folk art environment housing an important collection of Native American artifacts, brought into the 21st century under the supervision of curator Edra Moore (1929 – 2018).
In 1928, high school art teacher and amateur anthropologist Howard Arden Edwards turned his weekend desert homestead into an immersive architectural environment–part Swiss Chalet, part Ritual Longhouse–in which he displayed an enormous collection of ancient artifacts, contextualized through fanciful narrative displays. In the 1940s, Grace Wilcox Oliver acquired the site and collection, and created her own interpretative material. Then in the 1990s, the museum passed into the hands of the California Parks Department, and received a complete curatorial makeover to protect, preserve and properly contextualize these artifacts of the Great Basin peoples as well as the contributions of the Southern California visionaries Howard Arden Edwards and Grace Wilcox Oliver.
Learn more about the Antelope Valley Indian Museum.
ABOUT ALDOUS HUXLEY’S PEARBLOSSOM RANCH
In 1941, the English author Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) settled into an old farmhouse at Pearblossom Ranch, near Llano del Rio. In 1944, he wrote the allegorical children’s story, The Crows of Pearblossom, as a gift for his young niece. Although Huxley’s original manuscript was destroyed in a fire at his Hollywood Hills home, a copy survived to be posthumously illustrated by Caldecott Award-winning artist Barbara Cooney and published by Random House in 1967. We will visit Huxley’s Pearblossom Ranch, which is maintained much as it was when he lived there and is now a popular filming location. Jim and Anne are passionate caretakers of this historic site, and have many tales to tell. Perhaps we will even see the crows!
ABOUT WESTERN HOTEL MUSEUM
The Western Hotel Museum is downtown Lancaster’s oldest surviving structure (1888), and it has been a Museum in the City of Lancaster since 1989.
We’ll take a docent-led tour of this building rich in the trappings of the lively early history of this high desert community, with a clientele that ranged from muleskinners to British lords, land speculators and weary travelers. Their stories come alive through interpretive installations evoking wild living and cultured gatherings, the stories of old Lancaster written in the walls.
Go East, Young Crime Fiend!
For years, the devoted and demented crime historians of Esotouric stockpiled hideous 20th century crime tales from the east side of the Los Angeles River, 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. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.’s oldest cemetery and home of some most unusual 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.
New from the deranged minds of Esotouric, an historical crime bus tour meant to honor the lost souls who wander the hills and byways of the “streetcar suburbs” (Echo Park, Silver Lake, Elysian Park, Angeleno Heights) that hug Sunset Boulevard. Climb aboard to see seemingly ordinary houses, streets and commercial buildings revealed as the scenes of chilling crimes and mysteries, populated by some of the most fascinating people you’d never want to meet. Featured cases include Edward Hickman’s kidnapping of little Marion Parker and the bizarre “Man in the Attic” love nest slaying, plus dozens of incredible, forgotten tales of Angelenoes in peril. Guests will also see some of the most beautiful historic architecture in Los Angeles, including a visit to Sister Aimee Semple McPherson’s exquisite Parsonage, her one-time home, now a museum.
For the first LAVA Sunday Salon of 2018, architectural historian Nathan Marsak (LAVA’s 2015 Visionary of the Year) will give an illustrated talk tracing how shifting aesthetic dicta from the chieftains of Good Taste morphed the way in which the lost Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill appeared and functioned. He will show that while the hill’s fabled descent into decrepitude and demolition is often touted as borne of social engineering and political transgressions, much of its history relates to how the arbiters of mores abandoned it as “lowbrow” after its construction.
We’ll explore architectural styles including Eastlake and Queen Anne, Mansard and Mission, as they found and fell out of favor with the likes of Edward Bok and Elsie de Wolfe; investigate how Edith Wharton and The Munsters shaped and reflected the cultural milieu; and review the manner in which the Los Angeles Times mocked the hill’s architecture through the 1950s, prefiguring redevelopment by the CRA.
At the conclusion of the talk, we’ll take a walking tour of the immediate neighborhood, looking at extant buildings and visiting locations of lost ones featured in the presentation.
Photo: Martz Flats, Southeast Corner 7th & Hope in 1939. Built by Henry Martz. Julius V. Krause, architect, 1898.
ABOUT THE SALON: On the last Sunday of the month starting at 2pm, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles for the Sunday Salon, featuring a presentation by a LAVA Visionary and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. Immediately after the Salon, a walking tour expands on the Salon theme. If you’re interested in joining LAVA as a creative contributor or an attendee, we recommend Salon attendance as an introduction to this growing community.
RESERVATIONS: The LAVA Sunday Salon and walking tour are free, but reservations are required. There are no “plus ones,” so tell your friends to sign up individually. Please don’t reserve unless you plan to attend. To reserve your spot for this free event, click on the “Buy Tickets” button above.
Press clips: Los Angeles Times feature article on this tour.
On the east side the Los Angeles River, some of the most fascinating Southern California stories are waiting to be told. Join Esotouric, L.A.’s most eclectic bus adventure company, on a century’s social history tour through the transformation of neighborhoods, punctuated with immersive stops to sample the sites, smells and cultures that make our changing city so beguiling.
Voter registration, citizenship classes, walkouts, blow-outs, anti-Semitism, adult education, racial covenants, boycotts, The City Beautiful, Exclusion Acts and Immigration Acts, property values, xenophobia, and delicious dumplings—all are themes which will be addressed on this lively bus and walking tour.
THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY:
In the mid-1920s, Monterey Park was poised on the brink of becoming the Beverly Hills of the east. The Wall Street crash put an end to opulent residential development, but left some beautiful remnants of what might have been. In the 1950s, a thriving Italian-American community settled in the hills, and established some of the area’s most beloved landmark businesses. Since the 1980s, the communities of Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park have transformed themselves from sleepy suburban bedroom communities (bursting at the seams from a 1950s housing explosion) to the nexus of a pan-Asian megalopolis. Fueled by immigration and investment from Taiwan, Hong Kong and South-East Asia, these communities have found their 21st Century identity, and their economic base—but at the expense of aging long-time residents, who have seen familiar neighborhoods and retail zones become unrecognizable.
In the 1890s, Rev. Dana Bartlett ministered to and taught the Russian Molokons in the cramped riverside neighborhood known then and now as “The Flats.” Today, the area contains public housing projects–a belated mid-century solution to the social problems that worried Bartlett, and an ongoing challenge for residents and city planners. In the 1960s, the Chicano Moratorium emerged from the same streets where in the 1920s and 1930s Jewish activists helped change the face of labor in California and the nation. Using the organizing tools first honed by their Jewish neighbors, young Chicanos stood up and rejected the military machine that sent so many of their peers to die in Vietnam, and developed an empowered social identity that lead all the way to the Mayor’s office.
SO GET ON THE BUS:
This whirlwind social history tour of some of the most interesting and dynamic neighborhoods on the east side of Los Angeles will include stops at:
- The Vladeck Center
- Hollenbeck Park
- Wyvernwood Garden Apartments
- Evergreen Cemetery
- The Venice Room
- El Encanto & Cascades Park
- Divine’s Furniture
- Wing Hop Fung for a complementary tea tasting
This tour is part of Esotouric’s California Culture tour series (formerly known as the Reyner Banham Loves L.A. series).
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.
The Symbionese Liberation Army, an alleged left wing radical group, kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in Berkeley in February 1974. Three months later in South Los Angeles, the kidnappers engaged almost 500 law officers in a standoff that was broadcast on national TV, culminating in a shootout and fire in which six members of the group were killed.
In this special bus adventure, part of Esotouric’s tenth anniversary celebrations, author Brad Schreiber (Revolution’s End) takes us to four significant SLA locations, revealing the incredible, true story of prison drug experiments, gun-running, undercover agents and the suppressed lover’s quarrel that resulted in the most famous kidnapping in US history. It’s a story that has waited forty years to be fully told, and which will unfold on and off the bus as we explore the radical culture of 1960s and 1970s South Los Angeles and beyond.
Please note that this is a Special Event, and vouchers and discounts good on our regularly scheduled bus adventures are not accepted for this tour.
ABOUT GUEST HOST BRAD SCHREIBER
BRAD SCHREIBER has written for all media. He has been a producer, executive, director, consultant and actor. His early-years biography Becoming Jimi Hendrix was called “fascinating” by the New York Times and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library. He was Vice President of Storytech Literary Consulting, founded by story structure expert Christopher Vogler, for 11 years. In television, he created the series North Mission Road, which ran for six seasons on tru-TV, based on his book Death in Paradise: An Illustrated History of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner. He was a writer, producer and development executive for L.A. PBS affiliate KCET-TV, and director of development for TV/film director Jonathan Kaplan. Schreiber’s writing has been honored by the Edward Albee Foundation, the National Press Foundation, the International Book Awards and others. Schreiber has taught at the American Film Institute, the Directors Guild of America, writers conferences and universities in the US, Canada and Mexico and he is currently a visiting professor of Creative Writing at University of Wisconsin, Madison. His latest book, Revolution’s End, an exposé of the Patricia Hearst kidnapping, has been praised by three-time Edgar Award-winning crime novelist T. Jefferson Parker.
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.
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 us as we 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 our own Kim Cooper in 2014.
Tour passengers will have the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of co-host 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.