Boom! American Bombings, 1876-1990

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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 the newly-released Fire Raisers, Freaks and Fiends: Obsessive Arsonists in the California Foothills.

Join Ed in the Cal State Los Angeles teaching crime lab, as he presents an expansive and illuminating overview of a poorly understood aspect of American true crime lore: the history of political and organized crime bombings.

Ed's presentation will cover six distinct periods and themes:

  • 1876-1906 - Labor Movement bombings, such as the Haymarket Affair of 1886, the inspiration for May Day demonstrations.
  • 1920-41 - Communist or Anarchist bombings, perpetrated by recent US immigrants who had been involved with these political movements in Europe.
  • 1950s - Civil RIghts-era bombings, dynamite and fire bombings of blacks churches and Jewish temples which supported the Civil Rights movement. Targets also included homes of individuals. A vast majority of these bombings remain unsolved.
  • 1970s - Left Wing radical bombings; thousands of incidents perpetrated by dozens of individual groups, including small splinter organizations.
  • 1980s - Right Wing radical bombings, reflecting the opposite end of the political spectrum from the bombings of the 1970s, but exhibiting similar modes of attack.
  • 20th Century - Organized Crime bombings, which are unique and bear no relation to the other types of incident.

By the end of Ed's presentation, attendees will have gained familiarity with the different eras and motivations of American bombers, the tactics and types of explosive devices used, and the individuals and institutions targeted by the various groups.

Copies of Ed Nordskog's books will be available for purchase during the program. 

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles tour

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.

The Real Black Dahlia crime bus tour

"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.


Blood & Dumplings crime bus tour

A criminal and gastronomical excursion into the San Gabriel Valley, Blood & Dumplings rolls through Alhambra, Temple City, Monterey Park, Rosemead and El Monte, revealing dozens of weird, forgotten crimes and oddities from the valley's past.

Highlights include the mysterious Man from Mars Bandit, the lesbian couple whose bickering over spending cash resulted in one pumping the other full of downers until she died, the young bride who spent her wedding day buried under her parents' house, the battling neo-Nazis of El Monte, Phil Spector's spooky castle and the little bar where James Ellroy's murdered mother Jean had her last drink.

The tour includes a selection of dumplings from one of the San Gabriel Valley's best Chinese restaurants.(Vegetarian passengers, please let us know your food preference several days before we depart.) If using a gift certificate, please note that this tour has an additional $5 dumpling fee, payable in cash or check at the bus door.

Passenger Feedback

"I've taken the famous 'Ghostly New Orleans' and 'Mysteries of Venice, Italy' tours and also enthusiastically enjoyed London's 'Jack the Ripper of Whitehall' tour, and I assure you none surpasses Richard Schave and Kim Cooper's Esotouric "Blood & Dumplings" bus excursion into the bizarrely memorable but rarely-visited regions of East Los Angeles. As humorous and constantly entertaining as it is thoroughly researched, this lovingly crafted 4-hour tour is essential for any tourist or long-term denizen who wishes to comprehend the many fascinating characters and their dark, odd-ball deeds which have contributed to Los Angeles' nutty history. Very comfortable, carefully prepared, weirdly funny, and unforgettable." (F.A.)


Mayme Clayton Library and Museum Presents Wine & Cheese Fundraiser Open House with movies

MCLM Invites YOU to its "Know Your History" Open House. Join us for an exclusive peek into one of the largest private collections of African American history.

  1.  View historic artifacts on display mentioned in "The Help," "The Butler," "Warmth of Other Suns," "12 Years A Slave," and other films by and about the African and African American experience.
  2. Enjoy a screening of private home movies taken by African Americans, including black cowboys, parades and footage of home movies from the vault of 20s aviatrix and entertainer Marie Coker Dickinson.
  3.  Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Sixties in the "Audio Assault: Sounds of Black Power" exhibit currently on view at the museum. 
  4.  Relive the historic 2008 Presidential Election by touring the museum's gallery of artwork used and inspired by the Barak Obama  presidential election campaign.  

$25 Donation Requested for Reservation, $30 Donation at the Door. Mayme Clayton Library & Museum is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization 

Dorothy Parker Book Release & Cocktail Party

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The Los Angeles Chapter of the Dorothy Parker Society hosts a cocktail reception at Invention, the bar at the historic Los Angeles Athletic Club, toasting the publication of Kevin Fitzpatrick’s new book, Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide.

Fitzpatrick is president of The Dorothy Parker Society in New York. He will talk about Prohibition, Speakeasy Culture and Hollywood’s golden age when Mrs. Parker was a screenwriter. Attendees can enjoy staged readings of Mrs. Parker’s poems and sip vintage cocktails made with Dorothy Parker American Gin, provided by the New York Distilling Company. You are encouraged to come in vintage dress to get in the spirit of the era, but if wearing modern attire, please note the smart casual dress code.

About the book: A bar book for Dorothy Parker enthusiasts and literary tipplers alike, Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide (Lyons Press, Nov. 2013) offers a unique take on Mrs. Parker. Each entry of this delicious compendium offers a fascinating and lively background of a period cocktail, its ingredients and the characters associated with it. The book also features a special selection of twenty-first century speakeasy-style recipes from top mixologists from across the country, including Downtown’s own Edison. A complete recipe with detailed instructions forms the centerpiece of each entry, and topping it off are illuminating excerpts from Mrs. Parker’s poems, stories and other writings that will allow you to enjoy her world from the speakeasies of New York City to the watering holes of Hollywood. The author will also be signing books available for purchase.

All About The Vision Theatre

The Vision All About Tour will give you the opportunity to see the fantastic revitalization of a great Los Angeles neighborhood theatre. Ed Kelsey will provide a power point presentation on the history of the theatre. 

In 1999, the Vision Theatre was purchased by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, which continues to utilize the theatre as a community performance center, as well as provide a home for the Manchester Jr. Arts Center. In the summer of 2008, the City announced plans for a full restoration/renovation. Never adequately equipped with a working stage or loft, the theatre will finally get one, along with a new seating configuration, dressing rooms, and support space. Fortunately, there is plenty of room behind the stage for expansion. You can see the plans for the renovation elsewhere on the site. In a comprehensive planning process, neighbors identified the renovation of the Vision as its #1 priority. Thanks to the combined efforts of the community, preservationists, visionaries and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Leimert/Vision will soon take its place as one of the city’s premiere performance venues and once again thrive as the heart of the neighborhood.


10:00 – Doors open

10:30 – Program Begins

Greetings from the LAHTF and Announcements

Leimert/Vision Theatre History – Ed Kelsey

The Vision Theatre Project – Ernest Dillihay and Sherri Franklin


11:30 - Tours: Discover the new and old at the Vision with LAHTF Volunteers

12:30 - Tours End

1:00 - Doors Close

Death Salon Cabaret

A salon in the truest sense of the word — part education, part social gathering. Death Salon Cabaret is the public evening event of Death Salon, a gathering of scholars and death professionals who gather to explore the cultural practices surrounding death. In the spirit of the eighteenth-century salon (informal coffeehouse gatherings of intellectuals), Death Salon encourages lively conversations on deathly topics.

The theme of this particular evening will be The Uncommon Corpse. Lightning talks, music, and short films address the idea of the rare corpse that will not simply fade into the background of history...the bodies that were not lost to the ground or the pyre but insisted on staying longer and forcing the living to face their mortality.

This evening of fast-paced talks peppered with artistic performances will be hosted by the illustrious Lord Whimsy. Speakers include Lindsey Fitzharris, Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellow and host of the upcoming documentary Medicine’s Dark Secrets; Paul Koudounaris, Author of The Empire of Death and Heavenly Bodies, two books exploring Europe’s catacombs and ossuaries with lavish photographs; Jeff Jorgenson, owner of Elemental Cremation & Burial and advocate for green death practices; Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses; Sarah ElizabethTroop, host of The Cabinet of Curiosities Podcast, Joy Nash, Los Angeles-based actor, and Christine Colby, managing editor of Penthouse.

Musical performances by Mutter Museum artist grant recipient Jill Tracy and Death Gospel troubadour Adam Arcuragi will round out an evening where you can learn some dark history, pick up macabre wares from local artisans, or grab the Grim Reaper for a photo op. Learn more about this event (and all of the weekend’s Death Salon events) at Deathsalon.org.


Pasadena Confidential crime bus tour

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.


Eastside Babylon crime bus tour

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 EAST SIDE 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 EAST SIDE BABYLON, Esotouric's exploration of L.A.'s most horrifying forgotten crimes.