LAVA Exclusives

Pershing SquaReNew Announcement and John Parkinson walking tour

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!

(Postponed) LAVA's 41st Sunday Salon

An important message from LAVA - September 9, 2014

Dear friends,

It is with no small amount of regret that we are putting the monthly LAVA Sunday Salon and Broadway on My Mind walking tour series on hiatus, effective immediately. Both events take place at Les Noces du Figaro restaurant, which is closing down for several months of renovations.

We will be working closely with Jonathan Mgaieth of Figaro to determine a relaunch date as soon as the restaurant reopens, hopefully in early 2015. So stay tuned, and we hope to see you at other LAVA events in the meantime.

Please know that your continued thoughts and good will are the rock upon which LAVA builds its house.

With thanks for your understanding, we remain,
Richard Schave and Kim Cooper
LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association

 

Join LAVA for our revived free monthly Sunday Salon series. We return to South Broadway, to the mezzanine of Les Noces du Figaro, which was recently opened by the family behind Figaro Bistro in Los Feliz. This handsome space was formerly Schaber's Cafeteria (Charles F. Plummer, 1928), and the mezzanine features wonderful views of the Los Angeles Theatre.

On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles (noon-2pm), for a structured Salon featuring formal presentations and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. 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. We also recommend the eclairs.

Read about the original Sunday Salon at Clifton's Cafeteria.

Presentation One: Jean Harlow Part 2

The name resonates. Blonde Bombshell. Platinum Blonde. The labels applied by press agents during Jean Harlow's seven-year career still carry a charge seventy years later. Harlow created the mold: the first blonde sex symbol who captured the attention of a nation, then touched their hearts with her genuine warmth and candor. At a time when Harlow's star shone its brightest, Los Angeles and the movies gave birth to a district that exists as much in the mind as on the map. Hollywood historian Darrell Rooney is co-author of Harlow In Hollywood. He returns to the LAVA Sunday Salon to pick up where he left off at his January 2014 presentation, with Jean Harlow's story following the mysterious death of her husband Paul Bern.

Presentation Two: Preserving the Legacy of Wurdman & Beckett's Animal Hospital in West Hollywood

West Hollywood residents and area historians Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney of Dead History Project fell into historic preservation activism when two 110-year-old bungalows on their street were threatened with demolition. Everyone said they wouldn’t win... until they did. Recently, they went to a West Hollywood Historic Preservation Commission meeting on a whim. The Commission discussed a 1938 Wurdeman & Becket streamline moderne animal hospital and a 1959 Barry Berkus mid-century modern office building, both slated for demolition and the site for redevelopment. They were told these buildings were a lost cause. But as a little research revealed the significance of the site, they knew they would fight. Their grassroots preservation campaign has garnered significant media attention and the support of the Los Angeles Conservancy, Art Deco Society, the family of architect Welton Becket and hundreds of passionate citizens. Responding to the rising community outcry, the developer has begun suggesting ways in which the Wurdeman & Beckett structure can be integrated into a modern building. This LAVA presentation is about the process through which Kate and Krisy are tackling the biggest preservation fight of their careers, the highs and lows, and the delicate dance of politics, ego, money and information that impacts any community when developers seek to build on an historic site.

Ernest Batchelder & The Roebling Building

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

ABOUT THIS EVENT:

Join LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association in The Roebling Building in Downtown LA’s Arts District for an historical discussion of the custom Ernest Batchelder decorative tile — a gift from Mr. Roebling’s employees — in the building’s original corner lobby.

The figural tiles portray the history of the company and its signature product, spun metal rope cable, and its use to solve a wide variety of engineering challenges. Also on view in the lobby is the remarkable curving staircase, partially constructed of the metal rope also used in the suspension of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The talk will be conducted by LAVA Visionary and Southern California tile expert Brian Kaiser, who with LAVA has previously presented on Batchelder’s Dutch Chocolate Shop. Brian will discuss the tile commission in the larger context the development of Batchelder’s work in Los Angeles, and the possible later integration of these custom designs into his commercial catalog.

The Roebling Building is the home of the Angel City Brewery, and we invite you to allow yourself time before or after the presentation to sample their fine brewed beers and ales.

Learn more about Batchelder's work in Los Angeles, and here at the Roebling Building, in Liz Arnold's recent article.

 

(Postponed) The Flâneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour #13

An important message from LAVA - September 9, 2014

Dear friends,

It is with no small amount of regret that we are putting the monthly LAVA Sunday Salon and Broadway on My Mind walking tour series on hiatus, effective immediately. Both events take place at Les Noces du Figaro restaurant, which is closing down for several months of renovations.

We will be working closely with Jonathan Mgaieth of Figaro to determine a relaunch date as soon as the restaurant reopens, hopefully in early 2015. So stay tuned, and we hope to see you at other LAVA events in the meantime.

Please know that your continued thoughts and good will are the rock upon which LAVA builds its house.

With thanks for your understanding, we remain,
Richard Schave and Kim Cooper
LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association

 

Join us the latest installment of The Flaneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour series. (This tour series was originally titled Broadway Streetscape Master Plan Awareness walking tour.)  

About This Tour:

This month’s tour will be the fifth in a series of tours which focus on the architect Robert Brown Young, whose career spans the 19th & 20th centuries, the residential and commercial. His work on Broadway is the perfect introduction to understanding Young and his iconic structures.  

Our goal with these tours is to explore the history of the built environment on Broadway, while seeking to understand the scope of the work of Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan and the “Road Diet,” which has recently begun.

Press clippings: the walking tour series is featured in Mike Sonksen's KCET Departures report, "Punk Rock, Poetry, and Public Policy." 

Video from previous Broadway On My Mind walking tours: tour #1, tour #2, tour #3, tour #4, tour #5tour #7.

ABOUT THE TOUR SERIES: In July 2013, LAVA launched a series of monthly 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 (PDF). Each walking tour will follow and depart from the free LAVA Sunday Salon.

Stretching from 2nd Street to Olympic, the District contains the most intact collection of Beaux-Arts buildings in Los Angeles, and the largest collection of historic theaters anywhere in the United States.

As Broadway’s vast scope and scale can be overwhelming, on each walking tour we will look closely at several different historic buildings, in order to acclimatize the observer to better understand and appreciate the whole. We will also be looking at the historic streetscape, with attention paid to street lights, sidewalks (terrazzo in particular), basement hatches, sidewalk vents, glass blocks, manhole covers, granite curbs and signage.

Motivation for this tour series:

With City Council’s June 2013 approval of funding for Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, we believe that it is it is imperative to develop a greater public awareness and understanding of Broadway’s architectural and scenic qualities, and to bring the informed voices of the community into discussion of the proposed changes and alterations. We believe that no element of Broadway’s streetscape can be altered without causing a transformation of the whole, requiring careful consideration before any permanent or semi-permanent changes are made. Broadway’s architectural character is defined not by any single feature (uniform height limits, predominance of theaters) or single landmark building (Eastern Columbia, Bradbury Building, Los Angeles Theater), but upon the concord of all of it, and the strength of the impression which all together they provide. No feature or building is of dominant importance, but each contributes, and all are vitally fused together into our National Register landmark district. Many of the salient architectural and streetscape features which will be the focus of this tour series are proposed to be impacted by the yet-unfunded Strategy One, Phase Two of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan. The evolving situation demands public input and public awareness. We hope that you will join us on the tour series to better understand Broadway and become an advocate for its continued preservation, stewardship and vibrancy.

(Postponed) LAVA's 40th Sunday Salon - LAVA Visionary of the Year Lecture

An important message from LAVA - September 9, 2014

Dear friends,

It is with no small amount of regret that we are putting the monthly LAVA Sunday Salon and Broadway on My Mind walking tour series on hiatus, effective immediately. Both events take place at Les Noces du Figaro restaurant, which is closing down for several months of renovations.

We will be working closely with Jonathan Mgaieth of Figaro to determine a relaunch date as soon as the restaurant reopens, hopefully in early 2015. So stay tuned, and we hope to see you at other LAVA events in the meantime.

Please know that your continued thoughts and good will are the rock upon which LAVA builds its house.

With thanks for your understanding, we remain,
Richard Schave and Kim Cooper
LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association

 

Join LAVA for our revived free monthly Sunday Salon series. We return to South Broadway, to the mezzanine of Les Noces du Figaro, which was recently opened by the family behind Figaro Bistro in Los Feliz. This handsome space was formerly Schaber's Cafeteria (Charles F. Plummer, 1928), and the mezzanine features wonderful views of the Los Angeles Theatre.

On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles (noon-2pm), for a structured Salon featuring formal presentations and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. 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. We also recommend the eclairs.

Read about the original Sunday Salon at Clifton's Cafeteria here.

LAVA Visionary of the Year Lecture: Forgotten Artists: The Master Tailors of Hollywood's Golden Age

Who made Clark Gable look the part of a superstar? Who dressed Humphrey Bogart, the Ice Follies, and an entire generation of Filipino migrant workers? Who led Liberace from traditional white tie and tails towards outfits shimmering with Swarovksi crystals? The long-forgotten master tailors of Hollywood’s golden age, that’s who! While Tinseltown’s great dress designers — Adrian, Irene — remain well-known, the tailors whose genius rendered Fred Astaire and William Powell impossibly suave have faded into obscurity… until now. Join Los Angeles retail historian, and LAVA Visionary of the Year, Marc Chevalier, as he reveals the marvelous, surprising stories of Hollywood’s top three tailors, whose extraordinary careers rose and fell with the movie industry.

Marc's presentation will be divided into two sections, each about 45 minutes in length, with a 15 minute break in between.

The Salon will be followed by a free walking tour, The Flaneur & The City: Broadway on My Mind walking tour #13. Please visit the tour series Landing Page for videos and descriptions of past tours and the goals of the series.

Of Scrap & Steel: free rooftop screening of rare 1949 color film set on Main Street, Downtown L.A.

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association is pleased to announce a free roof-top screening of a newly-discovered circa 1949 short color film of Main Street and other downtown Los Angeles locations, the Union Rescue Mission-produced Of Scrap & Steel. The screening is in conjunction with a series of downtown stories on the In SRO Land time travel blog, featuring material from the Union Rescue Mission Archives.

ABOUT THE FILM: In mid-1948 the Board of Directors of the Union Rescue Mission approved the expenditure of $5,000 to make the 30-minute film Of Scrap & Steel which portrays the redemption and good works of Arthur Hawkins, an alcoholic executive who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles and whose life was saved when he turned to the URM for help. Porter Hall (Arthur Hawkins) is one of only two actors in a film otherwise populated by real Los Angeles characters. (You may recall Hall’s performance as the pesky guy on the train in Double Indemnity.)

Of Scrap & Steel was only shown in screenings organized by the URM or related organizations, and would have been completely lost if Liz Mooradian, URM historian, had not saved a deteriorating 16mm print and had it transferred to video before it was too late. Of Scrap & Steel is just one of the remarkable artifacts discovered in the Union Rescue Mission archives and explored in the In SRO Land blog.

This entertaining and powerful short film is a compelling snapshot of life on Skid Row (Main Street) circa 1949, and a fascinating document of the important work that the URM continues to do with the most needy in the community. Although downtown Los Angeles features in numerous noir films, it is extremely rare to see color images of eastern downtown, and rarer still to see full-color live-action footage of the vibrant street scene that included rescue missions, pawn shops, amusement parlors, bars, restaurants and the ever-patrolling paddy wagon in search of drunkards to haul away to jail or County work crews.

This free rooftop screening is jointly organized by LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the In SRO Land time travel blog and the Union Rescue Mission. Seating will be provided, and attendees are encouraged to dress warmly for the cool night air.

Gourmet box dinners: “Meals with a purpose” will be available for purchase ($5, cash only), with a choice of sandwich (vegetarian, roast beef or turkey), cookie, fruit, or chips. Soft Drinks ($1, cash only). Coffee (decaf), hot tea, cold water, and fresh popcorn compliments of the URM. 100% of proceeds from your meal donation goes to the URM, and the proceeds from each dinner will feed two other people.

This screening is held in conjunction with the Skid Row Walking Tour, a separate free event beginning two hours before the screening. Separate registration for each event is required if you wish to attend both the screening and walking tour.

Nearest Metro station is Little Tokyo.

Limited free parking is available at the URM’s underground parking lot. Just tell the attendant you are there for the film. Please carpool: if each guest arrives with one other person in their car, there should be enough parking for all. Those arriving later will have to leave their keys with the parking attendant.

In addition, there will be overflow parking in the San Julian parking lot located just behind the URM, on San Julian Street between 5th & 6th Streets, on the east side of the street, adjacent to URM. Registered attendees will be able to enter the URM from the Women’s entrance on San Julian. There will be ample staff to direct you from the lot to this entrance.

In the event of rain, we will screen the film in the Chapel.

Schedule

6pm - Doors open (reserved guests check in at the main entrance and are sent up to the roof)

7pm-8pm - Box dinners available for purchase, guests can watch the sunset (7:45pm)

8pm - Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of the URM, Nathan Marsak of 1947project, Richard Schave of Esotouric, and Prof. Paul Rood of BIOLA will introduce the film in the context of the neighborhood’s history, and their work on the In SRO Land time travel blog, and a brief introduction to the life and legacy of the URM‘s founder, Lyman Stewart.

8:30pm - Film screening

9pm - Q & A

9:30pm - Event ends

Union Rescue Mission Walking Tour: 123 years on Skid Row

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

ABOUT THIS EVENT:

Please join Nathan Marsak of 1947project, Richard Schave of Esotouric, Prof. Paul Rood of BIOLA and Rev. Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission (URM) for a 90-minute walking tour along the historic paths that have delineated Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. This tour derives from the ongoing 1947project In SRO Land blog series that uses the archives of the URM (founded 1891) as a tool for exploring the social and architectural history of the forgotten people and places of Downtown Los Angeles. 

The tour begins with a survey of the early history of the outreach by the URM through its gospel wagon and at two now-lost buildings: the original home at 145 N. Main (now City Hall Lawn) and the long-time location at 226 S. Main (now a parking lot next to the former St. Vibiana’s Cathedral).

The main themes will be the evolution of public policy on Skid Row from the private philanthropy of Lyman Stewart to today’s Continuum of Care, the transformative work of the URM, and the architectural history of the neighborhood.

The route will include Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets (for a then/now comparison of the surviving and demolished locations featured in the 1949 URM-financed short film Of Scrap & Steel, which will be screened later in the evening in a free event that requires a separate reservation). At 3rd and San Pedro Streets we will discuss the Azusa Street Revival, a transformative event in the spiritual history of Los Angeles and the West. During the walk back to the current home of the URM, Rev. Andy Bales will talk about issues and challenges facing the neighborhood and the URM today. 

The rendezvous point for the tour is the URM‘s headquarters at at 6th and San Pedro Streets. A free shuttle bus will take tour attendees to 2nd and Main Streets, where the walking tour begins. Registration is required, and each attendee must register separately, to ensure sufficient seating on the shuttle bus.

Parking is available at the URM’s underground parking lot for registered attendees. Just tell the attendent you are there for the walking tour. If everyone attending arrives with one other person in their car, there should be enough parking for all. Those arriving latter will have to leave their keys with the parking attendent.  

Nearest Metro station is Little Tokyo.

LAVA's 39th Sunday Salon

Join LAVA for our revived free monthly Sunday Salon series. We return to South Broadway, to the mezzanine of Les Noces du Figaro, which was recently opened by the family behind Figaro Bistro in Los Feliz. This handsome space was formerly Schaber's Cafeteria (Charles F. Plummer, 1928), and the mezzanine features wonderful views of the Los Angeles Theatre.

On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles (noon-2pm), for a structured Salon featuring formal presentations and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. 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. We also recommend the eclairs.

Read about the original Sunday Salon at Clifton's Cafeteria here.

A Note On Arriving Downtown on Sunday

The Made In America concert will close off the Civic Center (the area around City Hall) for the whole weekend. Please do not, if you are driving, take the 101 freeway to come downtown, as you will be plagued with festival detours. The Pershing Square Metro Station is the closest transit stop to Cafe Figaro. If you are driving, it is easy to access 7th & Broadway if arriving via the 10 freeway, the 60 or the 5. We recommend taking public transportation, or allowing yourself more time than usual if you are driving.

Presentation One: Charlie Parker's Central Avenue Jazz 

Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker arrived at Los Angeles' Union Station in December of 1945 all but tied to his seat. Somewhere in the southwestern desert his heroin withdrawals had caught up with him and the rest of the band knew they were going to be in for a long trip. But none was going to be as long as Parker's.

The two titans of bebop, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, had booked a winter gig in sunny LA. Six nights a week in a Hollywood nightclub was a nice way to get out of the City and introduce a new audience to their innovative bebop sounds -- but Parker's spiraling drug problem was a liability before the band had even packed their bags.

When the residency finally ended, relationships were in shambles, box office receipts were disappointing and the band was eager to just get home. But Parker didn't show up for the flight. It took him over a year to finally get out of Los Angeles. During his extended stay, Parker had disastrous recording sessions, transcendent recording sessions, he signed over royalties to his drug dealer, lit his hotel room on fire and eventually served six months in a mental institution.

Author Sean J. O'Connell chronicles Los Angeles's unique 20th century jazz scene in his newest book, Los Angeles's Central Avenue Jazz. For his first LAVA presentation, he will chart the journey of jazz' greatest destructive genius through the nightclubs and back alleys of 1940s Los Angeles.

Presentation Two: Living a Magickal Life

What is magick and how does one live it? From kitchen witchery and crafting to ceremonial magic, join us to examine the core principles underlying magick and discover ways to enrich your life by creating change in accord with Will.

Soror Lilya is an Initiate of Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite and a Crafter who has been working with Magick for over 20 years.

The Salon will be followed by a free walking tour, The Flaneur & The City: Broadway on My Mind walking tour #12. Please visit the tour series Landing Page for videos and descriptions of past tours and the goals of the series.

The Flâneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour #12

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, or login, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

Join us the latest installment of The Flaneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour series. (This tour series was originally titled Broadway Streetscape Master Plan Awareness walking tour.)  

About This Tour:

This month’s tour will be the fourth in a series of tours which focus on the architect Robert Brown Young, whose career spans the 19th & 20th centuries, the residential and commercial. His work on Broadway is the perfect introduction to understanding Young and his iconic structures.  The tour will begin with a slide of important, but demolished, Young buildings. A quick stroll up Broadway after the slide show will visit some of these former locations to pay respects and see what has replaced them.  We will conclude the tour with a special visit to the famous Batchelder-tiled Dutch Chocolate Shop, for an in-depth look at Beaux Arts interior design in Los Angeles circa 1914.

Our goal with these tours is to explore the history of the built environment on Broadway, while seeking to understand the scope of the work of Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan and the “Road Diet,” which has recently begun.

Press clippings: the walking tour series is featured in Mike Sonksen's KCET Departures report, "Punk Rock, Poetry, and Public Policy." 

Video from previous Broadway On My Mind walking tours: tour #1, tour #2, tour #3, tour #4, tour #5tour #7.

ABOUT THE TOUR SERIES: In July 2013, LAVA launched a series of monthly 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 (PDF). Each walking tour will follow and depart from the free LAVA Sunday Salon.

Stretching from 2nd Street to Olympic, the District contains the most intact collection of Beaux-Arts buildings in Los Angeles, and the largest collection of historic theaters anywhere in the United States.

As Broadway’s vast scope and scale can be overwhelming, on each walking tour we will look closely at several different historic buildings, in order to acclimatize the observer to better understand and appreciate the whole. We will also be looking at the historic streetscape, with attention paid to street lights, sidewalks (terrazzo in particular), basement hatches, sidewalk vents, glass blocks, manhole covers, granite curbs and signage.

Motivation for this tour series:

With City Council’s June 2013 approval of funding for Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, we believe that it is it is imperative to develop a greater public awareness and understanding of Broadway’s architectural and scenic qualities, and to bring the informed voices of the community into discussion of the proposed changes and alterations. We believe that no element of Broadway’s streetscape can be altered without causing a transformation of the whole, requiring careful consideration before any permanent or semi-permanent changes are made. Broadway’s architectural character is defined not by any single feature (uniform height limits, predominance of theaters) or single landmark building (Eastern Columbia, Bradbury Building, Los Angeles Theater), but upon the concord of all of it, and the strength of the impression which all together they provide. No feature or building is of dominant importance, but each contributes, and all are vitally fused together into our National Register landmark district. Many of the salient architectural and streetscape features which will be the focus of this tour series are proposed to be impacted by the yet-unfunded Strategy One, Phase Two of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan. The evolving situation demands public input and public awareness. We hope that you will join us on the tour series to better understand Broadway and become an advocate for its continued preservation, stewardship and vibrancy.

Don't Turn Your Back: Real L.A. Murders from the Dawn of Forensic Science

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.

Presenters:

Mike Fratantoni, an LASD Deputy who sits on the board of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Museum, makes a return engagement to the crime lab to present two fascinating and complex cases which will explore the development of forensic investigation.

Meiling Cabral is Chair of the California Association of Criminalists’ Historical Committee, and a forensic investigator for the LAPD. Meiling combines a practicing forensic scientist’s experience and an historian’s passion for reconstructing the past. For each of Deputy Fratantoni’s case presentations, she will provide a “Then & Now” forensic overview, highlighting technological breakthroughs, methodological changes and how the cases have influenced the development of modern forensic investigation.

Case One: Poor Little Louise Peete

In 1920, a homeless Louise Peete turned her romantic attentions towards elderly mining executive Jacob Denton, and moved into his house off Wilshire Boulevard. In May, Denton disappeared. When his friends called, Louise claimed that Denton had gone into hiding after being disfigured in a sword fight. For months, she lived and entertained in Denton’s mansion, until the police agreed to search the house. Denton’s murdered body was discovered buried in the basement, but Louise Peete had flown the coop. Captured and tried, she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in San Quentin. She served eighteen years, and was once again homeless. Good-hearted Margaret Logan offered Louise a position as paid companion and housekeeper. Five years later, Margaret vanished. Her body was discovered in the backyard of her Pacific Palisades home. Thanks to the forensic evidence gathered and interpreted by Ray Pinker, LAPD chemist and future director of the CSULA Criminalistics Department, Louise was found guilty of murder and executed in the California gas chamber in 1947.

Case Two: The End of Charlie Crawford

Charlie “The Gray Wolf” Crawford and newspaper editor Hebert Spencer were shot, Spencer fatally, in Crawford’s Hollywood office on May 20, 1931. The investigation and trials that followed are the stuff of Los Angeles legend. Crawford was a racketeer who was in with the crooked “City Hall Crowd” during Prohibition. He died in a hospital ward muttering with his last breath that he’d take the name of his killer to his grave. Forensic investigators in the LAPD went to work seeking the answer. Before they found it, David Clark, a former Assistant District Attorney and candidate for a municipal judgeship, walked into the Hall of Justice and confessed. Homicide detectives were incredulous, and the forensic investigation continued. The first trial resulted in a mistrial, the second in acquittal. In his presentation, Deputy Frantantoni will walk us through the landmark forensic analysis and pull back the curtains on this rich and fascinating period of Los Angeles history, and a story so twisted, no less a noir master than Raymond Chandler fictionalized it.