Salvation for a Nickel

salvation for a nickel

November 5, 1927
Chicago holy water dispenser

Have you been seeking a quick and inexpensive way to get spiritual enlightenment, a sugary treat, or a pack of smokes? Well, thanks to the field secretary of the Chicago Bible Association, Reverend G.K. Flack, you can satisfy all of your cravings in a few minutes with your spare change. (Except for condoms – you will surely burn for eternity if you purchase the Devil’s sheepskins!)

Reverend Flack has placed dozens of unique vending machines in Chicago area churches. They are stocked with Bibles, Testaments, and separate books of Scripture. That’s right brothers and sisters, simply press the button corresponding to your salvation needs and shout HALLELUJAH! (Does Elmer Gantry know about this?)

The good reverend may be surprised to learn that his idea has a precedent. The first coin operated vending machine was devised by ancient Greeks to dispense holy water.

Oh well, it’s all Greek to us.

Εσείς σατανική μηχανή! Μου δÏŽστε μια Βίβλο ή μου δÏŽστε την πλάτη χρημάτων μου!**

(**You infernal machine! Give me a Bible or give me my money back! )

Who’s Your Daddy?

sues mother in law headline

November 5, 1927
Los Angeles

What consolation is there for a husband whose wife’s affections have transferred to another? He may look for solace in an illegal bottle of booze or in the arms of another woman, or he may seek revenge and sue the love thief! And that’s exactly what two Los Angeles men have done.

In the first case, Charles Martino’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Rose Sandello, began a whispering campaign which turned his wife against him. It didn’t take long for Rose to poison her daughter’s mind and convince her to leave Charles – the couple was married for only ten months. Poor Charles felt the loss of his wife so acutely that he filed a lawsuit against Rose asking $50,000 ($599,109.20 USD 2007) in damages. husband tells of loss headline

The second case is that of an absent husband and a wandering wife. Mr. George Hall was working in Chile for three long years, and he spent most of that time missing his wife Eva.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Eva didn’t have time to miss George; she was too involved with her lover, the cartoonishly named Mr. A.B. McNutt. When George returned home, Eva refused to live with him, and she informed him that she’d turned over $10,000 ($119,821.84 USD 2007) worth of their community property to McNutt – which he undoubtedly squirreled away.

George filed suit against his wife’s lover for $25,000 ($299,554.60 USD 2007). He offered into evidence letters he discovered hidden in his home addressed to “Dear Baby”, and signed “Your daddy, Alva”.

Love bandits beware! Los Angeles husbands are coming for your…assets!

Your Dog’s Breakfast rides the Charles Bukowski bus

Radio Feature by Ryder Palmere – Your Dog’s Breakfast: Episode 105: “This is Charles Bukowski…”

A brief history of the Angelino man known as the Poet Laureate of Skid Row, who pulled poetry out from beneath itself in the 20th century. We’ll take a look at his life as partially told by the Esotouric bus tour, rolling through the neighborhoods in which he lived and created his greatest works, stopping by a bar or two in which he drank. Have a seat and bring a beer.

Another Sad Chapter in the Annals of Not-So-Bright Criminals

November 20, 1927
Los Angeles

There are criminal masterminds, and then there are men like William E. McLane. Around 2 o’clock this afternoon, McLane walked in the back door of his home at 901 Palm View Drive. "I came back to the house today to see how she was getting along," he told the police swarming his house. "She" was his wife, Ada May, and she wasn’t getting along very well at all—in fact, she was dead. While they were less than impressed with his display of husbandly solicitude, detectives were happy to take McLane into custody after he confessed to Ada May’s murder. Ever the helpful suspect, McLane then explained that, contrary to police speculation, the bloody pair of scissors found next to his wife’s body was not in fact the murder weapon: he had used a Barlow knife, which he tossed into the night as he ran from the scene of the crime. The couple had been separated for about five months, and McLane recently received divorce papers from his wife. This, he told detectives, inspired him to attempt a reconciliation—an attempt which led not to the revival of their marriage but to a quarrel that resulted in the death of Mrs. McLane.

Ada May apparently held no such illusions of renewed connubial bliss; her body was found by a friend who came to check on her after she told him her husband had threatened her life on several recent occasions.

We Accept Her We Accept Her

November 18, 1927
Los Angeles

hotelheadlReaders may recall my last dispatch from South Main.  My goodness, what a cesspool of vice.  Wouldn’t something cultural make the place a little more high-hat?  Like a museum, perhaps?  A mvsevm, even.

Well, they tried a mvsevm down on South Main, and it just didn’t work out.  In fact, Mrs. Mary Fraser is downright peeved.  

It seems she was shown the Roma Hotel by agents who described it as “a nice quiet place,” and she signed a $33,602, eight-year lease with an eye toward running a rooming-house.  And today she’s in court, refusing to pay rental after occupying the place seven months.

It seems she takes issue with the museum that occupies the structure’s ground floor:  The World Museum of Freaks.  freaks!

Defendant Fraser contends that she’s lost more than $1,260 in her new venture because of the museum’s effects on her health—her weight has dropped from 125 to eighty pounds.  Apparently, the persistent demand for liquor every fifteen minutes, coupled with the screams, shouts and howls from the museum below, are not only deleterious to her health but cause roomers to abandon the establishment before they’d even tried out their beds.  Her house and the show beneath being repeatedly raided doesn’t help much, either.

A few years from now, we doubt she’ll be first in line to see a certain Tod Browning picture.

No Moment of Clarity This

November 17, 1927
Los Angeles
Charley Chase received a sentence of fifty days—suspended—from Judge Baird today, for while Chase admitted to taking a sip of whisky before crashing his auto into the back of a taxicab on Hollywood Boulevard last Monday morning, the magistrate judged Charley to be only reckless, not drunk.

longfliv!Chase is today best known for his work in promoting the exclamation-mark’d picture.  Long before 1947, the year which saw two noir exclamation-mark’d masterpieces—Railroaded! and Boomerang!—and long before little girls screamed Them! and everyone shouted Oklahoma! and then we all yelled Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Chase starred in Nurse to You!, Okay Toots!, You Said a Hatful!, What a Bozo!, Skip the Maloo!, and of course ¡Huye, Faldas!, to name but a few.  He also asked the cinematic questions Are Brunettes Safe? and Is Everybody Happy? and Isn’t Life Terrible? and What Price Goofy? and Is Marriage the Bunk? and Should Husbands Be Watched? and Why Go Home? and while these aren’t exactly What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (or What’s the Matter With Helen? or Who Ever Slew Auntie Roo? for that matter) they sure beat the stuffing out of Where’s Poppa? and What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?

Anyway.  The judge should have thrown the book at Chase for his whisky-sippin’, because his alcoholism killed him at the age of 47, in 1940.  But then, what was Judge Baird to do?  Send Chase to meetings?  Bill Wilson wouldn’t get hot flashes for another seven years.


Spend Xmas With the Demon Dog on the James Ellroy Digs L.A. Bus Tour

UPDATE: 12/22 has sold out, 12/29 tour was added and sold out within a day… but you can still get on the waiting lists!

Gentle reader,

We are giddy to announce that our Christmas week tour will be a very special event: "James Ellroy Digs L.A."

Our host on the tour will be the acclaimed crime novelist and memoirist whose highly personal take on L.A.’s underworld from the 1940s through the 1960s is as captivating as it’s horrifying.

Passengers will gather on Saturday 12/22 at Arnie Morton’s downtown (which is opening specially for our group at noon, with a limited snack and bar menu), then get on the bus at 1pm sharp for James Ellroy’s personal guided tour through the city that haunts his dreams and inspires his art.
We’ll accompany the author on an uncensored time travel journey to tony Hancock Park, where he stalked his teenage classmates and later broke into houses. . . to the Hollywood flats to explore some of the heinous 1950s murder cases that fascinated him as a youth and continue to feed his obsessions. . . and out to El Monte, where his mother Geneva was murdered, the unsolved crime that runs through all his work, from "The Black Dahlia" to "My Dark Places."
When asked what passengers could expect on this tour, James Ellroy said, "I dig L.A. because I’m from here. My parents hatched me in a cool locale. I’m desperate to impress people, I’m a good talker, I know a shitload about L.A. and I want to share it. On this tour, you’ll get L.A. crime and social history on an unparalleled AND intimate scale."
So get on the bus at Arnie Morton’s in downtown LA on December 22 and spend your holidays with the demon dog of American literature, on what’s sure to be the coolest ticket in town.

Tickets are $60/person, available from or by emailing to reserve and then sending a check. Seats are extremely limited on this special event tour; and sorry, no discounts or Esotouric season pass tickets will be honored.
Upcoming Esotouric bus tour schedule:
Sat Nov 17  – Pasadena Confidential tour
Sat Dec 8 – Raymond Chandler’s LA
Sat Dec 15 – James M. Cain’s So California Nightmare
Sat Dec 22 – James Ellroy Digs L.A.
Sun Jan 15 – Vroman’s edition, The Real Black Dahlia

Of weeds, critters, beards and burning

November 15, 1927
Los Angeles

All around town, the news is notable.

Off in Owensmouth (Canoga Park to you crazy modernists), the citizens complain there are so many stray dogs in the streets, it’s worse than Constantinople. Consider the deep valley as your next exotic vacation spot.

Mrs. Andria Reyes, 34, has eleven children and a husband who won’t work, and they all have the munchies. That’s more or less the excuse she gave Judge Westover for her small marijuana farming operation.

1120 East 32nd Street was burning, and Mrs. Frankie Weaver, 64, escaped unharmed. But once on the street, she realized she’d forgotten her canary Dickey. Back into the flaming second floor she charged, only to fall back, burned, inconsolable, without her little pet. They found her on the neighbors’ porch, badly injured but unaware of herself, gazing mournfully into the fire, and took her to Georgia Street for treatment.

And in Wahperton, North Dakota, comes the passing of Hans Langseth, who had not cut his beard since July 14, 1875. It measured 17 feet when he breathed his last, and he could not only wear it round his neck like a muffler (mmm, sexy!), but traveled the world as a circus exhibition and won the 1922 world’s longest competition at the Days of ’49 celebration in Sacramento. We hear these things grow posthumously, so let’s call Hans’ crowning glory 17 feet, 1 inch. Huzzah!

I Scream, You Scream

November 14, 1927
toxicicecreamOver 100 Pasadena residents are clutching their guts today, the victims of a recent outbreak of food poisoning.  Those affected had all eaten a batch of tainted French vanilla ice cream sold by a local catering company.  At first, the toxins were suspected to have come from the copper mixing vats used by the unnamed company; however, after questioning some of its employees, City Bacteriologist C.W. Arthur and City Chemist Frank Marks (how ’bout those job titles!) uncovered the true culprit.

It seems that the ice cream recipe called for an egg mixture which the company only bothered to make about once a week.  Unfortunately, the ice cream was frequently made several days later.  Arthur and Marks found that a scoop of the toxic French vanilla contained about 20 times as much bacteria as a sample of raw sewage.

Oh, careless confectioner, what have you wrought!

The Check Is In The Mail

The Check Is In the Mail

November 13, 1927

A dead dancer,her restaurateur ex-husband, and a World War I flying ace: it was a cast of characters that wouldn’t be out of place in the pulpiest fiction. La Monte McGinnis, currently a Major in the Army Reserve and
"one of the earliest American aviators to see service with a famous French Flying squadron," was arrested today on suspicion of forgery and mail fraud.

At some point in the past (detectives
didn’t say just when), McGinnis met Mr. and Mrs. S.S. Schwartz in New York. Schwartz owned a restaurant; his wife, Tommasine Fabri, was a "French dancer." After the Schwartzes divorced, Fabri moved to Los Angeles where she seems to have become reacquainted with McGinnis. The change of climate was supposed to help her regain her
health, but Fabri died in August. She had been receiving payments from her ex-husband. McGinnis apparently saw no reason to chase this cash cow away by telling Schwartz of his ex-wife’s death. Instead, he signed Fabri’s name to "numerous requests" for money sent to Schwartz. According to detectives, Schwartz in turn mailed his dead
ex-wife $1800 (approximately $22,000 in 2007 dollars).

Several weeks ago, friends stopped into Schwartz’s New York eatery and informed him
of Fabri’s death. Schwartz hightailed it to Los Angeles, where he initiated the search that ended with McGinnis’s arrest.

McGinnis admitted writing the letters to Schwartz, but said it was at Fabri’s
request. "Before Miss Fabri died she asked me to look after her little girl until such time as I could get in touch with her
grandparents in Paris, France." Fabri apparently left no address for them; McGinnis claimed to have contacted the "prefecture of police in Paris" concerning their whereabouts but received no
reply. "The money I received from Schwartz for Renee’s living and school expenses were due Miss Fabri anyway," he claimed. "She told me that she had loaned Schwartz money to start the restaurant business in New York. When they were divorced Miss Fabri asked for her money but agreed to accept a certain amount each month. . . . Miss Fabri told me this shortly before she died and asked me to send for the money and use it for Renee."

In case his sterling qualities as a protector of little girls failed to move police, McGinnis then stated he was a disabled war veteran, who contracted tuberculosis as a result of being gassed overseas. The case was turned over to Federal authorities for further investigation.