Esotouric Named Best Tours by the Downtown News

We’re very happy to announce that the best of issue of the Downtown News is on the stands, and Esotouric has been named Best Tours.

In 2005, Kim Cooper, Larry Harnisch and Nathan Marsak created the 1947project, a blog that chronicled a different L.A. crime for each day of that year. The project was such a success that they followed up with a similar blog detailing the sordid affairs of 1907 and 1927. Now, Cooper and others lead excursions for a tour bus company called Esotouric. The four- or five-hour adventures canvass the city, highlighting crime sites from the heinous to the quirky. This summer, Esotouric debuted "John Fante’s Dreams of Bunker Hill," which visited the Downtown haunts of Arturo Bandini, the protagonist of Fante’s 1939 novel Ask the Dust. In August, don’t miss the Charles Bukowski birthday tour, which celebrates what would have been the author’s 87th birthday. At

Well, if the Downtown News thinks we’re doing something right with our Black Dahlia, John Fante and other downtown-centered tours, the least we can do to say thanks is to offer two new bus tours celebrating the neighborhood as it was in the wild old days.

So on September 8, we’ll launch our first 90-minute Crime Bus tours, the back-to-back Hotel Horrors and Main Street Vice, with a cocktail/snack break between. You can ride one for $25 or both for $45, and we hope the lower price and shorter running time will be an opportunity for folks who’ve been wanting to ride for a while to join us. See you on the bus!

The Height of Mystery

July 19, 1927
Los Angeles

Who’s that bobbing in the wind high atop the Rose Room Ballroom at 8th and Spring? Why, it’s The Phantom of the Flagpole, a mask-wearing fella who swears he’ll break the flagpole sitting record of 17 days and 2 hours set by V.H. Crouch of New Bedford, MA. Just hours after Crouch came down from his eastern pole, The Phantom climbed his. Oh, heavy hangs the crown of the nation’s greatest flagpole sitter.

The Times reports that The Phantom is shaving and eating three meals a day (unsaid is what he does with these meals once he’s finished with them, if you catch our drift). He smokes 100 cigarettes a day and gulps black coffee most of the night, when he ties himself to the pole, just in case. He’s reading fiction magazines and would like an adventure novel sent up.

On July 26, The Phantom will call for a cork helmet to avert the awful rays of the sun. When The Phantom of the Flagpole finally comes down to earth on August 5th, he is revealed as Captain Robert Hull, and happily takes possession of a $2500 prize from Rose Room manager Joseph Lederer.

But while you cheer the achievement of our local pigeon, spare a kind thought for poor "Hold Em Joe" Powers, whose perch over the Morrison Hotel in Chicago ended at a disappointing 16 days and two hours on July 15, and unaccountably left him missing six teeth. (Scurvy? An excess of chattering? Only Joe knows, and he ain’t talking.)

If I Had a Hammer

If I Had a Hammer headline

July 16, 1927
Los Angeles

“If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening…”
— “If I Had a Hammer”, written by Lee Hayes and Pete Seeger

Jacob Goldstein, President of Rothschild Mortgage and Finance, permanently ended his business partnership with the firm’s Vice President,Jacob Goldstein Joseph Stern, by bashing him four times over the head with a hammer and firing three bullets from a revolver into his body. It would have been less messy if only Goldstein had let an attorney handle the dissolution.

Goldstein denied premeditating the attack, which occurred in the company’s elaborately furnished offices at 505 Hellman Bank Building, and swore to police that he had acted in self-defense. According to Goldstein, Stern had behaved like a lunatic and had menaced him with a hammer during a quarrel over business matters. Goldstein further stated that he was in fear of his life when he wrenched the hammer away from his future former partner, and then used the tool to crush the man’s skull. The coup de grace was delivered with the revolver he had purchased the day before.

Police found Goldstein’s explanation unbelievable and charged him with first degree murder. Goldstein entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment but was later allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter, for which he received a sentence of from one to ten years in the state pen.

It’s not easy to get kicked out of California forever, but Jacob Goldstein managed it. On the condition that he would move to Forest Hills, New York to live with friends, 63-year-old Goldstein was paroled from San Quentin on February 24, 1933.

Who Says There’s Never a Cab Around When You Need One?

July 14, 1927
Los Angeles

yellowcabClifford J. Morgan needed some dough—hey, don’t we all—and what surer way to procure some than to stick up a gas station?  So he hailed a dimbox and told the hack to take him off to the filling station at Jefferson and Figueroa.  There the would-be highwayman told the taxi to sit tight, strolled into the oilpit, stuck a gun in the ribs of one C. F. Williams, relieved him of $45 ($537 USD2005), sauntered back to his waiting hansom, and motored away.  Unfortunately for Williams, do-gooders Ralph Paine and W. Burke were in the station at the time, and, grabbing Officer Best along the way, found Williams’ taxicab quite conspicuous in its lines and coloring and was thus followed easily.  At 51st and Central the trio caught up to and apprehended our hapless and callow highwayman.

taxibwVehicles-for-hire made the news again today in the strange case of five year-old Kenneth Stubbs, who had been placed by his mother Della in the home of Mrs. Bertha Whitiker at 3040 South Hoover.  Mrs. Whitiker reported that a man called at the house, purporting to represent a local orphanage in which the boy’s mother wished to place him.  After a brief conversation, the man departed.  Two hours later, another man arrived in a taxicab.  Mrs. Whitiker saw the little Stubbs boy invite the man into the apartment before witnessing said man scurry away with the boy in his arms, and the taxi speed away.  (Estranged husband John Stubbs, up in Vancouver, is said not to know of Della’s whereabouts and therefore could not be part of this misuse of our public transport.)  No further mention of the Stubbs kidnapping, or of little Kenneth Stubbs, is ever made in the Times.

Is Nothing Sacred?

July 10, 1927
Los Angeles

Is nothing sacred?

First peanuts and now the All-American ice cream cone. Is there no treat safe from the bootlegger’s evil maw? Assistant Federal prohibition administrator Frank E. Benedict today announced the discovery of what was called "one of the most completely equipped distilleries" ever found in Los Angeles, hidden in the innocent guise of an ice cream cone factory.

A curious fact brought the plant (located at 354-1/2 West Manchester Avenue) to the attention of eagle-eyed prohibition agents: business appeared to be flourishing, yet no deliveries were seen leaving the building. Further investigation ensued. When proprietor James Kanich was informed that the interior measurements of the shop matched those he previously provided to agents, his response was "a flippant remark" that led Benedict to measure the building’s exterior as well. A twenty-three foot discrepancy was thus discovered. Benedict returned inside, sounded the wall with a hammer, found a weak spot, and chopped into the wallboard. Behind it stood a 500-gallon still in full operation. Four thousand gallons of mash were ready for use at the top of a nearby stairway, and forty five-gallon cans of grain alcohol were packed in heavy paper cartons ostensibly used for freshly baked ice cream cones. The distilling room was accessible only through a narrow closet door which, when closed, appeared to be a solid wall. Meanwhile, a thorough check of the main building yielded stale ice cream cones and cone-making machinery filled with cobwebs.

Both Kanich and his wife, Mary, denied knowledge of the still. Mrs. Kanich told agents that she and her husband were the innocent victims of a group who financed the cone factory, led by a man she could identify only as "Harry."

The Kaniches were arrested for violation of the Volstead Act. Benedict promised further arrests would be made.

The Ballroom Blitz downtown swap debuts on Beth Short’s birthday 7/29

Gentle reader,

I’m writing to pull your sleeve to a wonderful event organized by Nico Bella, co-host of our upcoming Charles Bukowski tour and collaborator on many Esotouric projects. It’s the Ballroom Blitz, an indie swap meet and art fair in the exquisite Palm Court at the Alexandria Hotel on Sunday, 7/29… which just happens to be Elizabeth Short’s birthday. Hard to believe the Black Dahlia would only be 83 had she lived. Anyhoo, Richard and I will have a table of gewgaws, and I’ll be DJing a set, so let’s hope that nutty bubblegum music doesn’t bring the Tiffany ceiling down. It’s free and promises to be a ball, and we hope to see you there.

yrs, etc.,

Bargain Hunters of Los Angeles…

Fleur De Lethal Productions
in co-operation with
The Alexandria
is delighted to announce the launch of
"The Ballroom Blitz"
an indie swap meet and art mart in the historic
Palm Court Ballroom of The Alexandria

We will have DJs (including Teenacide Records mogul Jim Freek, Scram and 1947project’s Kim Cooper, Greg Belson and Andy Cobb of The Hogwash Jump Joint @ Bordello, Jason 71 – Downtown Luminary & member of the band Eskimohunter, DJ Alexander Lawrence – Music is My Boyfriend @ Bar 107 & Safari Sams, Disc Jockey Full of Bourbon – Raindogs and Bluebirds ) spinning under the Tiffany glass ceiling and our in-building bar Charlie O’s will open at 12pm, providing deluxe Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas to limber up your shopping tendencies!

There will also be raffles every hour for gift certificates, goods and goodies from swap-o-riffic vendors and
downtown businesses. Raffle tickets will sell for $1 with all
proceeds going to support The National Night Out on August 7th
The Ballroom Blitz launches
On Beth Short’s birthday
Sunday July 29th
The Alexandria (in The Palm Court off the main lobby)
501. S. Spring, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Doors open @ Noon and we will be
shoppin’, swappin’, sippin’ and rockin’ til 7pm!

For more information on The Ballroom Blitz or to book a table (just $10) please contact event organizer Nico Bella
213.325.0907 or via email

Mother and Child Reunion

mother child reunion headline

Los Angeles
July 9, 1927

“No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away…”
Paul Simon

Two women, one of them the mother of an infant and the other her traveling companion, stepped off of a Southern Pacific coach this morning at Central Station and set into motion a chain of events which culminated in a dramatic chase involving an airplane and a speeding train.

The mother decided to leave her peacefully slumbering tot unattended in the berth while she and her friend went into the station to stretch their legs. When the women returned they found that the train had departed without them!

The panicked women scurried to the taxi stand, hailed a cab and directed the driver to take them to the Glendale Airport where they hoped to find famed stunt pilot Roy Wilson.  They quickly located the aviator and the sobbing mother made a plea for help. Persuaded by the mother’s tears, Wilson hopped into one of his planes and with his two female passengers rocketed north in a desperate attempt to catch the speeding train.

Straight out of a Hollywood movie, the ensuing frantic airborne chase rivaled anything that Wilson had performed in “Wings”.  Following the Southern Pacific tracks the daring aeronaut was able to overtake the train as it sped north through Saugus. Flying low alongside the engine Wilson signaled to the engineer to stop. In a burst of speed the pilot then flew ahead and skillfully landed the aircraft near the tracks. Once aboard the train the anxious mother found her baby exactly as she had left him – sound asleep.

California Dreamin’

california dreamin headline

July 9, 1927 
Los Angeles

While carrying out his duties as caretaker of the Connelly estate at Eighty-Third Street and Normandie Avenue, 72 year old William Nugent found a pile of ladies clothing and a partially buried female corpse. Or did he? Although summoned to the scene, police were unable to locate a dead body or discarded clothing in the sixty acre dump site on the property.

Nugent claimed that he was taken into custody by two homicide detectives last week, and that the detectives grilled him for more than two hours in front of the Seventy-seventh street police station. He also said that the detectives left him with a stern admonition to keep quiet about the supposed murder so that they could find clues. John Howard, field representative for the Peace Officers Association of California, has asserted that there are no records corroborating Nugent’s claim.

Mr. Nugent gave the following statement to Captain Williams at the Seventy-seventh street police station: “Well, I’ll tell yuh, there might have been some clothes, and there might have been a body of a woman buried someplace, but from what I’ve deduced this here murder mystery appears to be nothing but one of them there hallucinations.”

The cause of Nugent’s hallucinations, if indeed that is what they were, remains as mysterious as the rest of his story.

Unclear on the Concept

July 6, 1927
Los Angeles 

Memo to Officer Fritzler of the Los Angeles police: next time you pull a guy over at Twelth and Main because you think he’s driving drunk, don’t tell him to drive you over to headquarters so you can throw him in the pokey.

Oh, everything might go just find as far as the police are concerned, but when you show up in Judge Wilson’s court to defend the arrest, you’ll be roundly chastised for letting someone you believed drunk remain in his car, because… Officer… the point of the drunk driving laws it to get drunks out from behind the wheel, not to turn them into chauffeurs for cops!

Since Fritzler clearly believed Fred Heegal was capable of driving safely through downtown traffic, and no test of drunkenness was given, the charges were dismissed, for this case and a similar one involving Officer Neff against C.A. Peterson.