Main Street Xmas Eve: A Wake for Craby’s Joe’s

Dear Friends,

As Musso & Frank and their employees are a living testament to Hollywood and its golden age, so Craby Joe’s is to downtown Los Angeles’ tenderloin on Main street.  At the corner of 7th and Main since 1933, it will close it doors for good on Xmas eve.  It has served as a watering hole to John Fante, Charles Bukowski, and many other great souls who drew from this well of characters and atmosphere from the wrong side of the tracks.

The dance to the march of time has changed tempo of late, and commercial property owners humming gentrification and other popular tunes of the day have moved into the neighborhood.  The Cecil Hotel, already on the skids when Raymond Chandler described it in his early short stories, can boast of two known serial killers as residents in the 1980s and 90s, Richard Ramirez one of them, is now a self described boutique hotel–a destination for the discerning European traveler.  This fragile coral reef on Main Street of artists, galleries (the hub of art walk is two blocks away at 5th and Main at Bert Green’s), SROs and their long time residents and encroaching development will suffer a severe blow with the close of Craby Joe’s.

Please join us there around 10 pm this Xmas eve for what Hemingway wrote of the custom in his beloved Spain, "La Penultima–the next to last drink," for the last one is too bitter a thought. . .

I remain,
Richard
Esotouric

Matthew 5:16 Goes Electric

 shedslight

captfixitDecember 16, 1927
Sawtelle

 

Los Angeles Police Captain W. L. Hagenbaugh feeds more juice into the stills of Sawtelle than he gets from them; after he raids the moonshiners and chops up their contraptions of copper and coil, he fashions fixtures and floor lamps for his new nine-room Spanish job up on Comstock in Westwood.

 

 

Recently, materials from three forty gallon bootleg stills, lined in some very fine silver, have been reclaimed from their sinful ways and turned toward this honest enterprise.

 

This writer’s inquisitive interests now satisfied—yeah, you’re green, I get it—my acquisitive interest takes over:  where are these shades now?

 

 

Next Time They Won’t Be So Lucky

 attacked

theattackDecember 8, 1927
Los Angeles

Mrs. Nancy Parrish likes her palm tree.  A lot.  And who can blame her?  This is Los Angeles.  Palms define our city—in shape, in spirit, in soul.  So when she looked out her window and saw someone digging up the palm in front of her home, 419 Court Street, she became enraged, and grabbed the 1927 version of pepper spray, a can of red pepper.  She raced down the stairs and threw it full in the workers’ faces.  

Never mind that it wasn’t really her palm—Nancy’s just a renter—she loved her palm, dammit.  Of course that’s no solace to poor Francisco Rodriquez, one of the diggers, who’s facing the loss of his eyes, according to attendants at Receiving Hospital.  Sidney Kanin, of 828 North Vermont, who’d hired Rodriquez to help him dig out the palm, luckily turned his head in time to avoid the capsicum contents.  Apparently Kanin had purchased the palm from Karl Vmorin, owner of Nancy’s rentahouse.  

After the attack, Kanin summoned policemen William Price and J. L. Willis to the scene, but they refused to arrest Mrs. Parrish; nosy neighbors are reporting that matter to Chief Davis.  A complaint charging Parrish with battery and wrongful acts, and a warrant for her arrest, have since been issued by Chief Deputy City Prosecutor Concannon.

treekillazOn a related note—here in the future—I like my palm tree.  A lot.  And who can blame me?  So when I looked out my window and saw someone chainsawing  up the palm in front of my home, I was close to grabbing something a lot stronger than a can of seasoning.  (Never mind that it wasn’t really my palm—but on an embankment in front of my house—I loved my palm, dammit.)  When the overscale condo development went up across the street from me, they stretched high-tension wires across to it.  And then the DWP decided that the decades-old Canary Island Date Palm had to go; it was too close to the new wires (it wasn’t, but that’s just a matter of opinion).  What’s not a matter of opinion is this:  that was a mature $30,000 tree, and, in the world of palms, the Phoenix canariensis is among the easiest to transplant.  I’m not necessarily saying that the wires should have, could have been moved—that’s perfect world stuff—but the workers could have spent two hours moving the tree five feet to the left instead of spending one hour chopping it down.  I’m deep in the Highland Park HPOZ and cutting down my tree, replete as it was with historic and cultural value, means I’m reaching for my can o’ pepper.  Ed Reyes, I’m gunning for a new tree, and the fact that the “Million Tree March” hates palms makes no never mind!  The palm was the tree of choice for the Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries, Lucky Baldwin, Henry Huntington, and every builder of this city committed to its unique elan…certainly you are in that league, Councilman?  Will he commit to Highland Park’s streetscape heritage, reader?  We’ll keep you posted.

No Moment of Clarity This

November 17, 1927
Los Angeles
notdrunk
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.

 

Burn Hollywood Burn

 

chaplinheadline 

October 14, 1927
Glendale

burnbaby!Pajamarino!  Everybody loves pajamarino!  Everybody, except, perhaps, Mr. Charles Chaplin.

Pajamarino, that time-honored tradition of frat boys garbing themselves in…pajamas!  And thereafter lighting everything they can get their hands on on fire.  And there’s something in there about football, and probably a booze-fueled orgy of rape and vandalism, but definitely football.

towerofpowerWhich is all fine and good, yet again, Mr. Chaplin would disagree, in that he showed up for work this morning ready to get to work on his new picture The Circus.  But two crucial props were missing…the circus wagons.  He and his crew of fifty were held up—at Chaplin’s expense—as deputy sheriffs set about searching for the missing things.  

They were located, finally, down on Moore Field at UCLA, apparently absconded with by the aforementioned Greeks of Occidental, who’d thrown them into the giant tower of chopped-up orphanages and dug-up caskets and whatnot ready for that night’s postgame bonfire.  

So Chaplin’s people pulled the wagons off and back to Glendale, the rest of the kindling was sent that night aflame to hell, the pajama-clad ran amok, and all was right with the world.

pajamarino

We’ve come for your circus wagons. 

ahearseisahearse 

1947project podcast #8

The podcast returns with a vengeance, as nasty ladies spank stolen children, acid is flung into coppers’ eyes, a love bird feathers his nest and Crimebo answers your questions. Yes, friends, it’s time again to suffer through the 1947project podcastitifatorial, and you wouldn’t leave us to suffer alone… would you?

Here is the iTunes link for you modern types. 

Also available on Moli.

Didn’t Read Her Wilfred Owen

 fatesatwork

October 6, 1927
Fullerton

“Only because of a kind fate which guards the lives of children at play was Virginia Mae Pike, two and one-half years of age, alive today…” …or so reads the lead from this story.  Oh sure, that’s got to be it, it’s all thanks to some rather specialized application of Fortuna Primegenia.  

Seems Mr. and Mrs. George Pike tented their home at 365 West Truslow Avenue, into which fumigators pumped pure cyanide gas.  According to the medical experts, two breaths of the lethal fumes would kill a grown man, and here Virginia Mae stood erect in the stuff for two minutes.  There she was, inside the tent, still upright but unconscious, when they pulled her out, gave her some mouth to mouth, and off she went.

There are only four possible explanations:

a)    you cannot kill what is already dead; therefore, she is a zombie.  She will eventually chomp on her parents, who will in turn infect others—this should probably be dealt with.  Unfortunately for the Pikes, decapitation remains the best proven method for dealing with a zombie.

b)    she is wampyear.  Or vompyure.  Or however one spells “vampire” to make it phonetically accurate.  This should also be dealt with.  Again, traditional methods apply.

c)    she is a suprahuman.  Virginia Mae should be spirited away to a secret military base to breed an army of bioresistant super-soldiers, of course.

d)    the Pikes hired crummy fumigators.  

At least these are more probable explanations than the kindly consort of some damn Moiraes, #4 certainly so should you shave down the argument with Occam’s razor.

KarenCooper1927

But don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

The Fascinating Widow

eltinge1Famed vaudeville cross-dressing act Julian Eltinge performed today at the Orpheum, though the Times reported him to be "a trifle too old and portly to exactly suggest the flapper — his impersonation is limited to the more matronly of the species."  Eltinge was approximately 46 (reported birthdates vary), and had been doing female impersonations in his act for over 35 years.

At the turn of the century. Eltinge became well known for his parodies of iconic female figures like the Gibson Girl (his was the "Simpson Girl"), and was lauded as "the most fascinating woman on the American stage."  In 1910, he opened eltinge2The Fascinating Widow, a musical comedy where he played both male and female roles, the latter of which would become his signature role.  Eltinge was a hit, marketing his own line of magazines featuring beauty tips, as well as a line of cosmetics.  Ads for his cold cream read, "See what the Julian Eltinge cold cream does for a man.  Imagine what it will do for a woman."

Eltinge enjoyed a fairly successful career in silent film, though his weight, age, and reported alcohol abuse made it difficult for him to continue to play an ingenue.  Additionally, Hollywood laws that made it illegal for a man to perform in women’s clothing reduced his act to singing in a tuxedo while pointing at a rack of dresses.

Throughout his life, he vehemently denied rumors that he was a homosexual, saying, "I am not gay.  I just like pearls."

More information on his fascinating life can be found at The Julian Eltinge Project.

Durn’d Blacklegs At It Again

menacedagain!

 

 

 

 

 

September 1, 1927
Our Water Supply

Claude Van Norman knew he might run into a truculent possum once in a while—maybe he’d turn it into a bear, make a better story for the boys down at the saloon—but when the superintendent of the Lone Pine division of the Aqueduct was making his rounds, and kicked a box of gelatin complete with coiled fuse and caps, he probably thought, I didn’t sign up for this.

boom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now why in heaven would anyone carelessly leave that dynamite lying around?

Wrightwatch ’27

flwAugust 26, 1927
Madison, Wisc.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a favorite son of Los Angeles, where he threw off the Prairie mantle and began creating his kooky indigenous-flavored block houses (e.g., Storer, Millard, Ennis, Freeman) in contrast to the Spanish Colonial (or, say, Egyptoid Tudor Chateauxesque) prevalent in the Southland’s early 20s, before he said to hell with LA and lit out for his cursed home, Taliesin.  

There was much architectural buzz about Mr. Wright in 1927, as he’d already designed a theater model for Aline Barnsdall, who announced in January that she’d build the structure as part of her eight-acre “city cultural center” gift to Los Angeles of her own FLW Hollyhock House and property.

barnsdall

When the Smart People of to-day tour FLW’s block houses and consider his play of light over form, and gauge its relationship between the zig of Meiji woodblock prints and the zag of Walter Burley Griffin’s green thumb, they probably aren’t informed that ol’ FLW had a lurid past fit for any tabloid-worthy favorite son of Los Angeles.

For example, while married to Catherine Wright, he fell in love with another woman, one Mamah Borthwick.  Catherine wouldn’t divorce him, so Wright abandoned her and the six kids and went galavanting around Europe with Mamah.  On his return, Catherine still wouldn’t divorce him, so Wright brought scandal to Spring Green, Wisc. by shacking up with Mamah.  This was sorted out in short order when one of his domestics decided to utilize a Wrightian architectural principal—one door for all purposes—which made it easy to axe-murder seven people trying to flee a Taliesin you’d just set on fire.  And Mamah was one of those so axed.   

Catherine finally divorced Frank in 1922 on charges of desertion, so he could marry his new love, a morphine addict named Miriam Noel.  They married in 1923, separated in 1924; Wright began seeing Petrograd Ballet dancer Olgivanna Lazovich Milanov (thirty-three years his junior) in 1925 and was thereafter arrested in 1926 for violating the Mann (White-Slave Traffic) Act.  Oh, and Taliesin burned again, though this time without anybody being hacked to bits.

frankgettingpopped
Frank getting popped by the feds, 1926 

divorceThe lucky Wright-drama followers of 1927 were treated to tales of Frank and Miriam’s divorce.  Today, Miriam was awarded $6,000 ($66,179 USD2006) immediately, $30,000 (330,889) in trust, and $250 (2,757) a month for life.  The cash settlement and Wright’s promise that he "would lead a moral life" preceded the court decree.

With a cushy settlement like that, you’d think that’s the last we hear of Miss Miriam.  You’d be wrong.  She spends the next few years loudly proclaiming Wright’s brutality and repellant morals, with much effort expended in Washington attempting to get Olga deported.  In a typical Miriam moment, July 14, 1928, she is arrested on a charge of malicious mischief after breaking miriaminto FLW’s rented La Jolla home while he’s up in Los Angeles:  “So thorough was the wrecking that the colored maid in charge of the house in Wright’s absence collapsed from the shock and was taken to the Scripps Memorial Hospital.  ‘About fifteen minutes more and I would have leveled the place,’  Mrs. Wright is said to have told police when arrested…damage to the La Jolla home is estimated at about $1000…Mrs. Wright smiling pleaded guilty and following the court action, swore out complaints against her husband and Olga Hinzenberg, also known as Olga Milanoff, charging them with being lewd and dissolute persons.”

Miriam finally expires in 1930.

We’ll keep you posted on all breaking FLW news. 

I’d keep an eye on that Schindler character if I were you.