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We fell in love with this wee water carrier at the Fort De Chartres Rendezvous on our Mississippi River road trip.
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Gentle reader... 

Most Saturdays, we host a few dozen "gentle riders" on the Esotouric tour bus, revealing the lost lore of Los Angeles through visits to landmarks both notable and obscure.

But a recent Saturday found us on an Esotouric adventure of our very own, in the middle of a week-long anniversary trip along the mighty Mississippi River, through Missouri and Illinois. You can see our route and recommended lodgings here.

Richard had plotted a complex chart--from St. Louis to the old French trading towns of Ste. Genevieve and Cape Girardeau, across the flats to the 45th annual Fort de Chartes 18th century reenactment Rendezvous, to wee German Maeystown and wee Scots Elsah (and to the bluffs above for a walk around Bernard Maybeck's Principia campus), then to Alton and Grafton and back to St. Lou--all in a bid to show Kim the gorgeous country he roamed during the 18 years between their initial meeting as teens (who hated one another on sight) and the eventual reunion, when love sparked in the ashes of loathing.

We visited with archivists and librarians, preservationists and cemetery owners, scholars and curators and at least one time traveler, and explored some truly astonishing spaces.

Some of these encounters were planned by Richard, but others surprised us both with the unexpected delights that can unfold when one is on the road, off the clock and open to (nearly) anything.

It is a pleasure to share some highlights of our adventures with you. Like for instance...

• A musical interlude from the Fort De Chartres historic re-enactors Rendezvous.

Photos: An Esotouric Adventure Just For Two or: How History Fiends Travel (featuring St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau, Fort De Chartes, Maeystown, Elsah, Principia and Alton).

Photos: Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis (including the grave of William S. Burroughs). 

Photos: Oak Grove Cemetery Mausoleum, St. Louis (including the handsomest lion of all).

Photos: On the trail of EG Lewis, at University City (including a staircase seemingly inspired by female anatomy).

Photos: Downtown St. Louis in the Golden Hour (including a facade festooned with monkeys).

Photos: One last St. Louis architectural ramble, then home (including some sights that were hard to stomach, others that thrilled us to the bone).
We saw America first--and loved it!

We're back on the bus on Saturday with a Weird West Adams crime bus tour, newly re-routed to include the astonishing spree of mad genius Erwin "Machine Gun" Walker. Join us, do!

Finally, please note that due to circumstances beyond our control, this weekend's LAVA Sunday Salon with Professor Donald Johnson has been canceled. We regret the disappointment. 
Free! On July 23, join Kim Cooper and other contributors to the acclaimed 2001 anthology Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth for an evening of storytelling and book signing at Pasadena's Central Library. 
WEIRD WEST ADAMS - SAT. 6/27... On this guided tour through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, Crime Bus passengers thrill as Jazz Age bootleggers run amok, marvel at the Krazy Kafitz family's litany of murder-suicides, attempted husband slayings, Byzantine estate battles and mad bombings, visit the shortest street in Los Angeles (15' long Powers Place, with its magnificent views of the mansions of Alvarado Terrace), discover which fabulous mansion was once transformed into a functioning whiskey factory using every room in the house, and stroll the haunted paths of Rosedale Cemetery, site of notable burials (May K. Rindge, the mother of Malibu) and odd graveside crimes. Featured players include the most famous dwarf in Hollywood, mass suicide ringleader Reverend Jim Jones, wacky millionaires who can't control their automobiles, human mole bank robbers, comically inept fumigators, kids trapped in tar pits, and dozens of other unusual and fascinating denizens of early Los Angeles. (Buy tickets here.)

PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL WITH CRIMEBO THE CLOWN - SAT. 7/11... 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. (Buy tickets here.)

THE REAL BLACK DAHLIA - SAT. 7/18... Join us on this iconic, unsolved Los Angeles murder mystery tour, from the throbbing boulevards of a postwar Downtown to the quiet suburban avenue where horror came calling. After multiple revisions, this is less a true crime tour than a social history of 1940s Hollywood female culture, mass media and madness, and we welcome you to join us for the ride. This tour always sells out, so do not delay. (Buy tickets here.) 
Urban explorer video reveals historic Lincoln Heights jail, a city landmark, was left wide open to be trashed.

A master lays his carving knife down.

Everything the experts say about selling used books is wrong.

Nuthin' but Nadel.

They dig the past.

People of the stacks.

Every family is nuts in its own way.

Nobody who truly loves Bukowski could spend one night in this house of horrors.

Musings on the public policy and preservation issues underlying our giant Tamale campaign. 

May's LAVA Sunday Salon program previewed on Which Way LA?

The National Trust loves an endangered corner of Los Angeles.

The tragedy at the landmark Art Deco animal hospital is no accident.

Ellis Act abuse and historic apartment demolitions from someone who really ought to know better.

Massive redevelopment project proposed to surround Crossroads of the World. 

Hollywood redevelopment is truly out of control when missions shut down treatment programs to flip the real estate. 

Will an historic oil boom canyon park become home to a court-ordered gang prevention program?

Windsor Square activists fight to preserve the character of Dorothy Chandler's mansion and win, for now.

Nora takes the air and will soon have a new (old) home.

Goleta's wonderfully noir Ellwood Gas Station saved.

Immerse yourself in Richard Pryor's Peoria.

A found footage fiesta: Broadway, 1972.

Lost NYPD archive found, digitized for public use. LAPD should take note.

So proud of our friends at Save The Factory West Hollywood for making the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the ‪11 Most‬ Endangered places in America.
If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history and would like to say thank you, please consider putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Your contributions are never obligatory, but always appreciated.
Kim and Richard
Out this week is an epic tale of solitary book lovers, miffed Girl Scouts, dying architecture critics and web-savvy gadflies rallying together to expose the secret web of real estate speculation that very nearly destroyed America's greatest public research library. 
A novel set in 1929 Los Angeles, starring the young Raymond Chandler, his devoted secretary and the real-life Philip Marlowe in pursuit of a murderous cult of angel worshippers. Available on all Esotouric tours, or direct from Esotouric Ink, from Amazon and for the Kindle.
A collaboration between illustrator Paul Rogers and our own Kim Cooper, featuring 50 iconic noir locations and packed with surprising lore and gorgeous artwork inspired by the vintage Dell Mapback mysteries of the 1940s. Available from Kim or Amazon, and on our tours. (Looking for Aaron Blake's out-of-print 1985 map? Click here.)
Four times a year, we gather in the teaching crime labs of Cal State Los Angeles under the direction of Professor Donald Johnson to explore the history and future of American forensic science. Your $36.50 ticket to the Serial Killer Summer Session presentation benefits graduate level Criminalistics research. Join us on Sunday, August 16. For more info, or to reserve, click here.
Now on the LAVA blog, video of Joan Jobe Smith's LAVA Sunday Salon talk on her career as a 1960s go-go dancer and literary colleague of Charles Bukowski. Click here to see.
In the latest edition of You Can't Eat the Sunshine, we peel back the curtains to reveal a day in the life of Union Station, and learn how fast-acting Downey folk managed to save their beloved Googie diner from an illegal demolition. Click here to tune in.
Help bring an L.A. icon back from the dead. Join the campaign to restore John Parkinson's 1910 design for our greatest lost park.
We discovered Raymond Chandler's most delightful literary secret. Now we need your help to stage his comic operetta in Los Angeles!
Need an L.A.-centric gift in a hurry? Visit The Esotouric Emporium of L.A. Lore, our curated guide to the best in regional books, films and artifacts. How about a gift certificate for a bus adventure into the secret heart of Los Angeles, a solo 6-Pack or shareable 12-Pack? We also carry vintage photos of lost Bunker Hill as well as earlier scenes, Charles Bukowski-inspired fine art prints, Raymond Chandler maps (vintage) or (contemporary) and 76 ball antenna toppers.
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