Viva Los Angeles!
Just before we left New York for our trip to Los Angeles, Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten was paroled. She is the LAST Manson family member I’d let out. Many times, she has spoken with fiendish glee about how she stabbed Mrs. LaBianca – several years after she did it. She might not kill again, but she doesn’t deserve parole. I am sure that John Waters will make a movie about her. Squeaky has been on good behavior since her release years ago. Not a peep (or a squeak) out of her!
When we landed at LAX, we got really close to the News From Space building! In my mind, this is where we receive all the news from outer space.
In reality, it was designed by the great African American architect Paul Williams. There was a segment about him on CBS This Morning recently. He also re-designed The Beverly Hills Hotel in the 1940s, and other gorgeous homes for celebrities including Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz, Frank Sinatra and Lon Chaney. However, Williams was relegated to living in bad neighborhoods because he was not white.
The “Theme Building” with a restaurant in the center was constructed in 1961. It’s an example of “space-age / futuristic” Googie architecture (like The Jetson’s house). In the early 1950s, Vampira (Maila Nurmi) would hang out with James Dean at Googie’s coffee shop on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Blvd. (named after, and built this style). (Mailia’s niece has written a wonderful biography about her, titled Glamour Gouhl).
In the mid 1990s, the building was renovated by Disney and opened as a restaurant called Encounter. After 9/11, the Theme Building was damaged in a partial collapse and was closed in 2013. A major renovation is now underway, and it will re-open in a new incarnation soon!
Read more here:
We stayed at the Miyako hotel in Little Tokyo. I love the Japanese themed area, but it’s not as nice (nor as safe) as I had remembered it.
I visited the Jungle stores. There are still many Godzilla statuettes on offer:
Astro Boy is gone, and Kamen Rider is inside now.
My favorite movie stars:
I stole John Wayne’s footprints again!
And look what’s playing!
Some nice street art! Lucy!!
Visited many stores to promote my book. In my next life, I want to be a book buyer! NONE of the buyers/managers are ever in the store! What a relaxing job it must be!
It was nice to see my book on the shelf in the coolest stores, in good company. At Amoeba with Tina, Book Soup with Paul, and at Stories with Patti!
Went to Hollywood Forever Cemetery to visit Johnny, Dee Dee & Howie in the Garden of Legends.
I really wanted to see my friend, the great Howie Pyro. We would send each other ridiculous stuff all day long. I miss him more than anyone else who has passed away. It was nice to see Howie for some closure. I talked to him for a bit. When I told Frank that I wish I had brought flowers, a white feather dropped.
Also thinking of our friend Jesse Malin, who is now paralyzed. Please donate to: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/jesse-malin-stroke-healthcare-fund-1234770111/?fbclid=IwAR3ILc8pcGU68cjvc7F0txclIDKMmQ9R-TUwsoNigLotHojPrhmg7HH9tZ4_aem_th_AX4YOuiaM-Eq0uewQrPDdIwlHUj7jEO_W5gCGyTCY74r6ry6mVhBpqI5CzvvahxM5ZE
Here is Howie’s exact location:
Howie’s precise location HERE
Johnny’s statue is engraved on all four sides
Dee Dee’s headstone was covered in lipstick kisses!
It was so hard to find the graves at the cemetery. The map was terrible. We didn’t have time to look for Vampira (Maila Nurmi), Judy Garland or Marilyn Monroe. Howie is near Dee Dee and Johnny in the Garden of Legends, thanks to Linda Ramone. Holly Woodlawn is not far away!
And Toto too! He was right across from Johnny Ramone!
Toto Terry Spitz – Quinn – b. 11/17/33, died age 11.
Had the pleasure of meeting with fellow authors:
Pat Thomas (Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary) AND his brand new Ernie Kovacs tome, which includes essays by Ron Mael of Sparks, and Ann Magnuson.
Laurie Kaye, (Confessions of a Rock N’ Roll Name Dropper – out on December 8th). Pre-order here:
John Kruth and his lovely artist wife Marilyn invited us to their home in Pasadena.
Author of many books, including Hold On World: The Lasting Impact of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band, Fifty Years On
PLEASE whenever you are in a book store, ask for my book by name. It is available to order through their system, they just need to KNOW about it! If they ask the name of the publisher, it is Conceptual Books.
My book is also on Amazon…
In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono
Visited the wonderful Elliot Mintz for dinner at his home. Elliot is John & Yoko’s close friend.
Elliot gave me an incredible endorsement for my book
earlier this week, i had the honor of meeting and having a dinner/conversation with madeline bocaro.
madeline has written the most comprehensive book to date about yoko ono.
it is a 500-page labor of love that madeline has spent years compiling and publishing.
titled, ‘in your mind-the infinite universe of yoko ono’, it is an unabashed ‘love letter’ to a woman that madeline truly understands and attempts successfully to share with the reader.
my page rarely (if ever) promotes books, films, concerts, recordings or items for sale.
i get asked all the time by people i do not know.
however, this is one of those exceptions i could not resist. the book can be ordered on-line wherever you get your books.
besides being brilliant, madeline is a charming lady. we spoke for 6 hours……primarily about a woman we both love.
Visited the cool Monster Patrol shop in Little Tokyo.
Couldn’t resist adopting Sally the Mexican salamander!
I was too exhauted to see Sparks @ The Hollywood Bowl. I don’t feel so bad, since I had already seen seven Sparks shows on this tour (in the UK, NYC and PA). But it was great to know that Ron & Russell had a triumphant show in their home town, at the venue where their mom had taken them to see the Beatles when they were kids!
Visited Frank’s cousins in San Diego, and enjoyed their beautiful yard.
That’s all folks!
HERE ARE SOME NOTES ABOUT AN INCREDIBLE LOS ANGELES TOUR THAT I TOOK AWHILE AGO (which unfortunately is no longer in operation):
DEARLY DEPARTED – The best tour in Los Angeles!
by Madeline Bocaro
Having been to Los Angeles several times, I am more interested in people who are NOT there anymore, than those who are actually there now. So I went on a ride that had more thrills, spills and chills than a roller coaster…the 3-hour long Dearly Departed tour. Here are the gory details!
Tour guide Scott Michaels is a passionately obsessed individual. Just check out his web site findadeath.com. He was certainly the best man for the job – showing us the famous places where infamous events occurred – good, bad and ugly. We were provided with historic photographs of each site to compare with the actual locations as they appear today. Theme songs, sound bytes, news clips and actual 911 calls took us back through time, and placed us right into each scene.
The Beverly Hillbillies banjo-plucking theme song projected us into the Clampetts’ rollicking jalopy, surrounded by towering palm trees on both sides of the street in the opening credits. I think we were all momentarily transposed into black and white too!
We saw the exact spot on the street where James Dean lies with a toy monkey in the opening scene of Rebel Without A Cause. William Holden’s apartment building, the Alto Nido from the classic 1950 film Sunset Boulevard with Gloria Swanson remains intact and unchanged.
We learn that TMZ stands for Thirty Mile Zone, a term coined in the 60s. Apparently, everything that’s important happens in a 30-mile radius from the intersection of Beverly and La Cienega Boulevards.
Parked in front of a strangely familiar looking house, we are handed a photo of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford sitting on the front lawn at 172 South McCadden Place in Hancock Park, used for the exterior shots in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It’s two houses away from where young Judy Garland lived with her mother and siblings.
We saw the Los Angeles Orphans Home where young Marilyn Monroe lived at age 9 as Norma Jean, and the window from which she could see through the alley across the street to the Paramount water tower, dreaming of becoming a star. We saw Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s quaint home, the salon on Hollywood Blvd. where she first had her hair dyed blonde, and her favourite Parisian florist which still stands on Sunset, from which Joltin’ Joe had 6 red roses sent 3x a week to her crypt until he died.
There was endless trivia and banter between Scott and the knowledgeable tourists on the bus. He told us many amazing factoids such as; Robert F. Kennedy’s final dinner was with Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski, and RFK died 24 hours and 24 minutes after he was shot. All questions were answered in minute detail.
Scott owns some remarkable memorabilia. One item is a piece of the Hindenberg. He also has part of the linoleum floor from the Ambassador hotel’s kitchen exit where Kennedy fell after being shot. He also collected tiles from Jayne Mansfield’s heart shaped swimming pool, several historical artifacts and pieces of architecture from famous demolished buildings.
Scott will even take you off route if you have a special request that is nearby. He took us to see Lucille Ball’s house (featured in the Richard Widmark episode where Ethel helps Lucy climb a wall to pick a grapefruit). He pointed out the corner on Hollywood Boulevard & Ivar where William Frawley (Fred Mertz) had his fatal heart attack, and was taken to the nearby Knickerbocker hotel (where Frawley had lived at one time). We stopped by Desilu studios, where the ornate iron bracket that held the Desilu Playhouse sign remains on the wall above the audience members’ entrance to the set of I Love Lucy. The only reason that bracket is still there (and not in Scott’s own personal collection) is because it’s welded on so tightly!
Houdini’s wife Bess also conducted séances every Halloween from 1926-1936 on the rooftop of the Knickerbocker Hotel since Houdini told her that he would send her a special coded message if there was an afterlife. That code word (Rosabelle) never did come.
1-2-3-4!!! ‘Rockaway Beach’ began as we passed the apartment of Dee Dee Ramone, and later the Hollywood Forever cemetery where Johnny Ramone lies, along with hundreds of other stars from Tinseltown’s golden years. Scott feverishly rattled off the names of the deceased, and later while passing Cedars-Sinai Hospital, he was nearly speaking in tongues to list all the births and deaths which occurred there.
A history of the huge Hollywood(land) sign in the hills is an interesting part of the tour. It was built in 1923 by a developer to advertise real estate in Beachwood Canyon, and lit by 4,000 light bulbs. The sign deteriorated by the 1970s. Hugh Hefner, Gene Autry and Alice Cooper (on behalf of Groucho Marx) were among the sign’s benefactors when it was renovated in 1978 at $28,000 per letter.
In 1932, British born actress Peg Entwistle left her small home in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. Despondent over her failed acting career, she left a suicide note, and threw herself off of the top of the letter H to her death at the age of 24. Her ghost still haunts the area to this day. Her stepson was ‘Uncle Bill’ Brian Keith, of the 1960s TV show, Family Affair. Keith also killed himself in 1997, two months after his own daughter committed suicide.
To illustrate the high security level (there are now surveillance cameras in each HOLLYWOOD letter), our tour guide Scott provided photos, and his own story of his attempt to get as close as possible. He was promptly surrounded by helicopters and arrested. I could not believe that he neglected to obtain souvenir surveillance footage of his own apprehension from each camera angle – an undertaking that he might pursue very soon!
The chilling confessions told by the Menendez brothers to the police were the soundtrack as we passed the house where they killed both of their parents. None of the neighbours (they all heard the loud gunshots) ever called the police! We stopped at the Tudor doorway where Rebecca Schaffer of My Sister Sam was stabbed by a deranged fan, drove past the diner where the killer ate just before the murder, and were told exactly what he had for breakfast. The follow-up is that he was stabbed 11 times while serving a life sentence, and survived.
Our van stops on curved hill in front of a large home on the edge of Hollywood. This was the most chilling scene. ‘On the night of August 9, 1969, Rosemary and Leno LaBianca were murdered in this house by members of the Manson family (with Pat Krenwinkel leaving the misspelled words ‘Healter Skelter’ in the victims’ blood on the refrigerator.) We have a photo of the police standing in the driveway on that fateful day, and the house looks exactly and eerily the same except for a newly built car port.
We are serenaded by Bauhaus as we pass Bela Lugosi’s final home (when his career was revived by Ed Wood). Lugosi was buried in his Dracula cape. Scott pointed out the hotel where Mae West lived at the end of her life.
There are hundreds of aging actors from classic films of bygone eras living alone in hotels and in crumbling buildings, still waiting for their phones to ring. They are the true essence of Hollywood!
We saw more famous houses from movies and television; Happy Days, Halloween (the current owners don’t even give out Halloween candy), the former Osbournes home, now occupied by Christina Aguilera, and the high-school field where part of Grease was filmed. We passed even more movie stars’ homes; Lana Turner, Jimmy Stewart, George Burns, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. These are not mansions with mile-long driveways and security gates. They are just beautiful houses in simple suburban neighbourhoods where co-stars could walk next door and borrow a cup of sugar.
We stop at a unique house built by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright). It is the alleged site of the horrific Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) murder, if in fact it was George Hodel (the home’s owner in 1945) who killed her, as his detective son claims in his book, Black Dahlia Avenger.
Scott pointed out the section of the Sunset Strip where they ‘paved Paradise (an old sprawling estate and hotel) and put up a parking lot.’ And of course, we saw the famous music clubs; The Roxy, The Rainbow and Whiskey A Go-Go.
I coincidentally asked Scott about his Schlitzie tattoo (the pinhead, from the classic Tod Browning film Freaks). It just happens that Schlitzie’s unmarked grave has recently been discovered, and Scott was partially instrumental in getting him a proper tombstone. The long overdue memorial ceremony was held on Friday. I wish I could have stayed to pay my respects to old Schlitzie.
The tour is over, and we are presented with the full arrest statement of George Michael from his lewd conduct incident at Will Rogers Park near the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1998. We didn’t get out of the bus to see the infamous rest room because it was drizzling rain, thank goodness!
This time we covered 40 miles!
The tour is no longer in operation.
A new Yoko Ono biography:
In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono
by Madeline Bocaro
The true story of the woman John Lennon loved.
Now in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives
On several Best Books lists
Acclaimed by MOJO & Goldmine
Recommended by Olivia Harrison
Honorable Mention in The Beatles Gift Guide
Spotlighted on The Beatles Channel, Sirius XM Radio
Includes the love story of John and Yoko.
Signed hard cover books only available at: