Blues skies this weekend....

Go Go’ers, sometimes you need to get off the grid for an alt kick of culture.  Whether you’re scorching it at Stagecoach or sunning it in the city, Ms. Go Go has your offbeat picks to put SoCal in perspective

Maybe you’ve already mapped out your Stagecoach schedule around Carrie, Kenny and the Rascal Flatts boys (or, more interestingly, Mel Tillis, Rosie Flores, Wanda Jackson and Leon Russell) but Indio’s hoedown-on-steroids  is your chance to develop new musical obsessions.

Consider the following:

Local L.A. fave David Serby debuts his dark-edged, 19th century Americana song cycle Poor Man’s Poem, performed with  revamped band Dirt Poor Folklore.

Jack White produced the Secret Sisters‘ debut 45 and T. Bone Burnett produced their debut LP; now you can see why sibs Laura and Lydia Rogers are the belles of the ball with their close harmony renditions of Hank Williams-era oldies.

Honky-tonk meets rock ‘n roll in Junior Brown out of Austin,  Texas who’s toured with both Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys playing a lap steel/electric guitar combo called the “guit-steel” .  (Note: no relation to the “keytar”.)

Go Go’ers, no need to wear a beer carton hat for the above…. 

Esotouric is your dependable guide to the dark corners of this brightest of cities.  For May Day weekend sun and shadows, check out their back-to-back, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. “Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles” bus tours of far-flung L.A. regions that most Angelenos only “see” while speeding by in a car.  (Go Go’ers, you know who you are.)

Get off the freeway and into the flats with the Saturday, April 30th Route 66 Tour  (offbeat highlights include the haunted Aztec Hotel)  and the Sunday, May 1st South Los Angeles Tour .  (See the newly rehabbed Johnie’s Broiler/Big Boy Drive-in!)   Ghosts and grills: always a winning combo.

Esotouric’s “Reyner Banham” series of architecture tours is informed and inspired by the Sixties British architecture critic and historian who explored and celebrated L.A.’s urban sprawl in Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, in which he dubbed South Los Angeles the “Plains of Id”.   Bonus for bus and architecture junkies; buy tix to both tours for double-decker discounts.

Your id always appreciates a bargain.

Eyes on the prize. (Michael Arata - "Pet Space Sam")

It’s a good bet that Pop Culture enthusiast Banham would have beaten a path to the Beacon Arts Building in Inglewood for Arataland! , the Doug Harvey-curated, mid-career retrospective of Michael Arata.  In the (Yes!) Go Go Nineties, the playful, enigmatic, and wildly entertaining artist famously staged guerilla “One Night Stand” art events in motel rooms.

Similarly, guests can swap a drawing for a hot dog in a bun branded with Arata’s signature from 7 – 10 p.m. on April 30th at “One Night Stand: Walpurgisnacht”.  (Walpurgisnacht is “a Northern Europen pagan renewal ritual held on May Day  Eve”…but  you knew that.)

You love your pagan weenies with culture.

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

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Set sail for sin with "Absinthe, Opium & Magic: 1920's Shanghai" at the Ivy Substation May 7 - 29.

 

Mother’s Day is imminent and whether you have a Mother Mary or a Mommy Dearest, isn’t it best to indulge your love of murder and mayhem before you see la mere ? The following tours, one literal, one theatrical, will  soothe all bloodthirsty inclinations so you can sit down to Sunday brunch with a clear conscience.     

Hollywood may get the most bad press, but the San Gabriel Valley has more than its share of weird wonders and shocking crime.   You can learn all about them this Saturday on Esotouric’s Blood & Dumplings crime bus tour, which digs beneath the deceptively staid surface of the east-of-Pasadena communities to expose a hundred years of secret and unsavory sites from Phil Spector’s Alhambra manse (where B-actress Lana Clarkson met her untimely end) to the El Monte lion farm whose proprietors hosted lion meat BBQ’s “on special occasions” (Ms. Go Go wonders what made guests eligible for THAT A-list?!)   Better yet, you can get a two-for-one deal on the death and depravity thanks to Esotouric’s  May Mania promotion.  (Hint: look for the secret phrase on their tour page.  Link is below.)  BONUS: every ticket is a raffle entry for a  “Pair Pass” so you can bring along a pal on your next Esotouric excursion.    

Since you’ll undoubtedly work up an appetite on the San Gabriel Valley trail of guts and gore, the bus will stop at 101 Noodle Express where you’ll sample deliciously meaty, Shangdong-style dumplings. (If the mention of the lion meat feast quelled your carnivorous cravings, vegie options are available if requested a few days in advance.)    Appropriately, given the morbid tone of the tour, the restaurant’s beef roll was recommended in Jonathan Gold’s L.A. Weekly article “99 Things to Eat in L.A. Before You Die”.   No one knows if any of the late lamented tour subjects were lucky enough to indulge.   

You’ll consume your Chinese fare at La Laguna de San Gabriel amongst the photo-op-friendly snails and sea serpents. (Yes, it’s two Go Go-recommended Saturdays in a row at the Monster Park; https://uwant2gogo.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/monster-mash-picnic-la-laguna-de-san-gabriel-beany-and-cecil-redux/)   

Guess what?  There’s a sea lion….   

If the Blood & Dumplings tour merely whets your appetite for the macabre, book a “berth” on the Grand Guignolers’ Absinthe, Opium and Magic: 1920’s ShanghaiYour  French, luxury liner “cruise” to Jazz Age Shanghai is an impressively immersive, theatrical spectacle from the pre-sail (pre-show) revelry (tango and Flashlight Follies), refreshments (absinthe and tea tasting), and souvenirs (shipboard photos), to the badly behaved Petit Guignolers (naughty puppets whose performances evoke the company’s Grand Guignol inspiration), to the dangerous dockside encounters with brawling gangsters, a brothel of Sing Song Girls, and the Madame of a deadly opium den.  

 Cocktail/vintage attire is suggested to further evoke the era.   Ms. Go Go recommends red so any blood stains won’t show.   

Your mother won’t suspect a thing….    

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….    

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Author John Buntin brings his book to life in his guest-hosted tour from Esotouric.

 

The weather forecast may call for sunshine and blue skies this weekend but it’s always shady in the land of Noir.  This weekend, check out gangsters and gun molls plus real-life cops and robbers.  Snap-brimmed fedoras optional….  

The second* weekend of American Cinematheque’s Film Noir Festival at the Egyptian Theater features some interesting curiosities. The script for  Bodyguard, the second film in Friday night’s double feature (playing with The Locket) was written by a young Robert Altman.  Sunday night’s Drive a Crooked Road features the double delight of cast-against-type Mickey Rooney as a car mechanic whose penchant for pretty dames has him on the skids in a script by Blake Edwards.  (Walk a Crooked Mile follows.)  Saturday night’s fare has no stunt casting/screenplays but offers a double dose of Broderick Crawford in New York Confidential and Human Desire.  

Go Go’ers in the know dine on dry martinis and other Rat Pack staples across the street at Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant (opened 1919) and a favorite haunt of Hollywood royalty and writers on a budget  or a binge; John Fante and Charles Bukowski both ate/drank here as did F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway when they wrote for “the studios”.  (NOTE: The bar at Musso & Frank Grill is now open until 2:00AM; a limited but beyond-bar-food menu, such as  steak filet, is also available.)  

Check out L.A.’s real back alleys, brazen gangsters, and beat-cops-with-a-mission in Esotouric’s L.A. Noir Crime Tour.   Author John Buntin brings to life his  highly praised book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City about the decades-long power struggle between cold-blooded-killer/Hollywood scenester Mickey Cohen and controversial Police Chief William Parker.   Buntin guest-hosts the tour  with Esotouric’s Crime Tour creator Kim Cooper.  The tour leaves from the classic Clifton’s Cafeteria; get there early to jolt yourself into consciousness with a cup of joe and a sugary dessert.  

Bad boys and b-girls, this one’s for you.  

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….  

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Drink rum and help Haiti's kids at the opening of the Doheny's Cana Rum Bar

 

Eat your Wheaties, Go Go’ers, because it’s gonna be a marathon of downtown fun Thursday night. 

The usually exclusive/private Doheny kicks off the evening with an inclusive/public  opening party for the Cana Rum Bar: a benefit for the United States Foundation for the Children of Haiti.   A one-time $20 fee confers a one-year membership in the Cana Rum Society;  think great, handcrafted rum cocktails, Tiki rum punch and spirits (rum yum yum, in other words)  plus evites to rum tastings, spirit education (presumably, the drinkable kind, not the ectoplasmic kind), and special events.   The evening includes a complimentary taste of Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum Punch (while supplies last), plus music by Domingosiete at 7PM and DJ Ruin at 11PM.   Go Go’ers, let the Conga line begin…..
If you’ve got a glint in your eye as well as a shimmy in your step, head over to the Los Angeles Athletic Club for the free lecture by John Buntin, author of the rave-reviewed L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, which explores LAPD Chief William Parker’s war on gangster Mickey Cohen and the L.A. underbelly.  Buntin’s lecture should get you in just the right frame of mind for the final weekend of American Cinematheque’s Film Noir Festival at the Egyptian Theater; augment your  underworld weekend with Esotouric’s John Buntin L.A. Noir crime tour on Saturday.  (Details in upcoming U Want 2 Go Go post!)
Post-lecture, wend your way to the Downtown L.A. Art Walk.  Highlights include: Pedals and Prints, a multi-artist show curated by Two Rabbits Studio at Crewest;  the de LaB sale at Ball-Nogues Studios, where you can find products for sale by architects, designers, illustrators and artists working east of La Brea, and the Plasticgod post-Art Walk exhibit and party with large- scale art works, dj and dancing and (rumored) red velvet cupcakes.
 
Go Go’ers, start your engines….
 
Ready?  U KNow U Want 2 Go Go….

If you’re  obsessed with all things Raymond Chandler (And really, if you’re reading a blog about offbeat L.A., how could you NOT be…?) and you’re born in March, then you are in double luck, my Go Go friend.

Esotouric, the always-edifying, ever-fascinating bus tour company of all things  eclectic  is offering their occasional tour of  Westside Los Angeles about which Chandler’s iconic private detective Phillip Marlowe noted that “the bright gardens had a haunted look…as though the sunshine itself had a mysterious something in its light” and stripper Dolores noted that “The streets are paved with forgotten husbands!”

 See if you agree with  Marlowe and Dolores, especially if you have a March birthday  or take the tour with someone who does; your ticket (or your March-born pal’s) will be $3.33 if one of you pays full price.

C’mon, what else are you going to do?  Go home and play with your fingerprint collection…?  (Whadya think?  Of  course Chandler wrote that!)

Esotouric’s Raymond Chandler’s Bay City Tour

Saturday, March 27

Check in at 11:30AM/Departure at 12:00PM sharp/Return at 4:00PM

Tour starts and ends at

The Museum of Jurassic Technology

9341 Venice Boulevard

Culver City 90232

Tickets: $58 or $3.33 for those with March birthdays

To purchase tickets or for more information:

http://esotouric.com/chandlerbaycity

Clarification: The March 8th, U Want 2 Go Go post  “Esotouric’s Crawling Down Cahuenga”  suggested  that tour leaders Kim Cooper and David Smay collaborated on a book about Tom Waits.   In fact, Cooper and Smay have collaborated on two anthologies and Cooper has  also written a solo book for 33 1/3 but David Smay is the sole author of Swordfishtrombones about Tom Waits and published by 33 1/3. 

Sign up for the April 3rd, “Crawling Down Cahuenga” tour before it sells out!

Ready?   U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

Tom Waits fans, get out your cash and mark your calendars.   Esoutouric, L.A.’s most eclectic, intelligent and informative  tour company, is offering its once-a-year ramble ’round the sites of the gravel-voiced troubadour’s early sins in the City of Angels.

Highlights on the scrupulously researched, four-hour bus tour include: legendary music venue The Troubadour (one of the singer’s early performance/brawling venues); Zoetrope Studios (where Watts fell fast and hard for his wife/collaborator Kathleen Brennan); and the Tropicana Motel (the de facto musicians’ barracks of the Eighties, where Waits lived and evidently made some interesting decorating choices).

Esotouric‘s food stops are always fun; Crawling down Cahuenga starts at The King Edward Saloon (the last, remaining Skid Row bar) and ends at the fabulously faux-forested Clifton’s Cafeteria nearby.

Crawling down Cahuenga will be led by the  Esoutouric host Kim Cooper (who will tell how she convinced Waits to do a private concert while a teenage intern at Zoetrope Studios) and music writer David Smay; the tour leaders have collaborated on a book about Waits.

ESOTOURIC’S CRAWLING DOWN CAHUENGA: Tom Waits’ Los Angeles

Saturday, April 3rd – noon-4:00PM

Bus tour departs from The King Edward Saloon

131 East 5th Street

Los Angeles 90013

$62 per person

INFO: www.esotouric.com or call 323.223.2767

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

Stay tuned for upcoming links to The Big GoGo: food, fun, trials and tribulations from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, including where to stay if you get stuck in the Narita airport….