Wilshire corridor

Walking Chandler's L.A.

In a post over at Native Intelligence, Denise Hamilton goes for a sidewalk adventure in the city with Judith Freeman, author of the new book The Long Embrace, Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved.

We want to see the city as the world-weary private investigator saw it more than a half-century ago but weíd like to avoid well-known joints like Musso & Franks and The Pacific Dining Car. Can we do it merely by walking through her neighborhood, or is such literary alchemy beyond the powers of two girl sleuths in 2007 L.A.?

Itís a cool fall evening as we leave Freemanís 1930s persimmon bungalow near MacArthur Park and head west along a gritty stretch of Third Street toward Rampart.

Freeman stops to point out the Mother Trust Superet Light Center. Iíve driven past it a zillion times without really noticing the two-story, white-columned brick building with its adjacent church and rose garden. Itís quaint, modest and also timeless, something right out of Carey McWilliams. Freeman says it dates to the 1920s, the era of evangelical cult personalities like Aimee Semple McPherson.

A little tingle comes over me.

They explore the Lafayette Park neighborhood and stop at the old Wilshire Royale Hotel, across Rampart from The Bryson. "Freeman orders a martini and though itís really not fair, I ask the waitress for a rye. Her nose wrinkles in bewilderment. Rye whiskey, I say."

Elsewhere around LA Observed: Jenny Burman asks, "Who says Echo Park art shouldn't be political?"...Phil Wallace rounds up the week in sports with the observation that "it's beginning to look like the Karl Dorrell era of UCLA football is coming to a close"...Mark Lacter guested on Larry Mantle's Airtalk this morning on KPCC to talk about the Writers Guild strike...and Veronique de Turenne mulls over her Malibu problem.

More by Kevin Roderick:
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