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Los Angeles, CA

L.A.'s contribution to American culture is basically impossible to overestimate. To begin with, it's the home of Disneyland and the original birthplace of McDonald's. It's also the epicenter for the conjoined entertainment factories in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. And it's also the home of Scientology headquarters.

People commonly believe that L.A.'s rival is New York City, but that's just a product of America's preoccupation with its own bicoastalism. Angelenos know that their true antagonist is San Francisco.


4 Sep 1781 Governor Felipe de Neve founds the new city of Los Angeles.
1871 Nineteen Chinamen hung at Negro Alley (17 men and 2 boys). 150 are indicted for the crime, of which six are convicted. All six are released on technicalities.
1874 Prostitution is outlawed in Los Angeles.
1909 Los Angeles mayor Arthur Harper successfully recalled for vice and corruption.
1 Oct 1910 Los Angeles Times building bombed by pro-labor forces, killing 20.
1911 Manhattan Beach closed to negroes.
20 Nov 1912 Mad Bomber Carl Warr enters Los Angeles city jail with 60 sticks of dynamite strapped to himself. After an hour, two detectives attack Warr who then pulls the bomb's trigger. Nothing happens, and the freakishly masked bomber begs police to kill him.
8 Feb 1915 D.W. Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation debuts in theaters. It is partially based on the stage play The Clansman, An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, the title on the marquee at the Los Angeles premiere is The Clansman. The three-hour film becomes an overnight sensation, and inspires thousands of honkies to join the KKK.
1923 HOLLYWOODLAND sign erected on top of Mount Cahuenga. Originally created to advertise a housing development of the same name. Cost: $21,000.
12 Mar 1928 The two-year-old St. Francis Dam north of Los Angeles fails catastrophically just before midnight, unleashing 52 million tons of water on the city of Santa Paula. 437 people are killed by the torrent, including 19 families with no survivors whatsoever.
18 Sep 1932 24-year-old starlet Peg Entwhistle dives head first from the letter "H" of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign in Los Angeles. She is the first person to commit suicide at the landmark.
11 Mar 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, M6.4
1939 All maintenance stops on the HOLLYWOODLAND sign because, well, war, man.
1940 Mexicans become largest ethnic group in Los Angeles.
1 Jun 1943 Zootsuit riots, between zoot suiters and sailors. Time Magazine called it "the ugliest brand of mob action since the coolie race riot of the 1870's."
3 Jun 1943 Three days after a sailor had been badly injured in a brawl with a group of Hispanics, a mob of 60 servicemen leaves the Los Angeles Naval Reserve Armory and bludgeons anybody wearing a zoot suit. The first two victims are a couple of boys, aged 12 and 13, who were just sitting in the Carmen Theater watching a movie. Thus begins a weeklong race riot.
1944 Bankrupt developer sells 450 acres of land and the HOLLYWOODLAND sign to the city.
15 Jan 1947 The Black Dahlia Murder: One of the most lurid murder cases in Los Angeles history. A little girl discovers in a vacant lot the tortured remains of a high priced prostitute who used to work the Biltmore Hotel. She was named the Black Dahlia because of the black sweaters she wore. The murderer was never found. The incident was the basis for a movie called True Confessions with Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall.
20 Feb 1947 A chemical mistake at the O'Connor Electro-Plating Co. in Los Angeles causes a huge explosion, killing 17 and leaving a 22 foot crater. Four city blocks suffer severe devastation, with over 100 buildings damaged.
19 Jun 1947 Bugsy Siegel murdered in Los Angeles, CA.
12 Dec 1948 In Los Angeles, Richard and Maurice McDonald open their first hamburger stand, featuring the "Speedee Service System."
1949 Chamber of Commerce has the last four letters of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign removed, and repairs the remaining letters.
17 Jul 1955 Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California. In the words of Walt Disney, "That place is my baby, and I would prostitute myself for it."
13 Jan 1962 Television comedy pioneer Ernie Kovacs drives his "unsafe at any speed" Corvair into a utility pole on Santa Monica Boulevard, killing him instantly and turning The Nairobi Trio into a Duo.
11 Aug 1965 Watts Riots. (35 killed, 1,000 wounded)
5 Jun 1968 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. He dies the following day.
6 Jun 1968 Senator Robert F. Kennedy dies at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. The Democratic lawmaker had been campaigning for his party's Presidential nomination when he was shot three times by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.
10 Aug 1969 Leno and Rosemary LaBianca are brutally murdered in their Los Feliz, California home by followers of Charles Manson. They take some of their victims' blood and smear HEALTER SKELTER on the refrigerator door.
4 Oct 1970 Janis Joplin dies of a heroin overdose in Hollywood.
9 Feb 1971 San Fernando Earthquake, M6.7
1973 Hollywood sign declared a landmark by the Cultural Heritage Board. Gala is held to celebrate the declaration of status, but a thick fog blankets the event.
13 Dec 1973 The Reverend Jim Jones is arrested in a cruisy movie theater bathroom in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Jones had the bad luck to hit on an undercover LAPD vice officer while masturbating in the Westlake Theatre men's room.
17 May 1974 During a gun battle with members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the LAPD fires tear gas into their Watts hideout. The canisters ignite a fire which soon consumes the house. Three other SLA members, including kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, watch the events unfold on TV in their motel room down the street from Disneyland.
1978 In a charity held at the Playboy Mansion, the maintenance and reconstruction of each letter of the Hollywood sign is auctioned off, at $28,000 a letter. Worth noting are the winners and their letters: Terrence Donnelly, Publisher of the Hollywood Independent Weekly (H), Italian movie producer Giovanni Mazza (O), Les Kelly, creator of the Hollywood Blue Book (L), Singing cowboy Gene Autry (L), Hugh Hefner (Y), Singer Andy Williams (W), Rocker Alice Cooper (O), Bastards of the first order Warner Brothers (O), Businessman Dennis Lidke (D). Hefner was actually "given" the letter as a thanks for hosting the auction, and Cooper's was declared "in honor of" Groucho Marx.
12 Jan 1979 One of the Hillside Stranglers, security guard Kenneth Bianchi, is arrested in Bellingham, Washington for a pair of rape/strangulations. After he moved north from Los Angeles he made the mistake of continuing his high profile hobby.
1982 "Valley Girl" released as a single, Frank and Moon Unit Zappa. Moon Unit has been quoted in interviews as saying that the recording of the song was an attempt to spend time with her father, who spent the majority of his time in his studio or on tour.
19 Oct 1982 Maverick carmaker John DeLorean is arrested in Los Angeles with $24M worth of cocaine in his suitcase. The case is later thrown out of court when a judge rules that the FBI sting operation constituted entrapment.
1984 "Frogs with Dirty Little Lips" released, Frank and Ahmet Zappa. For some reason, not as popular a single as "Valley Girl".
26 Jan 1984 Michael Jackson's hair is ignited by a magnesium flash bomb at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles during the filming of a Pepsi television commerical, causing third-degree scalp burns.
27 Aug 1987 Jello Biafra's obscenity trial ends in Los Angeles, with the jury deadlocked 7-5 in favor of acquittal. Prosecutors had hoped to throw the Dead Kennedys singer in jail for including an H.R. Giger poster in the packaging of his band's latest album, Frankenchrist.
1 Oct 1987 The Whittier Narrows earthquake hits Los Angeles, killing 7 and causing hundreds of millions in damage. M5.9
3 Mar 1991 Los Angles Police officers are filmed beating black motorist Rodney King with nightsticks. Television news stations repeatedly air the film nationwide. Four whites are charged with the beating on March 15, and when they are found not guilty, Los Angeles erupts in riot.
29 Apr 1992 Rodney King Riot: (52 killed, 3,000 wounded)
20 Sep 1992 Nine months prior to the infamous Bobbitt incident, a Los Angeleno named Aurelia Macias castrates her husband with a pair of scissors. Macias is found innocent by reason of insanity, and the case never generates much publicity. [It turns out that such deeds are not uncommon in certain third world countries, notably Thailand and the Philippines.]
24 Jul 1993 After a game in Los Angeles, New York Mets outfielder Vince Coleman tosses an M-100 firecracker at a crowd of baseball fans in Dodger Stadium's parking lot. The firework injures three children waiting for autographs, including two-year-old Amanda Santos. Coleman spends 200 hours performing community service and the rest of the year not playing professional baseball.
25 Aug 1993 Snoop Doggy Dogg arrested on charges of accomplice to murder, manslaughter, in Los Angeles.
4 Sep 1993 3'11" actor Herve Villechaize puts a pistol to his chest and commits suicide in his North Hollywood, California home.
27 Oct 1993 Santa Ana winds drive 14 fires across five Southern California counties, which destroy more than 500 homes and cause perhaps $1B in damage within a week's time.
31 Oct 1993 River Phoenix collapses and dies on the sidewalk in front of The Viper Room, a hip West Hollywood club (Owned by Johnny Depp).
4 Dec 1993 Frank Zappa dead of prostate cancer in Los Angeles at age 52.
17 Jan 1994 Northridge Earthquake, M6.7, resulting in 61 deaths and $20 billion in damages.
19 Apr 1994 A Los Angeles jury awards $3.8 million to motorist Rodney King.
17 Jun 1994 O.J. Simpson fails to turn himself in to the LAPD at a prearranged time and is later spotted in a white Ford Bronco on a Los Angeles expressway. After a low-speed pursuit through the freeways and streets of Brentwood, O.J. is finally arrested live on television in the driveway of his mansion. According one of the defense attorneys who served on O.J.'s "Dream Team," Simpson tried to kill himself in the car, but the gun misfired. The Juice allegedly told him: "I pulled the trigger and it didn't go off."
27 Jun 1995 The LAPD arrests streetwalker Divine Brown for prostitution after she is discovered giving British film star Hugh Grant a blowjob in a white BMW parked on Hawthorn Ave. To be fair, they also arrest Grant for receiving said blowjob.
25 Feb 1996 Dr. Haing S. Ngor, the Cambodian who won the 1984 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Killing Fields, shot during a robbery attempt in the carport of his Los Angeles apartment.
20 Mar 1996 Erik and Lyle Menendez convicted of First Degree Murder. They killed their parents for their money, and then lied all about it.
1 Jul 1996 The body of Margeaux Hemingway is found in her Santa Monica, California apartment after the actress apparently overdosed on Phenobarbital.
20 Dec 1996 Judge Nancy Wieben Stock grants O.J. Simpson custody of his two children, Sydney and Justin, since mom isn't around anymore.
16 Jan 1997 Bill Cosby's 27-year-old son Ennis William Cosby is shot to death at Skirball Center in Sepulveda Pass, near Los Angeles CA. It was a robbery attempt while he was attempting to change a flat tire.
9 Mar 1997 After attending a Soul Train party, Biggie Smalls killed in a drive-by shooting, Los Angeles CA.
2 May 1997 At 4:45 a.m., L.A. County Sheriff's deputies pull over a car in West Hollywood driven by comedian/actor Eddie Murphy. In the passenger seat is one Atisone Seiuli, a 20-year-old pre-op transsexual prostitute. Murphy informs the officers that he was just trying to be a "good samaritan" and give his she-male acquaintance a ride home. Seiuli is taken into custody for an outstanding prostitution warrant, but the officers allow Murphy to leave without any further ado.
11 Aug 1997 Responding to reports of a domestic disturbance at the L'Elysee condominiums in West Los Angeles, LAPD officers encounter Christian Slater "swinging his arms and yelling incoherently" in the building stairwell. The movie actor reveals to police that "the Germans are coming and they will kill us." He also mentions that he has been awake for most of two days, and the last thing he remembers is "snorting a couple of lines of cocaine this morning." When officers attempt to put him in handcuffs, Slater knocks one of them to the floor and makes an unsuccessful grab for the cop's weapon. His punishment? 59 days in jail.
7 Apr 1998 Pop singer George Michael is arrested by an undercover police officer after wanking in front him in a public toilet. One of our staffers has checked out the restroom (at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills) and reports that it continues to be "cruisy."
10 Nov 1998 The fourth appelate district of the Court of Appears of the State of California overturns O.J. Simpson's custody of his two children, additionally ruling that if another custody hearing takes place, the evidence where it looks an awful lot like dad killed mom will be entered. Ultimately joint custody is granted between Simpson and the ex-wife's parents.
29 May 1999 Hikers discover the skeletal remains of Philip "Taylor" in his Ford Aerostar at the bottom of a 200-foot ravine in Malibu, California. The onetime bassist for the band Iron Butterfly had disappeared four years prior.
Sep 2001 America the Beautiful, Moon Unit Zappa's first novel released. Claims it's not autobiographical, just a made-up novel about the strangely-named daughter of an avant-garde musician.

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