Ask the Dust Written here — 826 S Berendo Press Release

For immediate release

June 5, 2007

“Fante was my God” – Charles Bukowski

Home of acclaimed LA novelist John Fante now a drug den; Fante tour debuts

WHAT: Esotouric’s John Fante’s Bunker Hill with special guest Charles Bukowski
WHEN: Saturday June 16, 1-6pm
COST: $55, which includes Fante-inspired gelatos from Scoops (or ride
both Bukowski/Fante for $90, or get a four-tour season pass for $190)
WHERE: Departs from Lincoln Heights Cypress Gold Line station, tour
covers downtown and Hollywood locations

LOS ANGELES- On June 16, Bloomsday, thousands of literary tourists
will descend on Dublin, Ireland to celebrate the work of James Joyce
and his classic “Ulysses.” In Los Angeles, June 16 sees the debut of
Esotouric’s bus tour exploring the life and work of L.A.’s own Joyce,
Depression-era downtown chronicler John Fante, whose “Ask the Dust”
was recently made into a Robert Towne film starring Salma Hayak and
Colin Farrell.

But while honoring Joyce has become a cottage industry in Dublin, with
pub crawls, marathon readings and costumed reenactments of the novel,
L.A. has neglected one of her greatest authors and failed to recognize
the places he lived and worked. Although Raymond Chandler has a Square
in Hollywood named for him, John Fante does not. There is no plaque of
recognition, no street named for Fante or for his hero Bandini, and at
a piece of public sculpture in Pershing Square inspired by the
earthquake scene in “Ask the Dust,” no mention of the author.

Over a few weeks in 1939, while living in a modest apartment in what
is now Koreatown, John Fante wrote his most celebrated novel, “Ask the
Dust” and introduced the world to his alter-ego Arturo Bandini,
Bandini’s beloved Camilla Lopez, and the bums, whores, madmen, winos,
lost souls and poets of their Bunker Hill neighborhood. Years later,
suffering writer’s block, Fante moved back into the building in the
hopes that being there would rekindle his creative spark.

Today this iconic spot in the history of Los Angeles letters is a
ruin, marked for demolition and used as a refuge by the homeless.
Human feces, spoiled food, bloody needles and stacks of pornography
create a foul atmosphere that could not be further from respectable
literary destinations like Hemingway’s House on Key West or the Anne
Frank House in Amsterdam. And yet among the filth and stray cats,
there are signs of a surprising creativity: a series of striking
charcoal portraits on the apartment walls, suggestive of hobo artwork.

Stephen Cooper, author of “Full of Life: A Biography of John Fante”
says, “When ‘Ask the Dust’ was published in 1939, the young novelist
John Fante was living with his wife Joyce at 826 South Berendo. Today
the story of Arturo Bandini and Camilla Lopez is widely considered the
starting point of Los Angeles literature. If the abandoned apartment
building where Fante realized his masterpiece is torn down and hauled
away, the neighborhood will be removing an eyesore but the city will
be losing a piece of its history. I join with all who urge that this
site be recognized in some concrete and permanent way so as to
preserve the memory of the incandescent time when John Fante called
South Berendo home.”

Meanwhile, just a few miles north, a portion of Fante’s street Berendo
has been renamed for another notable L.A. author, L. Ron Hubbard.

To see Meeno Peluce’s photos of the current state of John Fante’s
former home, visit

To learn more about Esotouric’s forthcoming tour of John Fante’s
Bunker Hill and the book club gathering for “Ask
the Dust,” visit

Upcoming Esotouric tour and event schedule:
Weds June 13- book club John Fante discussion
Sat June 16- John Fante’s Dreams of Bunker Hill
Sat June 23 –Weird West Adams tour for Art Deco Soc./West Adams Heritage Assoc.
Sat July 21 – Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles: In A Lonely Place
Thur Aug 16 – Charles Bukowski’s Birthday Party event
Sat Aug 18 – Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles

John Fante tour host Richard Schave is available for interviews as is
Fante-themed gelato maker Tai Kim of Scoops. Contact Kim at, 323-223-2767.

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