Thursday, February 02, 2006

A letter to the editor

Dear Editor of the Woburn (MA) Advocate:

As one of three (not two) hosts of the 1947project Crime Bus Tour savaged by Jon Hartmere in your pages recently, I'd like to ask why he felt compelled to so thoroughly fictionalize his experience while maintaining the pretense of reportage? The tour guides were myself (Kim Cooper), Nathan Marsak and Larry Harnisch, and we have the reasonable expectation that anyone who rides along on our tour with the intent of reporting on it would call us by name, and not conflate the three of us into “Ned and Jane.” The L.A. Times, Fox News and CBS News reporters on the bus all followed that basic journalistic rule.

Perhaps his last minute gift of the seat (on the weekend's second sold-out bus) precluded his doing any research. Had he made a cursory web search, he would have discovered that the Crime Bus was developed by the bloggers at 1947project, a popular website that revives forgotten L.A. crimes of that year and pays visits to their scenes today, with side trips into subjects of historic preservation, local weirdness and yes, neon signage. These subjects are all familiar to and enjoyed by our readers, and the other passengers on Jon’s bus are already clamoring to attend the next tour.

The 1947project Crime Bus Tour exists for a very different audience than your reporter. Our riders know who James Ellroy is, are excited to explore unfamiliar neighborhoods, and could care less about visiting a recent, familiar crime scene like O.J. Simpson’s or the Menendez Brothers’. We wish he had asked a few questions before accepting the extra seat his friends offered, because there were a dozen people on the waiting list who would have loved to have his spot.


Nathan said...

I do want to add, that being described as wearing a tie that was much too short, and looked like what you’d get if James Spader and Martin Short had a baby.

Where personality-wise, the Martin Short genes were not only dominant, but had eaten all the James Spader genes
is the greatest ever said about me. Consciously or not, I pray I was particularly channeling Martin Short in Clifford. (Which I think makes Mr. Hartmere Charles Grodin, and for that he should be thankful.)

Jon said...

Wow, with such a buzzkill on board, I'm surprised we had any fun, learned anything, or ended up seeing LA in a new and interesting way.

Or that we met three people with a deep love for LA, and deep sympathy for the victims and families of these horrific crimes.

But then again who knew we were blessed with the presence of such Kewl Kidz?

The Unsomnambulist said...

Seriously, Jon Hartmere is just a BAD writer. Face it, there's plenty make fun of when a bus full of bloggers go on a tour of gruesome LA sites... but Hartmere doesn't even make an effort to see that his idea of humor is more than boring. Worst of all? It looks like he's made his slam of the Crime Bus into a multi-part article. Someone needs to take a peek at the AP style guide before even attempting non-serious journalism.

JimmyD said...

Is it true the tour took the group to the scene of the Black Dahlia murder? I know the Norton Ave site is where the body was dumped/found, but the location of the actual murder is still unknown.
Donald Wolfe, the author of the recently released 'The Black Dahlia Files' does an amazing job of guessing where it probably happened but admits it's still uncertain.
I'd be interested in the tour but if the professional attitude of the guides is to get upset at some questionable press... I mean... Jon, through his site, reaches over 500 hundred readers (more through the Advocate). It's not thousands... yet, but it's more than 0. That's what is known in the biz as Free Press. If the bus was as packed as Jon discribed, the tour could use all the publicity it could get.
Knowing Jon, I'm guessing he's enjoying this and will make lemonade.
Maybe you guys should too?
I don't always agree with everything he writes but he is entitled to his opinion (and Opinions is where he's published in the Advocate) and he's very entertaining, talented, funny.

Lighten up. It's all about having a good time!

JimmyD said...

Oh. And PS: My Blog sucks. I'm well aware of that.

Chad Darnell said...

Girls, you're both pretty.

Accept the article for what it is: which is publicity. I've never heard of your tour, and I've lived in Los Angeles for six years, but now that I have, I want to check it out. I worked on the film version of "The Black Dahlia," and I would love to visit the real locations. I have a weird and unusal fascination with the macabre aspects of Los Angeles.

It looks like Jon just changed the your names. That happens. Jon is a great satirist, he's not a reporter for the Woburn Advocate. He doesn't report. He entertains.

You got razzed. Just smile and suck it up. Happens to the best of us. Welcome to Los Angeles. It's not like he stole your sex tape and put it on the internet.

Or maybe he did and that's the next installment.

See you on the bus.

Kim said...

Confidential to those who say we should be happy for the free publicity: free publicity requires that the writer provide sufficient information that interested parties can check the subject out for themselves. By removing any references to this blog and changing the tour guides' names, Jon denied his readers that opportunity, and did 1947project no favors.

As a matter o' fact, we only found out about the story because Larry Harnisch--the tour guide conspicuously absent in Jon's report, though he turns up as the guy watching his watch, not because he was bored, but because he was keeping the tour on schedule--is a master googler. It sure didn't turn up in my googlealert subscription for mentions of 1947project!

But we are of course happy to get the word out to anyone interested in old, weird L.A., and if it took a letter to the editor of the Woburn Advocate to do that, well, so be it.

To learn more, check out the Crime Bus feature on Saturday night's 10pm Fox-11 news, where I have a sneaking suspicion the URL of the blog will be featured, and Nathan, Larry and myself will be identified by name.

Nathan said...

And as for sex tapes…despite my having, accidentally, of course, left mine just about everywhere to be absconded with, I’ve yet to see it turn up anywhere. You think there’d be more attention paid to Ramsay Ames. Oops, did I write that out loud?