John Fante Square sign unveiled on the downtown LA writer's 101st birthday
WHAT: Councilwoman Jan Perry unveils the commemorative JOHN FANTE SQUARE sign
WHERE: Corner of 5th & Grand, downtown LA (next to the Central Library)
WHEN: Thursday, April 8, 12 noon John Fante's 101st birthday
FOLLOWED BY: Saturday, April 17, 12 noon Esotouric bus tour "John Fante's Dreams from Bunker Hill"
John Fante (1909-1983) was Charles Bukowski's favorite writer, his "Ask the Dust" was the book Robert Towne wanted to film after "Chinatown" (it finally was made in 2006 starring Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, and Donald Sutherland) and he is honored with an annual festival in Italy but in 21st Century Los Angeles, his name often gets a shrug. That's too bad, because Fante might be the funniest, most heart warming, honest and appealing writer to ever take this city as his subject.
But on April 8 John Fante's local fame will get a big jolt. That's when Councilwoman Jan Perry unveils an official City of Los Angeles sign designating the highly-trafficked intersection of 5th Street and GrandAvenue (at the foot of Fante's beloved Bunker Hill and next to the Central Library where Bukowski discovered "Ask the Dust") as JOHN FANTE SQUARE.
April 8 is also the 101st anniversary of John Fante's birth, and the perfect date to recognize his literary legacy and continued influence on the culture of downtown Los Angeles. Come celebrate Fante's birthday and this exciting honor with members of the Fante family, city officials and fans of the author's unforgettable downtown anti-hero Arturo Bandini.
Then on April 17, Esotouric rolls out its very occasional literary bus and walking tour, JOHN FANTE'S DREAMS FROM BUNKER HILL. This tour is a chance to discover a great writer and the lost downtown he celebrated, through the narration of Esotouric's Richard Schave, the L.A. historian who proposed the Fante Square designation and guided it through the City Council approval process.
Downtown Los Angeles is a neighborhood to watch, with some of the hottest bars and restaurants in the city. But the New Downtown exists on the footprint of a fascinating old neighborhood whose stories are in danger of being lost. Many of Esotouric's tours are devoted to revealing this lost downtown, from the crimes of Hotel Horrors to the burlesque and freak show delights of Main Street Vice, the secret post war woman's history of The Real Black Dahlia to the architectural anthropology of The Lowdown on Downtown. On JOHN FANTE'S DREAMS OF BUNKER HILL, passengers walk and ride in the footsteps of Fante and his anti-hero Arturo Bandini, from the lost Bunker Hill Victorian rooming houses where Fante starved and dreamed of fame, the main library where he roamed the stacks (and later, where Bukowskidiscovered "Ask the Dust"), the Skid Row bars where b-girls pocketed his royalty payments, the Grand Central Market where kindly Japanese farmers gave the poor writer free oranges, to the retirement home Angelus Plaza to see Kay Martin's stunning paintings of Bunker Hill's mansions just before the city condemned them.
Get on the bus to bask in the spirit of the weird old L.A. that's not there any more, where a poor Italian-American Colorado kid could sell a novel, become a screenwriter, and inspire a new generation of writers just by telling the raw and funny truth. And eventually, even get a street corner outside the main city library named in his honor!
To learn more about Esotouric's forthcoming tour of John Fante's Bunker Hill, visit
Esotouric's Kim Cooper and Richard Schave are proud members of LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association.