Barony of the Angels
Population: 3,500,000 mortals, 59 vampires
The City of Los Angeles itself is divided into several areas, as far as the vampires are concerned. There is south central Los Angeles, which is controlled by Mohammed al-Muthlim and his Crypt’s Sons, while El Hermandad controls East L. A. Louis Fortier oversees West Los Angeles from his estate in Beverly Hills. Very few vampires live in the eastern San Fernando Valley, but many travel there at night to feed.
But Downtown, Hollywood, and the Hollywood Hills are what most Kindred think of when they think of Los Angeles. With almost 60 vampires living in 55 square miles, this area has one of the greatest concentrations in the United States.
This barony is different from most. Under the agreements signed by the gang lords in 1956, no single gang rules this area. While vampires may form into coteries for companionship and self-protection, Jeremy sees to it that no one group becomes powerful enough to lay claim to any part of this area. He has made the whole barony open hunting ground for any Kindred who want to feed here, as long as they are careful and clean up after themselves.
Since Jeremy and his coterie have sworn to defend this area, the residents don’t have to concern themselves as much with protecting their turf. As a result, the vampires who live in the “Barony of the Angels,” as they jokingly refer to it, tend to be those who find gang life unattractive or who are too weak to qualify for, or survive long in, a gang. The intellectuals, fashion plates, and politicos are to be found here, as well as the rejects and the crazies.
The other type of Kindred found here is the newcomer. A Taste of LA, the one landmark in Los Angeles known to Kindred the world over, sits on the eastern edge of the barony. Anarchs new to L.A. head there as soon as they hit town, knowing that they will get a friendly welcome and a chance to orient themselves.
The most important Kindred in the barony live in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking either the chaotic streets of Hollywood or the quiet, orderly streets of the San Fernando Valley on the other side. Full of small pockets of humanity, the Hills make a perfect haven for Kindred.
Most kine here would not find it odd that their neighbors only go out at night; they are themselves engaged in activities far stranger than a little bloodsucking. Toreador elders hunted here before the Revolt, and some of their huge, gloomy mansions still stand. In fact, some of the Toreador still exist, hiding out in the deep recesses of the Hills.
On the flats below the Hills lies Hollywood, where the bulk of the L.A. vampires make their havens. Harvey Wilcox, a prohibitionist from Kansas who came to L.A. in 1883 and started buying land in the Cahuenga Valley, actually developed Hollywood as a religious community. Mrs. Wilcox christened the place in 1887 after hearing the name from a woman on the East Coast. At night, Hollywood presents a picture that would totally bewilder the Wilcoxes, and the Gabrielino Indians who used to wander through these same flatlands.
East-west streets such as Hollywood Boulevard, the Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Boulevard, and Melrose Avenue slash through the darkness. Their garishly-lit sidewalks are crowded with punks, junkies, dealers, muggers, pimps, and hookers, as well as tourists and honest citizens out for a night on the town. Along the boulevards lie restaurants, nightclubs, tourist traps, leather stores, and endless rows of boutiques. Between the streets lie huge pools of darkness, where the muggers prey, the deals go down, and the Kindred feed.
One of the most famous sites in Hollywood is The Barn, where The Squaw Man, one of the first films made in Hollywood, was filmed in 1913. Probably the most visible landmark is the Hollywood sign (which originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND, the name of a development being built below the sign) with 50-foot-high letters set on the side of Mt. Lee.
Well-known movie and television companies located here include the Nestor Film .Company (Hollywood’s first studio), Paramount, Raleigh, Charlie Chaplin Studios, and ABC (built on the old Vitagraph site). The world-famous Brown Derby restaurant was originally located on the north-west corner of Hollywood and Vine Streets. Both the Hollywood Wax Museum and the Max Factor Museum are located here.
While Los Angeles has an extremely active nightlife, Kindred have trouble taking full advantage of it. Most gangs have their own spots where vampires gather and cut loose, and they do not appreciate outsiders intruding uninvited. The only exception to this is the area protected by Jeremy MacNeil: some locations here cater to vampires from all over.
In addition to its night life, the Barony of the Angels also contains numerous sites of importance both to the mortal and immortal population of L.A.
- El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument: On this 44-acre site, historic buildings from early Los Angeles have been restored to show what the city looked like in the 1800s.
- Olvera Street: One of the oldest streets in Los Angeles, Olvera Street was brought back to life in the ’30s as a Mexican marketplace. There are numerous sidewalk shops built in the adobe walls, as well as stalls and street vendors selling handicrafts from Mexico. But the best things about Olvera Street (for kine, anyhow) are the restaurants! The smell of Mexican food, especially handmade tortillas, is intoxicating. Numerous festivals are held on Olvera Street, with Las Posadas celebrated at Christmastime. Posada is Spanish for “inn,” and this festival recalls Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter.
- City Hall: Completed in 1928, this building with its pyramid-shaped top dominated the skyline of Los Angeles for many years. The headquarters both for the mayor and the city council, its voluminous basement served as a haven for Christopher Houghton from 1931 to 1940, and Don Sebastian actually maintained an office there until the Revolt. Later, the Revolutionary Council met there for a while, and since the Council’s dissolution Jeremy continues to use this location for meetings with leaders from other cities in the Free States.
- Los Angeles Central Library: At one time Los Angeles boasted an excellent public library system, but recent budget cuts have drastically reduced its availability to the public. The Central Library building, however, is still an extraordinary research center for the public, kine and Kindred alike. In 1986 the Library was badly damaged by a fire, the result of a Hollywood coterie’s efforts to dislodge a Nosferatu who was said to live in its basement. The 1926 Library building has since been extensively restored, and has just recently reopened.
- Bradbury Building: Originally built in 1893 by Louis Bradbury, who made his fortune in Mexican silver, this building has been restored to its original luster, including the wrought-iron railings and two cage-type elevators. Although it still serves as an office building, it is also used regularly for filming period pieces, and for special events. It is a great favorite with some of the older Kindred, who nostalgically wander through its open atrium, dreaming of yesterday.
- The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels: The “Plaza Church” is the oldest house of religious worship in the city, built in 1822 by Franciscan fathers and Indian converts. It was the first, and until 1876 the only, Catholic church in the city. It is one of the few religious structures in Los Angeles that can actually cause severe discomfort for the Kindred.
- St. John’s Church: This Episcopal church, a replica of an 11th-century church in Toscanella, Italy, has a modem touch: the Martin Luther King Jr. window was dedicated in 1977.
- St. Sophia Cathedral: West of downtown, this Greek Orthodox church contains stained-glass windows, large-scale murals, gilded woodwork, and crystal chandeliers. This is another location left alone by the Kindred.
- Evergreen Cemetery: This is the oldest cemetery in the city. Remains of Los Angeles mortal “nobility,” including the Workmans, Hollenbecks, Lankershims, Van Nuys, Coulters, and Bixbys, rest more or less quietly here.
- Site of Hebrew Benevolent Society: The oldest Jewish cemetery in Los Angeles, built in 1854.
- Dodger Stadium: Built in a predominantly Hispanic area once called Chavez Ravine, this cantilevered stadium seats 56,000, hosts the L.A. Dodgers from April to October, and is also used for large rock concerts. Its construction was a source of great controversy in Los Angeles, requiring the forcible relocation of many poor families who had lived there.
- Chinatown: With the depletion of gold in Northern California and the completion of the railroad, Chinese laborers began to move south to Los Angeles. By 1870 there were approximately 200 Chinese settlers; however, most of them were restricted to living in rundown areas northeast of the city center, and inadvertently created “Chinatown.” In 1871, a white deputy was accidentally shot and killed during a dispute between two Chinese tong leaders. For the next five hours, a mob rampaged through Chinatown, causing the “Chinese Massacre,” a shameful event in the city’s history during which 19 innocent Chinese men and boys were killed.
Chinese immigration was banned in the late 1800s and not permitted again until 1943. Today, approximately one-fifth of the Chinese people in the U.S. live in Los Angeles County. Home to numerous Chinese shops and restaurants, Chinatown is THE place for dim sum in the city. In addition, the Chinese New Year is celebrated in early February with a parade that includes fireworks and the colorful many-people-long dragon.
- Little Tokyo: In 1884, a Japanese sailor opened a restaurant in this neighborhood, and a community grew up around it. By 1900, more than 1,000 Japanese had settled around this area and opened small shops. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, more came south. By 1910, L.A. had the second-largest Japanese population outside of Japan, exceeded only by San Francisco. During the ’20s, Japanese farmers grew 90 percent of the produce consumed in the city. The City Market, a wholesale produce exchange, was founded in 1909 by groups of Japanese and Chinese growers and the Flower Mart was established in 1914.
The “Issei” were first-generation Japanese while “Nisei” is the term used for second-generation Japanese-Americans. Their hard work was little-appreciated by white businessmen who were not prepared to deal with a new group of hardworking, clever competitors. During the union struggles in the ’20s and ’30s, Japanese workers were alienated by the larger community and withdrew further into their own groups, which only increased antagonism and suspicion.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, panic spread across the country, not only among the mortal population, but among the Kindred as well. American Kindred believed that the Japanese warlords included a number of powerful Gaki who had already placed several vampire agents in California, with more to come. The American vampires, panicked by their own superstitious fear of the unknown, imagined hordes of blood-frenzied Gaki invading the West Coast and destroying the Kindred way of life.
Pushed hard by a terrified Don Sebastian and unconcerned about the rights of mortals, the powerful Ventrue and Tremere leaders in Washington supported a mortal relocation plan. On February 19, 1942, 112,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans were rounded up and “relocated” to what were essentially prisoner-of-war camps. At least two-thirds of these people were actually American citizens. The most infamous holding camp was Manzanar, located in the Owens Valley, “home” to 10,000 innocent Issei and Nisei. Stone gates remain there today as a reminder of this shameful incarceration.
The 21-story New Otani Hotel, with its elegant A Thousand Cranes restaurant, offers traditional Japanese hospitality to the many travelers from Asia to Los Angeles. There are four shopping centers in the area, including Japanese Village Plaza, Weller Court, Yaohan Plaza, and Honda Plaza. Oshogatsui, the Japanese New Year, is celebrated in early January and Nisei Week is held in August.
Despite these amenities, Kindred strictly avoid Little Tokyo, since it is widely whispered a supernatural entity of enormous power still resides there and survives by consuming Kindred.
- The Music Center: Accessible directly by freeway, this three-theater complex includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theater, and the Mark Taper Forum (not to be confused with the Great Western Forum, a sports complex southwest of downtown). Whether it be in opera, plays, or concerts, all the big names perform here. Placido Domingo serves as guest conductor for the opera, and occasionally fills in as lead tenor. The Phantom of the Opera (a great favorite among local Kindred) is in the midst of a triumphant run at the Ahmanson.
When they had the Center built, Jeremy MacNeil and Louis Fortier hoped that it would become an Elysium for the Kindred of the Free States. Unfortunately, most of the Kindred showed no interest in the classical arts at all. Jeremy and Louis continued with their plans for their own pleasure, and Los Angeles finally got the world-class concert hall it so desperately needed.
- Wilshire Boulevard Temple: Often mistaken for a cathedral, this synagogue is dominated by a 135-foot dome inlaid with mosaics. Murals featuring Biblical and post-Biblical themes cover the walls. It also has a gallery whose exhibits explain the history and customs of various Jewish celebrations. The temple does not appear to have any negative effect on the Kindred, even those who have been repelled by Jewish holy places.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): Located in the complex that also houses the La Brea Tar Pits and George C. Page Museum, LACMA is home to an international collection of art from prehistoric to modern. Permanent exhibits in the Ahmanson Building include: Far Eastern art; American and European paintings, furniture, and furnishings; sculpture and decorative art, including Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Assyrian; glass ranging in period from Rome to the 19th Century; pre-Columbian art; Indian and Southeast Asian art; and the magnificent Gilbert silver and mosaic collection. In addition, there is a large textile and costume exhibit.
The Robert O. Anderson Gallery offers 20th-century painting and sculpture, as well as special exhibits on loan. The Pavilion for Japanese Art, an interesting building with an interior circular ramp, was built for the famous Shin’enkan paintings and also contains a large netsuke collection. The pavilion’s white window panels are designed to permit only natural light, as in traditional Japanese homes, and an interior tiered fountain controls the humidity.
The Museum has become something of a gathering place for the few Toreador who make Los Angeles their home. Because of the Lupines, they are unable to get to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu (the other major art gallery in the Los Angeles) and that leaves them LACMA, as they call it. They gather here at least once a month.
- Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA): Offering equal time to modem art from 1940 to the present, MOCA offers paintings, sculptures, environmental pieces, and mixed media, as well as performing arts programs reflecting the participative “multimedia” art of today. The building, designed by Arata Isozaki, is considered by some to be itself a work of modem art. MOCA has an auxiliary facility, with the somewhat precious title of “Temporary Contemporary,” located in Little Tokyo.
- George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries: This modern museum exhibits reconstructed fossils of various Ice Age animals found in the tar pits between the L.A. County Museum of Art and the Pavilion for Japanese Art. The Rancho La Brea Tar Pits (which is a bit redundant, since la brea means “the tar” in Spanish) have proven to be a rich source of information about the Ice Age. The deposits of thick tar date from pre-historic times, and over the years thousands of animals became trapped in the sticky sludge and died there, their bones preserved. The liquid asphalt has slowly given up its captives, and continuing excavation can be viewed at several locations, including an observation pit. La Brea still bubbles up relics from the ancient past, and who knows what may eventually surface from the unplumbed depths?
- Melrose Avenue: The real fashion center of the Gothic-Punk world, Melrose is where the fashion-conscious vampire does his shopping. Let the “nouveau-reek” waste their money and time on Rodeo Drive at Gucci and Guess?. The elite know that the best clothes are to be found in Aardvark‘s Odd Ark, and at Wet Leather. Jewelry is not purchased at Tiffany’s, or at Van Cleef and Arpels. It is bought at Maya on Melrose. Cafes, trendy boutiques, and sex shops are all crowded in together. Most of the stores are open late, to accommodate those who prefer to do their shopping after dark. The area is also popular with the local mortals, so discriminating Kindred can also enjoy a tasty snack after a hard night’s shopping.
This area covers approximately 4100 acres of scrub and hills at the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains. It is listed separately because, while not a part of any barony, it is an important locale in Los Angeles.
Probably the largest city park in the world, Griffith Park has had a fascinating past. Mayor Horace Bell accepted this gift of land for the city from Col. Griffith J. Griffith in 1896 with a somewhat jaundiced eye, suspecting that the gift was really an elaborate tax evasion. Then, in 1903, Griffith was involved in a sensational trial: accusing his wife of conspiring with the Pope to have him poisoned, he pulled a revolver on her and shot her in the eye. He spent two years in San Quentin, and upon his return to freedom offered the city $100,000 to build an observatory. This gift, however, was refused. When Griffith died in 1919, he left the city$700,000 for an observatory and a Greek theater. As he was no longer there to embarrass the city fathers, the bequest was accepted.
This rustic area is home to the Los Angeles Zoo, the Griffith Park Observatory and Planetarium, the Greek Theater, Travel Town (an outdoor museum of railroad engines and cars), and a huge carousel, as well as recreational facilities, picnic areas, golf courses, horse trails and wilderness areas. During the day it is thronged with families, horseback riders, and golfers, but after the gates close at 10 p.m., it’s a different story. For a while mortal gangs roamed its premises, but that came to a sudden and mysterious end. Several vampires have disappeared in the area as well.
- Los Angeles Zoo: Covering 113 acres, the Zoo displays more than 2,000 animals from five continents in natural settings. There are wildlife shows and people are allowed to bring picnics. It is a favorite dining spot for Vegetaries who prefer something a little exotic. Also in Griffith Park are the remains of the original L.A. Zoo, which was abandoned when the new one was built. Its caves and cages were a popular spot for Rants, until the attendance grew too large. The Kindred now leave it alone.
- Griffith Park Observatory and Planetarium: Located on Mt. Hollywood, this is a good place to see panoramic views of Los Angeles. On clear evenings, the twin refracting telescopes can be used to view the heavens, and the sky is reproduced in the indoors planetarium. There is also a Hall of Science with an exhibition depicting man’s interaction with space. The highlight of the observatory for most visitors is the Laserium, in which lasers and music are combined into mind-boggling shows.
- Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum: This museum uses paintings, artifacts, and audiovisual shows to the history of settlement across the United States.