Barony of West Los Angeles
Population: 330,000 mortals, four vampires
Although the Kindred of the Free States call the areas controlled by specific gangs “baronies,” and the leaders of those gangs “barons,” this is really a misnomer. The “barons” of L.A. bear very little resemblance to their medieval counterparts…except in West L.A. Louis Fortier, a 9th-generation Ventrue, runs his territory as if he were still in medieval France. If he is shown proper respect, he can be very easy to get along with; in fact he is far more accommodating to other Kindred “hunting on his lands” than many of the other “barons”. On the other hand, he can be absolutely ruthless to Kindred who he feels have been disrespectful or ungrateful.
From his mansion in the hills of Bel Air, Louis controls Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Marina del Rey, and Venice, some of the most valuable real estate in the world. The other three Kindred who live in the barony are all Louis’ Blood Bound mistresses, and each is a remarkable woman, as well as a striking beauty. Louis also maintains a small army of ghouls, who act as both retainers and scouts.
It is very rare for anything to go on in West Los Angeles without Louis’ knowledge. He is also far more involved in the economics and politics of his area than most barons. His ongoing control of the businesses in West Los Angeles may explain the relative economic stability of that region, in contrast with the insanity of the rest of the L.A. area.
Many of the local landmarks are the communities themselves and of course, the famous California coast:
- The Coast: One of California’s main attractions is its long stretch of coastline. Southern Californians enjoy a world-wide reputation for spending hours at the beach, surfing and pursuing other apparently idyllic activities. At regular intervals along the coast there are small communities with famous names like Venice and Malibu, consisting of little houses and apartments built right on the sand.
- Santa Monica: This popular ocean resort also offers Palisades Park, a cliffside spot high above the Pacific Coast Highway and perfect for strolling, picnicking, photography and painting. Santa Monica currently has the highest vagrant population in the city, making it a favorite hunting ground for the L.A. Kindred.
- Venice: Originally founded by Abbot Kinney, a native of New Jersey who had to move west for his health, the city was designed around a 15-mile network of canals based on those in Venice, Italy. Unfortunately, in 1930 many of the canals were filled in, but some remain as a memorial to Mr. Kinney’s artistic vision. Further down the economic scale (and southward from Santa Monica), Venice Beach is a laid-back community of aging hippies, unemployed actors, and beach bums, famous for its weightlifters and bikini-clad bikers and roller skaters.
- Marina del Rey: Definitely an upscale beach community, “the Marina” sports colorful Cape Cod-style buildings along the harbor that house trendy shops and restaurants, including subsidiaries of famous Italian eateries in San Francisco.
- Beverly Hills: This world-famous city, which is separate administratively from the City of Los Angeles which surrounds it, is a favorite place for some of the wealthiest people in the world to make their homes. North and south of Sunset Boulevard, which winds through Beverly Hills, are huge mansions and estates. Farther south, on streets such as Beverly, Camden, and the infamous Rodeo Drive, are the wildly expensive boutiques where the rich come to spend their money. Before the Revolt, quite a few vampires made their homes in Beverly Hills and surrounding areas, but since then Louis Fortier has permitted no Kindred to take up permanent residence here.
- Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center: Located in Westwood , the village community that grew up around UCLA, the museum is heavily funded by the wealthy industrialist whose name it bears. It often hosts exhibits of valuable antiquities in addition to its excellent collection of paintings by such masters as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Monet. It also houses a Da Vinci manuscript with over 360 drawings, as well as (unknown to the curators) several stone tablets containing untranslated fragments from the Book of Nod.
- Veterans Memorial Cemetery: While L.A. is the home of the famous Forest Lawn cemetery, a much more understated and moving tribute to the dead is located along the San Diego Freeway in West Los Angeles. Acres and acres of identical white headstones mark the final resting place of men and women who have died in the service of their country. It is a silent and eerie place, even in the daylight, possibly because of the presence of several restless spirits…
- University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA): One of the best-known universities in the world, on a beautiful campus spread across 420 acres, UCLA enrolls more than 34,000 students a year. Notable areas on campus include: Schoenberg Hall and Royce Hall, where concerts and theatrical productions are open to the public; Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion, a major sports complex which housed some of the 1984 Olympic events; Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, which includes robust bronzes by Henry Moore; Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, eight acres of native, subtropical and exotic plants—a place young women are always cautioned not to walk in alone; Wight Art Gallery, which hosts major art exhibits all year; and Anderson School of Business, not much in the way of architecture, but ranked as one of the top business schools in the country.
During the third week of November each year, the city is gripped by college football fever as the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans play their annual game. More than just another round in the Pac-10 Conference, this game takes on monumental proportions in the minds of the students who raid each other’s campus in attempts to vandalize the school statuary. Even the Kindred are gripped by this fever, and several Final Deaths have been attributed to the inter-school rivalry.
- Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine: Located in the ritzy neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, the Shrine consists of a 10-acre site with a lake and a “wall-less temple” housing the Gandhi World Peace Memorial. There is also a bird refuge, a sunken garden, and various scale-model buildings representing the five major religions of the world.
- Century City: Just west of Beverly Hills, this is a combination of high-rise office buildings and a massive shopping complex, all occupying several city blocks, and was built by optimistic developers as the mini-city of the future. Law offices abound, as well as doctors’ offices in the high-rises and in the expensive Century City Hospital complex on the south side of the area. ABC built a huge entertainment complex, which includes several large movie theaters and the (legitimate) Schubert Theater. The Century Plaza Hotel is home to travelers from all over the world. The themed street names, Century Park East and West, Constellation Avenue and Avenue of the Stars, give you an idea of what to expect. The Century City Shopping Plaza has movie theaters, major department stores, trendy boutiques, bistro-type restaurants, and a huge parking complex that is often used for movie car chases (the second parking-lot shootout in Into the Night was filmed here). Bordered on the north and south by major streets, Century City is close to Westwood, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, and is also very popular with the Kindred.
- Los Angeles Mormon Temple (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints): Perched at the top of a 257-foot tower, the 15-foot-tall golden statue of the angel Moroni appears to call the faithful to enter one of the largest Mormon temples in the world. The sanctuary itself is closed to non- Mormons, but tours are given of the rest of the facility, and the vast genealogical library is open to everyone.
- Culver City: Culver City is home to a number of movie studios, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Some of the first movie makers attracted to the area by Christopher Houghton built their studios here. Ince’s Studio was built in 1919. Other film companies that have settled into this part of West Los Angeles over the years include Selznick, DeMille, Culver City Studios, RKO Studios, Hal Roach Studios, United Artists, Desilu, Laird, M-G-M, Lorimar, and Sony. The Culver Hotel was once owned by John Wayne and Red Skelton, and provided housing to the “little people” during the filming of The Wizard of Oz . Culver City was also the location for the burning of Atlanta sequence in Gone with the Wind.