In this article for Atlas Obscura, I tell the story of E. P. Janes, a fast-talking huckster whose Coldswold-inspired cottages in Altadena, CA, are as charming now as they were in the early 1920s–as implied by the title, “Many Houses in LA Were Part of a Scam by A Con Artist Who Disappeared…Yet the Homes are Still in High Demand.” I’ve spent several years tracing the catch-me-if-you-can escapades of Elisha Paul Janes, the youngest of the five siblings whose remarkable story I am chronicling in a forthcoming book. His oldest sister was the novelist Elizabeth Dejeans (see my post “Do…
The recent passing of Bob Barker made me remember how, as a young Navy Brat in the 1960s, I was obsessed with him. To my impressionable mind, he was not just some grinning pompadour orchestrating nightly hijinks on Truth or Consequences. He was a genie–and his microphone, a magic wand–with the power to bring men in uniform back home from Over There. And I desperately wanted him to pick my dad to magically appear on the show.
This sketch of coquettish actress Alyce Mills was a promotional piece for The Romance of a Million Dollars, a 1926 silent film based on a novel by Elizabeth Dejeans, whose birth name was Frances Elizabeth Janes. The author chose her nom de plume in case her somewhat racy books “upset staid relatives.” As Elizabeth was my cousin, her staid relatives were my staid relatives. So, naturally, when it came to choosing a cover for my Family Vault category, I couldn’t resist using this image. Not only was this fictional character birthed by my writer-cousin (making us practically kin), but she also looks like she’s dying to spill the tea.
To behold my ancestor’s 19th-century handwritten manuscript was thrilling. And tucked inside the pages was an even bigger surprise.
Artist Idris Khan’s timely and timeless Integration of Hope, 2021 is a site-specific installation that transcends its materials and painstaking technique to stir the soul. As I report for Interior Design: “Composed of 15 layers of hand-mixed gesso—consisting of slate and marble dust, Prussian blue, and ultramarine pigments—the result is a violet tone so intense that it can only be described as sonorous.”