Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Note from Alex Ben Block: The Wish Tree and The Weinstein’s

Alex Ben Block – senior editor at The Hollywood Reporter – sent me an e-mail this weekend …

Dear John,

During the months covering the run up to the Academy Awards for The Hollywood Reporter, I attended many premieres and events but one image sticks with me: a “Wish Tree” in a ceramic pot with messages written on squares of white paper hanging from the branches.

This Wish Tree was at the Soho House restaurant and club on top of the Luckman Plaza office tower on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

Each message was by a celebrity at the party that evening, written to and for the children of the world and those in need. That evening‘s host was Montblanc International, which wound up giving UNICEF $2 million it had raised at other events over the past year.

The Wish Trees go on tour and are part of fund raisers. Then, most of them will be auctioned off for the charity Imagine Peace, which is run by Yoko Ono. Oko, who is a performance artist, has used the trees as part of her art for years. She has done Wish Tree events all over the world, including a Peace Tower in Iceland. She was inspired by her childhood when she would see trees in Japan near Buddhist Temples, where people would write their wishes and hang them on the branches. Ono describes it as a collective prayer. This particular tree, I was told, would be auctioned off later this year in the Strawberry Fields area of Central Park in New York City.


Cute Dog Photo Alert, or why Rabe doesn’t lose sleep with Daylight Saving Time.

Cara the dog (below) likes to get up at 6am … or 6:30 … or 5:30. Usually, it’s sometime between 6 and 6:30.

However, right now when 6:30 – my preferred waking time – rolls around, she thinks it’s 5:30. This means she doesn’t wake up, shake herself (and all the tags on her collar), walk to my side of the bed and sniff noisily, walk to Julian’s side of the bed and sniff noisily. Shake again. Walk to my side and whine quietly. Walk to his side and stick her nose in his ear… You know the drill if you have a dog.

Alas, this DST respite only lasts for a week or two.

(Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp.)


Angels Flight to re-open early Monday morning. KPCC will be there.

I just received this e-mail:


March 13, 2010


Los Angeles - Dennis R. Luna, chairman of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, announced today that the Angels Flight Railway will resume regular passenger service at 6:45am on Monday, March 15, 2010.

Last June, I caught the seemingly endless testing process in action and posted the video.

LAist asks, “So, now that Angels Flight is re-opening...who will be taking a ride?”

I will. Unless we’ve assigned another reporter to cover it. I am never one to insist that – especially when it involves getting up at 6am – I am indispensible.

They’re also holding a news conference later that morning, to include Christopher Eddy Cherryholmes, the great-great-great grandson of Angels Flight creator Colonel James Ward Eddy; and Robert Moreland, 86, son of the couple who owned Angels Flight in the 50s and 60s.


Alcala’s Photos

This is one of the pre-1979 photos from the collection found in convicted killed Rodney Alcala’s storage locker. Police say they fear some of the people in them become his victims.

Watching the Flickr slideshow of all the photos is both awful and compelling.

Who are these people? How much did they trust him? Did he do anything to any of them or plan some horrible thing?

Were all of them potential victims or -- most of the time -- did he enjoy taking photos and looking at them like any of us do? Do I know one of these people?

It's awful to think that if Alcala took these photos, by viewing them, we're looking at the subjects from exactly his point of view. We’re looking through the viewfinder or lens and are, essentially, inside his head.

And think about this, if you think that one of the women is cute, for instance, are you sharing a feeling with a serial killer? That makes me feel creepy and dirty myself.


Grover and Rabe go off on people who fraudulently use handicap parking placards.

A couple years ago, I walked down Second Street with Ralph Vartabedian of the LA Times, who is currently kicking butt on the Toyota story. We counted how many cars at meters had handicapped placards. It would’ve been easier to count the ones without them, because I could have done it with the fingers on one hand. We figured the problem was California’s incredibly lax placard policy.

This is a problem that really fries me. I’m a taxpayer. I bought the damn meter, and I have a right to a fair shot at parking there and getting a ticket. And here were hundreds of people who got free parking.

Turns out it’s worse than that.

Joel Grover of KNBC-Channel 4 turned his sights on the situation after discovering that every street parking space in one downtown neighborhood was taken by a car with a handicapped placard. He found that the problem of easy-to-get placards is compounded by the fraudulent use of these placards and – until his story aired and embarrassed the city – the utter lack of enforcement.