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

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.


Mid-Wilshirists abandon televisions, too, but more comfortably.

Doubtless you’ve been following my documentation of the abandoned tv’s of LA in my Vast Wasteland Project.

My friend Gary Minnaert writes,

Hi John. Saw your recent blog post. We have abandoned tvs in the Mid-Wilshire area also.

He sent this picture:

In my neighborhood, the abandoned tv’s stand alone on streetcorners and curbs. But in the Mid-Wilshire area, the dumpers thoughtfully provide a place to rest and watch the tube – if you have an extension cord long enough.

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


Teen v. Boeing – Robin Estrin getting traction in efforts to get Rocketdyne site cleaned up.

I am writing this letter to urge you to clean up the nuclear contamination that was left after the Rocketdyne meltdown that occurred in 1959.

So starts teenager Robin Estrin’s open letter to Boeing, posted at HuffPo and on Michael Moore’s website.

The Santa Susana Field Lab where the accident occurred is not too far from my neighborhood. I understand that you have begun pursuing a lawsuit to rid yourself of the legal responsibility you have to clean up your mess. … Please, try to look at it from my point of view … When my teammates practice lacrosse three times a week at our park, we have to worry about the safety of the air we breathe and the soil we play on.

Robin’s father is Eric Estrin, who led LA Observed’s screenplay project and is contributing editor at The Wrap. He wrote to tell me that the attention seems to be getting her fight some traction. “Now Boeing has invited Robin's group, the Teens Against Toxins, to tour their facility and meet with officials from the company and from NASA and the Department of Energy.”


Off-Ramp hands out final Oscar … for “Best Meat Product Rendition of a Movie Character”

Our Oscar-watching party was more fun than yours, and not just because of the cocktail wieners I brought, or David Othenin-Girard’s impeccable wine picks. But because his girlfriend Vember Stuart-Lilley’s mom e-mailed her a series of pictures that sent milk through all our noses … and we weren’t even drinking milk.

First, here’s Laura "James Cameron's got nothin' on me" Staurt-Lilley, in her kitchen.

Now before you look at the next picture, you need to know that Laura lives in Ohio; and in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and perhaps Indiana and parts of Illinois, people treat meatloaf like topiary. It probably has something to do with long winters and a lack of cable TV.

So, now, if you’re holding an Oscar party, you need to have Oscar-themed food. Hence:

It’s a male Na’vi, from James Cameron’s “Avatar, the Last Bigspender:” How do I know it’s male?


Off-Ramp releases first Special Podcast and inaugurates live music at the Mohn Broadcast Center

Donovan has a concert at the El Rey Theatre Friday, March 19th, and he came to KPCC’s new Mohn Broadcast Center in Pasadena to record an interview and sing some of his hits.

(Donovan at the orange wall of the MBC. Credit: John Rabe)

We’re using the occasion to launch an occasional series of special Off-Ramp podcasts. I mean, somebody who learned to meditate with the Beatles and had 11 #1 hits deserves more than 6 minutes … especially when he’s willing to play cool tunes like “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” one of the weirdest and most wonderful songs of the 1960s.

Come to the Off-Ramp page to listen to the half-hour interview and find out more about Donovan’s benefit concert, which is raising money to help at-risk kids.