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

The TV Giveaway marches on! More free tv’s in Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights.

Some photos from Monday morning.

They’re part of my continuing photo essay on the discarded televisions in my neighborhood, the working class area around the confluence of the LA River and the Arroyo Seco.

So far, no calls from Taschen or the Annenberg photo center. Maybe because of the glaring lack on conflict or even the vaugest narrative thread. No arc, as they say. Although this one kinda looks like a giant Darth Vader helmet.

Here, for your viewing convenience, are the previous entries in the photo essay, in reverse order …


Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a few days. The fundraiser demands singular focus. But on my way in this morning, I spied the latest entry in my ongoing series on discarded television sets … and it’s a two-fer:


I still don’t know what to make of the junked tv’s. (See previous blog entry.)


“Family Circus” marks 50th anniversary by being actually funny … in a rerun.

Nowadays, Dad’s only job in the daily panel comic strip “Family Circus” is to act the foil for his kids' treacley naïveté, and cartoonists Bil and Jeff Keane’s only hope seems to be that we will cut out the strip and tape it to the fridge. “How cute! That’s just what Tiffany said!” … or … “That’s what Timmy said to Grandma that time at Old Country Buffet when she ate prunes! Let’s send it to Grandma for her refrigerator!”

The strip also used to be called “Family Circle,” until the magazine of the same name complained. They used to drive around in a Volkswagen Beetle; now it’s a Chrysler minivan.

And Dad (“Bill,” née “Steve”) used to smoke and drink. Check this one out:

The only fridge this would get taped to is the mini-bar in a Vegas hotel room.

The strip debuted on February 29, 1960, making this its effective 50th anniversary, and Keane is rerunning old strips to celebrate. It’s a bad idea because it just highlights how unfunny and formulaic “Family Circus” is now.


The Gourmet Magazine mourning period is officially over – Rabe notes “The Gourmet Cookbook’s” return to used bookstore shelves.

I’m an habitué of used bookstores. Cliff’s in Pasadena, the late Acres of Books in Long Beach, Brand Bookstore in Glendale. I buy books at these stores and usually read them, and am always looking for cookbooks, as our kitchen bookshelf attests:

For years, I'd seen the two-volume “The Gourmet Cookbook” for sale at these bookstores, usually several copies, and never bought one. But the day they announced the demise of Gourmet magazine last year, they all disappeared, and I kicked myself. (The magazine now lives on online.)

My mom, the late Maryann Elizabeth Rady Rabe, was a good cook who belonged to the LSSC faculty’s Gourmet Club (they took turns holding dinners with gourmet menus, a must in Northern Michigan).

Here’s the two of us, c. 1967, in a photo by Joe Clark, HBSS, who used to take the photos for the Jack Daniel’s ads.


NYT tells of slave - Henry Box Brown - who “special deliveried” himself to freedom

I know a reasonable amount of black history – I can recite a few lines from Paul Laurence Dunbar, I know who Dred Scott was, I understand the pernicious effects of Jim Crow – but I had never heard the story of Henry Box Brown, whose middle name says it all.

As retold by Alison Leigh Cowan today in the New York Times, abolitionists sent Brown from the South to the North in a special delivery box.

“He came to me on Saturday morning last in a box tightly hooped, marked ‘this side up’ by overland express, from the city of Richmond!!’’ Mr. McKim wrote an associate in New York named Sydney Howard Gay. “Did you ever hear of any thing in your life to beat that? Nothing that was done on the Barricades of Paris exceeded this cool and deliberate intrepidity.’’

It’s not known if any other slaves managed to escape in this fashion, but Cowan says several tried unsuccessfully, but gave themselves away by making noise in transit. The online version of her article is worth a look because it also includes many original documents related to the fantastic escape.


Rabe sets new record ...

Just so you know, I went all day today without my iPhone, having accidentally left it on the coffee table when I left for work.

As I write, I'm going on 12 hours without it. This is a record in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. KPCC's Inland Empire bureau chief Steven Cuevas is looking into reports of a man in Riverside who went without his iPhone for 17 hours.