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

Polanski’s “Ghost Writer”

Am I the only one who finds a bitter irony in the fact that fugitive sex criminal Roman Polanski’s ”Ghost Writer” is considered “not suitable for audiences under 13?”

By the way, movie trailers are just as idiotic and predictable in German as they are in English.

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


Scottish terrier Sadie wins Westminster; Rabe has the backstory on owner Amelia Musser, old family friend.

Amelia Musser has had big success at dog shows in years past, but nothing like the Triple Crown that her Sadie, a Scottish terrier (below, right), scored last night by winning best of show at the 134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.

Mrs. Musser is co-owner of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, which you’ll recognize if you’ve ever watched the movies “Somewhere in Time” or “This Time for Keeps.” It’s a small island in Lake Huron where cars are not allowed – only bikes and cars – so it’s become a sort of time machine, an oasis of calm.

Here’s my husband Julian Bermudez with the hotel in 2005:

What were we doing there? Back in the late 1960s, my dad started a long friendship with Amelia and her husband Dan Musser when he agreed to do PR for the hotel and Mackinac Island. They “got” that my dad did a different kind of publicity, and so they welcomed World Sauntering Day, the Stone Skipping Contest, and other offbeat events that brought attention to the Island and Grand Hotel without being “in your face” about it. Here’s me talking with Bob Edwards about World Sauntering Day on NPR’s Morning Edition. (Kids, Bob Edwards used to host Morning Edition, with Graham McNamee and Hughes Rudd.)


A generous donation and a pinch of salt -- or, “There’s No Trouble with Harry (Saltzgaver)”

Harry Saltzgaver, major domo of the Long Beach Gazette Newspapers, does double duty for us at least once a year when he not only renews his KPCC membership, but writes about it in his column, “Pinch of Salt.”

This time, in publicizing a rival media outlet’s fundraiser(!), he even mentions our new “sustaining member” feature. And Harry being Harry, he doesn’t sugarcoat it.

“To give them credit, KPCC has come up with a new twist to membership and fund drives. That would be something called a sustaining member. You sign up for it once, and it automatically takes a set amount out of your checking account or charges the amount to a credit card every month. It sustains the station with a constant infusion of cash and allows the member to never think of it again. There’s only a couple of things wrong with that approach, at least for me. First, I’d forever be trying to figure out why my checkbook was $10 out of balance. Second, I’d still be subject to the fund drive bombardment, at least assuming the station still needed to raise money. … Now can I have my regular KPCC back, Mr. Rabe, sir? Please?”


The New York Times’ Zachery Kouwe problem.

In an editor’s note in the New York Times, the paper reveals that reporter Zachery Kouwe “reused language from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other sources without attribution or acknowledgment … Copying language directly from other news organizations without providing attribution — even if the facts are independently verified — is a serious violation of Times policy and basic journalistic standards. It should not have occurred. The matter remains under investigation by The Times, which will take appropriate action consistent with our standards to protect the integrity of our journalism.”

Just how dumb do you need to be to steal from the Wall Street Journal … especially when you work for the New York Times? Cutting-and-pasting from a friend’s email, a la Maureen Dowd, is bad enough, but at least in that case you’d have a small chance you wouldn’t get caught. But people at the Times read the Journal, and vice versa, even if they don’t especially like it.


Off-Ramp's John Rabe explains John "My Stupid Mouth" Mayer

By now, you’ve probably heard that not only has John Mayer granted an interview to Playboy magazine, but he’s apologized for 99% of it.

For instance, he used the n-word.

Playboy: “Someone asked me the other day, 'What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?' And by the way, it's sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a 'hood pass, you could call it a n---- pass,’” he said, then added: “But I said, 'I can't really have a 'hood pass. I've never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, 'We're full.’”

Props to Mayer for admitting he’s never been discriminated against the way millions of blacks have been. And for apologizing:

AP: “… the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it, because I realize that there's no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged."