Big Changes for the LA DWP Festival of Lights

Don’t expect to drive through the LA DWP Festival of Lights for a few more weeks. The DWP is stressing greenity this year, with a bike night preview and two weeks where NO vehicles will be allowed. You’ll have to walk, which is a good thing after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, right?

Here’s the DWP’s news release:

LOS ANGELES — It just wouldn’t be the holidays in Los Angeles without the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) annual Holiday Light Festival in Griffith Park. A beloved tradition that is free of charge and open to all, Angelenos from across the city are invited to come view more than one million energy-efficient LED lights in festive displays showcasing the uniqueness of the City of Los Angeles.

The schedule for the 14th annual Holiday Light Festival is as follows:


To: Media. Re: Tiger. "Stop It. It’s not news. Not yet. Maybe never."

Are you as disturbed as I am about the feeding frenzy over Tiger Woods’ car accident this weekend? The LA Times and the NY Times are both engaging in it, when they should leave it to the National Enquirer and TMZ.

Check out the LA Times:

But (Tiger’s) image, and with it one of the sporting world's premium brands, was under threat Sunday as the mystery surrounding his one-car accident, just a few steps from his Florida mansion on Friday, deepened and as he continued to refuse to talk to authorities.

“Under threat” from whom? From you! No sponsor is going to drop him for running over a hydrant and getting hurt, and that’s all we know about it so far. He’s a zillion dollar property, and they won’t drop him unless he steals the space shuttle. I can’t imagine which golf fan is going to stop loving Tiger because he ran over a hydrant. The only constituency he might have angered by doing that is firefighters.


El Secreto del Gringo Mariachi, Mateo Stoneman

Remember Mateo Stoneman, the white mariachi with the voice of an angel, who made his Off-Ramp debut back in March 2008?

Well, guess where he learned to sing so beautifully in Spanish and play guitar? In maximum security prison!

For her LA Times profile, which ran Sunday, reporter Nicole Santa Cruz did what I never even thought of doing: a criminal background check. (I usually only do that for candidates and politicians.)

I’ve reposted Mateo’s original Off-Ramp interview, along with a song he recorded for us, the original “Frenesi.” After he gets back from recording his album in Cuba, he’ll join us on the December 12 Off-Ramp to tell us what led him to prison.


Charles Phoenix and America’s Leftovers

Off-Ramp contributor Charles Phoenix is a treasure.

Somehow, Charles manages to promote kitsch without being kitschy; he is retro without being annoying; he loves local history without being whiney about progress. His schtick, if you think about it – showing other people’s slides, explaining the rituals of the 1950s-1970s – is to take leftovers (of culture) and turn them into delectable treats that don’t make you bilious.

Check out his webpage God Bless Americana, listen to him give Off-Ramp a tour of Whittier Blvd, or watch him in action with his new best friend, Martha Stewart, who finally seems to “get” Charles.

Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp!


Reasons to be Cheerful, from Michael Sigman

My friend Michael Sigman honored us by asking for “best of Off-Ramp” nominations for his series of “Reasons to be Cheerful” on his Huffington Post Blog.

You’ll have to go there to read mine – if I even made the final cut -- but I loved that he included Off-Ramp star Mateo Stoneman.

Michael writes:

“This thirty-something blond white guy from New Hampshire -- nee Matthew Stoneman -- sings hundreds of classic mariachis and scores of his own tunes with the voice of an angel. His guitar playing is trance-like, and if there's a piano around he might play his trumpet with his right hand and the keyboard with his left. You can find him doing his troubadour thing all over L.A.'s East Side or hear him on his CD 12 Canciones, which has sold more than 40,000 copies on the web and in the streets and restaurants of L.A. and Havana, where Mateo records and plays with members of the Buena Vista Social Club and other stalwarts.”