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

Steve Julian puts on his restaurant reviewer hat for new/old Villa Sombrero in Highland Park

(Manuel Salazar, who reopened Villa Sombrero. Credit: Steve Julian)

I have never – ever – had a favorite restaurant reopen as it was. The original Lowenbrau is no more. Algemac’s on San Fernando is reopening as a cofffee shop, but it ain't gonna be the same without the original Googieosity. Alto Palato is dead and mourned by many. And that little sandwich joint in Saint Paul was killed by Subway.

But in Highland Park, un milagro has happened, and we can now officially tell Tom Wolfe to go to hell, and buy a new suit while he's at it.

Steve Julian, our local Morning Edition host, gushes gustatorily about it in the LA Weekly's Squid Ink food section.

Nice work, Steve. I guess it’s time to go back. Alas, I’m allergic to avocado -- but not margaritas.

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


Turn this year's Christmas tree into NEXT year's Christmas tree

LA County just sent out its guidelines for dealing with O Trashenbaum. On Mackinac Island they use old Christmas trees to mark the ice bridge between the Island and Saint Ignace, the closest town on the mainland. Since they don't need buoys between the Port and Catalina, best refer to the news release below.

Holiday Greening is Easy - Recycle your Christmas Tree
Between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than during any other time of year.  This year, help reduce the trash load and take the work out of getting rid of your Christmas tree - recycle it! 
Starting December 26, 2009 through January 16, 2010, residents can recycle their Christmas trees by placing them at curbside on their regular collection day or taking them to a collection site. 
To enjoy the benefits of this special holiday recycling service, residents must remove all ornaments including tinsel, decorations, and metal and plastic tree stands from their trees before placing them at curbside or turning them in at a collection site.  Trees over six feet tall should be cut in half for easier collection. 
Residents who miss the curbside recycling dates can cut their trees into smaller pieces and place them in their green waste container.  The trees collected by residential waste haulers will be recycled into compost, mulch, or ground cover.  This helps preserve our natural resources and reduce waste too.


New York Times blows it on Henry Winkler’s kids book – Hank Zipzer is not “underachieving,” he’s dyslexic.

Except for one thing, Sarah Lyall wrote a strong NYT article about the British theatre’s pantomime tradition.

She mentions all the stars who’ve been glad to perform in these farcical fooleries, from Pamela Anderson to Sir Ian McKellen, with extensive quotes from Henry Winkler. But then she writes of Winkler:

He is also the co-author of the Hank Zipzer series, about an underachieving fourth grader, which has sold about three million copies, he said.

Doh! Hank “underachieves” because he’s got dyslexia, which is the whole point of the series. Winkler co-wrote these fun books (with Lin Oliver) to tell his own story about dealing with dyslexia, and to help kids (and their parents) deal with it.

I would not want to be standing near a fan at the New York Times anytime soon.

By the way, you can buy the Hank Zipzer collection from Amazon, and have part of the proceeds go to KPCC. The books are fun to read and enlightening without being messagy.


Snow-shoveling tips – or, another reason to not use mass e-mail programs

Here’s an e-mail I got today that tickles me. Not because 99% of Off-Ramp listeners won’t be shoveling a single flake of snow this year, but because of schadenfreude. Having spent about 30 years shoveling snow (in Sault Ste Marie, East Lansing, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia), I take pleasure in being reminded that I don’t have to do it anymore.

Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

December PSA—Avoiding Winter Injury: 60 seconds

Every winter, millions of Americans grab their shovels and start digging their way out of the snow and into pain. Shoveling snow improperly can lead to potential spasms, strains, and aches. When shoveling snow, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress suggests the following tips to maintain overall health:

- Always stretch and warm-up before shoveling
- Wear extra layers to maintain muscle warmth and flexibility
- Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions
- Limit the amount of weight lifted per load
- Bend your knees, not your back
- Take frequent breaks to avoid body fatigue