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

It didn’t work.

So I’m driving into work and I see this sign on the MTA bus in front of me.

It’s a good message, and one I agree with. So I immediately take out the soap and water and start washing my hands, to prevent the spread of flu.

All of a sudden, the bus stops unexpectedly for a red light or a pedestrian or something.

I slam into the back of the bus, and get a ticket. I go to traffic court, and sit next to a guy who’s coughing and sneezing, and … I got the flu.

Magic Number: TYE5UVH8S6BW


TMZ pays Rabe cool million for another JFK photo, then takes it back

By now, you’ve probably seen that TMZ, the celebrity gotcha site, got gotcha’d itself with a JFK photo that turned out to not be a JFK photo, especially since it was taken several years after Kennedy was assassinated. TMZ’s own experts failed to realize it was a photo from a Playboy shoot.

The hullabaloo about this photo (above) totally scotched my chance to make it big with my own photo of JFK. It doesn’t feature topless babes cavorting with the famed Lothario-in-Chief, but it nevertheless could have changed history, because had I interviewed JFK back in the mid-1990s, as this photo undeniably shows, I could have been the next Pierre Salinger or even Bill Moyers, with my own PBS series, and I’d have a much bigger house.

To make a long story short, TMZ made me return the $1,000,000 cashiers check it sent me for this photo, saying its lawyers had advised them that, “no matter how carefully this photo was vetted, the current air of suspicious (sic) and jealousy would make its publication untenable. However, please keep us in mind for next time.”


Don't make a "Pho pas" at LA's best Vietnamese restaurant

I always forget just how good the coffee they serve in Vietnamese restaurants is (cà phê sua nóng).

First, they put a good dose of sweetened condensed milk in the cup, then they put the filter (which works like a Melitta) over the cup, and then you wait. And wait. The holes in the metal are so small it takes about ten minutes before your cup is ready, and it doesn't help to fiddle with the filter. You just have to wait. But when it's done, it's sweet and strong and rich. In the summer, pour it over ice (cà phê sua dá), but it's too cold for that now.

My favorite place for the coffee, Pho, and vermicelli with egg rolls and bbq pork, is Pho 87 at the northern end of Chinatown (1019 N Broadway 90012). It looks pretty dumpy, but the food is delicious, the service is fast and very friendly, and it's generally filled with all kinds of people, especially kids (teens and twenties) who aren't eating Taco Bell of McDonald's, which always makes me happy. (If you check out that Yelp link, I don't know what "Judy T" is talking about, saying there aren't any Vietnamese in the joint. Maybe she misunderstood and was looking for Viennese people?)


Acres of Books possible future laid out in new report -- time for you to weigh in

The Long Beach Gazette’s Harry Saltzgaver outlines the draft EIR for a project called The Art Exchange, which would replace the late lamented Acres of Books in Long Beach, one of the best book stores in the galaxy*.

“About two-thirds of the Broadway block, between Broadway and Third Street from Long Beach Boulevard to Elm Avenue, would remain a parking lot waiting for future construction. The new building would fill the northwest corner of the block over to the Acres of Books building.”

Harry’s report also includes info about how you can respond to the plan.

*Portland is in a different universe, as we all know.


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!)