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

Why e-mail blasts are a ripoff

I think some people are getting ripped off when they hire a service to solicit business through them via e-mail blasts. Take this e-mail I received Friday, reproduced verbatim below. I wrote back to Eric, telling him his prices look fair, but ... I live in Los Angeles.

Snow Removal

Thanks so much for allowing us to give you this great opportunity to take advantage of our low snow removal rates. Below is our time & material costs for Snow Removal Services this Winter.

I also wanted to tell you a little about who we are and how we operate.

I've personally been providing snow removal services since 1963. We are committed to maintaining the price levels that we have had for the past 10 years. We also never charge travel time as some of our competitors do. We utilize approximately 500 snow plow trucks, 330 sidewalk shovelers, 59 salt/sand trucks, 52 skid steers, 28 loaders and 24 dump trucks/dump trailers.


Junk ... or Art?

If there's a label on it, does that make it art? And who is Suzanne Ferreira and why is she dumping her art on my sidewalk? Leave your comments below.

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


Lou Dobbs Leaves CNN; Editing Paris Review a “Lifelong Dream.”

When the news came the other day that Peter Gourevitch was leaving the esteemed Paris Review, we thought nothing of it. Now, with Lou Dobbs' surprise exit from CNN , it all seems as clear as a George Plimpton essay.

Just read Dobb’s farewell speech:

"Over the past six months, it's become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us," Dobbs said early in the program. "Some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving, as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day, and to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible."

How could it be clearer?! He said he’s being urged to “go beyond” and “engage in constructive problem solving.” What would be more likely to lead to international rapprochement of the big issues of the day – of the millennium – than for him to take the reins of the world's -- and perhaps the universe's -- premiere intellectual journal? And what language is more "honest and direct" than French?! When they say "non," they mean it, and heck, the French didn't even have a "w" until about twenty years ago.


A Few Veterans Day Photos from John Rabe

A few years ago, some folks remade what had been a nasty little triangle at Cypress and Pepper in Cypress Park, my neighborhood, into a beautiful little park dedicated to MIA’s. The flag – US and MIA – are kept flying and of course are at half-staff right now after the shootings at Fort Hood.

The park is always clean of trash, the flowerbeds weeded, and memorials placed and cared for.

Ever read “Peanuts” around Veterans Day and wonder who Bill Mauldin was? Mauldin was a cartoonist who portrayed the lives of the infantry in this book.

Mauldin won some enemies among the brass for his candid observations, but he won a million fans among the fighting men and women.

My copy of Up Front (a first edition) was owned by one Thomas M. Williams of Fletcher Avenue in South Pasadena. If anyone know who this was, please leave a note in the comments section below.


The Rockin’ Rock Inn – An Oasis Just An Hour (or so) Away

Some people at Sunday’s birthday party – who have lived in Los Angeles all their lives – had never been to the Rock Inn, let alone Lake Hughes. So I feel better that it’s only taken me about ten years to find it.

Lake Hughes is on the northern edge of the Angeles National Forest, about midway between the 5 and the 14. The air is clear and – for you transplants from the Midwest and Northeast -- the leaves are turning.

There’s a lot of indoor and outdoor space, a full bar and full menu (Wednesday’s food special is all you can eat spaghetti, served by the Lakes Town Council, and dancing and live music Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The address is 17539 Elizabeth Lake Rd Lake Hughes, CA 93532

Many of the customers are bikers – it’s a beautiful drive/ride – but it’s a pretty mixed crowd. Sunday it included a bunch of workers from The Painted Turtle, one of the Adler+Newman camps for seriously ill children, celebrating after a long week. The handsome young man who came over to our table to say hello explained that people are always saying “no” to these kids, and when they come to the camp, they get to hear “yes.”