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

The Tar Pit – Mark Peel, Audrey Saunders, et alia, aim for 1940s supper club feel in new LaBrea bar/restaurant

Mark Peel had a twinkle in his eye when he said, “you want to see the wine cellar?” It was a couple hours into the press preview of his new venture, The Tar Pit, at 609 N. LaBrea. Wine cellars in nice new restaurants are usually classy, with custom-built racks filled with tasty wines you and I will never get to taste. If you had a down vest and a corkscrew, it wouldn’t be too bad to be “accidentally” locked in one overnight. Hence Peel’s twinkle. Ten steps down the hallway, he opens a room that looks like a closet, except for the utilitarian racks on both sides, with room only for a ladder and a mischievous chef.

The tiny wine cellar reflects the philosophy of The Tar Pit. They’re only serving 27 wines -- 12 whites, 13 reds, and two sparklings -- and all bottles cost $38. Peel says in most restaurants, people pick wine from the list by going down the right-hand column, checking the prices. “We take that out of the equation.” So there won’t be any Screaming Eagle or Two Buck Chuck. Instead, the list goes for interesting, like a 2005 Oremus from Hungary … “resurrected after the fall of the Iron Curtain…” and a 2004 Slovenian from Ivan Batic, “the madman of … the Vipava Valley.”


Werner Herzog downtown for LA premiere of his new movie, "My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done?"

The reviews for “My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done?,” the new Werner Herzog picture, haven’t been too hot.

(Michael Shannon, left, and Willem Dafoe. Credit: Lena Herzog.)

But you have to hand it to Herzog – he puts himself out there. When he comes out with a new movie, or they’re showing an old one like Nosferatu, he attends the showings and answers questions from the audience. It’s refreshing to know he cares enough for his fans and films to take the praise or the heat.

Which leads me to my point:

My Son, My Son opens in Los Angeles Friday at the Downtown Independent Theatre, and Herzog will be there. Here’s the news release:

(Los Angeles, CA) -- ABSURDA and Industrial Entertainment are pleased to announce the Los Angeles debut of My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done, executive produced by film icon David Lynch. My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done was directed by renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) who also co-wrote the screenplay. It stars Michael Shannon (Oscar® nominee for Revolutionary Road), Willem Dafoe (Antichrist), Chloë Sevigny (HBO’s Big Love), Udo Kier and Michael Peña among others. The film will open in Los Angeles at The Downtown Independent Theater this Friday, December 18 and will include a special in-person Q & A with Werner Herzog after the 7:00pm show.


New Christmas Torture Method Exposed

This morning, I found this at the “Swap Meet,” where KPCC and Marketplace employees leave stuff that others might want.

Can you read the note? It says:

“On each string, about half of the bulbs work, and the others are dark. You might have some luck experimenting with the spare fuses and bulbs included.”

I know the idea is to be green and not fill up landfills, but in this case, given the chances that anyone who attempts to untangle this mess might then commit murder, I’d buy a new string of lights.

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


Atop City Hall -- The Lindbergh Beacon or Eye of Sauron?

We got a nice mention by Lucinda Michele in her Metblog on Los Angeles.

Lucinda looked up and noticed Thursday night that the beacon atop LA City Hall was lit. (It’s not on all the time.) She gives a brief history of the light, and links to my YouTube video from the top of City Hall.

She also asks for more pics of the actual beacon from the top. I don’t have any, but here’s one of the narrow, steep stairway that leads to the beacon.

And another of Charlie Beck’s new office, taken from the top of City Hall.

For more of this kind of fun stuff – plus an interview with Ricky Jay and white mariachi Mateo Stoneman, check out my show Off-Ramp.