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

Perspective on Southern California Rainstorm

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With my roof leaking in my living room and probably my garage (I don’t have the heart to look), and the dogs tracking in mud for the next three days, I was looking for some perspective.

And I found it in the UCLA online photo archive.


This one was published March 25, 1948, with the caption: "Amphibious. Tow truck pushes stalled taxi across water-filled intersection at 5th and Flower Sts. during yesterday's rainstorm. Another taxi, at left, skidded from street into parking lot. Public Library in background."

This happened to me once. I drove my car into a flooded intersection during a downpour in St Paul. It sounds stupid, but unless you know neighborhoods, you don't know how deep an intersection can dip. The car filled with water and stalled. I had the good sense to shift into neutral, jump out the window (leaving the door closed and an extra foot of water OUTside), and push it back to higher ground. It started, luckily, but I spent weeks drying it out.

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Mt Washington 710 Tunnel For Real?

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Walk around bucolic Mt Washington, as we do with the dogs most evenings, and you can’t miss the tunnel petitions posted everywhere. They ask for help fighting a plan to dig a tunnel under Mount Washington to connect the north end of the 710 to the 134/210. I don’t blame citizens here and in other possibly affected areas for being worried.

If you need to get up to speed, Ari Bloomekatz’s latest longer story includes a good summary of the situation, and the Times posted a map of the five zones a tunnel might go through.

Governor Schwarzenegger just vetoed a bill that would have made a tunnel the only option left on the table for resolving the 40+ year debate over “finishing” the 710, but given the history of this project, the tunnel idea isn’t dead.

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Hide the cognac and put your daughters in the cellar! Napoléon is coming!

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Some very cool stuff is coming to Muzeo in Anaheim, starting October 11. (Muzeo bills itself as "Southern California’s newest museum." It’s at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. 92805.) They’re bringing in hundreds of articles with a connection to Napoleon, including personal effects of the infamous Corsican, like, according to Muzeo:

-- the earliest known letter in his hand
-- his camp bed from the Battle of Wagram (Napoleon actually slept here!)
-- the valise that brought him the signed Louisiana Purchase documents from America
-- the sword used to proclaim him Emperor at Notre Dame Cathedral
-- his personal map of the French Empire (with Michelin stars!)
-- the clothes he wore soon before his death
-- the first will he wrote during exile on the desolate island of St. Helena
-- the centerpiece of the exhibit, one of the hats he wore during the Battle of Essling in 1809.

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Luis Van Rooten (1906-1973)

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The other day, I was editing the part of my interview with Ed Asner where he talked about breaking into acting with the radio program "The Eternal Light," a weekly show that presented great scenes and figures of Jewish history. Asner mentioned his awe at being in the same room with actors (and voices!) like Alexander Scourby and Leonard Rose ... and a man I hadn’t heard of, Luis Van Rooten.


Besides his work on "The Eternal Light," Van Rooten was in radio's "The Mysterious Traveler" and the serial "Chandu the Magician," and did broadcasts for the US military in several languages. His film work included playing Himmler in “Hitler’s Madman” and “Operation Eichmann,” among many roles. He narrates this anti-Communist (anti-Soviet, really) propaganda film, produced for Radio Liberty to promote its worldwide operations. It’s rather beautifully made.

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