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

Old Myth and Cliches Live On In LA Weekly Story on Escalante Killing

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

I don’t know if there’s anything else wrong in Christine Pelisek’s LA Weekly article about the killing of LA County Sheriff’s deputy Abel Escalante, but she perpetuates one probable myth.

She retells how a poor lost family wound up tragic victims of a street gang. The infamous story made international headlines in the 1990s -- leading to many raised eyebrows when I moved to Cypress Park years ago -- but nobody picked up on the follow-up that refutes the myth.

Pelisek writes, “Escalante’s slaying in the summer of 2008 rattled gang-scarred Cypress Park, a working-class neighborhood a couple of miles northeast of downtown. Nestled next to Highland Park and Glassell Park, in the shadow of isolated and upscale Mount Washington, the area has earned dark headlines for Los Angeles before. In 1995, Avenues members opened fire on a lost family that had made a wrong turn into their gang-infested alley. They killed 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen, a toddler inside the family car.”


Do Not Read This If You Hate Big Scary Hairy Spiders

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

This afternoon, I got this email from my husband Julian:

“Guess who’s back?!”

Attached was this picture:

He’s referring to the much larger spider that showed up on our front porch after a deluge. Please don’t watch the video below if you hate spiders … or like action or drama. It simply shows me transporting the spider from our house to a tree in a nearby vacant lot. Of course, I carrry the spider IN MY MOUTH.


Perspective on Southern California Rainstorm

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

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.


Mt Washington 710 Tunnel For Real?

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

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.