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


News release sent today:

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today reminded Californians that collecting and eating wild mushrooms can cause serious illness and even death.

In California, eating wild mushrooms has caused multiple illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. According to the California Poison Control System (CPCS), 894 cases of mushroom ingestion were reported statewide in 2008. Among those cases:

• 499 were children under six years of age and usually involved eating a small amount of a mushroom the child found growing in a backyard;
• 358 individuals were treated at a health care facility;
• 72 had a moderate health effect, such as diarrhea severe enough to require intravenous fluids;
• 17 were admitted to the intensive care unit;
• Five had a major health outcome, such as liver failure leading to coma, liver transplant or renal failure requiring dialysis;
• One died.


John Rabe’s Long Weekend in West Texas

I spent the weekend in the border area between the Hill Country and West Texas, at a ranch in a little town called Segovia, and in San Antonio … Mostly eating, looking at the pecan trees and a nearby river, and hanging out with family. (The place belongs to my sister-in-law’s sister and brother-in-law.)
Tuesday, before they dropped me at the San Antonio airport (where security allowed me to pass through with a whole can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and chiles), we stopped at the historic Menger Bar, where Teddy Roosevelt convened his Rough Riders. I was obviously musing on that chapter of history when my brother Karl took this shot.

Here’s a common sign in Texas – this one tacked to a parking garage.

And here’s a little video from the banks of the river that runs behind the ranch house; it's a spoof on David Attenborough.


LA Public Library Photo Game

It’s time to play our favorite game. It’s called, “Go to the LA Public Library Photo Archive and type in a random word.

Today’s word is HIKE.

The first hit is really breathtaking.

Here’s the caption, a masterpiece of understatement:

Gypsy Boots, well-known nature athlete, threatens Miss Bale (left) and Miss London with rock in the head to call attention to his 59th birthday party tomorrow. Mr. Boots will hold annual physical fitness hike to Mt. Hollywood from Ferndell Griffith Park. Photo dated: August 18, 1970. (Leonard R Ashmore/LAPL/Herald-Examiner)

The second photo is just interesting.

The all-night Hollywood Ranch Market sidewalk lunch counter on Vine Street is one of many places revolting against the hike in coffee prices. This place reduced its price from 10 cents to 5 cents per cup. Celebrating with steaming mugs beneath the sign are, left to right: Richard Wilson, jazz musician-composer; night manager Roy McCully; co-owner Larry Frederick; writer Roger Fair; and newsboy Eddie Levin, on February 2, 1954. (LAPL)


RIP, Soupy Sales

My dad, Bill Rabe, knew Soupy Sales, who died Thursday, from their days in Detroit together. I was too young to remember much of him on TV, so my strongest memory is from a family trip to New York.

Soupy was working then at WNBC-Radio, hosting an ill-fated show. My family was at a diner, and my dad must have called Soupy and asked him to stop by, because all of a sudden there he was, with that huge smile and the amazing hair. He also brought a couple headshots, which he signed for me and my brother. I can’t find mine (it’s in a box somewhere) but James was kind enough to scan his and send it over.

RIP, Soupy. Thanks for having the guts to be crazy on tv.

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


Did ZZ Top Give Cheap Sunglasses to Macedonian Prime Minister?

Our friend Bob Merlis just sent an e-mail with an irresistible subject line.

ZZ Top to Prime Minister of Republic of Macedonia: “We came to throw a great party and make lots of noise..."

That's not something you read everyday. At least I don't.

Find the whole story in

ZZ Top, by the way, is the only major group with the same lineup for the last forty years.

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

Photo: Credit