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

Ahmad Jamal In LA Next Weekend! Go!

This man's piano playing will scramble your brains, add colors, lights, herbs and spices, and feed them back to you through your ears.

Ahmad Jamal is one of the undisputed great jazz pianists. He is nearing eighty. Don't put off seeing him play. A few years ago, he was coming to LA fairly regularly, playing at the Jazz Bakery and Catalina's, but lately he's been doing concert venues, not clubs, and NOT in SoCal.

But I checked his website at random today and noticed that he's booked for a rare LA gig. It's this coming Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26, at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016.

When I bought my tickets, there seemed to be plenty left. Hope to see you there. My guess is you could dress nicely for this concert with no loss of face.


Great Day in Duarte

My husband Julian and I had a great time in Duarte today, where I served as Ambassador in the Duarte Route 66 Parade and Classic Car Show.

The event was pretty light duty. It involved eating a tasty breakfast at the community center, meeting event organizers and city officials (Congresswoman Judy Chu was there, too), riding in a convertible and waving, then meeting and greeting at the vintage car show and carnival after. Oh, and sending one of the city's worthy citizens into the dunk tank. (Two balls for a dollar; I spent $2.) I left too early to dunk a city councilwoman. Lots of great kids (like the DART volunteers who shepherded us around) and good people.

I met Zac Sunderland, the teen circumnavigator, who was the parade's Grand Marshall, and who posed politely for about two hundred photos -- including this one (by Julian Bermudez) -- and a signed a lot of autographs. His message: "Don't pigeonhole kids; give them an opportunity to live their dreams."


Backstory on Vang Pao

We're learning today that the government is dropping charges against Vang Pao, the Hmong hero who's been under house arrest in Orange County for a long time. Above, he's visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC in 2000. (LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Well, Vang Pao is my former colleague Doualy Xaykaothao's GREAT UNCLE, and she produced a profile for us that we aired on Off-Ramp in 2008. I've pulled it from the archives and hope you'll give it a listen.


The Washington R-Words

The LA Times' Bill Plaschke makes a strong case today that the NFL's Washington Redskins need to change their name because Redskin is in a league with the n-word for offensiveness.

In my experience, the people who truly believe words like "Redskin" (and "squaw") are not offensive didn't grow up among Native Americans, like I did. Back home, in the Upper Peninsula, you wouldn't say either word in an Indian bar, which leads me to propose this compromise: Let Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell go to any bar on any reservation and bandy the word "Redskin" about loud enough for the patrons to hear. If they escape without a beating, they can keep using it. We can have somebody tape the event.

Think they'll go for it?

PS: My high school's teams were the Soo High Blue Devils, with a cool mascot and logo. The hockey team was great, and the football team was awful. The mascot didn't seem to make any difference.


Bragg's Schiller Thriller

I'm proud to say Dinner Party Download kicks butt this week, even if you only listen to the minute or so that British rocker Billy Bragg sings his version of the Ode To Joy. It's very moving.

Also on Off-Ramp this week, Julian Bermudez profiles artist Camille Rose Garcia, Michael Sigman celebrates his father Carl's (What Now My Love, Ebb Tide, It's All In The Game, etc.) centennial, and KPCC's Morning Edition host, Steve Julian, unveils his new play, "Checkpoint."