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

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."


Project Runway

At 7pm Pacific, Off-Ramp starts live Tweeting Project Runway at KPCCofframp! If you're in church, heart surgery, or an important business dinner, this is the ideal way to not miss a single moment of the drama. Unless we get distracted, or pause the TiVo for too long, or start arguing and forget to update.

Read what the critics say:

"What's Project Runway? Something Ike cooked up?" (Russell Kirk, author, The Conservative Mind)

"I have an important business dinner. I can't spend time on something like this." (Eli Broad)

"I'm sorry I ever gave him my email address." (Robert E. Lee, Confederate General)

"Make it work." (Tim Gunn, sensible but sensitive Project Runway mentor)


Powderkeg in a Prison

(The photo above, by Ted Soqui, was taken in the gymnasium dormitory of California State Prison at Lancaster for Los Angeles Magazine, which has posted a slideshow with many more of Soqui's striking photos.)

I just posted the unedited version of my Off-Ramp interview with Joe Domanick about his long, fascinating, and frankly depressing Los Angeles Magazine article about the state's prison problem, using the state prison in Lancaster as a microcosm of what's gone wrong and getting worse.

Two things have always stood out to me in reporting on prisons and prisoners in my 27 years as a journalist.

-- First, prisoners and prison officials, if not politicians, agree that incarcerating someone is the punishment, and further punishment for the original crime is not supposed to happen behind bars. That is to say, experts agree that prison rape, bad health care, and crowding are not acceptable inside prison, no matter how bad the crime.


The Parrots of Cypress Park

The famous mysterious Arroyo Parrots cycle through Cypress Park every few months. They love the berries on the tree in front of my house. Here's one of them.