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

Polish folk musicians Warsaw Village Band and Tecza Puppet Theatre perform

Tim Ferguson/Flickr Creative Commons

Warsaw Village Band

The W.M. Keck Amphitheatre at the Disney Concert Hall gets very Polish this Saturday, with performances from "hard-core folk" musicians Warsaw Village Band and the Tecza Puppet Theatre.

Hailing from the Polish town of Slupsk, Tecza Puppet Theatre dates all the way back to 1946, when it was a traveling family act that got around in a horse-drawn carriage. If that's not enough Polish heritage for you, the Warsaw Village Band performance includes a 17th century Polish instrument called the Suka violin. 

Warsaw Village Band "In the Forest"

The show takes place Saturday at the W.M. Keck Children's Amphitheatre at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. More information at the Music Center's website

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Sheehan's Sketchbook: Claremont's Folk Music Center, unplugged since 1958

Mike Sheehan

A customer checks out a banjo at Claremont's Folk Music Center, open since 1958.

Ellen Chase-Verdries manages the Folk Music Center in Claremont. She's the daughter of Charles and Dorothy Chase, who started it in1958.

Mike Sheehan

Ellen Chase-Verdries manages the Folk Music Center in Claremont. She's the daughter of Charles and Dorothy Chase, who started it in1958.

The Folk Music Center, a Claremont institution for 55 years.

Mike Sheehan

The Folk Music Center, a Claremont institution for 55 years.

Mike Sheehan

Mike Sheehan writes, "When I came in on Sunday afternoon Ellen was playing a really pretty version of 'The Sweetest Gift, a Mother's Smile' behind the counter with a friend. Complete with harmony. That doesn’t happen at Guitar Center." It does happen at The Folk Music Center in Claremont.

Mike Sheehan

Folk Music Center repairman John Roy.


Mike Sheehan sketches Southern California for Off-Ramp. He was the only person who didn't photograph Shuttle Endeavour and took us to a gangster's old hideout that's being turned into a theater in Lake Arrowhead. He sends sketches and this note about his trip to a cultural institution in Claremont.

Hi, Off-Ramp!

I spent last Saturday (and a little of Sunday) at the Folk Music Center in Claremont. I stop there sometimes on my way home to pick up strings or the occasional ukulele ... whether I need something or not.

The place has a long history. Over 50 years now. But it's how it feels now that matters to me. It's a music store that is actually musical. Throughout the day, people wouldn't just come in to pick up repaired instruments or try a new one off the wall. Instead, they play a tune, and someone else adds a little slide accompaniment, and someone else sings.

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Amazing table tennis trick shots captured on video

Josep Antón Velázquez/ITTF

Screen shot from Josep Antón Velázquez's winning video in the STIGA 2013 ITTF Trick Shot Showdown.

This just in from the International Table Tennis Federation: Spain's Josep Antón Velázquez's trick shot has been named the world's best.

The ITTK says more than 80 people submitted videos for the STIGA 2013 ITTF Trick Shot Showdown, which earned 2 million views. (STIGA makes table tennis equipment.)

Here's Velázquez's trick shot:

Table Tennis Trick Shot

Adam Hugh's juggling and behind-the-back shot isn't bad, either.
 
And this unreturnable serve is worth a look, even with the "Eye of the Tiger" theme music.
 
 

 

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What have we learned in the 40 years since the OPEC oil embargo?

In 1974, during the oil embargo, cars in Southern California line up for gas at a Union 76 station.

LAPL/ Security Pacific National Bank Collection

In 1974, during the oil embargo, cars in Southern California line up for gas at a Union 76 station.

Forty years ago, Egypt crossed the Suez Canal to begin a war that killed some 27,000 people and left the nation of Israel fighting for its life. When it was over, after much U.S. support, Israel had won. But the effects of the war are still being felt in America and elsewhere.

The key effect was the first so-called OPEC oil embargo, an act of vengeance aimed at the U.S. and its allies for supporting Israel. Its short-term results were the indignity of gas-station lines, improvised alternate-day rationing and even the banning of Christmas lights (in Oregon).

But in the long run, the embargo did us a lot of good. It helped Americans change the way they thought about petroleum and the automobile.

Since the days of the Model T Ford, most U.S. citizens had assumed that cheap gas was an entitlement, like rain and sunshine. In the '50s and '60s, Americans paid little more for a gallon of gas than did the Okies in the "Grapes of Wrath." 

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There's apparently a Konami Code cheat on this Los Angeles government website

Control Panel LA

Screenshot/Control Panel LA

Screenshot of Control Panel LA with the Konami Easter Egg enabled.

Update 4:45 p.m.: Looks like the Controller's Office took the Easter Egg down and the code no longer works. Ah, well. Fun while it lasted.

A Redditor just discovered a fun easter egg on a web page run by the Los Angeles City Controller's office.

So, quick: go to this page. Using the arrows on your keyboard, type up up, down down, left right, left right, b a, enter. If you do it right, a little white arrow will appear in the top left of the screen. Press the space bar and watch as the arrow shoots lasers and blow up different payroll numbers, webpage elements or even the L.A. city seal. 

The easter egg is activated by the famous Konami Code, a time-honored cheat code first associated with video games created by Japanese video game maker Konami. But it's gone on to make cameos in all kinds of video games, and was even referenced in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph. 

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