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

PHOTOS: Off-Ramp explores pristine backyard bomb shelter in the Valley

Rabe at blast door of the bomb shelter.
Mae Ryan

Yes we're gonna have a wingding
A summer smoker underground
It's just a dugout that my dad built
In case the reds decide to push the button down
We've got provisions and lots of beer
The key word is survival on the new frontier

The New Frontier, Donald Fagen

Sometimes, producing radio, you look for subtlety and nuance, you carefully weigh the various stories you might do. Not this time.

When my friend, the actor Chris Murray, asked me if I wanted to go into the bomb shelter at his relative’s new home, I said absolutely.

The house is a vintage DuBois ranch home, and it comes with a vintage shelter, lovingly built by the first owner at the height of the Cold War. What makes this one possibly unique in LA is that it’s largely untouched.

As you can see in this photo, many of the original survival items, like paper towels, are still in it. Dig the can of MPF on the right. That stands for Multi-Purpose Food. Mmmm.

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Venice Boardwalk piano player Nathan Pino and his connection to the Church of Satan

Musician, Nathan Pino and his cat Baby Girl play for tips on the Venice boardwalk.
Rebecca Hill/KPCC

While looking into Venice Beach Boardwalk piano player Nathan Pino’s work, we found the musician as a pretty fascinating CV. In 1984, Pino co-founded a campy Satanic goth band called Radio Werewolf with Nikolas Schreck, Evil Wilhelm, and James “Filth” Collord. The controversial band was influenced by Satanism more than by music, and they often conducted theatrical rituals. During that time, Pino struggled with drug abuse and mental illness, causing him to get kicked out of the band early on.

Nikolas Schreck talked about Pino in a 2008 interview by Christophe Lorenz. “Pino, who was Radio Werewolf’s Brian Wilson and Brian Jones rolled into one, was gifted by the same musical genius and talent as those two tortured souls, but he also suffered from the same drug-induced demons of mental illness," said Schreck. "He was too fragile to withstand the spiritual forces Radio Werewolf’s music invoked.”

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Younger, scarier Ray Bradbury in Arkham House

With the possibility of Cliff's Books closing, I've been spending a lot more time perusing the aisles (and sometimes the stacks of books on the floor) at Pasadena's Book Alley. A couple of months ago, I found an out of print Arkham House collection that had a wonderful surprise in its pages -- an early short story by Ray Bradbury.

Before Ray Bradbury was Ray Bradbury, he was a contributor to pulp magazines like Weird Tales and had some of his early short stories published by August Derleth's Arkham House press. In Arkham House's 1946 collection, Who Knocks?: Twenty Masterpieces of the Spectral for the Connoisseur, Bradbury had his short story "The Lake" published alongside the works of H.P. Lovecraft and others. While Bradbury is of course known for his classic Sci-Fi works, some might forget that he also published works in the horror genre. A macabre piece that explores death and time, "The Lake" tells the story of a young boy whose friend disappears in a lake only to resurface years later, dead, but looking the same as she did the day she disappeared.

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PHOTOS: What smells in LA City Hall? In 1941, a cologne fan led to an eavesdropping investigation

LA Public Library/Herald-Examiner collection

Sometimes, I amuse myself by browsing in the LA Public Library’s online photo archive by picking a search term at random and seeing where it takes me. This time, I picked "smell."

Up came this Herald-Examiner photo with the caption: “Councilman Roy Hampton noticed a fan in the room and then found the strange gadget shown above on April 24, 1941. It is a machine which sprays cologne over the room through receptacles in the fan. What the purpose was in making the room smell sweetly is as much of a mystery as the real purpose of the room.”

This led me to another photo:

This photo shows the fan which scented the room of mystery with sweet cologne. On April 24, 1941, the City Council passed a resolution demanding the room be fully investigated by the Federal Grand Jury and the U. S. District Attorney.

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'A Family Like Mine' explores the hardships and blessings of growing up with LGBT parents

Still from 'A Family Like Mine'
Katherine Kearns

Having grown up as the adopted child of a single gay man, Katherine Kearns wondered if there were more families like hers. She didn’t have to go very far to find several children of LGBT couples, and she met many of her subjects through people she knew from school.

In her 22 minute documentary film, A Family Like Mine, Kearns explores her family situation and talks about being raised by LGBT parents with others. At only eighteen years old, Kearns is able to relate with her subjects and brings out vulnerable moments.

Some of the most touching parts of the film come from how these children and couples define family.  “My definition of family isn’t necessarily one that is based in blood but one that is based in love,” says Dennis Duban. He and his husband, Kevin Montgomery, raised a daughter who is now actively fighting for human rights.

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