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Preview: Off-Ramp


Off-Ramp is a lively weekly look at Southern California through the eyes and ears of radio veteran John Rabe. News, arts, home, life... the show covers everything that makes life here exciting, enjoyable, and interesting. More Off-Ramp at


Don't make me stop this car! (The Off-Ramp Finale)

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMT

It all happens in John's car: Tom Petty's keyboardist, Benmont Tench and his Casio get in the back seat to play a very Off-Rampy song ... Queena Kim conducts a creativity masterclass ... Food writer Russ Parsons brings pie ... Charles Phoenix & Chris Nichols on the joys of getting lost in SoCal ... And Mayor Garcetti challenges John to a backgammon game. (PHOTO: On old off-ramp from the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Credit: John Rabe)

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The Penultimate Off-Ramp ... and a naked neutered mummy and the Italians who love him

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 07:00:00 GMT

On the second to last episode: an expert on relics, mummies, crypts, and the way we live with death ... KPCC's Matt Bloom looks at the fungal disease killing LA's ficus trees ... The amazing career of Ruth Batchelor: founder of the LA Film Critics Association and songwriter for Elvis ... Lou Adler on the 50th anniversary the Monterey Pop Music Festival ... And Off-Ramp's last producer remembers the first time ever he heard our show. (Image: John Rabe)

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Neil deGrasse Tyson and Grassroots Trans Pride

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 07:00:00 GMT

We sample astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson's talk last weekend at the Aero Theatre, including his top StarTalk guests ... For Trans Pride: punk singer Drew Arriola Sands, whose career took off after she transitioned ... The California African American Museum's "The Evanesced," inspired by a notorious South LA serial killer, celebrates black women's lives. ... Hank Rosenfeld's card to his late father. We'll hear a poignant Father's Day card from contributor Hank Rosenfeld. Hank plays tape of him and his late father – a World War Two vet and shoe store magnate - driving around their hometown, talking about life.

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What color are these Muppets? A little blue.

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 07:00:00 GMT

Brian Henson pays tribute to his dad Jim's bawdier side in "Puppet Up! Uncensored" ... the new book "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone" ... A restaurant where you're served by our robot overlords ... We talk with the dancing homeless Crenshaw Cowboy by his spaceship ... And rescuing The Formosa Cafe, a piece of Hollywood history. (Photo: Cypress Park, June 2017. John Rabe)

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The quaint husband wife business of 1-800-AUTOPSY

Sat, 03 Jun 2017 07:00:00 GMT

When there's something strange in your neighborhood, Vidal and Vicki Herrera might be the closest thing to Ghostbusters you've got... In Redlands there's a circus even PETA would approve of... an exhibit at the Huntington Library looks at Octavia Butler through her own notes and letters she left behind... Taylor Orci guest hosts and she's filled with joy about the whole thing. (Photo: Vidal Herrera)

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An oasis in the Southern California desert: The Institute of Mentalphysics

Sat, 27 May 2017 07:00:00 GMT

A seeker and a famous son build a city in the High Desert: Ding Le Mei and Lloyd Wright's Institute of Mentalphysics ... John rides in the last B-24 ... Jean-Michel Jarre is in town this weekend: go see him. WARNING: This episode has NO Twin Peaks spoilers. (Photo: David Lynch, 2016, by John Rabe)

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Remembering the 'Buddy Rich' of punk, and Tiny Tim's Tin Pan Alley soundtrack

Sat, 20 May 2017 07:00:00 GMT

A new album from the late oddball singer Tiny Tim, who was, among many other things, an astounding musicologist, with a focus on obscure Tin Pan Alley songs. ... A new investigation by NBC4 raises serious questions about possible collusion between the owners of a kids camp and a state agency that oversees toxic sites. ... RIP Keith Mitchell, famous drummer for Mazzy Star, but also the "Buddy Rich of punk rock." (That's him far left in Lynda Burdik photo of The Romans)

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Big Jay McNeely still has sax appeal at 90, and Maestro Kahane says, 'I'm not retiring!'

Sat, 13 May 2017 07:00:00 GMT

In the 1950s, saxophonist Big Jay McNeely (left) - now 90 - got teens so excited city officials banned him from LA for a while. ... We go in-depth with Jeffrey Kahane, about to play his final concerts as musical director of the LA Chamber Orchestra. ... 'Anatomy of Innocence,' new collection of memoirs by people who have been exonerated after being jailed for major crimes. ... In “They Shoot Mexicans, Don’t They?,” cultures and personalities clash as a silent film director tries to make a movie at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

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A deep dive on LA history with a member of local "royalty," a real Californio

Sat, 06 May 2017 07:00:00 GMT

An Angeleno family going back 3 generations here is considered ancient; but Theresa Chavez is a real Californio, dating back to 1771 when her family owned an original rancho ... How many Romanian restaurants can you name? Add Parsnip in Highland Park to the short list ... We say TOMATO, they say TOMATL: Adolfo Guzman Lopez helps us explore Nahuatl. (Photo: LA Public Library Shades of LA Collection)

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Some healing, some scars: the LA Riots, 25 years later

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

We talk with residents, eyewitnesses, about those dark days ... Journalist Joe Domanick tells us how decades of police brutality - including hundreds of police murders of blacks and Latinos - led to the LA Riots, and he assesses how far the LAPD has come ... How former Mayor James Hahn could have been Reginald Denny ... Why one yougn Latina who lived through the LA Riots is still happy to call South LA “home" ... and Peter Sagal tells Off-Ramp about his bizarre chance meeting with Chief Gates. And we hear in-depth from the man who was reluctantly at the center of the riots, the late Rodney King.

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Ride that mutant chicken!

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

It’s an 8-foot chicken with the head of Big Boy, and it’s on San Fernando Road in Glassell Park … staring at you. We track down the artist. ... LA State Historic Park reopens this weekend; was it worth the 3-year wait? Maybe so ... We'll meet one of the people who brought Southwest Native Bird Singing creation stories back from the brink of extinction.

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Ed Asner, Matt Asner, and their autistic kids

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

Ed Asner tells us what his autistic son and grandsons have taught him ... We to go Disney Hall and sample the sound during an actual concert from all the performers’ perspectives. Surprise: the people with the best seats … are in the audience. ... Meet Carol Downer of Eagle Rock, a pioneering abortion rights activist who championed a less invasive abortion procedure that could be performed at home, by the woman’s friends ... We hear a tribute to a man who had it made, and gave it all up: writer Roy Battocchio.

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California's Gold cameraman opens up about working with Huell Howser

Sat, 08 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

Local jazz legend Barbara Morrison celebrates the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, and gives a master class in scatting ... The band That Dog influenced bands like Weezer, so how come you haven't heard of them? That Dog's “Retreat From the Sun” turns 20 this year. ... We’ll ride the elevator with LA’s last elevator operator, Ruben Pardo ... and we’ll visit Wondercon with KPCC’s Mike Roe to talk with one of the guys who did special effects for “Logan.”

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No April Fools in this show. Just real good stuff.

Sat, 01 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

A veteran driver walks us through next week's Long Beach Grand Prix, and gives us his tips and peeves about driving in LA. ... A first-time film director says he learned a ton about making films working as a valet car parker at a Sunset Strip hotel. ... We go to Parker Center (photo, right), an architecturally significant building tainted by its connection to the bad old days of the LAPD.

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The Awesomeness of Off-Ramp

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 07:00:00 GMT

To remind you why Off-Ramp is unparalleled in bringing you the people, places, and ideas that make Southern California a great place to live, here's a sample of our best pieces from the last year. With your contribution, we can do another year of great radio. Without it, we can't. Please give now!

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Donna Fuller's albums are eBay gold, and her life is an Only in LA story

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 07:00:00 GMT

“No blue skies and no green grass” is animator Genndy Tartakovsky’s rule for "Samurai Jack." He tells us about bringing back the wandering samurai (right) for Adult Swim. ... Meet jazz singer Donna Fuller, a sultry contralto who made two albums that are now eBay gold. ... It would be enough if we went to the shop where they make custom limousines and hearses, but they also make custom hunting trucks Middle East potentates use when they hunt with their falcons.

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The many worlds of George Takei

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 08:00:00 GMT

The remarkable George Takei gets the whole hour. We get an exclusive preview of JANM's new George Takei exhibit, talk with George himself about his life and times and his new role in the Sondheim musical “Pacific Overtures,” hear from "To Be Takei's" director that George is NOT a performer at heart (WTF?!), and hear George and John Rabe sing. Maybe. If there's time.

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Angels Flight to fly again?

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Angels Flight to be back by Labor Day ... Back when cops weren’t supposed to smoke in uniform, and when a stolen car might be traced by the make of its battery or speedometer ... A Hammer show on an artist overshadowed by Pollack, De Kooning, and Rothko. (Photo: LA Public Library's Security Pacific National Bank Collection)

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Two cool new podcasts: Missing Richard Simmons and The Competition

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Granted, the homeless make it hard to run a business near downtown LA’s Skid Row. But one man’s solution is raising eyebrows: spraying water on the sidewalk overnight. ... One of the local pianists in The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is already famous as the Video Game Pianist on YouTube. ... Richard Simmons has gone from being the most accessible celebrity in LA to gone. A new podcast “Missing Richard Simmons" asks what happened. ... And we visit Beth Goodnight -- self-proclaimed "mad scientist" of set building -- to see the last of her Oscar sets before they’re sent off for this weekend’s show.

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Art, donuts, Cheech, La Santa Cecilia, and a cool new bar.

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Director Ava DuVernay on her new documentary about the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which banned slavery ... Backstage with La Santa Cecilia, a Grammy-winning L.A. band that tells modern stories with traditional music ... Frank Romero — interviewed by Cheech Marin — finally has his first major museum retrospective ... Another date that "lives in infamy:” when FDR ordered the imprisonment of 120-thousand Japanese-Americans 75 years ago this weekend ... Girl at the White Horse, a brand new cocktail bar at Sunset and Western, owned by the son of the Shah of Iran’s social secretary.

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Saving sea lions, and listening to jazz at The Blue Whale

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

We spend a day with the California Wildlife Center in Malibu, which rescues all kinds of animals, but this time of year helps the growing number of sea lions that strand themselves on the beach ... Marc Haefele applauds a new program that has LACMA putting on exhibits in other museums around the Southland ... The Blue Whale, now one of Southern California’s hippest spots for live jazz ... How to celebrate Valentine’s Day without paying a fortune for a fixed-price meal.

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Who was Oscar Levant? Even Homer Simpson knows

Sat, 04 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

The voice of Homer Simpson, Dan Castellaneta (RIGHT), is also a serious writer and his new play explores the inner life of one of the last century’s most intriguing talents: Oscar Levant. ... Off-Ramp commentator Dylan Brody has finally -- FINALLY -- sold one of his comedy specials. ... And we’ll take you to a tiny thrift store that’s been supporting the work of the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic for almost 20 years.

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From a warehouse in Compton to the tallest restaurant in the West ...

Sat, 28 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

You want an Only-in-LA story? Try this: a 78-year old Japanese-Brazilian-American artist (right) who works in Compton, was Marlon Brando's gardener, and got his first big break at the Hammer Museum last year. ... How would you feel about living in a murder house? It's in Silver Lake, and we talk to the tenants. ... We ride the elevator 71 floors to talk with the owner and chef of the tallest restaurant in the West. Take a virtual tour inside Elizabeth Taylor’s home with photographer Catherine Opie, who got exclusive access to 700 Nimes Road.

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The Day After, in LA and DC

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

On the day after the Trump Inauguration, we go live to Washington DC and downtown LA to talk with participants in the two planned marches ... We’ll watch "Hidden Figures" with a woman and her mom … who happens to have been a NASA contractor. ... We get another Do It Yourself film festival from critic Tim Cogshell. This one includes "Live Nude Girls," "Living Out Loud," and "The Quick and the Dead."

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Goodbye to the Pink Lady and The Formosa; hello 8-Bit music and Joshua Tree

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Lynne Westmore Bloom died last week. In 1966, her giant pink naked lady appeared over the Malibu Canyon tunnel, delighting many, and pissing off local officials. ... Sanden Totten, of science podcast Brains On, takes us to Joshua Tree and explains how its shrubs, animals, and Joshua Trees survive. ... The Formosa Café just closed, so we'll talk about its role as a creative shorthand for evoking the glamour of Old Hollywood. ... 8-Bit music, the sound of old school video games, is s now a genre for musicians who like its simplicity and the era it evokes. We’ll tell you about an 8-bit music festival happening this weekend in LA.

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Pastrami navelgazing at Langer's Deli, and a broadside aimed at hipster chefs

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Marc Haefele considers "Breaking News" at the Getty Center, which shows how broken newsgathering has often been; In "Broke," KPCC's Rina Palta and Priska Neely look at California's growing homeless problem; Taylor Orci talks pastrami and deli menus with Norm Langer; and Gustavo Arellano tells hipster chefs to look away from Mexico for inspiration in 2017.

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Celebrate the New Year by celebrating Off-Ramp!

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

It's the Off-Ramp 10th anniversary special: Off-Ramp Live. Harbor Party, Musker&Clements, David Whitfield, Rico Gagliano, Chris Redd, and much more, live onstage in downtown LA.

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Not your grandparents' A Christmas Carol

Sat, 24 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

A Christmas Carol Redux brings together all the good, bad, fun, and thoughtful aspects of Dickens' classic tale of redemption, which also almost singlehandedly created the modern Christmas holiday.

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Saving Lytton Savings and Remembering Alan Thicke

Sat, 17 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

We go to the Sunset Strip to see how activists are trying to save from demolition Lytton Savings, a beautiful Mid-Century Modern representation of the California Dream ... Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Ave, Baldwin Lake, Lucky Baldwin’s Pub -- so who was Baldwin? ... We check back in with the 77-year old woman who finds herself homeless for the holidays for the first time in her life ... And Rachel Bloom joins our annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas” with Salman Rushdie, Larry Mantle, Kathleen Turner, and NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.

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Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Christmas Elf Agin

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

Griffith Park is beloved and turns 120 Dec. 16, but its namesake was an alcoholic, murderous misanthrope who thought the pope was plotting against him ... A woman who's found herself homeless for the first time, at 77 ... If you love classical music on the radio, but hate stodgy, bad news. Rich Capparela, is semi-retiring ... With SantaCon coming to town, we get the lowdown on the big guy from an elf.

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Why you would have hated drinking cocktails in 1966

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

LACMA marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a huge show, but leaves out one important fact: Martin Luther was a horrible anti-Semite ... The LA Zoo marks its 50th birthday with a 1966 cocktail party. Rabe and the way cool Toronado (R) also debuted in 1966 ... We’ll take you to a racetrack where the cars do thousand-foot laps in 17-seconds, cost 4-thousand dollars, and are as big as a shoebox ... We go to Newport Beach to see possibly the most awesome Christmas light display you’ll ever see. There will be penguins.

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The seeker and the son ... the Institute of Mentalphysics in the High Desert

Sat, 26 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMT

The Institute of Mental Physics, founded near Joshua Tree as a sort of utopian society, happens to be the largest single collection of buildings designed by architect Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright. ... There have been many exhibits of Roy Lichtenstein’s work. But our critic says The Skirball Center’s new show stands out because it pairs the pop artist’s work with the comic book illustrations that inspired it, and they deserve the share the spotlight.

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How caregivers cope on Thanksgiving

Sat, 19 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMT

Prepare to drool as Mario Batali gives us his Thanksgiving making turkey porchetta recipe ... We meet a woman who’ll spend Thanksgiving organizing dinner for her huge family, taking care of her elderly parents, and being the caregiver for a 91-year old woman ... Rosalie Atkinson explains how the late Leon Russell’s music helped her meet her mom ... The Friends of the Rockhaven Sanitarium in Glendale are celebrating after the city council approved their preferred plan to preserve the historic site.

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Some election, but mostly NOT election

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMT

Pasadena's annual Doo Dah Parade is an artsy, easygoing alternative to the Rose Parade ... California’s coast stretches 840 miles, and has never been captured in one art exhibit, until now ... The LA Ladies Arm Wrestling Fall Brawl ... Comedian Danny Lobell tells us how a tortoise named Mr Tennebaum helped him learn to love living in LA.

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Rhode Island Stuffies and Funeral Potatoes -- Mario Batali's Big American Cookbook

Sat, 05 Nov 2016 07:00:00 GMT

Chef Mario Batali talks with us about his shoes, his White House dinner, and his newest cookbook ... Chicano art champion Cheech Marin on his newest traveling exhibit: Papel Chicano Dos ... We'll talk with the last surviving proposed cabinet member of the most unlikely Presidential candidate: Dizzy Gillespie ... And meet the creators of Toothpix, who took the underutilized video feature on Yelp! and have been making 12-second restaurant review masterpieces.

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For Halloween, scary stories you've never heard: A spooktacular Off-Ramp

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

This week, Off-Ramp finds out what’s under the bed when the lights go off. We're bringing back a KPCC In Person event from last year, where we read stories from "In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe," a collection of great old under-appreciated horror stories.

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Dark Shadows, LA in Legos, and Voting is like Getting Married?

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

“Dark Shadows” fans, cast, and crew are celebrating its 50th birthday next week in Hollywood. We mark the anniversary by bringing in one of the original stars, and one of the original fans. ... When LAPD officer Jorge Parra isn’t walking the beat in LA, he’s still thinking about the city’s streets and buildings. He’s spent years building a 72-square-foot model of LA, out of Legos, in his kitchen. ... We’ll tell you what researchers discovered about the best way to increase voter turnout: voters need to make a simple plan, tell someone about it, and then think what their neighbors will say if they don’t go to the polls.

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Can Chris Thile save Prairie Home Companion?

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

John talks with 35-year old Chris Thile, who takes over as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion this weekend and hopes to bring in a younger audience, without scaring off older listeners. ... Anthony Hernandez: taking pictures for almost 50 years: Downtown LA in the ‘70s, Rodeo Drive in the ‘80s, the homeless in the ‘90s. ... For KPCC's Voter Game Plan, Meghan McCarty tells us how she’s helping voters understand the complex Measure R transportation tax. ... Meet an Armenian-Syrian college student from Damascus juggling a full time job, night school, and the torture of knowing what his family is going through back home.

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A hairy tarantula, a giant monster, and traditional Samoan tattoos

Sat, 08 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

KPCC photog Maya Sugarman lets a king snake slither around her neck, and John lets a reasonably friendly tarantula crawl up his arm ... It’s done by hand, is quite painful, and is very expensive. We'll take you to a Garden Grove shop that is one of the few places in the US approved by one of the ruling Samoan tattoo families ... John brings in pop culture experts to evaluate the new Godzilla reboot, "Shin Godzilla," which sets the Godzilla story in modern-day Japan .... The story of Bobbi Bratt, a punk rocker from Southern California whose life was cut short by cancer almost thirty years ago.

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Off-Ramp Live!

Sat, 01 Oct 2016 19:00:00 GMT

Off-Ramp celebrates 10 years on the air with show recorded before a live audience at the LA Theater Center in Downtown LA - Disney directors, yacht rock, and DPD's Rico Gagliano!

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