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Off-Ramp
Off-Ramp with John Rabe Hero Image
(Dan Carino)
Off-Ramp
Exploring Southern California with John Rabe

About the Show

Over 11 years and 570 episodes, John Rabe and Team Off-Ramp scoured SoCal for the people, places, and ideas whose stories needed to be told, and the show became a love-letter to Los Angeles. Now, John is sharing selections from the Off-Ramp vault to help you explore this imperfect paradise.

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Episodes
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    16:06
    16:06
    Jim Tully, hard-boiled detective pioneer, Chaplin's wingman, the first real Hollywood journalist, and maybe the most famous Angeleno you never heard of
    Sheesh. They even got the details wrong on his gravestone! But that's the way it was 80 years ago. People passed in and out of the public consciousness like trains in the distance. And that's the way it was for Jim Tully, who was a household name here in LA in the 1920s and 1930s, then forgotten by the 1940s. The story of this hero-to-zero is told by Off-Ramp's Chris Greenspon, host of the podcast SGV Weekly, the best podcast ever about the San Gabriel Valley. (Subscribe!) Support for this podcast comes from Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    8:01
    8:01
    Meet Julie Gigante, the world's tallest violinist, and Kent Twitchell, who painted her along the Harbor Freeway
    If you drive through downtown LA on the 110, you've seen it ... the huge mural of the classical musicians. Who are they? Who did it? That's the LA Chamber Orchestra, painted by muralist Kent Twitchell. On on this piece from 2012, we hear from the world's tallest violinist, and the painter himself. Support for this podcast comes from Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
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  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    17:48
    17:48
    Songwriter Paul Williams has Only Just Begun to ride the Evergreen Love Boat to the Rainbow Connection ... and not just on Rainy Days and Mondays
    First of all, my songs are basically co-dependent anthems. I write Ouch Mommy Pick Me Up and Love Me songs. -- Composer Paul Williams Yeah, but Paul, they're great songs we can all sing (except maybe "Evergreen," written for Barbra) like "We've Only Just Begun," "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "Rainy Days and Mondays," and "The Rainbow Connection." They make us happy. Heck, "The Love Boat" theme may have been the best part about the show. Paul Williams, a longtime Long Beacher, emceed the Grammy Museum's 2010 Songwriters Hall of Fame concert, so in the past few episodes, we've heard him talking with other musicians about music. Now, he gets to tell his stories and sing his songs. Support for this podcast comes from Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    18:35
    18:35
    Ashford & Simpson play the tunes they wrote ... because There Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
    Next up in our Summer of Song and excerpts from the stage of the Grammy Museum in 2010 is Ashford and Simpson. Valerie Simpson and her late husband Nick Ashford wrote "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," and "I'm Every Woman," among many others. They were awesome to see onstage, with Valerie at the piano vamping grandly as she and Nick told the stories behind their songs. Support for this podcast comes from Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    9:01
    9:01
    Mac Davis sings "In the Ghetto" for you; Rabe sings Davis' "Oh, Lord, It's Hard to Be Humble." You have been warned.
    They told Elvis not to sing "In the Ghetto." "It's too political." "You're a white guy singing about a black kid." Etc. Etc. They were wrong. Who wrote it? Mac Davis, who is Part Two of Off-Ramp's Summer Songwriter Series, as we sample the 2010 inauguration of the Grammy Museum's Songwriter Hall of Fame. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
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  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    9:21
    9:21
    RIP Lamont Dozier, 81, penned “You Can’t Hurry Love," “Heat Wave,” and dozens of others ... and helped put Motown on the map
    Lamont Dozier, the middle of the celebrated Holland-Dozier-Holland team that wrote and produced “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Heat Wave,” and dozens of other hits and helped make Motown an essential record company of the 1960s and beyond, died Monday at age 81. Duke Fakir, a close friend and the last surviving member of the original Four Tops, said, “I like to call Holland-Dozier-Holland ‘tailors of music.' They could take any artist, call them into their office, talk to them, listen to them, and write them a Top Ten song.” From 1963-1967, Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland crafted more than 25 Top Ten songs and mastered the blend of pop and rhythm and blues that allowed the Detroit label, and founder Berry Gordy, to defy boundaries between Black and white music and rival the Beatles on the airwaves. For Off-Ramp, we're listening back to his appearance at the kickoff of the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the Grammy Museum at LA Live in 2010. Songwriter Paul Williams was the emcee for the event. And I have lots more tape from that event, featuring Williams, Ashford and Simpson, Mac Davis, and Hal David. We'll listen to that in coming weeks. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    15:45
    15:45
    This guy played on or produced tons of your favorite songs from the 1970s. Meet Clarence McDonald, the man behind the music
    Whoa. There I was, sitting on the piano bench as he played the hits he was involved in. "I know that song. And that one. I played that one on the radio when I was a DJ!" Because if it was a hit, there's a good chance Clarence McDonald had a couple hands in it - on the keyboard or as producer. James Taylor's "How Sweet It Is," Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze," Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile," Bill Withers' "Lovely Day," The Emotions' "Best of My Love." Plus Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Erykah Badu, The Jackson 5, Barbra Streisand, Aretha ... just read the liner notes and you'll find his name all over the place. Clarence, who passed away last year at the age of 76, was an early guest on Off-Ramp, and I caught him at exactly the right time. He'd had a lung cancer scare, had met the love of his life Susan, and was feeling like he oughta get out of his shell and share some of his knowledge ... gained from luminaries like legendary LA music teacher Alma Hightower and Eubie Blake. I was honored he trusted me with his story. These two interviews debuted in 2009, and there are more to come. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    10:24
    10:24
    Happy 100th Birthday Norman Lear ... He talks America, the First Amendment, the "pursuit of happiness," and his service in a bomber in World War 2
    When I interviewed Norman Lear for Veterans Day in 2019, I asked for dibs on his 100th birthday interview. He immediately agreed, looked skyward, and said, "Hear that God? I've got a commitment!" Then Covid-19 happened. So as Lear turns 100 (on July 27), we'll have to make do with a rerun ... but if anybody should be okay with a rerun, it's Norman Lear, creator of so many groundbreaking TV shows - like "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," and "Maude" -- that helped America confront its demons. But mostly, in this interview done for KPCC's Take Two show, we talked about America, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and its promise of "the pursuit of happiness," and his service on a B-17 bomber in World War 2. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    7:14
    7:14
    Surfridge resident remembers when LAX turned his beachside neighborhood into a ghost town
    Did you you read Caitlin Hernandez's LAist longread about the history of LAX and how to keep it from driving you totally around the bend? This time on Off-Ramp we're digging into one of the most surprising and weirdest aspects of the airport's history ... when the airport created a ghost-town that today resembles what LA will look like a few months after the apocalypse. We'll drive there with author Denise Hamilton, who set a novel there, and a former resident. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    11:57
    11:57
    White officials thought late great sax man Big Jay McNeely was corrupting the youth
    When the Grammy Museum honored Big Jay McNeely in 2017, when he was 90, they said: McNeely is a true original and the last of a generation of blues/R&B musicians who inspired the early rock pioneers, and are still around to remind us where popular music came from. As Off-Ramp jazz correspondent Sean J. O'Connell put it when he interviewed him for the show: "Big Jay McNeely was etched into pop music immortality in 1951. Photographer Bob Willoughby captured McNeely at a concert at Los Angeles's Olympic Auditorium 1951. In the photo, the Watts native is blasting his tenor sax on his back, the camera capturing the raised fists of post-war teenage hysteria seething in undershirts and pompadours at the foot of the stage. From Central Avenue with Charlie Parker and Art Tatum in the 1940s to the R&B circuit of the '50s and '60s, McNeely was there through a roller coaster of musical evolutions and had a good time along the way. His showmanship and soul are both youthful and timeless. He is rock & roll history, alive and well." Big Jay died a year later, but not before our listeners got to hear his story, and now you do, too. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios. Bob Willoughby photo used with permission from his estate.
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