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November 13, 1987|JACK JONES | From Staff and Wire Reports

When a stranger placed a package on a decorative rock in front of Parker Center and then walked hurriedly to a car parked in a red zone Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Mark J. Savalla wanted to know what he was up to.

The man denied the package was his. So Savalla, 41, pulled his service revolver and arrested him.

The LAPD bomb squad came outside and blew up the package with a small charge. It turned out to be a jacket wrapped around some old clothes and a new California license plate.

The man was reluctant to give his name to a reporter, but indicated he was angry because his car had been towed earlier in the day.

Lt. Dan Cooke, police spokesman, said the man would be held "until we can figure this whole thing out." On what charge?

"Putting a suspicious package on a rock," Cooke said.

Not surprisingly, the conversation turned to machismo a couple of nights ago at an Irish restaurant on Fairfax Avenue as local members of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Assn. met to celebrate the 212th birthday of the Corps.

Don Coleman, a Vietnam veteran and national president of the correspondents organization, cited no less than the retired commandant, Gen. P. X. Kelley, as authority for the story of a young marine who found a rattlesnake beneath his Jeep on a Southland base and grabbed it.

The snake bit him on the hand. The angered private bit off the reptile's head--only to be bitten on the mouth.

The marine recovered, but the snake didn't.

"I heard of some stupid stuff before," Coleman said, "but nothing quite like that."

As accustomed as he must be to hoopla promotions and press agent stunts, it still came as something of a surprise to Bill Welsh, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, that 50 young women in bikinis plan to form a star at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street on Nov. 23, then go along the boulevard cleaning off those celebrity stars embedded in the sidewalk.

"That's a hell of an idea, though," he said.

It wasn't that Welsh hadn't heard about something called the American Dream Festival, in which the ladies will be competing to appear on a calendar. He just didn't know about the sidewalk cleaning or that he and Johnny Grant, honorary mayor of Hollywood, are expected to host a poolside party for the contestants at the Hollywood Roosevelt.

"I suppose I'll be there," he said matter-of-factly.

Los Angeles County's transportation problems, as anyone but a total recluse knows, are not easily solved. Not, at least, since the old Red Car rail lines were ripped up years ago for reasons blurred by time and official explanations.

There will be a rare attempt to thrash it all out at the top when the boards of Southern California Rapid Transit District and the County Transportation Commission hold a joint meeting on Nov. 23 in the County Board of Supervisors hearing room at the Civic Center.

The aim is to get some agreement between two bodies frequently at each others' throats.

First, however, Transportation Commission aides must wrestle with the fundamental problem of who gets the prime seating on a dais designed for five supervisors. The 11-member commission itself includes all of those supervisors plus Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and two Los Angeles City Council members.

The RTD board, which also has 11 members, includes other important government figures from cities and entities around the county.

No one has yet figured out who is going to sit in the five big-cushion seats and who is going to sit below them. Or who is going to wield the gavel.

"I'm glad I'm not planning it," said County Supervisor Ed Edelman.

Jim Purol--alias Jim Mouth--and his rock band, Atlantis, performed under water in the Los Angeles Swim Stadium on Thursday as advertised. Some photographers went under the surface to capture the event on film while the "music" issued from speakers set up on the pool deck.

"I was surprised," said Richard Godino, regional city aquatic director. "I didn't think it would sound that good."

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