An Alhambra couple brought a couple of "seeing-eye birds" to the Greater Los Angeles Press Club on Monday, but there was less there than met the eye.
Donna Cahill, a pet store owner, attached a scarlet macaw named Pierre to a harness, which was tied to her own body. The idea was that Pierre would pull the harness to signal her to go right, pull on her shirt to go left, or ring a bell on the harness to signify a stop. The birds are being trained to compete with dogs that are now extensively used by the blind for guidance.
But when she was asked for an actual demonstration, Cahill said that Pierre was still in training and wouldn't be ready to hit the streets for two years. Conceded partner Bob Ashway: "They're smart but probably not as smart as dogs."
In other news about L.A.'s feathered friends, an animal rights organization is urging Thanksgiving revelers to take the turkey out of this week's holiday dinner. Noting that turkeys have sparkling eyes and gentle ways, the Beverly Hills-based Compassion for Animals held a rally at a Sepulveda turkey coop this weekend to suggest that diners try pumpkins stuffed with tofu with their stuffing and cranberry sauce.
An airplane bearing a banner reading "Thanksgiving is Murder for Turkeys" flew overhead as Barbara Premo, who has several pet turkeys, commented, "I think that if people got to know them before they ended up on their dinner plates, they would think twice about wanting to eat them."
One person who won't be eating turkey on Thanksgiving is Melrose Sprague, a Santa Monica receptionist who is fasting for 60 days to raise money for six organizations that support AIDS victims. Instead of the big dinner, she will drink a 300-calorie liquid nutritional supplement, with a cup of hot water and lemon juice for desert.
She's been on the liquid diet diet for 38 days, under a doctor's supervision, and has received $10,000 in pledges so far. Sprague, who weighed 298 pounds when she started the fast, is not telling how much she has lost, but she hopes to lose 60 pounds in 60 days--and raise $100,000. If she doesn't reach that goal, she might go an extra 30 days, she said. The Los Angeles-based Mother Cares Foundation will distribute the money.
Two years ago, the 43-year-old Sprague raised $17,170 for Los Angeles-based Aid for AIDS by losing 35 pounds. She eventually put back on the pounds, but says she hopes to keep it off this time.
Her charitable interest was spurred, she said, while working at the West Hollywood Athletic Club, where she saw many friends die from AIDS.
"I'm tired a lot and I crave something every day," she said.
A liquid diet of another sort got a lot of drivers in trouble over the weekend.
A special Los Angeles Police Department detail set up shop in Pacoima and arrested 149 alleged drunk drivers--including one on a bicycle. The officers set up a mobile police booking unit on Laurel Canyon and Van Nuys boulevards so that officers could get back in the field quicker. As for the bicyclist, Sgt. Mike Patee said, "He was driving down the road weaving, so we arrested him."
TV's "Moonlighting" wise guy Bruce Willis is steeped in domesticity these days. As David Addison in the detective show, he may soon be a father, the result of a fling with his partner Maddie, played by Cybill Shepherd. And this weekend, he got married for real in Las Vegas to actress Demi Moore, who is best known for her role in St. Elmo's Fire. The two will live in the actor's Malibu beach home.