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A Man on the Run Finishes Pacific Trail

February 14, 1988|DICK RORABACK

In August, Bob Holtel, 55, a Manhattan Beach teacher, completed the third leg of his 2,581-mile run from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Now he's polishing a book on his exploits--tentatively titled "Running Wild"--in between 10K races, 50Ks and marathons.

As expected, the final leg of the Pacific Crest run, he said last week, was the hardest, 486 miles through the Cascade Mountains from the Oregon-Washington border to British Columbia in 32 days. "It rained one day in three," said Holtel, who traveled "without sleeping bag, tent, pot or stove," only a 10-pound "fanny bag" with a sleeping-bag liner and non-cooked, high-energy foods.

At only seven spots was Holtel reprovisioned by friends ("I told them approximately where I'd be"), but his was hardly a lonely long-distance run. "I encountered 45 rattlesnakes," he said. "You come upon them much faster as a runner, and have to do the splits to leap over 'em." Also met: "10 bears, 1,000 deer, a huge number of elk, three wolverines, 50 marmots, a bald eagle, a couple of cougars. . . ."

"It was incredible," Holtel concluded. "You felt like an early pioneer; one with nature. The splendor! The grandeur! It was a lifetime dream."

Paying Freight on Hollywood History

The defunct Hollywood Museum Associates' vast collection of movie memorabilia is still without a home in Los Angeles. In fact, the collection--costumes, recordings, scripts, film, personal papers--has been homeless now for 25 years.

For 20 years, moreover, a good part of the collection, primarily costumes worn by the likes of Fred Astaire, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Esther Williams, has been stored behind bars at the old Lincoln Heights Jail, because the Recreation and Parks Department hasn't been able to find anyone to take care of it. (Most of the original collection has been on long-term loan to universities, the American Film Institute and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)

"It's been an albatross," said department administrative assistant Linda Barth, in charge of the collection, "and we're now soliciting proposals from groups willing to care for what we have stored. The big problem is the costumes are very, very dirty now. Delicate fabrics tend to decay without conservation. So whomever we lend the items to must care for them, store them, insure them, exhibit at least two costumes, restore at least 10 a year, etc. etc."

The total collection was assembled by the Hollywood Museum Associates, who planned a museum but ended up only with storage debt. The city assumed the debt in exchange for the collection, fully intending to open its own museum. It never happened.

"We have several good proposals," Barth said. "A lot of people are still working on a permanent solution; hopefully, they'll be successful."

His Chocolate Bytes a Tasty Indicator of State of the Computer Business

Even in these parlous times, computer stocks are more volatile than most. Harken, then, to Michael Cahlin, whose Chocolate Leading Indicator has been an uncanny market predictor over the last four years.

In 1984, Cahlin, who runs a marketing agency, was called upon to hype "the world's first chocolate cookbook on a disc." He created the Chocolate Byte, a thin slab of chocolate in the shape of a floppy disc. Local retailers disdained the cookbook, but loved the chocolate.

"The first year we did OK," Cahlin said. "The second year the PC junior failed and we did horribly. The third year, our sales were great and the computer industry rebounded. Each year until 1987 I always thought of it as a pet-rock-type dead-end sort of thing. Then I noticed that I could tell by my pre-orders how the computer business was going to do, retail-wise."

Despite the 508-point drop in the Dow Jones Averages on Black Monday last Oct. 19, Cahlin said for the year "advance orders were 10,000 pieces. I predicted an upswing in computer products and that's exactly what happened!"

Following his own indicator, Cahlin expanded his line: There's now a chocolate computer chip, keyboard and terminal--"an entire chocolate work station." Not so incidentally, there's also a Chocolate Software Co. selling real (non-chocolate) computer products.

But the Chocolate Byte still sells (25,000 this year), even though "the staff is so small it's embarrassing. We take telephone orders by day--(213) 933-4957--and pack 'em long into the night. . . ."

A Valentine's Day variation (the Love Byte) has done splendidly ("All sales through word-of-mouth, no pun intended"), but Cahlin has begun to flag a little. "It's been a lot of fun," he said, "but there's got to be an easier way to pay for my wife's law school."

Tunes for Special Times in Your Life

You've heard it a hundred times, probably even said it: "Listen, Darling--they're playing our song." Now you can say it with a straight face.

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