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For a Political Anthem, Maybe It's Best to Just Hum

June 16, 1998|PATT MORRISON

Recall, if you can, the stir in 1984 when a campaigning Ronald Reagan serenely embraced the acid ironies of Bruce Springsteen's working-man song "Born in the USA."

Here we go again. Ex-GOP Rep. Bob Dornan, trying to regain his former seat in Orange County, has put on his Web site a song called "Tubthumping," an angry, working-class anthem by the English Midlands group Chumbawamba.

Dornan evidently likes the refrain, "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down." Oh, but keep listening. The song is a working-man's table-pounding pub anthem. And the band itself, says its publicist, is anarchistic, pro-gay and pro-choice. and Band members have given money to striking dockworkers, shouted out on the Letterman show about freeing a death row prisoner and recorded "Homophobia," an anti-gay-bashing ballad.

Dornan might be better off with the comfortably Republican Frank Sinatra and his lyric: "Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race."

That's Bob.


Barn raising: As art lover and antiquarian, newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst could be as absent-minded as he was acquisitive. He once coveted some objet he saw in a magazine, and sent his buyer on a months-long quest for the item, which ended only when the buyer found that Hearst himself had already bought the thing years before and forgotten that he had.

Hearst bought whole buildings, had them dismantled, shipped and rebuilt. Now the Telegram-Tribune in San Luis Obispo says an English barn built barely 75 years after the Norman Conquest and brought here by Hearst in 1928 could be heading home.

Hearst bought Bradenstoke's priory and the barn that belonged to it, shipped the priory to his Welsh castle and sent the barn on to California. The barn, still in 109 marked and labeled packing crates, was bought in 1960 by Alex Madonna, of Madonna Inn fame, but never reassembled. Now he is talking with the townspeople of Bradenstoke, in Wiltshire, about selling it back. Bradenstoke has named its campaign Return Our Barn--ROB.



Voter Turnout in Primaries

The percentage of registered voters turning out for California primary elections declined sharply after 1976, and since 1982 has not been above 50%.


Date of Primary Turnout June 8, 1976 72.60% June 6, 1978 68.88% June 3, 1980 63.34% June 8, 1982 52.73% June 5, 1984 48.65% June 3, 1986 40.45% June 7, 1988 48.16% June 5, 1990 41.49% June 2, 1992 47.46% June 7, 1994 35.05% March 26, 1996 41.88% June 2, 1998 40.68%


Source: California secretary of state

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times


One-offs: After a duck and three ducklings wandered onto U.S. 101 south of San Francisco, the CHP slowed traffic and herded the flustered fowl to safety until wildlife rescuers arrived . . . The penmanship of Orcutt student Justine Teixeira won her the sixth-grade championship in a national handwriting contest . . . A Fresno woman will stand trial for murder for allegedly taking the wheel so her under-16 son could find and shoot an older teenager . . . A homeless man was arrested in Santa Cruz on felony animal cruelty charges after witnesses said he beat four sea lions with an oar . . . A concerned nurse at a San Bernardino hospital was fired after a newspaper told of her efforts to publicize the fact that a 24-hour crisis emergency help line listed in the phone book had been disconnected, and the same number issued to a sex-talk line . . . Of his new scheduling secretary--a Berkeley grad, lingerie model and former Miss Asian America--San Francisco mayor Willie Brown told the San Francisco Examiner, "Hey, it's the 21st century. . . . We all have interests after our work hours."


"My opinion is you shouldn't send frogs to states where they are nonnative. . . . The frogs could break the food chain."

--Larkspur fourth-grader Katie Johnson, in a letter to a Wisconsin company which inadvertently and illegally shipped African water frog tadpoles to the school. Now students face a dilemma that has stymied their elders: Do they kill the 60 frogs they've raised from tadpoles? Keep them in captivity? Or release them into the wild, where they could ravage the endangered population of native red-legged frogs made famous by Mark Twain's "Jumping Frog" story? Quoted in the San Francisco Examiner.

California Dateline appears every other Tuesday.

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