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Golden State. | CALIFORNIA DATELINE / PATT MORRISON

Who's Crying Over Spoiled Milk Carton Gimmick?

October 06, 1998|PATT MORRISON

Milk--it does a body good. But the body politic?

Once a medium for finding missing children, the milk carton is still the missing-man formation for political jokesters. A half-gallon carton, handed out by supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren, declared his Democratic foe Gray Davis "missing,' and printed an 800 number to report any Davis sightings. (The connection: Davis originated the kids-on-milk-carton idea when he was a legislator, and allegedly was not heard from for a long time on the Monica Lewinsky soap opera.)

But the 800 number the Lungren campaign used already belongs to a New York securities firm, and while an 800 call is free to the caller, it costs the owner of the number good money.

So far, says an employee of the securities firm, no question of billing the Lungren campaign for the calls has arisen. But it gets even stranger.

A memo which the Davis campaign considers to be a "rogue memo" written by an over-ardent volunteer declares that the securities firm is going to issue a press release and bill the Lungren campaign for the phone calls--and urges "all Gray supporters" to call that 800 number, "and tell your friends to call!!!" to stick the Lungren campaign with the cost of the calls.

Politics--that's entertainment.

*

Paper trail: An unlikely new entree in Berkeley's political buffet: 62 cartons of documents chronicling the emergence of the Far Right--more than a hundred publications, from anti-abortion and anti-homosexual literature to the Christian Coalition newsletter and chronicles of Central American political intervention of the early 1980s.

Sociologist Sara Diamond began studying the New Right nearly 20 years ago "to understand the nature of the opposition." After writing four books on the subject, she donated her collection to the Bancroft Library in part because it was beginning to get mildewed in her Berkeley home, and in part because she is now turning to a study of spiritual religions.

Thankfully, there'll always be a Berserkeley. Its self-mocking "How Berkeley Can You Be" parade numbered 60 entries, among them nine nudists, the Diverse Dogs of Berkeley, and the butcher knife-carrying members of PETA--People Eatin' Them Animals. Faux fashion cops ruthlessly ticketed parade-watchers for such couture outrages as "Loitering With Clothes On" and "Reckless Coordinating."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

But Keep Looking Both Ways

Pedestrian deaths and injuries are down statewide, from their peak in 1990, according to California Highway Patrol statistics. Officials say the reduction is due largely to increased enforcement of the law that reduced from .10% to .08% the the blood-alcohol level at which a driver is considered drunk.

Here are the numbers of pedestrians killed and injured in California over the last 12 years.

In thousands

1990: 19,423

1997: 15,770

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times

*

All's wall that ends wall:

It's 90 feet tall and 150 feet wide, and it finally has a name. The enormous art installation on a wall of the new secretary of state and state archives building was officially dedicated recently--but without the three artists, and without the title the artists gave it.

The work culls important phrases from the state Constitution, cutting some deep into the stucco wall and raising others prominently. The largest word, "RIGHTS," is etched so that in some light it is invisible, and in others, enormous.

Yet its creators were not invited to the dedication, says one of them, Massachusetts artist Mike Mandel, and the project's working title, "Constitution Wall," was already printed up as its official name.

"We wanted it to be called 'Rights,' " said Mandel, "and not 'Constitution Wall.' That sounded too hokey and like something out of Red China. The secretary of state's office evidently didn't feel we had any rights over 'Rights' at that point."

After some embarrassing newspaper stories, the artists' concerns were addressed. A brass plaque will bear the name they chose, and their names too.

*

One-offs: Cambridge University, already home to the papers of Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton, will also house the archives of physicist/cosmologist Stephen Hawking, thanks to a $12.5-million gift from Intel co-founder Gordon Moore of Santa Clara . . . More than 50 years after Joseph Brimo earned them, three World War II medals were presented to the Redwood City man, a survivor of the Bataan Death March . . . A judge upheld the suspension of an Albany High School student who protested a lack of music and art programs with a rooftop speech . . . The .58-caliber dueling pistol with which California Supreme Court Justice David S. Berry shot and killed political adversary Sen. David C. Broderick in California's last duel in 1859 will be auctioned off next month, along with the matching pistol Broderick used, according to the San Mateo Times.

EXIT LINE

"Am I balding? I'm receding. Big difference."

--State treasurer and GOP Senate candidate Matt Fong, to a Clovis audience. The conservative magazine "National Review" had called him "wonkish, wooden, and balding." (Fong says he doesn't mind the first two adjectives.)

California Dateline appears every other Tuesday.

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