CLAY AND THE BEATLES
The sanctimonious uproar over John Lennon's characteristically flip remark that the Beatles are now more popular than Jesus and that Christianity is declining, which resulted in radio stations boycotting Beatles records and politicians seeking to cancel their concerts, is reminiscent of the chauvinistic furor over Cassius Clay's statement that he had no quarrel with those Viet Congs.
This week Clay, who was hounded out of the country by pompous super-patriots, is scheduled to further appeal his draft reclassification. There is, deplorably, every reason to believe that Clay would have already won his appeal if he hadn't popped off on Vietnam. As one Louisville draft board official admitted: "We wanted to grant his appeal, but after what he said what could we do?"
The point here is not whether Clay deserves to be drafted or whether Lennon should have made a retraction, which, in a way, he did, saying: "I wasn't saying whatever they're saying I was saying." The point is that the public, which has been marvelously entertained by the innovative art and mode of Clay and the Beatles, at least owes them the privilege of being the loudmouths they are. Maybe the public does not deserve Clay and the Beatles. So let it watch dazzling Ernie Terrell and thrill to the great sound of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.
A Senate subcommittee was scheduled to hold hearings this week on bills to create a redwood national park. Unless legislation is forthcoming, lumbermen will continue to reduce the forest to picnic tables and rumpus-room paneling. As signs held by park supporters put it: BETTER REDWOOD THAN DEADWOOD.
SEMI-CONTINENTAL MR. PAGLIARONI
It seems it takes a libel suit to bring out the best in a man. Take Jim Pagliaroni of the Pirates, who is suing Sportswriter Maury Allen and the New York Post for the standard $1 million because Allen wrote that Pagliaroni socked his manager and, according to Pagliaroni's lawyer, Allen further intimated that Pagliaroni was responsible for alleged dissension on the club. To the fan, Pag is just a guy who plays catch for the Pittsburghs and goes 1 for 4, but as his lawyer, James P. McArdle, sees him, Mr. Pagliaroni might have to be reintroduced to his mother.
Says McArdle: "Mr. Pagliaroni spent thousands of dollars to gain the reputation he previously enjoyed as a gentleman who was immaculately groomed and dressed, peaceful both on and off the field, and an astronomer who enjoyed looking at the stars through a telescope which his wife bought him.... Prior to [Allen's] nefarious article, he was known as a peacemaker in baseball. His wife and others say that he has no enemies, because he 'kills them with kindness.' Mr. Pagliaroni has a wardrobe that is described as 'semi-Continental.' ...Manager Walker boosted Mr. Pagliaroni to the clean-up or fifth batting position in the lineup despite the fact that his average was lower than many other Pirate players', and because of his leadership qualities. No manager would do that with a player who punches him and creates dissension on the team. Mr. Pagliaroni is admired by a wide circle of people. Maury Wills, who is plagued by catchers who use every trick to keep him off base, stated recently on a radio program that he respects and talks to only two catchers and Mr. Pagliaroni is one of them. Mr. Pagliaroni has proven ability to get along with temperamental people like Ted Williams, who spent countless hours instructing him in batting techniques.... The team captain, Mr. William Mazeroski, exercises leadership on the field with the fine plays he makes, but otherwise is not very outspoken. Mr. Pagliaroni provides this important function in counseling his teammates and helping them resolve their problems, but is only outspoken in that sense.... He arranged with the Pirate management for the players to be outfitted on the road with matching black jackets and gray slacks, an innovation to establish a well-dressed image and develop pride in their profession...."
As for unkempt, poorly dressed Mr. Allen, whose outfits on the road rarely match, his lawyer is yet to be heard from.
When University of Pittsburgh football players are asked how much they weigh, the reply is, "Underwater or on dry land?" Pitt has a new coach, Dave Hart, who wants a "lean and mean team," so last spring the players were weighed in the deep end of a swimming pool to determine their fat content. The weighing was carried out by Dr. Bruce J. Noble, associate professor of physical education and director of Pitt's Human Energy Research Laboratory. It's not a new stunt. In fact, it goes back to Archimedes yelling "Eureka!" in the bathtub after he discovered the principle of floating bodies.
The players were weighed by attaching a scale to a diving board, hooking one end of a rope to the scale and the other end to the player, who then jumped into the pool wearing skin-diving weights to keep him under. The scale recorded body volume, which was converted to underwater weight by a series of calculations and adjustments for air in the body. By comparing "wet" and "dry" weights, the amount of fat was determined, since fat has the same density as water and is thus weightless underwater.
Halfback Dewey Chester, who weighed 195 dry, had the lowest fat content—3%. In fact, he was described as "nice and dense." At the other extreme was 245-pound (dry) Tackle Bill Myones, who was 21% fat. However, as Dr. Noble pointed out, "You need to have a certain amount of fat for insulation and padding on the balls of the feet, palms and seat." As a result of the weighing and other tests, 50 players were told to lose from two to 32 pounds, and 11 players were ordered to gain from two to nine pounds. But, Dr. Noble admitted, "we're not convinced our information is sacrosanct." And with Pitt's schedule, the players will be lucky if they can keep their heads above water.
MOTHER VS. MOTHER
"Too often man is ungrateful for what Mother Nature has given him. His science and technology poison the air, cut down the forests, erode the soil, make sewers of the rivers. Is a befouled nature the price we have to pay for our modern comforts, our clothes, our means of transportation or even our health...? Are they right who say this is the unavoidable 'overhead' of industrialization?"
Another Sierra Club blast? Not by a dam site. An editorial in the current issue of Soviet Life, a magazine published at Pushkin Square, Moscow. It looks like Mother Russia is giving Mother Nature a bad time, too.
"Why," Soviet Life asks, "in a socialist country whose constitution explicitly says the public interest may not be ignored with impunity, are industry executives permitted to break the laws protecting nature? Why is it...that the public now sounds the alarm, demanding new and stricter measures against industrial pollution of air and water? How is it that, despite our economic planning and our conservation laws, we see the ruinous effects of industrialization...?"
Among other things, Soviet Life blames parochial department and ministry heads along with theoreticians who say: " 'Construction may do nature damage, but our paramount task is to build a communist society. That done, we shall plant forests anew and populate our rivers with fish again. We have no time for such luxuries now.' "
Pointing out how sharp debates in the press led to the cancellation of the Nizhne-Volzhskaya hydropower project and the Ob River dam, Soviet Life concludes: "Public ownership of land, mineral wealth and means of production; economic planning; the scientific distribution of productive forces—we have these advantages. The point is to use them judiciously and efficiently rather than hope that the equities of socialism will set things right eventually."
NOT FOR REAL
The Astroturf in the Astrodome is just the Astrobeginning. For example, the other day Judge Roy Hofheinz found a small, unidentified green object in the Houston outfield, which he said had to be an artificial grasshopper. Ah, good old grass, dirt, wood, even ice, will soon be as obsolete as moleskin. They're even making disposable paper sweat socks.
Artificial grass of all kinds and textures to meet the needs of football, soccer, tennis and golf, as well as baseball, are now being tested. Also in the works is artificial dirt, which is impervious to water, so that it doesn't turn into mud, and is treated so it can't be blown about by the wind and become dust. They're building reversible basketball floors out of lightweight plastic—on the flip side is a grassy surface for tennis—which women's heels can't damage, and "Gym Shoes Only" signs will soon be signs of the past. What's more, you can pour water on the floor and, with a wind machine at each corner, produce three inches of ice without a brine pipe system. The cost: $1 a day to hold the ice, compared to $50 a day at present. That is, if you have no use for plastic ice—which will also be available.
And the competitive swimming pool of the future will be made of lightweight steel and aluminum and will be portable so it can be used indoors in cold weather and outdoors in the warmer months. But, as far as is known, no one has yet devised artificial water.
STRANGERS IN PARADISE
By and large, man has an unreasonable loathing for snakes, although the non-poisonous varieties have at least as good dispositions as bunny rabbits and are a good deal cleaner. Be that as it may, the Hawaiian Tourist Bureau entices visitors to the Islands by bragging that there hasn't been a snake in Hawaii since the Mesozoic era.
Then, two weeks ago, a s-n-a-k-e slithered across a Honolulu highway and was attacked by an incredulous motorist. The snake disappeared into the undergrowth, where a large, fearless band of snake hunters discovered its carcass two hours later. The following night another snake was discovered and set upon by four motorists, who repeatedly ran over it with their cars while four valiant housewives stood by with brooms. The snakes' remains were taken to a quarantine station where the first was identified as a gopher snake and the second as a milk snake—both eminently harmless.
The snakes were front page in the Hawaii papers. Quarantine and agricultural officials were bombarded with hysterical calls and the police were sent on many a wild snake chase. Kenneth Otagaki, chairman of the State Board of Agriculture, warned of the "serious consequences" that could result if snakes were ever established in Hawaii and asked the public to turn informer and report the whereabouts of any snakes kept illegally as pets. As a result of his plea, six snakes were uncovered and Otagaki has a report of a seventh.
Authorities feel that the first two snakes were either smuggled into Hawaii or arrived undetected in containers of cattle or chicken feed from California. The containers are packed in the fields, and the inspection in Honolulu consists merely of opening the container for a quick look-see, the theory being that if any snakes are inside they will remain up front where the air is best.
Honolulu Zoo Director Jack Throp, who has long pushed for legislation permitting snakes at the zoo, sought to calm the populace, emphasizing that snakes are not necessarily harmful and might even benefit Hawaii. "They're better for catching rats than mongooses," he said. "And they're less noisy than dogs."
But William Look, Hawaii's chief quarantine inspector, was unimpressed. "Until the legislature changes the law," he said, "we will do our best to eradicate the snakes." True to his word, Look has intensified the inspection of feed containers, but to date all his men have turned up are one live rat, several clumps of dirt and a new breed of mosquito.
34-2 AND 68-51
The states of Texas and Pennsylvania have lately been fussing over who plays the best football. Well, now we're going to tell you who—Texas. Last week in the third annual game between high school all-star teams from Texas and Pennsylvania, Texas won a laugher, 34-2. As a matter of fact, Pennsylvania doesn't even play the second best. According to the Athletic Institute of Chicago, which based its figures on the high schools attended by players on NFL rosters last season, 68 pros came from Texas, 60 were Californians and 51 hailed from Pennsylvania. While we're at it, Notre Dame supplied the NFL with more players than any other university (22), followed by Michigan State (16) and USC (15).
THE WILD EAST
Noel Evans, who owns an engineering firm, goes under the name of Marshal Jim Slade. His sidekick, Clive St. Leger Gordon-Loveridge, an oil-company supervisor, calls himself Lofty. These gun slingers hang their Stetsons in Manchester, England and are members of a cowboy cult, consisting of western clubs and quick-draw societies, which, according to London's TV Times, is sweeping Britain, Germany and France.
Explains Evans: "Every man is a cowboy at heart. People walk out of a western film feeling 10 feet tall. It makes them feel brave and proud." Evans proudly lives in a western getup, minus six-guns, seven days a week. He even bravely goes to work in it. But then he set up the Lucky Dollar Saloon, complete with poker game and honky-tonk piano player, in a corner of his plant, so he can feel at home. "It takes a lot of courage to wear this gear," he says. "Most people think we're nuts."
A rocky region on the Yorkshire-Derbyshire boundary serves as a first-class substitute for the Badlands. Up in them thar hills Slade, Lofty and other top guns can be as ornery or virtuous as they please while they blaze away.
"We treat the whole business like some men might treat a game of golf or any other form of relaxation," says Evans. "And we play it to rigid safety rules."
What about their French and German rivals? "I'm afraid I can't take them seriously," says Evans. "They're just dudes."
THEY SAID IT
•Jack Nicklaus, asked how he missed an 18-inch putt: "The same way you do."
•Lou Burdette, Angels pitcher, asked about a batted ball which bounced off his leg and into the glove of teammate Joe Adcock: "This wasn't my best assist. I once started a double play with my forehead."