MOTES AND BEAMS IN ALBANY
This is an article from the Feb. 6, 1967 issue
A few weeks ago, when it appeared that tickets for the New York State lottery might be sold by vending machines, we took exception to the suggestion that the machines should be put in such decorous joints as subway platforms, rather than in bars "where every drunk can operate the machine." Now that the machines are out altogether—the lottery tickets probably will be sold by banks—Governor Rockefeller feels that determining the winners by means of a horse race (or races), as has been proposed, might not be such a seemly idea, either. "I prefer the fishbowl method," he said last week. "You don't get involved with the tracks.... Having an honest lottery that doesn't get involved with corruption is of overriding importance."
Assembly Speaker Anthony J. Travia disagreed. Horse races were O.K. by him. But, he said, "I am reluctant to use harness racing. That would make me feel squeamish. I prefer the flats."
Of course, as far as we know, neither Rockefeller nor Travia breathed a word about abolishing or cleaning up the infamous sports, which last year provided the state with $74,124,441 (flats) and $67,771,137 (trots) in tainted money.
May we suggest an alternative that strikes us as being incorruptible? Why not base the winning tickets on the figures of the vote for such offices as governor and assemblyman?
A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU
Forty million Frenchmen can't be wrong. Ah, but last week in Paris the birth of the 50 millionth Frenchman was announced, which means that 10 million can. And at least one of them is—the genie who drew a map of Europe for the 1968 Winter Olympic Committee.
With nothing but a few boundary lines, the mapmaker demonstrated once more the truth of the French adages that 1) France is always one war behind time and 2) the French know nothing about geography. Published in a slick French-English-German Olympic Committee booklet, the map shows Poland minus all the territory east of the Oder-Neisse line, which she recovered from Germany after World War II, and grants independence to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Soviet republics since 1940. In a word, the Olympic Committee's map, the center of which is, naturellement, Grenoble, pictures Europe as it was in 1938.
A BEAUTIFUL RED
One day last week, when most New Yorkers were enjoying unseasonable 67° weather, Johnny (Ice Cube) Sineno called Vic (Doc) Boff at his place of business, Victor Boff Nutritional Aids, the oldest health-food store in New York. "I'm sick," Ice Cube said. "I'm disgusted." Boff, in turn, allowed that the weather was so terrible he was thinking of going home and taking a cold shower of "15 minutes duration."
Boff and Sineno belong to the Iceberg Athletic Club, whose 23 members like to go swimming at Coney Island around this time of year. "Our season starts November 15 and ends in May or June," Boff says. "But in recent years it's been hard to get members. Basically, fellas don't go for real cold water anymore." Boff, 51, a onetime professional strong man who pulled cars with his teeth or hair, says he has swum for as long as 20 minutes in 32° water, 40 minutes in 42° water.
"I haven't had a cold since 1952," he says. "I don't think there's any activity that compares healthfully. In 40° and under you turn a beautiful red color. You're circulating! You're bathing away mental trouble! You're relieving depression! It's like the River Jordan. All the guys in my club are happy guys, congenial guys. But if you turn white or purple, it's not for you."
Recently, Doc, Ice Cube and Chief Running Horse have taken to swimming at night. "It's colder," says Boff. "The water's rougher. The light from the stars and moon radiates down." The Chief is a retired cop who was born Edward Sorocki and lets on that he is a Cherokee' Indian. For the past few years he has been 67, which he says is his "favorite age." The Chief also says he is the world-champion blood donor. "He's given 287 official pints," says Boff. In cold blood," presumably.
O TEMPORA! O MORES!
There were 14,838 customers at the Emile Griffith-Joey Archer fight in Madison Square Garden last week, which was two too many. The two who should have been run out or put in a cage (but, as one spectator said, "What are you going to feed them?") were Griffith's cousin Bernard and the guy who was with him at ringside. The way these yo-yos watch a fight is standing up, screaming and making obscene gestures at the Archer supporters in the galleries. There's no reason why 14,836 fight fans have to put up with two boors. If the Garden specials don't have the guts to throw them out, the athletic commission ought to get some city cops in there who do.
NOTHING TO IT
The University of Kentucky basketball team may be tied for sixth place in the Southeastern Conference with a 2 and 5 record, but all's not lost. According to the latest SEC statistics, Kentucky leads the conference in "defense against free throws" with 70.2%, its opposition having made only 255 of 363 foul shots.
SON OF ELEPHANT JOKE (CONT.)
The good ship Eugene Lykes docked in New Orleans the other day, with 18 baby African elephants aboard; and 358 miles away in Houston, the John Mecoms, p√®re and fils, heaved a sigh of relief. The elephants weren't theirs, after all. As we related three weeks ago, the Mecoms had been informed that the 18 elephants they had ordered were en route—only they didn't know anything about any 18 elephants.
In fact, the elephants belong to Arthur Jones of New Orleans, a part-time film director and full-time animal lover, who shot them from a helicopter with a tranquilizing drug, in South Africa's Kruger National Park; there, as in other African preserves, there are more elephants than the land can support.
But the Mecoms had best beware. Son of Elephant Joke could return. Jones intends to stock the 18 elephants on a game preserve near Los Angeles, and if they thrive, bring back 112 more.
Several weeks ago, in his obituary here, Donald Campbell was referred to as "a sort of Boy's Own Paper hero [who] should have lived in the '20s and '30s." This month, after a run of 88 years, the Boy's Own Paper went to its reward, too.
The lead article in the first issue dated Jan. 18, 1879, price one penny, was entitled "My First Football Match," and was signed "an old Boy." When informed by the captain of his school team that he had been chosen to play, the author recalled, "I could have knighted him on the spot. To be one of the picked '15', whose glory it was to fight the battles of their school in the great close, had been the leading ambition of my life." Although its literary quality improved somewhat, the tone of the BOP was established forever.
Started by the Religious Tract Society to combat the influence of the "penny dreadfuls," the BOP believed that the road to manhood and the answer to most youthful yearning was to be found in tubs of ice-cold water. It extolled patriotism, puritanism and oatmeal porridge, and created a heroic type of which Campbell and Jo Grimond—who recently retired as leader of the Liberal Party and who has been described as "tall and athletic, noble of profile, gifted with the voice beautiful"—were the ideal. At its height, in the 1890s, the BOP had a circulation of 190,000, and both King George V and Stanley Baldwin confessed it helped mold their character.
Articles on sport appeared regularly. The original issue also contained a piece by Captain Webb, the first to swim the English Channel, who revealed that he had been a teetotaler ever since one of his previous swims had been nearly ruined when someone gave him brandy. Other early contributors were Dr. W.G. Grace, the greatest cricketer of all time, and Edward Whymper, the first to climb the Matterhorn.
One of the most popular features in the BOP was an advice column on anything from chess to the care of alligators. A reader who inquired about the feeding of blue tits was told to give them suet, nuts and meat, while a boy who wrote to ask the cost of a one-man, one-dog expedition to the North Pole got an equally sensible reply.
But in recent years the influence of the BOP had waned and its circulation had dropped to 20,000. "Boys have less time than they did to read a magazine, and you cannot build bricks without straw," concluded Jack Cox, 51, its last editor, who valiantly fought against the tide, even going so far as to run articles on pop music.
Indeed, the cover of the final issue of the BOP, dated February 1967, price two shillings, depicts George Best, a young soccer player, who grows his hair long, is known as "El Beatle" and owns a share of a boutique.
18 HOLES IN ONE (CONT.)
In Hawaii last week, Governor Burns, approved construction of an 18-hole golf course inside Diamond Head crater (SI, April 25), provided a National Guard rifle range, now situated where the 8th and 9th holes would be, could be relocated. "It would be an unfair hazard for the golfer," said James Ferry, director of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources. "We want this to be a first-class operation that will attract people from all over the world. But we want to keep them healthy so they'll return."
Meanwhile, on yet another volcano, Mauna Kea (elevation: 13,825 feet), on the big island of Hawaii, Richard L. Tillson, president of the newly formed Ski Association of Hawaii, is camped out at 12,000 feet, studying the feasibility of erecting a ski lift. From January to April, two to three feet of hard-packed snow are common on Mauna Kea above 7,000 feet, where temperatures range from 35° to 38°.
"I was surprised at the number of people interested in skiing here," Tillson said. "We have more than 80 applications for membership, and most of these people have their own skis. Some people even suggest holding special events for surfboard racing in the snow, which sounds kooky, but would certainly make this unique situation even more unique. The major problem, however, is what happens if Mauna Kea erupts."
HIGH LIFE IN THE HILLS
Coloradans being what they are (which is rug-ged), staging a simple race wasn't enough. For the first annual Snowmass-at-Aspen Snowmobile Regatta last weekend, drivers plunging eight steep miles down from 10,645-foot Sam's Nob were required to stop at designated spots, memorize certain signs (trade names, slogans and a five-digit number), and check in at an old cabin. When they burst through the cabin door a man in a great bear suit jumped out at them. At the bottom, the 15 snowmobiles churned across a 1½-mile flat, careened over 14 jumps, and then everybody started back up the mountain.
The regatta ended the way all Aspen events end: the contestants and more than 400 spectators got zonked at a hamburger, beer and wine bust. And when it was finally time to present winners John Crook and Bud Strong with their trophies, it turned out, naturally, that someone had accidentally driven his jeep over Bud's and smashed it.
THEY SAID IT
•Gene Shue, coach of the last-place Baltimore Bullets: "The way we're going, we could get Wilt Chamberlain in a trade and then find out that he's really two midgets Scotch-taped together."
•Grady Hatton, Houston manager, on umpiring: "It's the only occupation I know where on the first day you must be perfect and then improve over the years."
•Alec Issigonis, designer of the Mini Cooper, which has won three of the last four Monte Carlo rallies: "I could cry, it's so ridiculous. I design a people's car, and it does mad things."
•John Edwards, Cincinnati catcher, leaving the office of Assistant General Manager Phil Seghi after salary negotiations, to Second Baseman Pete Rose: "Don't go in now, Pete, I think he's going to borrow from the next guy."