GUESS WHO'S NOT COMING?
The stunt was shaping up nicely until the French Alpine Club heard about it. A special luncheon was to be served atop 15,781-foot Mont Blanc, complete with lace tablecloths, fine china and crystal, and featuring champagne, lobster salad, roast quail stuffed with p√¢té, chilled soufflé, coffee and cognac. The diners would be whisked to and from that lofty site by helicopters. The whole scheme had been crafted by P.R. men to promote Grand Marnier and the Association of Young Restaurateurs of France, and invitations were in the mail. But, non. Outrageous, said the Alpinists. Scandalous, even farfelu, which means nutty.
When the restaurateurs, the luncheon guests and newsmen assembled at Chamonix last week, they were met by demonstrators blocking the heliport. What's more, 10 mountaineers had already climbed to the summit to stop the banquet. Mission accomplished: the diners had to set up their portable gear and eat their meal in the parking lot near a cablecar terminal.
Later, relenting just a bit from its purist stance, the Alpine Club proposed a post-lunch, legitimate climb to the summit for anyone who wanted to go. But the restaurateurs and guests declined in favor of an even purer idea. They all adjourned to the bar in a nearby hotel for after-dinner drinks.
ALL THAT GLITTERS
First the promoters put together what is projected as the world's richest harness race, a $300,000 go-round scheduled for July 27 at New York's Monticello Raceway. But that didn't seem to be enough. What the event really needed was a special gimmick, they figured.
So, when the winner of the race reins in for the usual ceremonies he won't get a check. Someone—two people, probably—will hand him a chunk of solid-gold bullion worth $150,000, at 75 pounds, 33 more than his sulky. The other seven of the first eight finishers will be paid off similarly, right down to a $3,000 brick for coming in last. The winner can cash in his bar at the nearest bank. If he can carry it.
PEARLY TEETH, DEAR
Judging from early reports, the movie Jaws is spooking audiences as much as any thriller since Frankenstein made the scene back in 1931. Swimmers seem to spook most of all, which has resulted in a snapping good story for Dan Rattiner, who publishes five weekly newspapers in the Hamptons, a collection of well-to-do vacation communities on the eastern end of New York's Long Island. Hardly had Jaws opened out there when Rattiner's East Hampton Summer Sun headlined a warning: BOYCOTT JAWS. "Don't Let a Phony Shark Bite Off All of Eastern Long Island," the paper urged.
Rattiner noted that the movie is set in a mythical town known as Amity, and while the film doesn't specify, the novel Jaws puts Amity halfway between the real Bridgehampton and East Hampton. Since the shark eats about a dozen folks before he gets his, Rattiner wrote that residents are afraid the film will frighten away visitors and destroy the tourist economy.
He let that issue sink in and followed it up last week with a front-page letter from "the Bridgehampton police," suggesting, "it would be a good idea to allay the fears of some of your readers that a big shark might eat them up this summer. For one thing, the number of people eaten by the shark is nowhere near a half dozen a day as shown by the movie. Through careful feeding of the man-eater, we have now reduced the number of people lost to the shark in any given day to just one, or at the most, two." The letter held out promise of cutting that number to where "even less than one tourist a day might be eaten." It was signed by Martin Brody—the name of the police chief in the movie.
And how is Rattiner's hoax coming along? The publisher said he loitered around the theater exit the other day and polled patrons leaving the show. Only 5% professed to be so scared that they wouldn't swim. As for himself, Rattiner hasn't seen the movie and doesn't intend to. "I go body-surfing daily," he says, "and I know that if I saw the movie, I'd be too scared to go near the water."
MAN BITES HORSE (HIDE)
His club is in last place, and it follows that Manager Billy Scripture of the Southern League's Jacksonville Suns is frustrated. But he doesn't punch lockers or kick water coolers the way they do in the majors; Scripture is much tougher than that. He chews baseballs, biting off their covers. "Only lost one molar so far," says Scripture, "and that's a whole lot less expensive than getting an ulcer operation."
The season is over, true, but at long last just about everybody in town is united on the St. Louis Blues, more firmly than at any time during the year when that NHL team was playing hockey. However, this new unanimity is not based on fancy stickwork, but on a proposed parking lot. St. Louis hates the idea.
The Blues' home arena sits just across a highway from lush Forest Park, more than 1,300 acres highly prized by townsfolk. And when Sidney Salomon Jr., co-owner and chairman of the club, sought permission to convert 6.5 acres into arena parking, everybody got into the act. St. Louis Mayor John H. Poelker approved the idea; a majority of aldermen were committed to vote for it. But a swell of sentiment surged against it, led by such heavies as the Sierra Club, Coalition for the Environment and the Audubon Society. The city's two newspapers, rarely in agreement on anything, bitterly attacked the plan, and one poll of readers was 5 to 1 against. At two public hearings, 36 of the 41 speakers criticized the lot; four of the other five speakers were either Blues' or city officials. The aldermanic office got 220 phone calls in two weeks, all opposed. And then came last week. Knowing a tide when they see one, the aldermen adjourned for the summer without voting, saving the disputed area for park instead of parking, at least for now.
Such cohesive spirit has a lot of potential. If the club could channel the town's new all-for-one mood into backing the team, it could play all next season to standing room only.
A BERMUDA SHORT
The last place in the world to look for logic is in Bermuda's Non-Mariners Race, an annual event that drew 19 entries and more than 5,000 spectators last week. After electing a non-beauty queen, the sailors had at it, and some of the non-entries looked strong at first, such as the coffin paddled with shovels by eight men in black top hats, or the papier-m√¢ché jaw powered by four women wielding oversized toothbrushes. But when the three-hour race was over, a crew of firemen claimed the title. After all, they had a raft that wouldn't float and wouldn't sink, said one; what's more, "We didn't start and we didn't finish. So we must have won." Makes sense.
TIE THAT BINDS
Hidden deep inside every fly-fisherman is an artist—particularly those who tie rather than buy their lures. And with that in mind, an outfit called United Fly Tyers, Inc. has launched its first annual international competition to find the best of the breed. Officials seek entries in eight categories, including such favorites as the Parmachene Belle and Umpqua Special, and everyone from amateurs to old pros may enter the running for more than 200 prizes.
A nonprofit group based in Boston, United Fly Tyers is dedicated to improving their delicate art, and while the contest is expected to turn up new concepts and techniques, there is another goal. The last category in the contest is open, and judges hope that a new classic fly may emerge to join the Mickey Finn and Royal Coachman. If that happens, those rascally fish had better look out.
Keeping fit in retirement, longtime Chicago Cub Ron Santo now plays shortstop for a slow-pitch softball team in Glenview, Ill. In fact, he magnanimously outfitted the entire club. That's why all the uniforms carry his old No. 10.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
For anxious fans everywhere, here is this week's episode in Montreal's soap opera, As The Olympics Turns. By way of background, a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada was robbed March 14, the bandit escaping with $3,586 and either 40 or 44 tickets for the Olympic fund-raising lottery. Tune in now on the drawing.
A Toronto syndicate won one of the two $1 million first prizes and a Quebec syndicate won the other. No problem. But wouldn't you know it, a $500,000 winning prize number—5620712 to be exact—was on one of the stolen tickets. The man who tried to redeem the ticket was arrested and has been charged with and pleaded innocent to bank robbery, among other things, but the plot is much thicker than that. It turns out that the bank had bought a bunch of the $10 tickets for distribution to its customers and theoretically still owned them when the stickup occurred. After the holdup the bank neglected to apply to the lottery for a refund, which would have voided those 40 or so numbers. This means, in some opinions, that the Royal Bank of Canada wins the $500,000, but the matter is before the courts and the Loterie Olympique du Canada isn't paying anybody until it finds out who owns what. Don't go away. There is sure to be another chapter coming up. After all, the show has almost another year to run.
RUN FOR COVER
Since their costumes usually consist of such things as sweat shirts, old pants and sneakers, joggers are seldom victims of highway robbery. But Alfred Nichols reported to Baltimore police that two strangers interrupted his run along a roadway and forced him inside their car at gunpoint. They drove to an isolated area, he said, and demanded his money. He gave them $10 from his dungarees pocket. They demanded more, and he gave up an additional $164 he had hidden in one sneaker.
Then came the real damage. Nichols said the bandits told him to get out and "start running." When he did, they fired a shot at him, winging him in the left thigh.
WAY TO GO, JOE
He didn't want to pitch this game, Joe Talutto told the guys. For one thing, he had a sprained ankle, and for another, he considered himself more of a slugger. He was leading the Dunmore, Pa. slow-pitch softball league with 18 home runs in 20 games and had a .570 average. But loyalty prevailed when his manager promised to pull him once the team built up a lead. After all, this was Talutto's Jimmy's Club team against George's Bar, a rival tavern.
Then, with his teammates hooting, "Sure you don't wanna come out now, Joe?" Talutto pitched a perfect 10-0 game, facing 21 batters and forcing 16 of them to ground out, seven to the mound. The defeat was not exactly what could be termed a heart breaker for the George's Bar crew, whose record dropped to 0-9, but Joe Talutto limped off the mound in triumph. The Amateur Softball Association promptly confirmed his victory as the year's first perfect slow-pitch game.
THEY SAID IT
•Doc Medich, New York Yankees, on pitching to Henry Aaron: "It certainly was a great thrill. And someday he can tell his grandchildren that he hit against me."
•Tom Shopay, pint-sized outfielder, on his stature as a Baltimore Oriole backup catcher: "I'm the only catcher in baseball who can give the pitcher his signs standing up."
•Jon Arnett, former All-Pro running back with the Los Angeles Rams, on familiar football clichés: "Calling somebody a great runner isn't always a compliment. You can be a great runner and still be dumb."
•John L. Greer, whose Foolish Pleasure will meet Ruffian in a match race this Sunday: "Match races are an entirely different club of possums from regular races."