John Lee Hooker,
Stonehenge,
Nutrinos and
The Munchkins!
R.I.P. John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)

HOLLYWOOD June 21, 2001 (Variety) - John Lee Hooker, the Mississippi-born guitarist whose unique groaning voice and droning guitar style defined boogie blues and influenced generations of rock 'n' rollers, died Thursday at the age of 83.

He died in his sleep of natural causes at his Los Altos home near San Francisco, Hooker's agent Mike Kappus said. Hooker had performed over the weekend in Santa Rosa.

Hooker's influence over blues and rock musicians spanned decades, from the Rolling Stones and the Animals in the 1960s to George Thorogood and the Destroyers in the '70s to Los Lobos in the 1980s. In the last dozen years, Hooker had reclaimed his place on the blues mantle as artists such as Carlos Santana and Van Morrison performed with Hooker on his albums and helped revitalize his dormant career. Hooker's greatest influence was heard in the music of the southern California blues band Canned Heat, which built their career around his style.

Hooker's appeal was raw and primal, and he often performed with small bands that emphasized the hypnotic nature of his driving guitar. Whether performing at festivals or in clubs, Hooker's power was omnipotent and distinct, drawing on the rural acoustic blues he learned as a young teenager and the raucous style he developed performing at parties in Detroit. Hooker's lyrics were often dark and if not explicitly prurient, his intentions were never obscure in songs such as "Crawlin' King Snake" and "I'm in the Mood."

Hooker put nine songs in the top 30 on the R&B charts and had two No. 1 R&B singles: "Boogie Chillun" in early 1949 and "I'm in the Mood" in late 1951. His record of "Boom Boom" reached the R&B top 20 in June 1962 shortly after he had teamed with Eric Burdon and the Animals as his backing unit; the Animals reached No. 43 on the pop charts in 1965 with their version of the song. Hooker's version was used in a Lee Jeans ad in 1992.

He recorded more than 100 albums over six decades; the last was 1997's "Don't Look Back" on the Pointblank label. He recorded so often and for so many fly-by-night producers that his music has been endlessly repackaged; last year alone, there were more than 20 Hooker releases of old material.

Born Aug. 22, 1917, in Clarksdale, Miss., he learned guitar from his stepfather, Will Moore, who was friends with blues guitarists Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake and Charley Patton. Hooker left home at 14 and joined the Army, which sent him packing after three months. He drifted through Cincinnati and Memphis, working as a guitarist accompanying gospel groups such as the Fairfield Four.

Like many Southern blacks in the 1940s, Hooker made the journey north to work in an industrial city, landing a janitorial job with Chrysler in Detroit. He played three or four nights per week in the Motor City -- his experiences would be chronicled in songs such as "House Rent Boogie" and "Wednesday Evening Blues" -- and soon he attracted the attention of talent scouts.

Modern Records, a Los Angeles-based blues label, signed Hooker in October 1948, and a month later he recorded "Boogie Chillun," accompanied solely by his guitar. The record was radically different from the R&B of the day, which was dominated by Nat "King" Cole's cool style and the blues stars who, like Louis Jordan, were emphasizing frenetic, upbeat tunes. "Boogie Chillun" would eventually sell 1 million copies. Click here for some of Boogie Chillun (.WMA format - 602KB).

Despite signing with Modern, Hooker willingly recorded for any producer able to produce cash for a session. Two months after "Boogie," Hooker sold "Black Man Blues" to Cincinnati's King Records, which released the disc under the name Texas Slim. Hooker would use at least 10 different pseudonyms between 1949 and 1954, releasing about 70 singles on 21 different labels.

It was his Modern sides, "Crawlin' King Snake" and "I'm in the Mood" among them, however, that were his biggest sellers. In 1955 he moved over to Vee Jay in Chicago, which had become the blues epicenter, and he was positioned as an R&B star with a backing band led by Eddie Shaw. (Changing labels was a Hooker specialty: in 1965-66 alone he recorded for Verve-Folkways, Impulse, Chess and BluesWay).

He found far more success, however, at the end of the decade, when he was touted for his rural upbringing, situating him next to folk-blues iconoclasts such as Lightnin Hopkins. He was among the pure blues artists who performed at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival; the following year, at Gerde's Folk City in New York, Bob Dylan got his first paying gig as Hooker's opening act. He toured the U.K. as part of the American Blues Festival 1962 package and shared bills with bands that would later feed the British Invasion. His song "Dimples" became a British hit in 1964, eight years after it was recorded.

His Stateside champions, however, were far less prominent, and it wasn't until 1971, when he recorded "Hooker 'n' Heat" with Canned Heat, that he would crack the U.S. albums chart. While artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Hound Dog Taylor and Champion Jack Dupree had some resurgence in the 1970s, Hooker's career faded. Thorogood's recording of Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" in 1977 brought the aging blues man some recognition as did his cameo in "The Blues Brothers" picture in 1980.

But it wasn't until the 1989 release of "The Healer" that Hooker's career was successfully put back on track. The album boasted guest performances by Santana, Los Lobos and Robert Cray, and his duet with Bonnie Raitt on "I'm in the Mood" would earn him the traditional blues Grammy.

"The Healer" was followed up by more all-star-laden recordings, such as "Mr. Lucky," on which he was teamed with Albert Collins, Keith Richards and Van Morrison; 1995's "Chill Out," which was accompanied by the announcement of his retirement from public performance; and "Don't Look Back" (1997), which was produced by Van Morrison and featured another revived blues legend, Charles Brown.

In the late 1980s, Hooker said, "I been doing the same things as in my younger days, when I was coming up, and now here I am, an old man, up there in the charts. And I say, well, what happened? Have they just thought up the real John Lee Hooker, is that it? And I think, well, I won't tell nobody else! I can't help but wonder what happened."

Hooker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and given a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2000. His song "Boogie Chillun" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Over the last decade he has spent his time between his homes in Northern California (Los Altos) and Southern California (Long Beach). He was an avid baseball fan and collected cars.

Hooker is survived by eight children, 19 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

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On the Net:

http://www.rosebudus.com/hooker

http://www.boomboomblues.com 

British Children Bemused by Latest Bush Gaffe

LONDON June 20 2001 (Reuters) - A class of British 11-year-olds said President Bush should go back to school after he sent them a letter describing them as young Americans.

Pupils at Oakhill College in Lancashire, northwest England, were thrilled to get a signed letter from the president after they sent him congratulations on his inauguration, assistant bursar Cathryn Robbins said Wednesday.

But their awestruck silence was soon replaced by gales of laughter when their teacher read the letter out loud.

"As young Americans, you have an important responsibility, which is to become good citizens," the letter said.

"I hope you will continue to learn more about our wonderful country. School provides the right foundation so I urge you to study hard. Then you can be well-prepared for the future."

The children decided that although Bush was one of the most powerful men in the world, they could teach him something about geography, Robbins said.

Bush has hit the headlines on several occasions for his slap dash approach to the niceties of international affairs.

While on the campaign trail, he was tripped up by a surprise pop quiz during a television interview. When asked to name the leaders of four world hot spots -- Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan -- he could name only one.

During a visit to Europe last week, he mispronounced the name of Spain's prime minister.

But the president often laughs at his reputation for linguistic mix-ups and verbal gaffes.

"Some people think my mom took up the cause of literacy out of a sense of guilt over my own upbringing." Bush told the crowd at a fund-raising dinner in April.

Carbon Dioxide May Be Pumped Into Ocean

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON June 19 2001 (AP) — The frigid sea off the coast of Norway could be the ideal place to test the idea of storing carbon dioxide in the depths of the ocean, according to scientists in that country.

Environmentalists are increasingly worried about the threat of climate change from "greenhouse warming,'' which many believe is caused by the release of industrial gases such as carbon dioxide.

The gas can dissolve in seawater, but does so relatively slowly. Speeding that process by pumping the gas deep into the ocean has been suggested as one way of reducing the greenhouse threat.

The team of researchers at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center proposes the large-scale demonstration project in a paper scheduled for the July 1 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

"The advantage with the Norwegian Sea is that one doesn't need to go too deep with the release point to ensure long-term sequestration of the gas,'' explained Helge Drange, one of the researchers. "The main reason for this is the dense water that is present in the Nordic Seas.''

In the dense northern waters the carbon dioxide could be injected successfully at a depth of 2,600 feet, the researchers found, while it would need to go much deeper in other areas.

They estimated that small particles of liquid carbon dioxide would begin rising when injected, but would dissolve before they had risen more than 300 feet to 400 feet. The carbonated water would tend to sink and spread out in ocean currents, moving out into the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The potential for carbon dioxide storage is great, with the oceans able to absorb as much as 500 times their current level of the gas, Drange said.

And deeper water holds the carbon dioxide longer, the researchers said. They calculated that about half the gas would be lost to the air from water between 1,100 feet and 1,950 feet. But "outgassing'' from water at 3,100 feet was less than 0.5 percent after 70 years.

"This means that the CO2-enriched water masses in the abyss Atlantic will remain isolated from the atmosphere for centuries,'' they wrote.

But while Drange and her co-workers say the idea works fine in theory, a large test is needed to answer questions such as the effect on sea life.

Dissolved carbon dioxide could slightly increase the acidity of the water, they found, and an experiment would show whether that injured fish and other life forms.

"The acidity of the CO2-enriched sea water, in combination with exposure time, may affect marine life as the major part of marine organisms live in a relatively constant chemical environment,'' they reported.

This fall, the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research is planning a limited test, pumping 40 to 60 tons of liquid carbon dioxide some 2,600 feet deep into the ocean off Hawaii.

Guttorm Alendal, a colleague of Drange at Bergen, is also part of the team planning that experiment.

The Norwegian Sea is a deep basin off Norway's northwestern coast, a region on the continental shelf where oil and gas fields produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

Besides Drange and Alendal the research team included Ola M. Johannessen.

———

On the Net:

Nansen Center: http://www.nrsc.no

American Geophysical Union: http://www.agu.org

Stonehenge Revelers Mark Summer Solstice

LONDON June 21, 2001 (AP) -- Amid the beating of drums, thousands of revelers celebrated the summer solstice at the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge.

For only the second time since violence marred the event in 1985, the organization that oversees Stonehenge allowed ordinary observers inside the ancient monument to watch the sun rise on the year's longest day.

A 14,500-strong crowd of Druids, New Age followers and curiosity-seekers gathered inside and around the stone circle 80 miles southwest of London as dawn came at 4:55 a.m. Thursday.

Cloudy skies stopped the first rays of the sun shining through an archway into the inner circle, but did not seem to dampen the festive spirit as people danced, beat on drums and watched fire jugglers.

"We have had a very enjoyable night,'' said Pam Alexander, chief executive of English Heritage which owns the site. "We are very pleased that we are managing a much more peaceful and celebratory approach.''

Police reported only five arrests, all for minor drugs offenses.

"Everyone's been friendly,'' said druid priest Mark Graham. "There's a very high energy here.''

The lichen-covered stones are the remnants of the last in a sequence of circular monuments built between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C.

Exactly how and why Stonehenge was built remains a mystery. The stones align with the rising of the sun on the longest day of the year. Some experts say its builders came from a sun-worshipping culture. Others say that it aligns with the sunrise because it forms part of a huge astronomical calendar.

Revelers were banned from holding solstice ceremonies at the site after clashes with police in 1985, and a four-mile exclusion order was later put in place.

In 1998, English Heritage allowed 100 people to gather within the stones at dawn as part of a step toward admitting larger crowds.

Two years ago, Stonehenge was opened to 150 druids, but about 200 people gate crashed the event and clashed with police.

Last year, English Heritage decided to allow full access again and the celebration, attended by about 8,000 revelers, passed peacefully with no arrests.

Supreme Court Allows Alabama Prayer Law to Stand
By ANNE GEARAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON June 18, 2001 (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling by a lower court that allowed students to participate in group prayers at school functions such as graduations or football games.

The court's action, taken without comment or explanation Monday, is a defeat for civil liberties groups and appears to be at direct odds with another ruling on student prayer last year.

Despite the confusion, the court's action likely represents its last word on a court ruling that said Alabama students may lead prayers at school activities, including sporting events, student assemblies and graduations.

After the court's action, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor said, "While the U.S. Constitution calls for neutrality toward religion, it does not require, and in fact does not permit, public schools to suppress student-initiated religious speech."

The Supreme Court has already considered the Alabama case once, sending it back to a lower court for reconsideration in light of last year's major decision that bars students from leading stadium crowds in prayer.

In the appeal acted on Monday, a high school vice principal in DeKalb County and his son, student Jesse Chandler, argued that the lower court misinterpreted last year's high court ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other opponents of the Alabama policy said it represented a threat to the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Critics particularly objected to the broadcast of prayer on school intercoms and from microphones at sporting events or ceremonies - just the activity at issue in last year's case.

The First Amendment protects free speech and the free exercise of religion, but it also forbids government promotion or "establishment" of religion.

By choosing not to hear the case, the Supreme Court put off deciding what the rule of law will be, an ACLU lawyer said.

"The court is saying, 'We don't have time to hear it,' or 'We're not ready to hear it,'" said Liz Hubertz, who represented the Chandlers.

In a landmark 1962 decision, the Supreme Court outlawed organized, officially sponsored prayers in public schools. In 1992, the justices barred clergy-led prayers at public school graduation ceremonies.

The following year, Alabama legislators enacted a law requiring public schools to allow student-initiated prayer as long as they do not promote one religion over another and as long as students do not try to convert their classmates.

A federal judge declared the law unconstitutional and barred all non-private prayer, including student-initiated prayer at graduations, assemblies and football games.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in 1999, saying courts could not prohibit "genuinely student-initiated religious speech" at school events, including graduations, or impose restrictions greater than those on nonreligious student speech.

The appeals court ordered the judge to rewrite the original order, saying the court could bar school officials from encouraging student religious activity and appoint a monitor to ensure such actions do not recur. The court let stand the judge's ruling that declared the state law unconstitutional.

At that point the Chandlers first appealed to the Supreme Court. "Truly private prayer neither seeks nor requires a microphone and an audience," they argued then.

In responding to the second Chandler appeal, attorneys for Alabama argued that the case became moot when Jesse Chandler graduated from high school this year.

The case is Chandler v. Siegelman, 00-1606.
Central Park 'Alligator' Captured

NEW YORK June 22 2001 (Reuters) - The Central Park "alligator" that became the stuff of legend, at least for a few days, was captured by a professional alligator wrestler, but it turned out not to be an alligator at all.

Instead, the 2-foot-long lizard, first spotted by park visitors on Saturday cavorting in the Harlem Meer in the park's northern end, was actually a South American spectacled caiman, a close relative of the alligator.

"Here's the culprit," said Mike Bailey, 23, an alligator wrangler from Florida who volunteered his services to rescue New Yorkers from the little lizard he held in his hands.

Bailey's wife Tina late on Thursday nabbed the caiman, which had eluded capture by parks department employees and police for days, but took the Baileys about 45 minutes to accomplish.

"The hardest thing we had to deal with was all the lights in our eyes," said Bailey, who had to contend with a media horde as he hunted.

The reptile's exploits have been followed closely around the world. According to a persistent urban legend, alligators skulk in the city's sewers, but the creatures could never endure a New York winter underground.

The captured caiman, which will either end up being returned to the wild or placed in a zoo, is thought to have been set loose by someone who no longer wanted it as a pet.

The last gator scare to hit Gotham was in July 1997, after someone transferred an illegal pet alligator from a bathtub to a lake in Queens.

Tribes Ready to Battle Scientists Over Kennewick Man
PORTLAND, OR June 19, 2001 (AP) -- American Indian tribes say the skeleton known as Kennewick Man is an ancient descendant and should be buried with respect. Anthropologists say he should be studied first.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Magistrate John Jelderks was set to hear the latest round of arguments about what should happen to the 9,300-year-old skeleton found on the shore of the Columbia River five years ago.

After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would turn over the remains to a coalition of five Columbia Basin tribes for burial under federal law, eight scientists sued.

The anthropologists would like to further study the skeleton, regarded as one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America, to learn more about the region's earliest inhabitants.

In September, Bruce Babbitt, then secretary of the U.S. Interior Department, ruled that Kennewick Man should be turned over to the tribes for burial.

At the time, Babbitt called his decision a "close call'' and said it was based primarily on the tribes' oral histories and the area where Kennewick Man was found.

The merits of that decision, along with the scientists' claims, were expected to evaluated in the latest hearing.

The bones, bearing a stone spear point in the pelvis, were discovered in July 1996 in an eroding bank of the Columbia River at Kennewick, Wash., by a pair of college students who were wading in the shallows.

Citing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Corps awarded custody a few months later to five tribes: the Colville, Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Wanapum.

But the scientists challenged the Corps, saying the skeleton has too much to tell about how human beings populated North American to be returned to the Earth from which it came.

The scientists' attorneys argue that the government has not shown that the skeleton is Native American, which the Interior Department defines as anyone who was within the boundaries of the present United States in 1492. Using a date alone to determine whether remains are Native American is wrong, they say.

Kennewick Man could support recent theories that the continent's earliest arrivals came not by a land bridge between Russia and Alaska -- a long-held theory -- but by boat or some other route.

Scientists figure the bones, now stored in the Burke Museum in Seattle, are the remains of a hunter in his 40s with a prominent nose and heavily muscled legs whose physical characteristics more closely resemble people from Polynesia and southern Asia than local Indians.

Last year in a similar case, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided not to award the 9,500-year-old Spirit Cave Man remains to local tribes.

On the Net:

Friends of the Past: http://www.friendsofpast.org

Umatilla Tribes: http://www.umatilla.nsn.us/activity.html

Department of Interior: http://www.cr.nps.gov/aad/kennewick
Fan Converts Home Into 'Star Trek' Spaceship

LONDON June 22 2001 (Reuters) - A British "Star Trek" fan has turned his home into a replica of television's most famous spaceship.

Tony Alleyne spent $11,300 to convert his one-bedroom apartment into the starship Enterprise. The apartment now includes a command console and windows reshaped to look like portholes.

The centerpiece of his spaceship home is a three-dimensional ceiling with an "infinity" mirror at the center.

"It can make you feel a bit dizzy because it looks as if you're peering out into space," he told Reuters on Friday, posing in a space suit.

Alleyne, of Hinckley in central England, said he used magazines and information from NASA to get the design right.

"What really fascinates me about 'Star Trek' is the artistic and technology side of it," the ex-disc jockey explained.

Alleyne, 48, who said his wife left him for another earthling, lives alone in the apartment.

"My mother would say it's not very cozy -- but I do make people a cup of tea when they come and visit," he said.

"Star Trek" was created by Gene Roddenberry and first launched in 1966 as a television series with William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as pointy-eared Spock. The series and "Star Trek" films sparked a cult following around the world, with fans converging for regular conventions and memorabilia commanding high prices at auctions.

Star Trek: The Next Generation followed the original series with a seven year run, as did Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the recently concluded Star Trek: Voyager.

"Enterprise", the latest entry in the Trek saga, begins in September on the United Paramount Network.

Putin Defends KGB Experience

MOSCOW June 19, 2001 (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with pride about his years in the former Soviet security services, noting that it puts him in the same class as American statesmen Henry Kissinger and former President George Bush.

"When I spoke with Kissinger and told him where I worked, he thought about it and said, 'All decent people started in intelligence,' and I did, too,'' Putin said, speaking to a group of journalists in the Kremlin on Monday night.

Putin then referred to President George W. Bush's father, noting the former intelligence director "was not working in a laundry, he was working in the CIA.''

Asked how a security background might help him run Russia, Putin said: "The most important thing is an experience of working with people, with all kinds of people.''

A career KGB officer during the Soviet era, Putin was stationed in the former East Germany before returning to Russia.

He defended the organization, saying people did not suffer from persecution by the KGB at the time he was trained and joined. He denied ever having been involved in activities he might be called to account for one day.

Some Russian intellectuals and scientists have warned that Putin is trying to activate old surveillance networks and say those measures, including a requirement that some report their foreign contacts to authorities, are eroding democratic values and liberal institutions.

Foreigners are discouraged from conducting independent research.

A key asset among agents, Putin noted, is an ability to work with large volumes of information and identify priorities.

"What was cultivated in the security community and the intelligence community as the most important asset was patriotism and love of your country.''

House Votes to Deny Oil and Gas Drilling Efforts
By CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON June 22, 2001 (AP) — Siding with Florida's Republican governor against his brother, the House voted to delay a Bush administration effort to open part of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration.

The House also voted to block a Bush administration plan to pursue new oil, gas and coal development in national monuments.

Both amendments were attached to an $18.9 billion Interior spending bill for fiscal 2002, which passed Thursday on a 376-32 vote and moves next to the Senate.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has repeatedly urged President Bush's administration not to proceed with plans to extend offshore oil and gas drilling to a tract that comes as close as 17 miles to Pensacola in the Florida panhandle. Yet the White House was working hard to generate opposition to any delay in leases, including calls to some of Florida's Republican lawmakers.

The amendment, sponsored by Reps. Jim Davis, D-Fla., and Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., would prevent the Interior Department from signing final lease agreements in the tract, known as Lease Sale 181, until April 1, 2002. The delay, they said, would give opponents time to work out an agreement.

"The people of Florida don't want it. The governor doesn't want it. If you want to ruin our beaches ... we don't want it,'' said Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Fla.

The amendment passed on a 247-164 vote.

Proponents of the leases, led by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, say the nation needs the area's oil and gas reserves to help ease the energy crunch. The department estimates there are 2.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in the area, with industry projecting as much as 7.8 trillion cubic feet.

The area in question, lease proponents add, is near active energy production sites and closer to Alabama and Mississippi than it is to Florida.

"This amendment makes about as much sense as shutting down all exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and weakens our energy security,'' said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The other energy amendment, sponsored by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., would prevent the Bush administration from pursuing energy and mineral development within designated national monuments. It passed by 242-173.

"Some of the oil and gas companies have been hankering to get into these lands for years,'' Rahall said. "Our national heritage must not be sacrificed on the altar of greed and profits.''

The Interior Department recently determined there are significant energy reserves within the boundaries of monuments designated by former President Clinton, including large low-sulfur coal deposits in the 1.7-million acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Opponents argued that Clinton designated many of these areas as new monuments for political reasons, mainly to please environmental groups, and that some encompass lands with little environmental value or tourist appeal.

"These are not the crown jewels,'' said Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, chairman of the House Resources Committee.

The House also approved:

—A measure by Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., that would block the Interior Department from suspending new rules aimed at requiring mining companies to pay for environmental cleanups and putting in place standards to protect ground and surface water.

—An amendment to boost funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute for Library and Museum Services by $15 million over what Bush proposed, which was the same as last year's level.

—An amendment by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., preventing the oil industry from paying the government certain royalties in oil rather than in cash. The bill would have changed current rules that require the companies to pay the fees based on the market price of oil extracted from federally owned lands.

———

The bill is H.R. 2217.

———

On the Net:

Bill text: http://thomas.loc.gov 
Sex Shop Declares National Orgasm Day
LONDON June 22, 2001 (Reuters) - A major British sex shop chain, citing a recent survey that showed 80 percent of women faked their climax during intercourse, said it is declaring July 31 National Orgasm Day.

Under the slogan "Make it not fake it" the Ann Summers chain said Thursday it was time for women to stake their claim to a full and satisfying sex life.

Offering a series of sex aids ranging from the top selling Rampant Rabbit vibrator to lip-smacking chocolate body paint to help, the chain said couples should talk through their sex troubles which were usually stress-related.

"Achieving orgasm is as much about what is going on between your ears as what is going on between your legs. Tackle these concerns before you start a love-making session and you are on the way to the big O," it said.
Neutrinos In The News - Physicists Solve 30-Year-Old Case

By MATT CRENSON
AP National Writer

Berkeley CA June 18, 2001 (AP) - Solving a 30-year-old scientific mystery, physicists have found the most convincing evidence yet that neutrinos — elusive subatomic particles that were thought to have no mass whatsoever — have a tiny wisp of heft after all.

The finding means scientists will have to adjust their theories of the universe.

"We're quite pleased with this result,'' said Kevin Lesko, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who helped design and operate the experiment. "I think there are probably a lot of bets being paid off today.''

Ever since their existence was first hypothesized by Wolfgang Pauli 60 years ago, neutrinos have been thought of as massless.

But on Monday, representatives of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada announced that neutrinos made by nuclear reactions in the sun's core change from one type to another during their 93-million-mile journey to Earth. And only particles with mass can change form.

The neutrino's mass cannot be much, around a mere billionth of a proton's. But its mere existence has profound implications:

— The standard model, the reigning theory in particle physics, does not allow particles that change their flavor to have mass. So that theory will have to be patched up — though not discarded — to accommodate the new observations.

— Because they originate deep inside the sun, neutrinos may provide an unprecedented view of what goes on there.

— They may not weigh much individually, but adding up all the neutrinos in existence changes the total estimated mass of the universe — a figure of great interest to physicists. Neutrinos seems to account for a small but significant fraction — possibly up to 18 percent — of the mysterious "dark matter'' in the universe that cannot be observed by telescopes or other ordinary means.

About 100 physicists from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom collaborated on the Sudbury experiment. They presented their results at a meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicists and in a paper submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.

Physicists have wrestled with the "solar neutrino problem'' since the early 1970s, when experiments detected a shortfall of the particles coming from the sun. The neutrino shortage meant either that theories describing the nuclear furnace at the sun's core were wrong, or that something was happening to the particles on their way to Earth.

Monday's announcement demonstrates with 99 percent confidence that it is the latter.

The sun produces only one type of neutrino. But there are two other kinds that the earliest neutrino detectors could not see, and some of the ones made by the sun turn into those other types on their way to Earth.

Three years ago, a Japanese experiment called Super-Kamiokande came up with indirect evidence that some of the neutrinos produced by the sun were changing into those different types. But that experiment could not distinguish among those types.

Now the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory has directly observed those changed neutrinos.

Measurements taken between November 1999 and January 2001 indicate that about 60 percent of the sun's neutrinos change.

The Sudbury observatory is a 10-story-tall cavity a mile underground in a Canadian nickel mine. Neutrino experiments have to be performed deep underground because at the Earth's surface a heavy rain of cosmic rays and other high-energy particles drowns out the meek particles.

Inside the rock-hewn cavity is an acrylic tank filled with heavy water. Most neutrinos pass through the heavy water, just as they do the rock surrounding it. But every hour or two a neutrino collides with a heavy water molecule, giving off a spark of light. By measuring that light, the detector can tell that a collision occurred and determine what kind of neutrino made it.

Fans To Re-enact Favorite 'Lucy' Moments

COSTA MESA, CA June 17, 2001 (AP) - For years, "I Love Lucy" fans have had to content themselves with reruns of the 1950s sitcom that captured the American imagination when it first aired.

Now, they're getting a chance to re-enact their favorite moments from the show as part of a traveling interactive exhibit celebrating the show's 50th anniversary.

The exhibit was being unveiled Sunday in Orange County and is to begin a four-year national tour June 28 in Milwaukee.

"With this tour, our family wanted to give the legions of 'I Love Lucy' fans throughout America a way to celebrate along with us and join in the fun that was the 'I Love Lucy' experience 50 years ago," Lucie Arnaz, daughter of series stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, said in a statement.

"I Love Lucy," which aired on CBS from 1951 to 1957, chronicled the misadventures of Lucy Ricardo (played by Lucille Ball) and her husband, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz).

The show also featured Vivian Vance and William Frawley as the couple's best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz.

The exhibit features displays of original props, costumes, scripts and rare photographs. It also has replicas of sets from the show, including the Ricardos' New York apartment and the Tropicana nightclub where Ricky performed.

But the highlights of the exhibit are interactive games based on three of the show's most memorable episodes.

In a recreation of "Lucy's Italian Movie," the episode in which Lucy stomped wine grapes, participants climb into a wine vat to see who can be first to stomp enough juice out of grapes to fill a wine bottle.

For the episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," which featured Lucy tripping over her tongue as she repeatedly sampled an alcohol-containing elixir, participants get to try to sell (and pronounce) "Vitameatavegemin."

Finally, they get to re-enact the scene in "Job Switching" in which Lucy and Ethel were employed to wrap chocolates but couldn't keep up with the candies whizzing past them on an accelerating conveyor belt. They grabbed them as fast as they could and stashed them in their pockets, hats and mouths.

TVA Workers Reprimanded for Alien Search
By RICHARD POWELSON
Scripps Howard News Service

June 18, 2001 (Scripps Howard) - Most employees of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority focus on power production, but 17 were caught using office computers for as long as a year to crunch data in a space alien manhunt.

The federal corporation's inspector general found that the employees' computers had downloaded software allowing them to help sort through radio signal data collected from space by the giant Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. No proof of intelligent life was found -so far.

The computer program from the University of California-Berkeley - SETI@home (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) - is so popular that more than 3 million computer users around the world have downloaded it. TVA's inspector general called it a security breach, a violation of the agency's written policy and recommended administrative action against the employees.

All the guilty TVA employees were given warnings that any future computer security violations could result in dismissal. The program was deleted from their computers.

Downloading the program provides a flashy screen saver, which is an image that appears on one's computer after it is idle for a while. The program gives the university very valuable, free computing time when the millions of participating volunteers' computers are idle and on.

At TVA, two employees left their computers on constantly and competed to see who could crunch more data for the alien search. Of the 17 involved, one ran the program only for an hour, while another operated it up to a year, investigators found.

When each computer finishes a unit of work, the results are sent automatically over the Internet to the university's central computer. Phase one of the project, checking billions of radio signals in this galaxy, is projected to be completed at the end of the year.

Richard Chambers, TVA's inspector general, said: "If you're allowing others to tap into your computer you have got some additional risk there" from hackers.

Anthony Smith, a senior manager of the agency's computer system, said the special program presented "some kind of risk" to their computers. But he found the program uses a high level of protective encryption so there was "a relatively low risk."

TVA managers have conducted a computer security awareness campaign throughout the agency, which is in Knoxville, Tenn., and sells wholesale power in parts of seven states.

David Anderson, director of the alien research project, said hackers have never damaged the project's computer system or any computers of its more than 3 million users the past two years. Invaders one time tricked the university's Web page into providing them e-mail addresses of the alien searchers, which resulted in mischievous e-mail messages to volunteers.

But he said that security loophole has been plugged.

What kind of person downloads the search program for alien radio signals? Most apparently are science-fiction buffs, according to a survey on the university's Web site.

Of the 93,000 who responded, 94 percent believe there is life outside of Earth.

Nearly 6 percent believe aliens would be hostile to Earth's residents; 58 percent are "not sure," and 36 percent predicted they would be friendly.
Protesters Stop Navy Bombing Run in Vieques
VIEQUES, Puerto Rico June 21, 2001 (AP) -- U.S. Navy fighter jets climbed above the clouds for a high-altitude bombing exercise over Vieques island, but were called back because two protesters had "fouled the range.''

It was the strongest admission yet from the Navy that peaceful guerrilla tactics labeled a "disobedience campaign'' are effectively derailing military exercises on this island off the coast of Puerto Rico.

"The important thing is that we identified these guys before the aircraft came in and were able to ensure that nobody got hurt,'' said Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Goode, a Navy spokeswoman.

Two protesters at the edge of the live-impact area shot off a signal flare just before the inert bombs were to be dropped, Goode said. The two were detained for trespassing on federal land.

The close call underscored the high-stakes duel being played out on Vieques between the U.S. Navy and activists who insist they have succeeded in delaying maneuvers several times.

"This has been a very successful civil disobedience campaign,'' protest leader Robert Rabin said. "They have been constantly changing their schedule.''

On Wednesday, the bombing exercises began after 5 p.m. -- once patrols had ensured it was safe, the Navy said. But the training had been cleared to begin in the morning.

On Tuesday, the Navy said the first bombardment began about 9 p.m., 13 hours after the Navy had warned it could start.

But Vieques Commissioner Juan Fernandez, who is monitoring the bombing for the Puerto Rican government, said "not a single bomb was dropped'' the whole day. Repeated calls to both parties were unable to resolve the discrepancy.

Protesters are invading the Navy land in hopes of blocking the latest in six decades of military exercises that they say have harmed the environment and the health of people on Vieques.

Activists, who demand an immediate end to the bombing exercises, were not appeased by President Bush's announcement last week that the Navy will withdraw in two years.

Seven protesters were detained Wednesday after cutting through a fence. At least 47 protesters have been detained for trespassing on federal lands this week, including the wife of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jackson said he will travel to Puerto Rico on Friday to visit his jailed wife, Jacqueline Jackson. He also said he plans to visit Vieques, although he had no plans to try to enter Navy land himself.

"We want to meet with President Bush to ask him to stop the bombing now -- not wait until 2003,'' Jackson said by telephone Wednesday. He said he had not yet received a response from Bush.

Jackson's Wife Ill-Treated in Vieques
By MARCELO BALLVE
Associated Press Writer

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico June 21, 2001 (AP) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Thursday that jail guards had treated his wife harshly and locked her in a cell by herself after her arrest for a peaceful cause — protesting the Navy's bombing on Vieques island.

Jacqueline Jackson was confined in "a dingy hole that is damp'' in a federal jail in suburban San Juan, the civil rights leader said, citing information provided by her lawyer.

"She would not submit to a search of her private body parts,'' Jackson said. The jailers "are trying to heap indignity on her.''

Jail officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Jackson spoke by phone from Los Angeles, one day before he was expected to come to Puerto Rico. He said he would also visit Vieques in an effort to pressure the Navy to halt its bombing exercises but had no plans to try to enter Navy land himself and get arrested.

Outside the Navy's Camp Garcia on this island off the Puerto Rican coast, protesters continued to sing anti-Navy salsa songs, tie ribbons to the fence, hold all-night vigils and attend civil disobedience workshops to prepare them to trespass on Navy land and get arrested.

Peaceful resistance — with Puerto Rican flair — has become the centerpiece of protests to block U.S. Navy bombing exercises on Vieques, and protesters liken their tactics and goals to the nonviolent anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s.

"The scenes of the protests against the war in Vietnam, the tactics of Martin Luther King, they are all being repeated for peace in Vieques,'' protest leader Robert Rabin said Thursday.

Fighter jets resumed dropping inert bombs on the Vieques target range Thursday afternoon, Navy spokesman Bob Nelson said. But protesters said they would keep invading Navy lands until the bombing is halted.

At least 47 protesters have been detained for trespassing this week, the Navy said.

"The heart cannot be imprisoned. Mine is free and says peace for Vieques,'' 47-year-old Dr. Jose Vargas Vidot said as security officials snapped plastic handcuffs on him Wednesday night.

Navy jets on a bombing run turned back Wednesday after protesters fired a flare near the range. Exercises were delayed for hours as Navy security detained two intruders and searched for others.

The protest movement has become a defining cause of Puerto Rican identity, bringing unity and collective pride to a society riven politically by three parties that push for different relationships with the United States.

Politicians that support U.S. statehood, the current "commonwealth'' status and independence all have been arrested in the protests.

Protests surged after two off-target bombs killed a civilian guard on the range in 1999, transforming David Sanes into a martyr of Puerto Rican nationalism.

Activists want to end six decades of bombing they say harms islanders' environment and health — accusations the Navy denies. Protesters were not appeased by President Bush's announcement last week that the Navy will withdraw in two years.

Rock-throwing protesters contradict activists' claims that they are peaceful, the Navy argued.

"When you have protesters throwing rocks at our security people, that's not civil disobedience,'' Nelson said.

————

On the Net:

U.S. Navy site, http://www.navyvieques.navy.mil

Anti-Navy site, http://www.viequeslibre.org

‘Oz’ Munchkins - 60 years later
By Megan Rosenfeld
THE WASHINGTON POST

GRAND RAPIDS MN June 20, 2001 (Washington Post) — “Hold up your lollipop, Jerry,” says his wife. Jerry Maren, 81, holds up his lollipop. It’s as big as his face, with a big bunch of curly ribbon tied to the handle — a replica of the one he had as a Lollipop Kid in “The Wizard of Oz.” Three kids and a grandma have crowded around him, while Gramps holds up a camera, ready to snap. “Say ‘Oz!’ ” Jerry’s wife, Elizabeth, says gaily. All grin. Click. More happy customers.

Elizabeth is not a surviving Munchkin like Jerry but an “MBM,” which is pronounced ma-bum and stands for “Munchkin by Marriage.” She wears a bright yellow hat and a matching T-shirt that says “I Partied With the Munchkins.” The shirt, unfortunately, is not for sale. What is for sale is an array of photographs of Jerry as the Lollipop Kid and, later in his life, as Buster Brown and as the World’s Smallest Chef. “Autographs are $5, and all our pictures are $10,” she announces at regular intervals, stowing the incoming cash in a blue leather fanny pack.

Five other surviving Munchkins sit nearby with their own pictures laid out on a long folding table in this bland hotel meeting room. It’s on the outskirts of Judy Garland’s home town in northern Minnesota, a once-pretty little city of 9,000 now in the aesthetic clutches of Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target. But it is Judy Garland’s birthplace — “It’s a swell state, Minnesota,” she once said — and this past weekend it hosted the 26th Annual Judy Garland Festival. The surviving Munchkins are a regular feature of the two-day event; it’s part of the circuit of parades, charity parties, auctions, store openings, toy fairs, cruises, retirement homes and school auditoriums that these miniature senior citizens hit every year.

FAME IN AMERICA

This is fame in America. Fame in America is being a 78-year-old great-grandmother wearing a turquoise flowerpot on your head and having men, women and children twice your size approach you with wonder. It is being an 82-year-old naturalized citizen whose father once buried you in sand to make you grow and then sold you to a troupe of traveling midgets — and who now gets picked up in a limo and ferried to places where people pay $5 for your autograph.

Fame in America is not just for the movie star and the television icon, it’s for everyone who ever worked with them, was related to them, had lunch with them, served lunch to them or baby-sat for them. More than 100 people turned out here last weekend to hear Garland’s elderly first cousin sing “Danny Boy” in the closing hours of the festival. The day before, a few more than that gave a standing ovation for a talk by an 82-year-old woman who surfaced recently with the claim to fame that she had been Judy’s stand-in during the filming of “The Wizard of Oz.” But the Munchkins — whose enduring appeal rests on barely 10 minutes of screen time in a 62-year-old movie — were clearly the headliners.

“It’s a lot easier than digging ditches,” says Meinhardt Raabe, 85. “At my age you don’t have too many choices.” There’s a wink somewhere in his high-pitched voice. On his head is a ridiculous hat — a large, square job with rolled-up edges — and he wears a long blue robe, a replica of his costume as the Munchkin coroner. He was the one who pronounced the Wicked Witch of the East “most sincerely dead.” At 4 feet 8, he is the tallest of the group here.

This is also Show Business in America. You smile when you are low, especially if half the people staring at you are 4-year-olds in Dorothy-blue gingham dresses and ruby-red slippers. You keep on trouping, as long as there’s another gig and some pictures to sell, a market that has been growing ever since the heavily promoted 50th anniversary of the film in 1989.

“The reaction of the people never varies,” says John Fricke, who has co-authored several books about “The Wizard of Oz” and produced a documentary about the Munchkins. “We like to say the age range of the fans is from fetal to fatal. Teenagers, grandparents, parents — and there isn’t one who doesn’t know that movie backwards and forwards. Judy Garland would be 78 years old if she’d lived. But the Munchkins haven’t changed.”

Another round-eyed tot presents herself to Maren. “Isn’t she beautiful!” he says for about the seventh time this morning. He pronounces it bee-yoo-ti-ful, and every time he sounds as if he really means it.

A FAMILY OF ELDERS

There are 10 Munchkins still alive but only these six go on the road regularly. Two are too frail to travel. “Little Olga” (one of the Lullaby League dancers) refuses to have anything to do with any of the others. “I even knocked on her door, and she wouldn’t talk to me,” says Margaret Pellegrini, the flowerpot lady and bundle of energy. Another, Mickey Carroll, is on the outs with the rest because he’s told people he was the mayor or the voice of the coroner when he really wasn’t. The others don’t say anything bad about him publicly, just that he takes care of a handicapped nephew and can’t travel.

The six who are gathered here are like any other bunch of older folks, except that most are the height of 7-year-olds. Some are hard of hearing, some walk gingerly, some wear glasses. They don’t like schedule changes, they need regular breaks, and please don’t interrupt them during a meal. Most live on Social Security and a small pension (although Maren invested profitably in real estate and is wealthy), and they say the money they make from selling pictures plus the small fees for appearances like this — the museum spent $8,500and procured their lodging to get them — are useful but not crucial to their incomes.

Ruth Duccini, 82, now lives in Arizona. She’s the breeziest Munchkin, commonly known as a “sweetheart.” A widow, she looks like a tiny version of everybody’s grandmother, with soft gray-blond hair, glasses and practical no-wrinkle clothes. She won’t wear a costume, which perturbs her friend Pellegrini mightily.

“Ruthie needs a costume,” Pellegrini says. By this time they have moved from the hotel to the Judy Garland Birthplace and Museum, two parking lots down the road, and have laid out their wares in the family dining room. “Costumes go over big. You don’t find them lining up for someone who doesn’t look like a Munchkin. . . . Ruthie and Little Karl don’t get called as much because they don’t have costumes.” (Karl Slover usually wears a suit, or a satin baseball jacket.) “We used to work Vegas a lot, and she had a costume they made for her.”

Duccini and Pellegrini worked the Emerald City gift shop at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on weekends, autographing anything that cost $10 or more. They thought it was a hoot.

“We each had a hotel room, and we could go anywhere for meals,” Duccini says. “They’d send a limo to the airport to pick us up. Pretty good for an old lady, huh?”

Duccini also has fewer pictures than the others, and seems less intent on selling them. At one point she even amiably tries to return a $5 bill to a bleached-blond young man with multiple piercings and tattoos who pronounces himself an adoring “Wizard of Oz” fanatic. At the end of the second day, she is asked how business was.

“Eh, so-so,” she says. “I made about what I lost at the casino last night.”

LIFE IN MUNCHKINVILLE

For five years, until mandatory retirement at age 70, Meinhardt Raabe was a substitute teacher in the Philadelphia school system. He never had trouble asserting authority over his students, he says. “You see, I was a curiosity.”

Medically, the Munchkins are “pituitary dwarfs,” which means they lack the growth hormone but are in other respects proportional. They are called midgets, or “little people,” as opposed to dwarfs, who have short limbs and sometimes other body disproportions. Some midgets have other distinguishing characteristics — large ears, high voices, wrinkled faces — and they may fail to go through puberty. But mostly they are simply adults in miniature, and people find them fascinating.

When the midgets alive today have died, there won’t be many more — or giants either. Modern endocrinologists treat the conditions with growth hormones quite successfully.

“It’s quite rare to meet them — when they’re gone, they’re gone,” says Stephen Cox, author of “The Munchkins Remember.” “I try to stress to people that they are extraordinary humans. One of the Munchkins said, ‘We’re antiques, like dinosaurs.’ ”

In a famous 1967 interview, Jack Paar asked Judy Garland about the Munchkins. “They were little drunks,” she said. “They all got smashed every night, and they picked them up in butterfly nets. They’d slam a tulip in their nose, the poor things. I imagine they get residuals.”

This, of course, was very entertaining, but largely fiction. In the first place, nobody got residuals in those days, and the Munchkins — who were not even credited by name in the film — were generally paid $100 a week, half of which was taken by their manager, Leo Singer.

Second, only a few of the older Munchkins were troublemakers. True, Charlie Kelley was fired from the movie after he tried to attack his estranged wife, Jessie, with a knife, and also tried to drag her out of a restaurant by her hair. Twins Mike and Ike Matina were problem drinkers and liked to seduce into overindulgence less hardened colleagues, one of whom had to be rescued from a toilet into which he had fallen.

But many of the tales of debauchery told by producer Mervyn LeRoy and others seem to have been a combination of wishful thinking and prejudice — in those days midgets were freaks, not fellow humans. It was too wonderful to think of them as being savagely drunk and possessing wild sexual power. However, the story that their voices in the movie are dubbed is indeed true.

All of the Munchkins here went on to productive lives, operating within the restraints society placed on them. Raabe, who had a degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin, could not get work in that field and so spent 30 years as Little Oscar, touring in the Wienermobile for Oscar Mayer. During World War II he became a licensed pilot and teacher with the Civilian Air Patrol, and he later taught German and horticulture. Clarence Swensen, 83, was an electrical engineer for the University of Texas and worked on radar installation during the war.

Pellegrini was a secretary for a police department and raised two children as well as some grandchildren and now great-grandchildren, and Duccini, who also married and raised children, was a riveter on C-54 transports during the war. Maren was the West Coast Little Oscar for 10 years.

ESCAPING THE SAND PIT

Karl Slover’s 6-foot-6 father tried mightily to make his only son grow. Back in Hungary, he had the child stretched until a doctor warned that his bones would break. He soaked him in a barrel of coconut oil, and when that didn’t work he buried him in a pit of sand. That particular day the boy was forgotten and got the family Doberman pinscher to drag him out. Eventually the father gave up and sold him to a troupe of traveling midgets in Berlin. He was 9 years old.

He’s telling his story — one that he clearly enjoys — in the hotel dining room, dressed in a suit and tie. Ruth Duccini listens to him affectionately, laughing again at stories she has no doubt heard before.

Slover came to the United States with Leo Singer, the maestro of midgets. They did vaudeville. Slover, then three feet tall, was the smallest of all.
“They’d have a boxing scene and I’d be the policeman and arrest the winner,” Slover, 82, recalls. “Or I’d be dressed as a cardinal and marry a midget couple. Sometimes I played the ukulele and sang ‘Old Black Joe.’ ”

After “The Wizard of Oz,” Slover was in a couple of more movies, like “The Terror of Tiny Town,” an all-midget western that featured several of the Munchkins. Then he went back on the road for a few years and pretty much stayed in showbiz. After he moved to Tampa in 1942 (he became a U.S. citizen in ’43), he went to work taking tickets for a family-owned carnival. After 14 years of that, he developed an act with toy poodles.

“I had one I trained to push the other in a baby carriage,” he says, settling in for a long yarn about how he taught the dogs to do what he wanted. One learned to play the piano. Slover never married, and he still lives with the family who owned the carnival. He writes weekly letters to some of the other Munchkins and enjoys events like this festival where they get together. He grew eventually to 4 feet 4 inches.

THE SUPPERTIME SHIFT

After “Lunch With the Munchkins” on Saturday, the gang is starting to pack up the photos and move over to the Birthplace when a young volunteer tells them the schedule has been changed. Instead of a 90-minute shift, a break and then an appearance at the “Taste of Grand Rapids” dinner, they are to be on duty at the house from 3 to 7 p.m. This does not go down too well.

“I don’t think I can do four hours,” says Raabe, his coroner’s hat tilting slightly as he shakes his head. Swensen, dressed in his Munchkin solder outfit, looks toward his wife, Myrna, who is packing up the bead-and-pipe-cleaner Oz characters she makes and sells.

Jerry Maren explodes. “The food will be goin’ on while we’re workin’, for Chrissakes! It’s always while we’re workin’!”

“Calm down, Jerry,” counsels his wife, who is perpetually upbeat. “Don’t be so hostile.”

He goes out to smoke one of his three daily cigars and calms down. Sure enough, they all show up for the afternoon shift in the homestead, towing their pictures in suitcases on wheels and vying, as usual, for the best spot at the table. Maren often tries to direct people toward Slover, who doesn’t have an assertive assistant like Elizabeth to help him. “He was the First Trumpeter,” Maren will say. “He has wonderful pictures, too!”

Pellegrini, in her jolly flowerpot-lady dirndl, is a commanding presence. She keeps an eye on the traffic and the rules. Raabe takes a place some distance from her. The Swensens, who live in Pflugerville, Tex., near one of their three daughters, have a prime spot at a small, separate table. The tuft of white feathers on Clarence Swensen’s tall soldier hat waves slightly when he nods his head.

A tall man in sunglasses surveys the crowd of little people in costume, seated in Frank and Ethel Gumm’s former living room. “So this is what you do, just being Munchkins?” asks John Kopesky of Kenosha, Wis., in a friendly tone. They all nod. “Well. Good for you.”

A longtime fan, Kevin Hoagland, has come for a visit. His 4-year-old niece is wearing a dress just like Margaret Pellegrini’s, made by her uncle. He is a jolly 6-foot-8 guy who just adores the Munchkins. While in Florida for a “Wizard of Oz” cruise, he visited the oldest living Munchkin, Tiny Doll, and has brought pictures to show everyone. Tiny is the surviving member of the Doll siblings — Daisy, Gracie and Harry were the others — all of whom appeared in the movie.

“Oh, how is she doing?” asks Ruth Duccini. “I heard she was living on $200 a month.”

“She’s fine,” says Hoagland. “She lives in a nice trailer court.”

“Does she own or rent?” Duccini asks. Hoagland has neglected to find out.

Clarence Swensen overhears this conversation. “I dated Daisy Doll,” he says with a little smile.

The afternoon wears on, and soon the line of picture- and autograph-seekers has dwindled, the rooms of 1920s artifacts are empty of people, and the Munchkins pack up. There is still plenty of food at “Taste of Grand Rapids” (barbecue, enchiladas and truly excellent pie).

It’s hard to understand why people care so much about these little people. And about the movie. But they do.

“America is not like Europe or ancient Greece, with all that history,” suggests John Kelsch, the museum’s director. ” ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is one of America’s treasured masterpieces. And the Munchkins are the only ones still alive who were in it.”

Nearby, the ever-cheerful Elizabeth Maren is packed. “Grab your lollipop, honey. Let’s go.”

On The Net ---

Chesterton Indiana Annual Oz Festival - http://www.cebunet.com/oz

The Oz Encyclopedia - http://www.halcyon.com/piglet


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