Connoisseur Flips Lid as $156,000 Wine Slips Its Cork

--A potential tragedy of historical proportions is fermenting in New York. Last December, Publisher Malcolm Forbes paid a record $156,000 for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite once owned by Thomas Jefferson. He put it on display along with other presidential memorabilia in his Forbes Magazine Galleries. But the hot display lights have taken their toll. The cork has dried out and is slowly slipping into the bottle. And--in a wine connoisseur’s nightmare--soon all that will stand between the exquisite Bordeaux and its becoming vinegar is a thick layer of wax surrounding the neck of the bottle. Forbes’ son, Christopher, was philosophical about the unexpected turn of events. “Whether you could drink it is purely speculative, anyway,” he said. “We bought it to enhance our collection, certainly not to drink it, or even open it.” But Roger Yassen, president of Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a gastronomic society, was horrified at the conditions under which such a priceless vintage is being stored. “Mr. Forbes,” he said, “should be spanked.”

--Hirsuteness is out at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. To bring home that point to students, school officials have retouched a portrait of BYU founder Karl T. Maesar, removing his beard. Never mind that Brigham Young and other early Mormon leaders all had beards. In fact, according to R. Michael Whitaker, director of university standards, all church presidents wore beards from the time the Mormon pioneers settled in Utah 139 years ago until the 1940s. The reaction among students was predictable. In a letter to the student newspaper, Glenn Larson wrote: “Since they decided to shave off Karl T. Maesar’s beard, I think they should also have the statues of Brigham Young and President Maesar resculptured. They should also put some clothes on the Indian (statue) that stands outside the Lee Library.”

--As any self-respecting scofflaw knows, wriggling out of paying a parking fine takes a sense of personal outrage--and a little skill in debating fine points of the law. In Wildwood, N.J., Dennis Hart has the former and is working on the latter. He is challenging the small print on the town’s parking meters, which indicates that they are in effect from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Hart, who was ticketed at 1:30 p.m., contends that 12 p.m. is noon. Wildwood maintains that 12 p.m. is midnight. So far, his argument has fallen on deaf ears. Municipal Judge Kenneth Calloway sided with the town, found Hart guilty and imposed fines and court costs. Hart is appealing his conviction.