Miss America contests aren’t alone. These days,...

<i> From staff and wire reports </i>

Miss America contests aren’t alone. These days, even agricultural festivals are hard-pressed to avoid controversy.

Actress Julie McCullough, the star of television’s “Growing Pains,” has surrendered her Azalea Festival crown because of nude appearances that she made in Playboy magazine in 1985 and 1986.

Six months ago, the California Artichoke Festival in Castroville drew protests from local women’s organizations over its poster of landscape architect Joanne Gallaher posing provocatively in a bed of the thistly vegetables.

As for the azalea announcement, William Cameron, president of the Wilmington, N.C., festival, said that McCullough graciously stepped down after local Southern Baptists started a letter-writing campaign.


“The Azalea Festival,” explained the Rev. J. Edwin Bullock, “is sort of like Mother’s Day.”

Maybe it wasn’t Iwo Jima. But there was applause anyway as battered veterans of Tinsel Town’s trademark wars gallantly raised the flag of Hollywood above the Security Pacific Bank Building on Hollywood Boulevard.

And the banner didn’t say “Hollywood, Calif .,” either. Just “ Hollywood ,” in obvious defiance of the nation’s 14 other Hollywoods, all of whom are struggling to keep Tinsel Town from obtaining marketing rights to the name.

The flag, designed by Jennifer Taylor, a 17-year-old high school student, depicts Mann’s Chinese Theater, a palm tree, the Hollywood Bowl and the Capitol Records Tower, all bathed in floodlights.


The flag-raising couldn’t have been more disorganized if it had been sabotaged by someone from Hollywood, Ga.

Even the normally unflappable emcee, Johnny Grant, exclaimed at one point, “What, no mike?"--a reference to either (1) the absence of a microphone, (2) the absence of City Councilman Michael Woo, who arrived late, or (3) both.

Long-distance commuters who lament that the freeway is becoming their home away from home received sad confirmation from Wednesday’s traffic advisories. The spillage included a sofa on the Ventura Freeway, a chair on the Pasadena and a carpet on the Hollywood.

Oratorical exchanges between Los Angeles County Supervisors Pete Schabarum and Deane Dana don’t exactly conjure up memories of Lincoln and Douglas.

The other day, Schabarum charged that Dana had changed his vote on an issue affecting South El Monte, part of Schabarum’s district, after “some guy calls you up this morning and says, ‘Holy Cow, dabba dabba dabba doo....”

Obviously hurt, Dana retorted: “Some people call up you and dabba dabba do.”

Later, Dana explained that he had dispensed with the usual courtesy of following a colleague’s wishes on an issue in his own district because Schabarum had similarly let him down.

“Monkey see and monkey does,” Dana concluded.