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Maybe it was the heat, together with...

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

Maybe it was the heat, together with the fact that the weekend was approaching. But downtown L.A. seemed a bit stranger than usual Friday.

First there was the noontime chase on foot through Little Tokyo, featuring one man pursued by (in order) a couple of restaurant workers, a group of about 20 high school kids and two Los Angeles policeman.

The workers and the kids eventually gave up. Police, who had joined the excitement late, questioned them and resumed the search. The suspect was later caught and arrested on suspicion of theft, though further details were not available.

The school kids admitted they hadn’t been much help in answering the cops’ questions.

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As one student told a Times reporter: “We didn’t know what happened. We just saw someone being chased so we went after him, too.”

A bit earlier, an eccentric basketball player was seen playing against imaginary opponents on the corner of Spring and 2nd streets, frightening passers-by as he pretended to toss his ball into their midsections.

The 30-ish hoopster, alternately dribbling and pantomiming shots, eventually ran a solitary fast-break east on 2nd Street, perhaps headed for New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, police were writing tickets to drivers who clogged the intersection at 9th and Figueroa streets.

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The only problem, observeJ. O’Connor, a waiter at the nearby Pantry Cafe, was that authorities had blocked off one of the lanes on 9th and were directing alleged violators into that area, where the tickets were written.

And a second lane was blocked off by an electronic arrow directing drivers to avoid the blocked-off portions.

The end result: A tremendous case of gridlock on both Figueroa and 9th.

Donations to the homeless during the holiday season are fine, said Marian Thomas of Digital Equipment Co., “but we didn’t want them to think they were forgotten the rest of the year.”

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So 90 Digital employees donated bonus checks that they’d saved from last Christmas to the Los Angeles Mission Friday. Digital’s management chipped in, too. And the mission wound up with $2,437 from the Christmas-in-July offering to buy food.

The Skating Musician performing indoors?

Yes, turbaned Harry Perry will be at Santa Monica’s Church in Ocean Park tonight along with such fellow Venice performers as Tom (The Skating Clown) Boyle and pianist Barry Gordon (whose piano is, of course, on wheels).

It’s a noisy fund-raiser for the anti-nukers, the Alliance for Survival. The show starts rolling at 8 p.m.

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