<i> Snapshots of life in the Golden State.</i> : ‘Dark’ Time for Fresno, and We’re Not Talking Tule Fog

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Fresno hasn’t had much prime-time air time since “Fresno,” the parody miniseries about warring raisin barons, came and went a decade ago.

Ah, but things are . . . looking up. The first episode of “Dark Skies,” an NBC television series, is about a starry-eyed Beltway neophyte whose boss is a Fresno congressman. The kid is drafted by a tippy-top-secret black-helicopter strike force tracking UFOs, and the congressman is taken over by an alien who appears to be half crustacean and half strawberry Jell-O.

Judging by the JFK stickers all over his office (in those days before campaign reform), the TV congressman is a Democrat. He dies horribly in the first episode.


The real Fresno rep is first-term Republican and old “Star Trek” series fan George P. Radanovich. Asked for a statement to allay constituents’ concerns, Radanovich intoned Michael Rennie’s line from the sci-fi masterpiece “The Day the Earth Stood Still”--”Klaatu barada nikto.”

Anyone out there speak Fresnan?


That giant sucking sound, Part II: San Francisco’s mayor, Willie Brown, who as a state legislator accepted more money from the tobacco industry than any other elected official in America, has received the laurels of the American Cancer Society.

The Humanitarian of the Year award presented to Brown refers just to this year, when, as mayor, he approved the city’s suing tobacco companies for costs to taxpayers of treating cancer and smoking-related illnesses.

As for the other years, 1981 to 1995, Assembly Speaker Brown received more than three-quarters of a million bucks in campaign donations, gifts and legal fees from tobacco interests.

For some, the city’s lawsuit balanced out Brown’s nicotine-stained past. American Cancer Society spokeswoman Amy Weitz said, “We certainly all wish his efforts had been different in the past, but we have to look to the future.”

The San Francisco Examiner headlined it, “Mayor’s Latest Lucky Strike.” Make that Lucky Strike green.



Milton hears a where: First he’s extinct, now he’s homeless.

Since a woolly mammoth skeleton was unearthed 13 years ago outside the Death Valley town of Shoshone, it has resided at Sonoma State University. Now that the academics are done with it, says the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce, the skeleton, which the locals named “Milton,” is free to come home to the Shoshone Museum.

Milton would be a great tourist draw, but here’s the hitch. Milton measures 29 by 10 feet. The Shoshone Museum measures 30 by 30 feet. Milton would need a wing and a prayer in order to come home. And Inyo County supervisors have voted no on building a new wing to the museum.


SAT Scores By State

Here are the 1996 average verbal and math scores for college-bound seniors who took the Scholastic Assessment Test in the 10 most populous states, and what percentage of seniors took the test. Scores can range from 200 to 800 in each of the test’s two sections.


Average Average % graduates Verbal math taking SAT California 495 511 45% Texas 495 500 48% New York 497 499 73% Florida 498 496 48% Pennsylvania 498 492 71% Illinois 564 575 14% Ohio 536 535 24% Michigan 557 565 11% New Jersey 498 505 69% North Carolina 490 486 59% National Average 505 508 41%


Source: College Board, New York

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times


One-offs: Former Republican Assembly leader Pat Nolan, who pleaded guilty to racketeering in a bipartisan political corruption case, was honored by the California Republican Assembly with a “Tribute to Pat Nolan” dinner whose only reference to Nolan’s 33-month prison sentence was “the end of Pat’s persecution.” . . . Three high school students and a 21-year-old man were arrested after a night of drive-by shootings in San Francisco--with a blowgun and darts. . . . A UC Riverside survey of the county’s best and worst attributes found, respectively, that 18% of respondents listed the weather, and 32% listed the weather (and smog).



“They are not anxious to welcome Richard into our family, and I understand that.”

--Doreen L., speaking of her siblings. The San Rafael freelance editor is the fiancee of multi-murderer, Death Row resident and Satan groupie Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. San Quentin nuptials are set for Oct. 3. Quoted in the San Francisco Examiner.

California Dateline appears every other Friday.