JPL Wasn’t Making a Fashion Statement


George Alexander of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory reports that attorneys for Oleg Cassini phoned, saying how dare JPL put the fashion designer’s name on its Saturn probe without permission.

JPL’s lawyers replied that the Cassini spacecraft was named for Jean Dominique Cassini, an 18th century astronomer.

“There was a long silence on the other end of the phone,” Alexander said, “followed by an ‘Oh.’ ”


Talk about an argument lost in space.

ONLY IN L.A. SHOPPER’S EDITION: In the weird specials category, Julio Elguezabal of Elysian Park noticed a garage that was on the market, Don Clark of Woodland Hills came upon a rubbish can that was for rent and an anonymous reader contributed an ad for a bathtub that can be inhabited for $550 a month (see photos and ad).

Needless to say, the pricey tub is on the Westside. I’m not sure if the $550 covers the water bill as well.

SOUNDS LIKE . . . : Address miscues keep pouring in. Dr. Richard Ashby of Ventura recalled a friend who registered in a hotel in New Orleans.

“Upon reaching his room,” Ashby said, “the front desk called and a nice young lady with a Southern accent said that she’d failed to get the name of the town where he lived. ‘Santa Paula, California,’ ” he responded.

“Several days later, on checking out, he was approached by the hotel manager who mentioned that he had lived in California but had never heard of the town before. ‘Santa Paula?’ asked my friend. ‘Why, it’s a small town near Ventura . . . ‘ ‘Oh,’ replied the manager. ‘Our staff had written it down as Center Parlor.’ ”

ITEM FOR A LULL IN CONVERSATION: Metrolink has its own Web site ( and has been accessed by users in 39 other countries. Japan leads with 347 hits while Iceland, Belgium and Portugal have each been responsible for one hit. Figures not available for Santa Paula.


SHE WAS NO MANSON GIRL: The late crime reporter Theo Wilson will be honored Saturday at noon with a ceremony designating the intersection of Glencoe Way and Camrose Drive in Hollywood as Theo Wilson Square, though, as friend Al Hix notes, she was “anything but square.”

Wilson, author of “Headline Justice,” was the reporter who once grabbed a taxi and rode 250 miles to the site of the kidnapping of schoolchildren in Chowchilla.

She also won renown among her colleagues during a break in the Manson murders trial when Manson turned to her in the near-empty courtroom and growled that she had bad karma.

Wilson’s unruffled response: “Oh, shut up, Charlie.”

HE KNEW REPORTERS: Kenny Hahn, the longtime L.A. County supervisor who died the other day, loved chatting with newspaper reporters. And he came to their aid one day in 1953 when Supervisor Raymond Darby died suddenly after being punched by an angry citizen at the close of a board meeting.

No reporters were present, having raced off to lunch. Hahn checked the county pressroom, where the news hounds were based, but found it empty. He could have then phoned the various city editors in town with the news, but he knew that would have given the impression (not entirely false) that the reporters had been negligent.

So what did he do? He phoned the saloon where the scribes hung out. They were there and returned to duty.



Referring to Thursday’s column, which showed a deer-crossing sign next to a speed-warning sign, Susan Franzblau wrote, “Thanks to the roadside picture you printed, I keep singing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Radar . . . ‘ “

Steve Harvey can be reached by phone at (213) 237-7083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by e-mail at and by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, Times Mirror Square, L.A. 90053.