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OK, No More Mr. Nice Columnist

That’s what I get for trying to sneak a heart-warming item past readers. I mentioned, you may recall, that a Laker fan with the license plate, LAQERS, was thrilled when Shaquille O’Neal drove up alongside him, smiled and said hello.

And the response from readers? One replied that in view of the number of titles the Lakers have won since signing Shaq for $120 million--zero--the plate could also mean LACKERS.

And Robert Riedel of Torrance took the opportunity to point out that a neighbor has a plate that says LAKERS O, which Riedel translates as Lakers Zero.

I’m surprised no one recalled that Shaq once said he had won championships on every level, except college and pro. Look at that, now I’m getting mean.

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CHRONICLES OF THE CAR CULTURE: First there was the Norwalk woman who took out an ad in which she offered to trade half a dozen porcelain figurines for a “reliable car.” She hasn’t gotten a bite.

Now comes another type of swap offer. A West L.A. man has placed an ad that says, “Advertise your company on the sides of my classic 1958 Chevy panel truck in exchange for body work on the truck.”

So far, no auto repair shops have taken him up on that offer. Hmmm. I wonder if a maker of porcelain figurines might also be able to do a bit of body work on a car?

JUST THE THING FOR A SIGALERT: Being trapped in a traffic jam can be tough for older adults (I speak as one). But Kevin Buck of Canyon Country found what seems to be a refreshing innovation by Caltrans--a portable toilet alongside the Golden State Freeway in Sylmar (see photo).

MICKEY AND MINNIE MIGHT BE INTERESTED: Rosalie Russell of Upland found a flier that described a wonderful house, if you don’t mind having to stock up on mouse traps. Location, location, indeed (see excerpt).

CHRONICLES OF THE BUS CULTURE: The MTA has honored driver Men K. Tham, who found a backpack containing more than $1,600 on his bus and turned it in. The belongings were returned to Esperanza Tomaso, who explained that her husband had recently died and she was taking money he had left her to the bank.

“I was very distracted and got off the bus without my purse,” she added.

Tomaso, by the way, hadn’t bothered to report her loss.

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“I didn’t believe anyone would be honest enough to return so much money,” she explained.

PRESIDENTIAL PETE? Our governor is talking about running for president again, despite his disastrous 1996 bid for the Republican nomination.

Has his name recognition improved? Only in L.A. hereby presents the results of its own poll, admittedly employing a small population sample.

Michelle Brendel of Seal Beach went into a post office in Idyllwild to mail a letter to the governor’s office but noticed that she didn’t have the ZIP Code.

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“Oh well,” she said to the clerk, “I guess they will know who Pete Wilson is without a ZIP Code.”

The clerk replied, “Who is Pete Wilson?”

miscelLAny:

A while back, this column reported that a large photo in the reception area of Mayor Riordan’s office showed His Honor and hundreds of other bicyclists waving at the camera at the start of a race. One bearded guy off to the side, however, was waving with the old one-fingered salute. Not a great exhibit for out-of-town visitors to City Hall. Well, the photo was quietly removed the other day and replaced with another shot of bicyclists. Only in L.A.--cleaning up this town.

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


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