So What if GTE Has His Number?

It was almost as good as winning the lottery. GTE’s letter to me--"valued customer"--said that the unlisted phone numbers and addresses of some residents had been published, but “NOT YOU” (see excerpt). What a relief to know that I wouldn’t be the prey of telemarketers. Then I started to think about the way GTE’s note shouted “NOT YOU.” Well, why not me? I’m not good enough for telemarketers? Now I’m really angry.

REAL ESTATE, THE EARLY YEARS: Steve O’Donnell of Studio City sent along a funny yarn he spotted in the book “One Night Stands With American History--Odd, Amusing and Little-Known Incidents.”

It seems that after the Mexican War, President Zachary Taylor commissioned Capt. William Tecumseh Sherman to explore and survey the nation’s newly acquired lands.

“Well, Captain,” the president supposedly inquired, “will [the new possessions] pay for the blood and treasure spent in the war?”


“Well, General,” replied Sherman, “it cost us one hundred millions of dollars and ten thousand men to carry on the war with Mexico.”

“Yes, fully that,” Taylor replied, “but we got Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California.”

Sherman replied that “between you and me I feel that we’ll have to go to war again. . . .”

“What for?” the president asked.


“Why,” answered Sherman, “to make ‘em take the darn country back.”

MONKEY BUSINESS? Silvia Terrones of L.A. wonders if one video store may encounter some problems with its customers’ returns (see photo).

HE LEFT SOMETHING ELSE IN SAN FRANCISCO: Baldness cures are sprouting everywhere, but downtown L.A. barber Joe Navarro heard a new theory.

“A customer of mine was about 30 and had a full head of hair,” Navarro said. “He moved to San Francisco when his company transferred him. He moved back to L.A. about 15 years later and he was bald. He blamed it on the fog and the salty air in San Francisco.” Well, isn’t Mayor Willie Brown sparse on top? As for Mr. Only’s chrome dome (see mug), it’s true I grew up in L.A. But I didn’t start to lose my hair until I spent six months on National Guard duty in New Jersey.


CAT GOT YOUR TAX? Mayor Riordan’s silly budgetary proposal to tax cat owners--a proposal that is advanced every 20 years or so here, by the way--ignores one fundamental fact. People don’t own cats; cats own people.

Surely the City Council will veto the idea, mindful of the social disruption that would result from cat licensing. Let me illustrate with one story I’ve told before but that bears repeating:

A neighbor of mine had a cat that slept in her house every night. “One day,” she said, “I attached an identity tag to it, and two different families came to my door claiming I was trying to steal their cat. One woman’s two little boys were crying.” She added: “That was the last cat I tagged.”



Photos of movie stars hang on the walls of a popular family-style Italian restaurant in Goleta. Alas, a problem developed with the eatery’s name--especially after the death of Princess Diana--and the case of the photographers who chased actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his pregnant wife. So the diner changed its name to Mama Maria’s.

A more homey feel than the previous name--Paparazzi.


That valued customer Steve Harvey can be reached by telephone 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.