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When Ruling in L.A., Do as the Romans Do

Friends, Angelenos and countrymen:

“Julius Caesar at City Hall” say the banners hanging in downtown L.A. They are not a reference to the governing style of Mayor Richard Riordan. Rather, they are heralding the current production of Shakespeare’s tragedy on the steps of City Hall.

There are obvious differences between the Roman leader and King Richard.

While Caesar consorted with Romans, Riordan had as a business partner a famous Trojan--ex-USC quarterback Pat Haden.

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Caesar extended the Roman empire; Riordan has been busy trying to stymie a rebellion in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley.

There are a few similarities between the two. Each has autocratic tendencies. Caesar annexed Gaul while Riordan’s critics said the mayor showed a lot of gall when he talked of selling Los Angeles International Airport.

And both are associated with legendary females--Caesar with Cleopatra, and Riordan, who led a restructuring of Mattel Co., with Barbie.

One more thing: neither Caesar nor Riordan lured an NFL football team to his city.

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THIS MEANS YOU! In Culver City, Julian Wolinsky spotted a warning to a guy named Irving who is apparently in the habit of ignoring a right-turn-only requirement (see photo).

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BUILD YOUR VOCABULARY (CONT.): Hot summer days like these are made for lying on a couch and doing nothing more energetic than ruminating about the little mysteries of life. LaMar Price, for instance, wonders what to call “the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street.” He’s asked around and received such responses as “the parking strip,” “the frontage,” “the parkway,” “the petunia patch” and “a pain in the you-know-what.” Anyone have any thoughts out there?

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CLEVER ATTENTION-GETTER? Bill Hawk of Altadena noticed that a tire store ad in the Sierra Madre News was itself out of alignment (see accompanying).

. . . BUT NO CIGAR . . . : “Close to Glenn,” a comedy by Bruce Smith of Venice, concerns a group of people trying to persuade actress Glenn Close to star in a play. It opens Saturday at the Long Beach Playhouse and, like any author, Smith has issued personal invites to some select individuals. He still hasn’t heard back from one person, though--actress Glenn Close.

Maybe Irving will attend.

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FREEWAY LIT 101: Crossroads, the newsletter for Southern California Rideshare, listed some topical fiction you can read while letting someone else do the driving, including:

* “Save Me, I Fell in the Car Pool,” by Nancy Moser.

* “Drive, They Said: Poems About Americans and Their Cars,” edited by Kurt Brown.

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* “Strange Traffic: Stories,” by Irene Dische.

But I’m surprised the newsletter left out Ruth Rendell’s latest mystery:

“Road Rage.”

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WE’LL BE BACK AFTER THIS: A couple of actor anecdotes in this column prompted producer Bea Shaw to write that “some of the most affluent performers work in commercials.” She related the story of an audition in which one actor asked another: “Did you know Fred died?”

“No!” the other replied. “What did he have?”

“Well,” said the first, “he had Chevrolet, Budweiser, Tylenol . . . “

miscelLAny:

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The Long Beach Courthouse is not alone in forbidding the viewing of TV’s “The Jerry Springer Show” in the jury assembly room. L.A.'s downtown Criminal Courts Building has adopted the same ban because too many spectators were getting into arguments. “Do you know how embarrassing this is to say?” a courthouse worker said. He added: “Imagine if we had cable!”

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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