Bear With Us as We Fight the Good Fight for Our Historic State Mascot

It's reassuring to see another publication joining my fight against changing California's mascot from a grizzly bear into a giant rat.

You may recall that this scandal broke when Bob Jeffers of Pacific Palisades sent me a photo of a rodent-infested design on a California Welcome Center sign.

Some readers identified the creature as a capybara, a South American resident that grows as long as four feet (and is not to be confused with the Komodo dragon that attacked San Francisco editor Phil Bronstein at the L.A. Zoo the other day).

Anyway, Time magazine reprinted Jeffers' photo in its June 4 issue and Caltrans caved in to the pressure and agreed to substitute the traditional bear icon for the rodent on the four offending markers along the Santa Monica Freeway.

Asked how the rats got onto the signs, a Caltrans spokeswoman said it was just "an honest mistake" by an outside agency.

Whatever, the extermination of the rodent as a symbol will come as a relief to UCLA and UC Berkeley, whose Bruin and Bear athletic teams won't have to change nicknames after all.

Does Pomona have an official civic song? OK, you can get back to me on that one. In the meantime, I'm nominating "Californ'," which is one of the selections on the Brooklyn Cowboys' "Doin' Time on Planet Earth" album.

It's about a New Yorker who is entranced by "the West . . . in the movies and the music" and heads this way.

Part of it goes like this:

Yeah, for a while you made my

dreams come true.

How I miss you, sweet Pomona,

Where my journey came to end.

You took me in your summer arms

And held me like a friend. . . .

Sounds like he was rescued after his car ran out of gas on the 60.

A disguise of sorts: Ginger Harrison, the 28-year-old L.A. cop who poses out of uniform in the July issue of Playboy, makes a good point when she says the photo spread won't affect her credibility. Harrison maintains that Playboy buyers wouldn't recognize her in uniform.

Broadcast boo-boos (cont.): Regarding a recent item here, Lloyd Peyton of Silver Lake says that, according to his recording of collected bloopers, I misidentified the baker. "The actual quote is, 'It's Wonder Bread, for the breast in bed,' " he said. "Also on the recording is Harry Von Zell introducing the esteemed predecessor of FDR as 'Hoobert Heever.' "

By coincidence, I heard Michael Jackson of KLAC-AM (570) mention one blooper he always feared he'd make (but never did) when he was with the BBC:

"Here's the news from the British Broadcorping Castration."

miscelLAny: Cyber commentator Ron Fineman notes that Mayor Riordan's choice to succeed him (Steve Soboroff) finished third in the general election. And, in the runoff, Riordan's choice (Antonio Villaraigosa) finished second in a two-man race. "If Riordan wants to run for governor," Fineman said, "he could probably ensure a victory for himself by endorsing Gray Davis."

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Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, Ext. 77083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., 90012 and by e-mail at steve.harvey@latimes.com.

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