An Apology From Junk-Mailing Firm, in the Form of More Junk Mail

At last, a junk-mailing company that admits to being a nuisance. Just look at the candid note that Michael Sorensen received from Publishers Clearinghouse (see accompanying).


Then there was the guy with something to hide: Wendell Jones of Ojai came across a police blotter item about a man who was apparently trying to sell drugs to cruise passengers (see accompanying).


But here's some sweetness: Rita Wiegand saw an ad for a house whose seller bragged that it's devoid of rotten fruit (see accompanying).


I hope he left a tip, too: After the death of Bobby Hatfield, one fan told Don Barrett's LARadio. com Web site that she met the singer years earlier while working as a waitress at South Coast Plaza. When Hatfield gave her a credit card to pay his tab, she asked him for an I.D. He broke into a rendition of "Unchained Melody."


Oldies time: The new book, "45 RPM: The History, Heroes and Villains of a Pop Music Revolution," has some off-beat anecdotes about "the little record with the big hole in the middle." Here are a few collected by Southland authors Jim Dawson and Steve Propes.

* To make sure disc jockeys played the heavily financed A-sides of his releases, promoter Phil Spector used "throwaway instrumental B-sides" with such inside-joke titles as "Flip & Nitty," "Dr. Kaplan's Office" and "Harry (From West Virginia) and Milt."

"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" -- a novelty number about a "supposed asylum inmate" -- had the same song on the B side but titled backward: "!Aaah-Ah, Yawa Em Ekat ot Gnimoc Er'yeht."

* "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" was "originally released simply as Puff, which some wags took as a reference to marijuana. When kids started calling radio stations requesting 'Puff the magic dragon,' the title was lengthened."

* And the landmark to the era: With 45 singles the craze, Capitol Records constructed new headquarters in 1954 "designed to resemble a stack of 45 records on a turntable."

I'm still waiting for it to be torn down and rebuilt in the shape of a CD player.


miscelLAny: Kids of today don't know how lucky they are to receive Christmas presents. It's a recent practice, judging from a sign that Jay Berman of Manhattan Beach discovered up north -- in Vancouver (see photo).

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

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