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Wild West Ghost Town’s Image in California Gains Bit of Polish

Calico Ghost Town, whose boom years ended about 100 years ago, has hit pay dirt of sorts again. UCLA professor Daniel J.B. Mitchell, knowing of my fondness for useless trivia, alerted me that the San Bernardino County tourist site was recently designated the official state Silver Rush ghost town.

Not without some controversy. The Desert Dispatch of Barstow wrote that lawmakers were originally going to make Bodie the state ghost town until Calico supporters protested. So Bodie’s title was reduced to state Gold Rush ghost town, leaving some of the glory for Calico.

California has 25 of these obscure designations, ranging from state bird (California valley quail) to state dance (West Coast swing).

No state grass, though. A move to give that honor to needle grass was defeated several years ago after some lawmakers quipped that, for this state, marijuana would be a more appropriate choice.

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Guide to Dining Adventurously: Today’s specials du column include:

* A new way to prepare salads for the pro-fat crowd (from Alan Frisbie of L.A.).

* A type of roast pig that might lead one to resist hearing about the restaurant’s other “culinary delights” (from James Helms of Arcadia).

* A really long-necked container (from Eileen and Carl Appleby of Escondido, who commented that “even half a giraffe seems way too much”).

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Purple daze: I mentioned that the lyric from Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” -- “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” -- was misheard by some to be, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

David Stoughton writes that as time went on, “Hendrix himself made fun of the line, and started singing ‘kiss this guy’ in his live performances. He’d step back and point at bass player Noel Redding as he sang it. Noel would mug a terrified take, and Jimi would just smile ... “

School daze: With the new school year approaching (don’t tell my kids), I did some homework and consulted the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Some of the quotes I found in the local schools section:

* “Pepperdine, 8 Month Party, 20K Cover Charge,” a T-shirt seen at that school.

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* “A wonderful place if you’re married or about to die,” a Harvey Mudd student’s description of the placid campus town of Claremont.

* “Four years, four bikes,” a saying at UC Santa Barbara relating to the frequency of bike thefts.

* “Zot,” a cheer at UC Irvine duplicating the sound that an anteater supposedly makes when it grabs an ant with its tongue. The glorious anteater is, of course, the mascot of UC Irvine’s athletic teams.

miscelLAny: This thought for the day comes from an anonymous contributor to the “Speakout!” section of the Long Beach Press-Telegram: “If the world is getting smaller, why are we paying more postage?” Zot!

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Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LATIMES, 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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