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GETTING A BELT
A six-round preliminary between two neighborhood bartenders got more attention the other night in Philadelphia than a featured bout which matched former Middleweight Champion Joey Giardello and Jack Rodgers. For three years the customers at Breen's and The 500 East Club in the Frankford section of the city have been arguing about the boxing prowess of their respective bartenders, Jackie Lennon and Rick Conti. The two men, former lightweights, met once in the ring, in 1964, and Conti was awarded a split decision.
To settle the issue the bartenders came out of retirement, and this time Lennon won—bloodily. "I ran faithfully every morning," the 139-pound Lennon said afterward. "I boxed faithfully the last couple of weeks, and I went to work every night, too."
"Just like three years ago," said Lennon's father, who comes from Ireland. "That Conti bragged so much that Jackie closed his mouth for him."
Not for long, though. Conti was back at The 500 East Club declaring, "I hurt my ribs in the gym and couldn't fight. I couldn't even jab. He was boxing like an amateur. It's hard to fight a guy like that. He didn't hurt me; he cut my eye on a head butt. He couldn't even crack an egg. If he doesn't want to fight anymore, that's his business. Me, I want to keep on. If he wants to say that we're friends now, that's him talking. I'm not his friend. The guy is a nonunion bartender."
Until quite recently it was common to see a hunter in Provence in the south of France carrying a bird in a cage on his back as he picked his way through the hills. He would place the cage under a promising-looking tree, sit down, cock his gun and wait. His bird would sing and attract the wild birds. But that is old hat, or rather old beret, now.
These days Provencal peasants carry portable record players and LPs. An audio engineer in Toulon, Maurice Vidal, produces the records, and has sold 25,000 of them, mainly through gun shops. Not long ago one hunter placed an order for a special record—three minutes of thrush, two minutes of finch, followed by a minute and a half of green linnet, then a few lark notes and finally three more minutes of thrush—all of which are game birds in France. He was told the record would cost him at least $20, instead of the usual $3 for the standard warble. But the hunter was not put off; he said he didn't give a hoot about the price.
Vidal has been called a "bird assassin" and has received threatening letters from bird lovers. But he insists, "I love animals and I hate hunting. All my recordings are made of live birds flying around freely. And I only record birds which may be legally hunted. I wouldn't dream of recording the singing of a goldfinch or a nightingale."
On occasion, Vidal has been plagued by poachers. "A hunter buys every one of my records," Vidal explains, "and then he tapes them for his friends. Sooner or later these tape worms are apprehended by game wardens. Hunting with a tape [as opposed to a record player] is illegal here."