FAREWELL TO KC'S AMBROSIA
Bo Belinsky, visiting Kansas City as an American League pitcher years ago, sneered that the only thing to do there after eight o'clock at night was to catch the next plane out. But celebrated sportsmen as well as nonathletic visitors have long enjoyed going to Kansas City if for no other reason than the charcoal-broiled strip steaks that such stars as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline long have relished.
But now the traditional Kansas City steak is threatened, a possible victim of measures being taken against air pollution. In keeping with federal and state guidelines a Kansas City ordinance requires that by Sept. 1 special antipollution equipment must be installed on charcoal broilers. Thirty-nine city restaurants have already installed the devices but 43 others have closed down their charcoal broilers.
The devices prevent melted fat from dripping on the burning charcoal. But that is the very process which imparts a special flavor to the steaks. Steak house and other restaurant owners have complained that enforcement of the ordinance will make it all but impossible to get a classic Kansas City steak in a Kansas City eating place.
Glen Hopkins, special assistant city manager who supervises pollution control, concedes that "the pollution from charcoal broilers is a comparatively minor aspect of Kansas City's total pollution problem" and acknowledges that the charcoal broiler devices do eliminate the true char-broiled flavor of the beef.
Restaurant owners are considering court action to save what could be Kansas City's best-known amenity.
Hemingway would have understood. At age 66 Johnny Longden wants to face the bulls again. It isn't just a daydream. Once the world's champion jockey, Longden is giving serious thought to a return to the saddle, which he abandoned to become a trainer in 1966 after posting 6,032 wins, a record since surpassed by Willie Shoemaker.
"Just a few races, maybe," Longden was saying the other day in Seattle. "I couldn't even think of coming back if I hadn't been working horses these past years. Oh, my rhythm won't be sharp right away and I'll probably get tired. But I feel pretty good. My weight is about 112. I have less trouble with it than when I was riding. I can eat all I want...."
Longden would select his mounts from his own stable and consider their qualifications closely. Up to a few weeks ago he was thinking of riding a Round Table colt, Circle, in the Longacres Mile next month. Circle was retired to stud after a recent injury at Hollywood Park, but there are others who might inspire Longden to put on the silks.