With violence on television under intensive study, maybe somebody should tell Evel Knievel to knock it off before he knocks somebody else off.
Grammar school kids in Wilmington, Del. were seen recently rigging up a ramp of planks supported by boxes at the end of a sloping driveway. One after the other they mounted their bicycles, gathered speed down the drive and zoomed into the air to land you know where—on their heads, mostly. Just like Evel, on whose TV program the major suspense seems to be whether he will return to the hospital or this time make it to the morgue. The show rates parental guidance.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has this dilemma: what to do with 1,200 pairs of crocodile shoes valued at $150 each. They cannot be sold, they cannot be given away to welfare cases and museums and schools do not begin to soak up the surplus. So, until somebody comes up with a solution, they will have to sit in one of several warehouses around the country that have been filling rapidly with contraband confiscated primarily under two laws: the Lacey Act of 1900, which makes it illegal to import animal products taken in violation of a foreign country's wildlife regulations, and the Endangered Species Acts of 1969 and 1973, which bar trade in the world's rarest flora and fauna.
The shoes are only the toe of the problem. There are, for example, 20,000 cans of smoked or barbecued sperm-whale meat once bound for gourmet food shops and, as recently discovered in Oklahoma, a cache of feathers taken from thousands of migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles and seven kinds of hawks. These were going to be made into fancy fans or Indian war bonnets with splendid historical anecdotes attached to raise the price. With eagle carcasses selling on the black market for as high as $125 each and 10 eagles required to make one bonnet, the price of an "authentic" headdress can get up there with the Great Father in the Sky.
The department goes mainly after the professional smugglers, who are getting up to $30,000 for a leopard-skin coat and managing to squeeze extra profit out of bits and parts of spotted cats—such as tails, paws and faces—which can be shipped separately and the pieces whipped into an expensive coat by a not-so-fine furrier. But there are the tourists and commercial importers, too, who try to bring into the country something as innocent as tortoiseshell jewelry, unaware that the Hawksbill sea turtle, from which it comes, is as close to disappearing from this mortal coil as the bison once was. The tourist, the wildlife people hope, can be trained, but as long as there are pros making money the warehouses will swell and some species will pass the endangered stage into extinction.
Competition on the uneven parallel bars, a gymnastics discipline normally the exclusive province of females, was invaded recently by a male. Ronald Ayotte, a brave sophomore at Maine's Colby College, reasoned that if women could go out for football and the men's swim team, the process could work in reverse. He made the women's squad as an uneven-bar man and competed against the University of Maine. He did not place, but he gained a wild ovation from the audience and hugs from his teammates. Then he hung up his leotard, having proved, he said, "that a man was capable of competing in this women's sport." He also feels he taught the girls to compete with more daring. Ladies, to your horses. You know what happens: "As Maine goes...."