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Thirty Years Ago They tell tales in the back rooms and archives and lecture halls of the anthropology world, of one John Peabody Harrington, linguist. Now that a comfortable 15 years have elapsed since his death, they delight in his maniacal dedication to his work. Example: Harrington was pulling on a billy goat's ears in a very painful manner. The billy goat was protesting. A passerby asked him, "Harrington, what in God's name are you doing?" Harrington sighed, "Isn't that the most perfect umlaut you've ever heard?" -- "SHE'S NO MOTHER TUMS," Rachel Flick, January 22, 1976

Twenty-Five Years Ago Would you turn down the chance to meet Mozart? Say you could go back in time and talk to the young Mozart, nine years old, beginning to shine. Wouldn't it be a treat to sit down and know that he was headed for immortality and realize that you could tell your kid in 30 years, "Hey, you know I met Mozart." Well, forget Mozart. Meet Gustavo Romero. -- "PRELUDE FOR A YOUNG PIANIST," Jeannette De Wyze, January 29, 1981

Twenty Years Ago The deal called for just Roger, not Roger and Mel. But after Roger Hedgecock resigned from office last December and announced he was joining KSDO-AM (1130) as afternoon talk show host, his former press aide, Mel Buxbaum, was fired by Deputy Mayor Ed Struiksma. And the unexpectedness of Buxbaum's dismissal, KSDO sources say, prompted Hedgecock to demand his friend be included in the deal -- with the title of "executive producer" and a monthly salary reported at $1200. -- CITY LIGHTS: "AND THAT INCLUDES MEL," Thomas K. Arnold, January 30, 1986

Fifteen Years Ago The manicured lawns of Los Angeles's west side sprout forests of signs warning "Armed Response!" Richer neighborhoods in the canyons and hillsides isolate themselves behind walls. Downtown, a subsidized "urban renaissance" has raised the nation's largest corporate citadel, segregated from the poor neighborhoods around it by a monumental architectural glacis. In Hollywood, architect Frank Gehry apotheosizes the siege look in a library designed to resemble a foreign-legion fort. In the Westlake district and the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles Police barricade streets and seal off poor neighborhoods as part of their "war on drugs." -- "WELCOME TO POST-LIBERAL LOS ANGELES," Mike Davis, January 31, 1991

Ten Years Ago In mid-September, I'd read in newspapers that [Jamaica] Kincaid, together with Ian Frazier (another Shawn protégé), was considering leaving the New Yorker staff. Both Kincaid and Frazier had declared themselves unhappy with editor Tina Brown's asking sitcom queen Roseanne to serve as consultant for an upcoming issue of the magazine. Kincaid was quoted as saying about the Roseanne consultancy, "Put me in a room with a great writer, I grovel. Put me in with Roseanne, I throw up."I asked Kincaid if indeed she were leaving the New Yorker because of Roseanne's hiring.

"That was the catalyst. It seemed that I had to think about whether I wanted to be with an editor that thought Roseanne a source of intellectual inspiration; Roseanne herself, not Roseanne the phenomenon." -- READING, Judith Moore, January 25, 1996

Five Years Ago Late in the 1870s, Anne and Clemens Sandrock and their two small children moved south from Bear Valley to San Diego. Their route may have taken them along the main road that ran through Mission Valley to Old Town or to Alonzo Horton's New San Diego. There were breaks in the south wall of the valley. The slope up which Highway 163 runs today was called Poor Farm Grade; Texas Street was called Mission Grade. Clemens decided to locate a store at the midpoint, near the intersection of Mission Grade and Mission Valley Road. He built a five-room store and house and put a sign on the front that said, "C.W. Sandrock's Tienda." -- "MURDER IN MISSION VALLEY," Barbara Palmer, January 25, 2001

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