The News of the Weird
The U.S. Army's War on the King
FREIBERG, Germany--The U.S. Army has already closed the Elvis A. Presley dining facility. And it's only the beginning.
The legacies of Presley's stay at Ray Barracks north of Frankfurt have suffered from the reduction in American forces in Europe: The Pentagon plans to pare the number of U.S. troops to 150,000 by 1995, compared with 321,000 stationed here in 1989.
Presley was in Company A of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Armored Division's 32nd Regiment. It's now Company A of the 4th Battalion of the 1st Armored Division's 67th Regiment.
And Elvis' old barber--one of the few presences left in Europe who remembers the King--is all shook up.
"Sure, I'm afraid," says Karl-Heinz Stein, the head haircutter at the base where Pvt. Presley spent his overseas Army hitch.
Stein insists that, as long as Ray Barracks survives, he will keep his shrine to Elvis, including the scissors and straight razor he used to maintain the Presley pompadour after his basic-training cut grew out.
With troop reductions in Europe, however, layoffs are expected among the civilians whose jobs depend on American soldiers.
Stein, 56, has cut hair here for 34 years and recalls the day the soft-spoken soldier shuffled into his shop in October 1958.
"After 10-15 minutes I was done," Stein said. "I showed him a mirror and said, `Is that OK? He said `Yeah, how much?' "
Elvis paid him a dollar for a 35-cent cut, Stein said.
Presley returned twice monthly for 17 months. He sat in the chair Stein still uses and read comic books, sometimes whooping with delight when he came to a good part, Stein said.
Soldiers who sit in Stein's chair say they don't feel the King's karma race through the barber's fingertips, although they are impressed.
"I think it's neat," said Lt. Col. Dan Robertson. "I told my wife, `Hey, Elvis' barber cut my hair.' "
Safe Sex in the San Francisco Zoo
SAN FRANCISCO--Violet the orangutan is on the pill. King L'ear the bison was rendered harmless with a bovine vasectomy And Maxine the cougar is using a Norplant-style implant.
Birds do it. Bees do it. But at the San Francisco Zoo, some of the romantically inclined are taking precautions.
These days, zoos hard pressed for space have adopted strict breeding practices to prevent unwanted offspring ending up in dismal wayside attractions or being used as quarry at private big-game ranches.
"It's nice to have little bodies, it's a crowd pleaser and things like that, but we've got an overall responsibility," said zoo veterinarian Dr. Freeland Dunker.
In honor of Valentine's Day last week, the zoo ran a special R-rated sex tour jampacked with fascinating facts. Among others:
Foreplay can last from over a month for rhinos to hours for the aptly named slow loris, a tree-dwelling primate.
Orangutans can do it upside down, while rhinos carry on for up to an hour. Lions take pride in engaging up to 50 times in a 24-hour span and koalas mate for just 40 seconds three times per year.
Then there are the zoo's two female Canada geese, who have laid more than 40 unfertilized eggs for each other and are inseparable. Named Gertie and Alice--after Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas--the pair are favorites of animal keeper Jane Tollini.
"They show no interest in being apart," she said. "If one is gone, the other one stands out here just screaming."
As guide for the no-children Valentine tour, Tollini takes a keen interest in the sex lives of her charges.
This year, the tour includes information on contraception, such as King Lear's epididymectomy. The procedure, which involves cutting the sperm channel, eliminated unwanted baby bisons, but didn't stop King Lear from being dominant bull.
On a recent tour, Tollini pointed out some of the contraceptive stars, such as Violet, slouched in the entrance to her cave munching on leaves. Since 1986, Violet has been taking human birth control pills, straight from the supermarket.
Maxine has a small cylinder of rubber inserted between her shoulder blades--the implant works on the same principle as those used in humans, diffusing a conception-inhibiting substance. THE QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"If the condom isn't effective, the University doesn't want to be liable for it."
--Sylvia J. Struss, a Harvard trademark administrator, explaining why her office turned down an offer to put Veritas on contraceptives.