Shed a genuine tear for the lachrymose crocodile. Blood kin to the dinosaur, a fixture here on earth for nearly 200 million years, it may, except for the wily American alligator, be all gone by the end of this century.
This at any rate is the word from the January National Geographic, which freely admits these toothy lethargic beasts "spend most of their time doing nothing." But, queries Dr. Wayne King of the New York Zoological Society, "Why does an animal have to be useful?"
Crocs, says the Geographic, have a sophisticated social order that includes a "body language" of back arching and bubble blowing as well as a complex series of grunts, chirps, hisses and growls, each and every one of which carries a specific message. Why then doesn't anybody feel for them? Dr. King explains:
"They're not cuddly. They don't have big soulful eyes like seals. Most of the animals the world is concerned with are beautiful, or they tug at your heartstrings. Crocodiles have a pretty toothy leer. They eat dogs in Florida sometimes even people. Who could love them?" Looney Tunes
In Singapore, Wayne Newton was banned from the airwaves as, "a long haired hippy." In Germany, episodes of "The Wild, Wild West" featuring Michael Dunn never reached the home screen because "they were reluctant to put a drawf on the air." And in Sweden nobody liked "Gentle Ben" because of a fear that if the show hit the tube, "the next thing they knew Swedish kids would start petting the local wild moose."
And so it goes, TV Guide reports, in the wacky world of selling American TV shows overseas, a $200-million business in 1977 alone. You can never tell what those foreigners will like or dislike, reports a Columbia executive, because "in countries with only two channels, the biggest competition might be a panel discussion on pig breeding."
And then there was a made-for-TV movie called "Go Ask Alice." "It was about a young girl who was taking all kinds of drugs . . . the needles . . . the filth," remembers an executive. "When the Latin Americans dubbed the movie into Spanish, the whole thrust was altered. The girl went out to meet her pusher, and the dialogue said she was going to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. Why did she use the needle? She was a diabetic." We Kid You Not
The following item is reprinted in its entirety from Sports Illustrated:
A woman called the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to ask the price of tickets to Jazz basketball games.
"They are$7.50, $6, $4 and $1.50," she was told.
"Why the different prices?" asked the woman.
"They depend on how far away you are."
"Oh," she replied. "I'm in Bation Rouge." Goodies
Now that you're on the verge of nervous exhaustion from having dispensed Christmas cheer near and far, it's time to treat yourself to a subscription to some nifty but little known publication worthy of your discerning support. Three possibilities are:
American Preservation - published in Little Rock, Ark., of all places, this features the most extraordinary color photographs of restored houses and neigborhoods. Says publisher Porter Briggs, "We try and be uncompromising in our esthetic standards." And how. A six-issue, one-year subscription costs $9 from P.O. Box 589, Martinsville, N.J., 08836.
Parabola - this fascinating journal, says senior editor Susan Bergholz, is about "mythology and the quest for meaning. We're attempting to look again at ancient stories, ideas that have never changed, and try and see how they could help us live our lives a little better." In addition to retellings of old tales, Parabola has articles from the likes of Isaac B. Singer, Joseph Campbell and P.L. Travers. One year for $12 from P.O. Box 781, Old Chelsea Station, N.Y. 10011.
Southern Exposure - "For generations people have had a hard time figuring out what the South is all about," says managing editor Bob Hall. "It's been used as a whipping boy or a scapegoat or kind of a mythical place." So the people at the Institute for Southern Studies decided to put out a quarterly journal of culture and politics that, says writer Robert Sherrill, "takes you into the back roads and bushes without sweat or insect bites." Eight dollars a year from P.O. Box 230, Chapel Hill, N.C., 27514. They Said It
"I'm going to do them the way I want to and then they can kiss mu behind." - Richard Pryor on his remining TV specials in the January Ebony.
"For the first time in your life, people begin to treat you as being as important as you always thought you were. It's a very gratifying experience." - S.I. Hayakawa on being a senator in January Harpers. The Whooper
On the surface, Rinko, the magazine of decorative Japanese carp, or koi, as they are called back home, may seem like just another pretty face, a magazine with beguiling color photoo of said fish and nothing more.
Yet as the current issue shows, carp are not only decorative as all get-out, they can teach you a lot about life as well.The cover story, entitled "My Proud Koi," is a case in point.
This koiaccording to author Ryo Kamiya, was "not very promising" when he bought it six years ago. Nothing seemed to help its looks, but, says Kamiya stoutly, "The more koi specialists spoke ill of this koi, the more I kept fighting for my honor as a koi lover. I couldn't help it."
And then, just a short while ago, Kamiya's koi came around. "See how it looks on the cover," he boasts, adding immodestly, "I admire myself because I refused to be tempted by foul-tongued people.=
Surely there is a lesson there for all of us. People Are Funny
Peter J. Wilson has a problem. A professor of anthropology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, he recently spent a year among the Tsimihety people of Madagascar, fully expecting to find what anthropologists are always finding: a tribe "whose lives revolve around dominant themes . . . that lend themselves to being described systematically."
But, as Wilson reports in the December Natural History, this tribe was different. It refused to be imprisoned by the demands of system and symbol . . . There did not seem to be Tsimihety way of going about things." Here, believe it or not, was a people who "don't do things, don't think new thoughts, don't create new symbols; they can, in a sense, only be described negatively, by comparing them with neighbors who do practice elaborate rituals crammed with mysterious sysbols."
Though buffloed at first, Wilson came out thinking the Tsimihety were okay in his book: "They have developed an unspectacular, flexible, pragmatic and utilitarian solution to social life . . . For them the world exists as a fact and not as a closed, bounded system to be known through central metaphors. A piecemeal world is a free world and that contention is surely the Tsimihety philosophy." Scoop!
It's not all fun and games in the world of magazines, sometimes gritty pieces of real news manage to surface:
Washington Calendar, the glossy giveaway magazine, is celebrating its first year of publication by announcing a plan to shop its current publication of 175,000 right in half. This will enable it to cut its ad rates and thus gain advertisers and thus make more money and this raise its circulation and thus . . .
A yummy new magazine, The International Review of Food & Wine, will debut, like it or not, inside the April Playboy.
The first of Fortune's new biweekly issue is on the stands. Raves publisher Clifford Gum, this magazine has become "a brighter, livelier publication without losing any of the depth, accuracy and resourcefulness that have been the tradition of Fortune journalism." We never doubted it for a minute, Cliff.
Reader's Digest is getting snazzier, with peppier graphics and a bit more contemporanity in editorial content though, a spokesman cautions, "if you can notice the changes they're happening too fast." The January issue, in fact, features a whimsical pictorial called Golf's Impossible Holes, places like Victoria Falls, the Grand Canyon and the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica, a challenging 512-yard par 4. Tidbits
It was Anita Bryant, "wife mother, singer and activist" just nosing out Pat Nixon in Good Housekeeping's ninth annual Most Admired Woman Poll. Other finishers in order were Mother Teresa, Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Jordan, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Beverly Sills, Betty Ford, Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Princess Grace of Monaco . . . Speaking of women, skin publisher Gloria Leonard will be featured all over nine pages of the January issue of her High Society magazine. She challenges Bob Guccione, Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner to do likewise. Hmmm . . . Seventeen Magazine reports that America's teen-age girls, lord love 'em, surpassed last year's all-times record in spring clothes expenditures by paying out a whopping $6.6 billion in 1977 . . . In a remarkable display of unanimity, Fleetwood Mac and their album "Rumours" were voted band and disc of the year by both Rolling Stone's readers and its critics . . . Scientific American is pleased to announce that wine and spirits advertisers invested nearly $600,000 in the magazine in 1977, a 75 percent increase over last year. And a Happy New Year to you, too. CAPTION: Illustration, National Geographic's uncuddly croc,; Picture 1, a view up the fairway of Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarcitica, a tricky par-4 from Reader's Digest. Photo by Jonathan Blair Copyright (c) 1978 National Geographic Society; Picture 2, Rinko's "proud koi" cover,; Picture 3, and the magazine of restored houses and neighborhoods.