The Texas State Society and the Texas Breakfast Club are throwing an 8 a.m. birthday party next week for the indefatigable Sarah McClendon, one of the city's best-known and generally well-loved reporters -- if "love" is the proper word to use in describing an often pesky journalist. The July 26 party is to observe McClendon's 80th birthday earlier this month. Having pestered presidents reaching back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, McClendon said she has been covering the White House for "only" 46 years. That may be a record, but no one is saying. She started her newspaper career at the Courier-Times in her hometown of Tyler, Tex., in 1931 and later worked on the Beaumont (Tex.) Enterprise, where she met a cub reporter now known as Rep. Jack Brooks.

McClendon is still on the job covering the White House, reporting and writing a column for her McClendon News Service and is out and about several nights a week on the social circuit. Next Thursday's birthday party in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building is being sponsored by Texas Reps. Brooks, Jake Pickle, Ralph Hall and Albert Bustamante, and McClendon has been told her old pal, former speaker Jim Wright, will be in town for the occasion. Out and About Those kids did love those New Kids on the Block. They loved the clean-cut rock group so much that while the band was in town to perform at RFK Stadium, some 150 girls between the ages of 7 and 15 rented rooms and moved into the Park Hyatt Hotel just to be near their idols. In fact, several mothers and dads were with them and reportedly even offered bribes to bellhops and other members of the hotel staff in an attempt to find out when the band was coming and going. The girls grabbed used pizza boxes the band might have eaten from and photographed the New Kids' luggage. Park Hyatt sales manager Teri Galvez said she'd never seen anything like it before. "They're like Deadheads, but a junior version," she said, referring to Grateful Dead groupies, "and they're with their moms." Staying at the hotel at the same time was Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, who looks like a rock star but walked through the lobby filled with New Kids fans and was completely ignored ...

A further note on the books President Bush says he reads when he can't sleep: One of them is by a Washington writer. "Mayday Man" is the first novel of Bill Beecher, Washington bureau chief of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who gave Bush a copy of his thriller three months ago. Beecher dreams that Bush's recognition will do great things for his book, published by Brassey's, a military affairs/foreign policy publisher taking the fiction plunge with this novel. He remembers that another president -- Ronald Reagan -- recognized a first-book thriller by a similarly specialized publisher doing its first novel, and that book, "The Hunt for Red October," did have some success ...

When the MacArthur Fellowships were announced earlier this week, one was given to McGill University professor John Christian Bailar III, and the foundation listed him as a Canadian. That is only partially true. Bailar, who is a U.S. citizen and lives in Southwest Washington, travels each week to Montreal, where he works two or three days on the medical faculty. He is also a science adviser in the office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Department of Health and Human Services here and is a statistical consultant with the New England Journal of Medicine. He is probably best known for blowing the whistle on the overuse of mammography on younger women. Bailar said yesterday he will probably use his $340,000 grant to write a couple of books ...

Heritage USA and the PTL television empire of convicted evangelist Jim Bakker have been purchased for $52 million by California faith healer Morris Cerullo, who occasionally appeared on the "Jim and Tammy Show." It seems to be Cerullo's shot at big-time evangelism, and he says he plans to reopen the 2,200-acre religious retreat next spring ...