December 28, 1987 12:00 PM

While it wasn’t generally known, when Marx and Engels talked about dialectical materialism, they were referring to the difficulty of choosing between taffeta and organza. In the year of glasnost run amok, Soviet fashion designer Viyacheslav Zaitsev, above, of the Moscow House of Fashion ran farther than most. He gave a show of his eccentrically modern clothes at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in October and explained, “I want to present all this beauty to so many people vv! 10 hunger for it.”

No problem, Bob. We’ll just paint some kernels on it, and everyone will think it’s an ear of corn wearing a shower cap. Robert Moore, president of the International Banana Association, protested the use of a banana as a prop in a demonstration of proper condom use as part of a PBS documentary hosted by Ron Reagan Jr. Among the alternatives Moore suggested for the demonstration was disguising the banana.

I can’t hear you; I’ve got a banana in my ear. Make that a corn cob. President Reagan twice feigned laryngitis to avoid questions at public appearances. After one incident spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters, “The President did have a remarkable recovery of his voice right after you left.”

Jeez, Gargantua, this show makes a guy ashamed to be part of the evolutionary process. Anyway, there hasn’t been anything good on since the Golden Age of TV, when they had J. Fred on the Today show, B.J. and the Bear, Magilia Gorilla and Zoo Parade. Two male gorillas in the Milwaukee Public Zoo, given a TV set as an experiment, turned off a channel showing Wheel of Fortune to tune in a videotape of other primates.

First, cut up 11,000 pounds of carrots. Dr. Roy L. Walford published a guide to increased longevity called The 120-Year Diet

The decline and fall of Western civilization as we know it. The 1988 National Pork Queen will be the last beauty honored by that title. “The queen program is no longer appropriate for the times we’re in,” an official of the National Pork Producers Council said.

Unquote: “I have seen both of us in the nude, and I agree”—Bud Collins, rated last while Arthur Ashe came in first in a magazine poll asking women players which male TV tennis commentator they would like to see nude.

Onward Christian entrepreneurs. Among the souvenir items marketed in the U.S. in connection with Pope John Paul II’s visit were: a lawn sprinkler with water spurting out of the palms of a plywood pontiff; the “Popescope,” a periscope to help people see John Paul in crowds; a comic book about the Pope, with a cover featuring both him and Spiderman; a Pope-on-a-Rope bar of soap. A Miami businessman placed an ad that said, “Pope John Paul is coming!!! Sales and profits can be yours.” Souvenirs & Novelties magazine estimated $25 million to $30 million in papal souvenirs would be sold, adding, “If this was like a Bruce Springsteen tour going around the country for a year, you’d be talking bigger numbers. But, then again, the Pope isn’t a rock star.”

What? No bananas? It was revealed that the Beastie Boys rap group has a contract requiring that before each show their dressing room be stocked with pretzels, beer, tequila, whiskey, chocolate milk and “a rainbow assortment of condoms.”

Unquote: “All I can say is: What a remarkable country, what a remarkable judgment.”—David Lange, on being re-elected Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Well, I’ve been there, thanks, but do you have anything going to Atlantic City? A New York travel agency invited Sen. John McCain of Arizona on a tour of Vietnam, including a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and an orphanage “where children depict the tragic history of their country in song and dance.” The agency knew McCain was a Vietnam vet but not that he had spent more than five years as a prisoner in Hanoi.

Maybe Vanessa Williams wasn’t so bad after all. Miss America. Kellve Cash of Memphis, took a swing through the Midwest and gushed about what a pleasure it had been to visit places “you never thought people actually lived in, like North and South Dakota and Nebraska.”

So maybe she was no Miss America; at least she probably knew they have people in Uzbekistan and Byelorussia. Lyudmila Semdyakina, a student at the Institute of Railway Engineers, won the first known beauty contest in Soviet history, in Irkutsk, Siberia. The contestants were judged on “dancing, socializing, performing rhythmic exercises, as well as gait and bearing.”

Have you considered just showing them pictures of Paul Shaffer, gentlemen? Trying to frighten sea lions that eat salmon and trout that are en route from the Pacific to Seattle’s Lake Washington system, wildlife officials have tried such measures as throwing firecrackers and playing blaring tapes of Mötley Crüe songs and speeches by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

Land of the free, home of the very brave-Part I. For a would-be presidential candidate, it is never too soon to start acting silly, as was demonstrated by (clockwise from above left): the Rev. Jesse Jackson, having a plaster cast made of himself for the Greenville County (S.C.) Museum of Art; Alexander Haig, in charge of a Yorkshire-Hampshire Duroc piglet on a tour of the hog farm of Ken Okland of Kelly, Iowa; Vice President George Bush, perhaps wondering if he can go to his left, at a Des Moines block party; Gov. Michael Dukakis, horning in on the Boston Pops Orchestra for a fund raiser.

Unquote: “In the place of truth, we have discovered facts. For moral absolutes we have substituted moral ambiguity. We now communicate with everyone and say absolutely nothing. We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel, and it is a television antenna: a thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy, in which everyone’s opinion is afforded equal weight, regardless of substance or merit.”—Ted Koppel, in a speech at Duke University.

All right, all right. If I hold your hand, will you slow down to 105? West Germany’s transport minister, Juergen Warnke, blamed sexual frustration for causing the excessive speeds on his country’s autobahns. Men in particular, he suggested, were inclined to speed “due to failing potency.”

Then you have your countries that are obviously in real trouble. An ad for American distributors of Porsche cars notes that “top speed is 152,” roughly 97 miles an hour faster than the legal speed limit on most roads in the U.S.

On the other hand, you can always tell Betty Dodson readers; they’re going about 11 mph. A self-proclaimed “sex authority” who has run a series of masturbation workshops for the last 10 years, Betty Dodson published a book called Sex for One: The Joy of Self loving.

Not only did I lose 58 lbs.; every time I spit it kills a clump of crabgrass. Texas authorities unsuccessfully tried to revoke the medical license of a doctor who prescribed as a weight-loss drug 2,4 dinitrophenol, which is best known for its use in weed killers.

Hang on, Ken. One of these days there’ll be a saw blade in the banana. Make that corn cob. Ken Allen, the San Diego Zoo’s restless orangutan, broke out of his enclosure for the fourth time in the last three years. He visited the lion and bear areas, then was chased back to his exhibit.

To look on the bright side, the enemy will never think of looking for us down here. For the seventh time, a trial run of the amphibious capabilities of the new armored personnel carrier, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, ended with the thing sinking to the bottom of a test pond.

I said, I want a cheeseburger, an order of fries and a vanilla shake. A Pensacola, Fla., funeral home began displaying its loved ones at a drive-up window during hours when the establishment was otherwise closed.

McNews of McArrogant McBehavior. After a hotel chain announced plans to establish a new line of budget inns called McSleep, McDonald’s Corp., in effect claiming that every name prefixed with “Mc” belongs to them, sued. A spokesman for the motel chain, which wouldn’t sell food at the inns, said of McDonald’s, “They’ve acted like bullies.”

Vanity, thy name is Bette (West of the Mississippi, it’s Shelley). A billing controversy between Bette Midler and Shelley Long , co-stars of the film Outrageous Fortune, ended with ads running in the eastern part of the country showing Midler in the top spot, while those in the West featured Long. The dual campaign cost as much as $500,000.

Hold on, Vanity, maybe your name is Warren—nationwide. Promoting Ishtar, Warren Beatty took a full film crew with him when he was interviewed because he feels he looks more gorgeous on film than on videotape.

Dear Art: Wonder if you could send along a ham sandwich and a thermos of coffee. And if I were you, I’d go for the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Thanks, R.T. Arthur Berger, of the Survival Research Foundation in Pembroke Pines, Fla., is conducting an experiment in communication after death. He has enlisted 100 people who have promised to Thanks, Moms; we needed that. Singers Juice Newton and Pia Zadora both had babies. Newton sent out sexpot postcards of herself with new daughter Jessica. Zadora told one reporter that three weeks after her son, Kristofer, was born, she was on the road and “I forgot that I even had him. That’s why I have to bring him along once in a while and say, ‘This is my kid.’ ”

try to communicate with him from the grave. The first subject to die, psychologist Robert Thouless, had yet to check in at year’s end.

Not that anyone would even think of calling you a hypocrite, Boz, but…Among the teams that linebacker Brian Bosworth insisted he would not sign with was the Seattle Seahawks. “If I tried to reconsider, it would be hypocritical on my part,” he said. “Seattle doesn’t fit the mold I put myself in.” Bosworth signed with the Seahawks on August 14.

Land of the free, home of the very brave—Part II. Among the announced presidential candidates for 1988: Charles Ott of Jackson Heights, N.Y., backed by Chuck Ott’s Believe It or Not Serious Presidential Committee; Bill “Spaceman” Lee, former major league pitcher whose slogan is “No guns. No butter. Both can kill you”; Tom (Cuz) Graham, a cowboy from Mineola, Texas, who has already written his campaign song: “If you nominate me, folks, I won’t run/ If I’m elected, I won’t serve one day/ I’ll make the White House a Holiday Inn/ And make Congress the morgue it’s always been”; Ray Rollison of Mexico Beach, Fla., who wants Tammy Faye Bakker as his running mate.

On the other hand, we could have lost the Revolution. A British pub owner won election to the Ashburton Town Council in Devon, becoming the first member of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party to gain office. The party’s platform calls for setting all accountants in concrete and using them as traffic barricades, as well as putting all joggers on a giant treadmill to produce electricity.

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