"Take your hands off me."
Lady Liberty, to President Clinton, in French editorial cartoon
In the slow lane
At the auto races, a scene seething with fumes and testosterone, the occasional ladies' race can be a welcome relief. We've seen the Ladies of Lancaster and the Ladies of Ransomville, and in both cases, the atmosphere is the same. The emcee throws out square '50s taunts: "Is that a compact in her car? Hey, honey, did you break a nail?" And yes, the ladies' races are slower than the guys'. (There may be a practical reason for that. They borrow the guys' cars, and, as Joe Foy of the Lancaster Speedway explained, "if you wreck it, you have to answer to somebody.") Last weekend, it took the Ladies of Ransomville only about 10 seconds to flounder into a sedate crash. "Those woman drivers!" yelled the emcee. No one was hurt, of course, and good feeling prevailed. After the race, a guy high-fived a little girl near us in the stands. "Isn't it great?" he exulted. "Grandma came in fourth!"
In the fast lane
Imagine yourself at the horse races. You've lost $1,000, but if Pardon My French comes in first or second, you win $2.48. Your natural concern: Where can you obtain quality child care? Well, this could be your lucky day. A recent memo from Belmont Park says that the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the Jockey Club Foundation and a couple of other horse racing honchos are exploring an on-site child care center at the Belmont track. "We feel there is an apparent need for this service in the New York horse racing community," the letter says. It adds, "The center will provide safe, affordable and quality care for children from families of all income levels." Thank heavens. Bettors can't be choosers.
In the dark
The free Waterfront concerts at LaSalle Park amaze us. You could bring in the biggest name imaginable -- Garth Brooks, say, who sold out a week's worth of concerts at Marine Midland Arena -- and the crowd would still be the same, a couple of hundred people, no more. Of course, the amenities might have something to do with it. Recently, when the Yellowjackets played the park, the facilities were terrible -- no flushing in the ladies' room, and in the men's room, a friend of Buzz's reported, there was not only no running water, but no light! Pitch darkness! Will things be better Tuesday, when the chart-topping Dixie Chicks play the park? Worriedly, Buzz phoned the Parks Department to find out. "That's where our men are right now, fixing that up," a spokesman reassured us. Hearing of Buzz's buddy's complaints about the dark, she sighed sympathetically. "Oh, dear," she said. "I hope his aim was OK."
The soft underbelly of the anniversary of Diana's death is a kids' book called "Princess Diana: A True Fairy Tale," by Kay Stammers (Harper, $12.95). "Once upon a time, in the green countryside of England, lived a little girl named Lady Diana," it begins. Excerpts from what follows: "Princess Diana's husband, Prince Charles, told her he was not in love with her anymore. Diana was brokenhearted. But there was nothing to be done. ... Then one day she met a man named Dodi Fayed. Dodi was dark and handsome, and very rich. Like Diana, he had a kind heart and twinkling eyes, and he loved animals and children." The denouement: "The whole world cried. They cried for their beloved Princess, they cried for her handsome Dodi." Gee! Can they do a book like this about Clinton?
The cat came back! The Vinnie Barbarino plays Nietzsche's Saturday after six months of absence. ... No More Mr. Nice Guy sign seen in a bar in Smethport, Pa.: "These premises protected by an Armed American Citizen. There is nothing here worth dying for." Do not drink with these people!