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50 Years Ago

On the muggy days of last weekend, the most sensible course was to take your clothes off. At least that is how several dozen people near Muir Beach, Stinson Beach and the Kent Lake spillway viewed the situation. The law thought otherwise and 26 of the nudes were busted. There has been skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing at all these spots throughout the summer. But last weekend sheriff’s deputies decided things were getting out of hand. —Newsgram, 9/10/69

40 Years Ago

Behind the bearded face of Francis Coppola was a man weary of five years of struggling to get the epic $31 million movie, Apocalypse Now, to the screen. As he began answering questions from the part of the press corps that as recently as May he called “the most decadent, lying, deceitful, corrupt press in the world,” his uneasiness might have been attributed to the fact that these same journalists would soon be judging his film and, in a sense, the five years of his life it took to make it.

Coppola had already weathered a typhoon in the Philippines; the heart attack of one star, the firing of another; unwarranted blasts from the media whom he accused in his vitriolic attack of reviewing the picture without seeing it completed; and a very frank recently published journal by his wife, Eleanor, detailing the shoot and including an accusation that he had at one point “become Kurtz” (played by Marlon Brando in the film), the obsessed Green Beret colonel who created his own kingdom in the jungle.

When I ventured to ask Coppola, “How did the making of Apocalypse change you as an artist and a person?” he was uncharacteristically flip.

“It changed me in that now I’m done with easy, predictable projects and I’ll look forward to some really difficult stuff,” he cracked. —Mal Karman, 9/7/79

30 Years Ago

Of course, the really important question for those of us without car phones is: are we going to be rear-ended by some button-down twit who’s wheeling and dealing instead of driving?

Possibly. According to the California Highway Patrol, since February Marin has been the scene of two rear-enders in which the offending driver was known to be talking on a car phone. Obviously the same thing can happen when a driver is attaching false eyelashes, changing tapes or eating cereal—to name but a few of the more common driver distractions. In defense of cellular phones, CHP officer Don Gappa of the San Francisco office says mobile phone users are good about reporting crashes—not necessarily their own—which expedites the process of getting help to accident victims. —Joy Zimmerman, 9/8/89

20 Years Ago

The other day Steve Jobs announced that the latest Mac computer, the G4, will be almost three times faster than the fastest Pentium computer currently on the market; and it will be capable of making an astounding 4 billion calculations per second.

I’m all for progress, but the way I see it, any neighbor of mine who needs 4 billion calculations per second to keep his or her life running smoothly is up to no good….If you think I’m exaggerating about possible dangers, consider this: Apple has been contacted by federal authorities who want to ban the G4’s export to “many sensitive countries” because of its supercomputer level of performance, which is normally reserved for industries like the ones that conduct national defense and global weather forecasting.

If these supercomputers are too dangerous to be sold to half the world, do we really want them in the hands of alienated 14-year-olds and people who think Jessie Ventura should be president? —Stan Sinberg, 9/8/99

—Compiled by Alex T. Randolph

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