Short Cuts

FINE FOR PARKING: In the last two years, there were 891,408 times drivers in St. Louis found something on their windshields more repulsive than pigeon droppings -- a parking ticket. About two-thirds of those tickets were paid, but 32 percent of them weren't, and that's a $9 million problem Mayor Clarence Harmon is trying to fix. If you're one of the deadbeats owing the city a payment from an old ticket, circle the month of May on your calendar. Amnesty surfaces then, and you can pay off any old ticket minus added-on late penalties. Only one "court cost" of $19 will be added to the accumulated total. After May, the crackdown begins, with more towing, more collection agencies, more garnishments and the use of "boots" to immobilize vehicles. Plans are to broadcast a list of Top 10 worst offenders on city-cable Channel 16. If they really want to frighten a scofflaw, send Peter E. Parisi to the offender's front door to interview him for World Wide Magazine. Egad. (DJW)

BARN RUBBLE FOR SALE: One way to stop the verbal brickbats from flying over the destruction of the Arena has been to package the actual artifacts, sell them for a sawbuck apiece and give the proceeds to charity. Since Spirtas Wrecking Co. reduced the storied coliseum to rubble on Feb. 27, the firm has done just that, unloading 10,000 bricks for $10 each. "I just thought it would be a nice thing to do," says Eric Spirtas, the 32-year-old president of the company.

Spirtas has now added another product line from the materials salvaged from the Old Barn. Some of the Douglas fir from the lamella roof is being turned into a variety of items -- everything from tables to birdhouses. The profits from the sale of the items and the bricks will go to Outreach St. Louis, a charitable foundation of the CBS Radio Network, which owns and operates KMOX (1120 AM), KEZK (102.5 FM) and KYKY (98.1 FM). Outreach St. Louis helps fund numerous charitable organizations in the St. Louis area, including the Edgewood Children's Center and Cardinal Glennon Hospital.

Don't count on $200,000, from the brick sales to date, all going to charity, however. Instead, Spirtas says, as much as 50 percent of the donations may be needed to cover expenses. Part will go to pay for the cleaning and mounting of the bricks onto commemorative plaques. This is being done by the Metropolitan Employment Rehabilitation Service, a sheltered workshop. But the biggest expense, Spirtas says, has been guarding the bricks at the demolition site. The wrecking boss estimates the cost of security at about a dollar per brick. (CDS)

THE RICH GET RICHER, THE POOR HAVE BABIES: Despite the various famines, natural disasters and civil wars we dispassionately read about in Newsweek, the burgeoning world population shows no sign of slowing its growth. If you care to see the numbers, you might head to the St. Louis Zoo. The Living World's Hall of Ecology has an LED display, on the wall to the left as you enter, that ticks off the existing world population. As of 10:55 a.m. on March 22, the display showed a tally of 5,974,187,532 -- wait, make that 533, no, 535, oops 537. The counter, linked to a computer-based data service available to subscribers, increases its sum by an increment of three about every second, perhaps every second-and-a-half. "The count does fluctuate minutely," says John Hunter, audiovisual technician in the Living World. "There are some calculations in there that allow for corrections, reducing or halting the count periodically. I've seen it stop counting for up to a full minute." The three-per-second rate means a planetary increase of 259,200 new human beings in a 24-hour day. That's a load of Pampers -- or banana-tree leaves, as the case may be. According to a spokesperson with the Population Institute in Washington, D.C., the world added 75 million human beings last year. We are one prolific species. Come October, the institute expects the human population to hit the 6 billion mark. (WS)

HEPCAT HUMOR: To paraphrase Oscar Levant: There is a fine line between the facetious and the real. Craig Kilborn has erased that line. Oscar said that about the line between genius and insanity, but hey, maybe he was just being facetious.

Kilborn has what they call dry wit -- so dry it's granular. But now this wiseacre is big-time. Already nationwide, he goes regular-network-wide on Tuesday night, 30 minutes after David Letterman. The former ESPN anchor and host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show is going to take Tom Snyder's place on Tomorrow for a full 60-minute show. This is no joke. Or maybe it is.

The lanky Kilborn, who played basketball for three years at Montana State, was doing the media-tour thing last week, shadowing the NCAA basketball tournament in eight different cities. If this is Sunday, it must be St. Louis.

As he watched the Lakers overtake the Magic on a Blueberry Hill television before going to the Dome, Kilborn tried to clarify one loose statement made about him -- that he led the Big Sky Conference in turnovers. Didn't happen.

"That's a joke. I say that all the time: 'I led the Big Sky in turnovers.' People magazine put that in," Kilborn says. A fact-checker for People even called; Kilborn said it was a throwaway line, but somehow the quip made it into print without a "he joked" after it. But then, after relating this tale Sunday afternoon, Kilborn taped a segment with KMOV's Steve Savard and said, in the midst of a response, "I led the Big Sky in turnovers." Sounded serious. So the legend grows.

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