News In Brief

SHE'D SEE THE HUMOR IN IT Since 1937, folks in Oakland, Calif., have had to live with the infamous remark by hometown novelist and critic Gertrude Stein: "There is no there there." The lament was in despair at the razing of her childhood home and wasn't the put-down that non-Oaklanders assume. But no matter. Steps finally have been taken to rectify the situation. From atop the Oakland Tribune building now flies a large white flag on which - yes - appears in black capital letters ... THERE.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: SMILE! The idea: to promote tourism by assembling for a group photo one American born on July 4 for each year of the 20th century. It would be taken, naturally, on "the 4th" in Philadelphia, the birthplace of US independence. But could enough folks be found? Well, 99 of them have been. Now, city officials say, the search is on at local hospitals for a mother-to-be who's due to deliver on the big day next month and would be willing to lend her baby for the shoot.

Hotel service is best at the Ritz in Paris, magazine says Planning at least one night's stay at a five-star hotel on your summer vacation? If so, you should expect a level of service that's in proportion to the rate you're charged for your room. Travel & Leisure magazine assigned its toughest critic to rate the world's leading hostelries on the quality of service offered to guests, with orders to make demands on their staffs ranging from routine to ridiculous. His rankings of the 10 best hotels, from the magazine's June issue:

1. Hotel Ritz, Paris

2. Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas

3. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Indonesia

4. The Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand

5. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

6. The Regent, Hong Kong

7. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Hawaii

8. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Fla.

9. Four Season Resort, Nevis

10. Halekulani, Oahu, Hawaii

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