North wins hearts and stomachs
Washington — There are Ollie haircuts, Ollie North recipes, and ``I don't recall'' ice cream cakes. The marquee outside the Strawberry Patch, a Houston yuppie restaurant, assured the hungry public that ``Even Oliver North will testify the best food is at the Patch.''
A dozen conservative Washington interns crowded into Charles Barber Shop in Washington and got ``Ollies,'' haircuts that might qualify them for military status if they had a commission and spit-shined shoes. Chez Joey, a New York hairdresser, draws crowds with its star-spangled poster, advertising the latest: the Ollie-cut.
It may be only a short-lived fad, but ``Ollie-mania,'' as it has been called, is alive on T-shirts, menus, and bumper stickers. Without intending it, the congressional hearings, with revelations of shredders and covert operations, have sparked the American imagination. Silk-screen printers are rolling off ``Ollie by Golly'' T-shirts. Bars are holding shredding contests. Radio stations are playing, ``Ollie B. Good.''
Tulane University social psychologist Fredrick Koenig explains the fad as ``the appeal unequivocal people have.'' It reminds Dr. Koenig of the burst of popularity Gen. Douglas MacArthur enjoyed after President Truman recalled him from Korea. But the MacArthur craze faded quickly, which Koenig predicts will happen to Ollie-mania.
In the meantime, it is going strong in southern California. In Orange County, Deloris Maiden is selling ``all of her North-for-President'' T-shirts out of her dry-cleaning store in Westminster. She has sold more than 250 since last Friday.
In nearby Huntington Beach, Bob Cannon is touting the colonel's political prospects. Last Sunday, Mr. Cannon, the owner of an aerial advertising firm, was out with his small plane, pulling a 160-foot-long banner. The message: ``Ollie North for President - stop commies in Central America.''
In New York, Joey Infante, owner of Chez Joey, pasted seven pictures of North ``in a more pensive mood,'' over a red, white, and blue poster with the Capitol and the Washington Monument in the background.
``I really admire the guy for standing up,'' Infante says. ``I feel he knows more about our government than the President.''
But, in Austin, Texas, artist Robbie Conal is not so enthusiastic. He is plastering posters of North in public places as part of his ``democratic dialogue through art.'' His image of North is harsh, and he has captioned it ``Speak,'' as in ``Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.'' Now, he is thinking of recaptioning it, ``Shut up.''
The hearings have also inspired many chefs. The Old Man River Doghouse in Tonawanda, N.Y., makes a sandwich of ``red-blooded American beef,'' bologna, shredded lettuce, cucumber (for North's coolness under fire), and Swiss cheese. It's topped with tomato, onion, and sauce made from ``an old Iranian recipe.''
While congressional lawyers tried to make North eat his words, Joe Dell'Orfano in Greenwich, Conn., has created an ice cream cake. At his Baskin-Robbins, a molded soldier stands guard over some shredded and inedible documents scattered over an edible ``I don't recall.''
The Carriage House in Miami Beach has recast its Farmer's Chop Suey (shredded meat, cheese, and vegetables) as an Ollie salad complete with a covert dressing.
The chef at the Robins Restaurant in Pasadena has concocted a ``top secret'' dressing to go with what is quickly becoming one of the most popular items on the menu: the Ollie burger (shredded beef topped with shredded American cheese and shredded lettuce). The dish comes with a side order of shredded cabbage (some people call it cole slaw) and is served by waiters and waitresses who belt out ``Stars and Stripes Forever.''
Scott Armstrong in Los Angeles contributed to this report.