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It was a gathering any bleating-horn liberal would be proud of.

June 9, 1997

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ It was a gathering any bleating-horn liberal would be proud of.

Dozens of devotees of the Volkswagen van were in Long Beach on Saturday for the 14th annual Society of Transporter Owners meeting. There was talk of peace, love and, inevitably, mechanical breakdowns.

``I was raised in Volkswagen buses,″ said Bryan Booy, 25. ``It’s the only thing my dad would own. He said there was nothing that could beat their economy, simplicity and quality engineering.″

Booy owns his own reconditioned bus, bought last year for $3,000. It was once owned by a man who drove it across Europe before selling it to two surfers from England.

``This bus,″ boasted Booy, ``comes equipped with its own free spirit.″

Volkswagen produced its first bus in 1949, making only minor changes until 1967, when manufacturers did away with the split windshield. In the 1960s, they became a symbol of the long-haired ``Love Generation.″

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BOSTON (AP) _ Lights! Camera! You’re busted!

Police used a phony movie to make some real arrests over the weekend. They sent letters to 3,800 people wanted on charges ranging from shoplifting to drug dealing, and invited them to be extras for a movie.

The deal sounded legitimate: $200 a day if they showed up at Boston’s South Station bus terminal Sunday morning for the filming of ``The Rocky Marciano Story,″ police spokesman Jim Browning said.

He said 54 of the 97 people who responded to the mailing showed up.

They were met by policemen posing as employees of the fictitious Crown Productions and escorted onto buses _ which took them to police headquarters.

``The criminals come to us now,″ Browning said.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Ah, college commencement. A time of pomp and circumstance, proud parents and excited graduates. And how about crocodile heads and bunny costumes?

At the Rhode Island School of Design, graduation isn’t just a rite of passage _ it’s a bizarre costume party. It was nothing new on Saturday.

Architecture students wore intricate building models on their caps. Jewelry designers encrusted their gowns with beads and fake gems. Others were tougher to figure out.

Asked to describe the papier-mache concoction grinning atop his mortarboard, Alfredo Paris said, ``It’s definitely a crocodile. I made it last night; it all made sense then. It’s been a long night.″

Marla Greenman transformed herself into a sultry Fay Wray, complete with a gigantic King Kong hand clutching her in its hairy grip.

``I had the idea for a while, but I just put it together in the last two days,″ said Greenman, an illustration major. ``I just really like old movies, so I wanted to recreate a famous scene.″

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