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On the Light Side

August 19, 1986

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) _ It looks like a hamburger sprinkled with sesame seeds, but probably tastes like a notepad stuck between two pieces of foam rubber.

Even the owner of the company that sells them says they probably serve no useful purpose. But that hasn’t stopped consumers from snatching up the bogus burgers, fake franks and phony baloney sandwiches and helping a workshop for the handicapped in the process.

″Right now we’re looking at an order from Japan for 40,000 ’sandwiches,‴ said David Gardiner, executive director of the McKercher Rehabilitation Center for the developmentally disabled.

The ″sandwiches″ actually are paper notepads designed to look like hot dogs, hamburgers and bologna-and-cheese sandwiches. Kalamazoo Banner Works, which designed and markets the notepads, hired the rehabilitation center last year to assemble and mail the inedible items to retailers.

Banner Works owner Roger Lepley said he’s sold about 1.5 million ″Lunchnotes,″ which retail for $3 to $4, since the product hit the market in May 1985.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Phrases like dropping a dime and riding a beef may not have found their way into the dictionary yet, but court reporters say they often come up at trials.

Court reporters may be among the first to put the language of the street - jargon used by criminals and police - into writing.

″Every so often a witness will use a word that we’ve never heard before,″ said Laurie Kennel, who has been a court reporter for Superior Court Judge Laurence Kay since 1981. ″We type them into the record phonetically and try to figure them out later.″

In the street argot, dropping a dime means telephoning authorities to act as an informant. To ride a beef is to accept the blame for a criminal act. A roller is a policeman; a chopper an automatic weapon.

A kite isn’t something you fly, it’s a note delivered to a prison inmate, usually illegally. To bang the gong means to smoke opium. A zip is a crazy person.

″It can get a little tough to understand sometimes,″ said Dick Horsley, who has worked as a court reporter in Marin and San Francisco counties for 25 years. ″But you can stop them and get it the best you can. Sometimes we have to stop and ask the investigating officer for a translation.″

The vernacular of police officers sometimes can be just as difficult to understand, however. Officers often speak of ″Mirandizing a perp,″ which means to read a suspect, or perpetrator, his rights.

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