TWINKIES' FATE is in the news, making Paul Krassner's speaking engagement in Claremont this week all the sweeter.

Krassner, a satirist and journalist, has done a lot of things in his life - co-found the Yippies and travel with the Merry Pranksters, among others - but he is also credited with coining the phrase "Twinkie defense."

He was covering the May 1979 trial of the accused slayer of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, a county supervisor and city mayor, respectively, of San Francisco, for the alternative paper the Bay Guardian when a witness made a novel argument.

"The psychiatrist said the night before the murder, Dan White binged on Twinkies and other junk food," Krassner related Wednesday at Claremont McKenna's Athenaeum.

"I just wrote down `Twinkie defense.' And I wrote about it."

Krassner is the only journalist to have played up that minor angle and is generally credited with being the first to use the phrase. After the guilty verdict, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen mentioned "the Twinkie insanity defense," and later, Newsweek did too.

"Within two years, the phrase had slipped into the popular lingo," the Chronicle wrote in an analysis in 2003, a quarter-century after the slayings.

That piece contends that White's lawyers didn't really blame Twinkies. They said White's uncharacteristic gluttony, as with him quitting his job, was a sign of depression, not its cause, and evidence he wasn't in his right mind.

Technically speaking, then, the phrase might be squishy, if not spongy. But its shelf life may be longer than that of the famously long-lived snack cake.

Wikipedia's entry for "Twinkie defense" calls it "a derisive label for an improbable legal defense."

Krassner said White's sentence of seven years in prison had a junk-food parallel.

"I had checked out that the shelf life of a Twinkie was seven years," Krassner told the Claremont audience.

If he got out after seven years - he actually served five - "I thought Dan White," Krassner said, "might still have a Twinkie on his shelf that would still be edible."

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MORE KRASSNER: He called what he did "participatory journalism." He met Timothy Leary and took LSD with him; wrote about the anti-war movement and joined it; and interviewed a Pennsylvania abortionist in the 1960s, when the practice was illegal.

After printing the anonymous interview in his magazine, the Realist, Krassner received daily phone calls from women who wanted to end their pregnancy. He got permission from the doctor to send them his way.

After turning down local prosecutors who wanted him to reveal his source, Krassner believed his phone was tapped and called a telephone operator to ask how he could find out for sure. She wondered why he would think that, he said it was because he was referring women to an abortionist and, pregnant, she asked for the doctor's number.

"I even had a nurse call me. She couldn't find a safe place to have an abortion," Krassner said.

"I had just set out to write an article," he continued. "I hadn't expected to become an underground abortion referral service."

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CULTURE CORNER:

* "Bible Storyland," a documentary about a Christian-themed amusement park planned for Cucamonga in the early 1960s but never built, has played seven film festivals around the country since a sneak peek last year in Rancho Cucamonga. The latest is the Hollywood Reel Independent Festival, where the movie will screen at 5 p.m. Monday at the New Beverly, 7165 W. Beverly Blvd. (The wrong date was printed here recently.)

* Mark Frost, screenwriter of the two "Fantastic Four" movies, a writer of TV's "Twin Peaks" and "Hill Street Blues" and author of three novels, will appear at Mrs. Nelson's Bookshop, 1030 Bonita Ave. in La Verne, at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

* Comic and actor Eddie Izzard will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at Bridges Auditorium, 450 N. College Way in Claremont. Tickets are $38.

* With a new Quentin Tarantino film coming, two of his classics will be revived for special screenings, "Reservoir Dogs" on Dec. 4 and "Pulp Fiction" on Dec. 6, both at AMC theaters in Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga at 7 p.m. only. Tickets are $12.50.

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IN TWO visits to L.A.'s Union Station last weekend, I bumped into two people I know, making me think the train station really is the crossroads of Southern California.

I asked readers of my blog for other stories of running into acquaintances while away from home and got a bunch, including a La Verne man who saw a co-worker at Cheers in Boston - I guess everybody there really does know your name - and others who ran into Southern California friends in Hong Kong and England.

Feel free to visit dailybulletin.com/davidallenblog and add your own experience.

Also on my blog in recent days: Huell Howser's retirement is discussed; a reader asks about a desert painter who used to have a studio in Claremont; we visit Euro Cafe, a Portuguese restaurant in Claremont; and "Saturday Night Live" mentions Rancho Cucamonga, complete with video.

For you print-only readers, I'm afraid we haven't yet mastered the technology of placing a video in your newspaper.

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IN CLAREMONT, a 63-year-old man entered a Citibank branch and cursed loudly before leaving. Police were called and found him sitting on a bench nearby.

Rather than hide, the man "called out to the officers and ran toward them," the Courier's police blotter reported.

He admitted he was the one who had caused a scene inside the bank, "then proceeded to pull out a tennis ball-sized rock and explain to the officers that he was going to throw the rock through the window of the bank."

Now there's a man who believes in transparency. Commendable as that trait might be, police arrested him for public drunkenness.

David Allen writes Friday, Sunday and Wednesday, opaquely. Reach him at david.allen@inlandnewspapers.com or 909-483-9339, read his blog at dailybulletin.com/davidallenblog, check out facebook.com/davidallencolumnist and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.