updated 05/23/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/23/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Un-American Plan
Though Barbi Benton, Vidal Sassoon and the usual glitzy crowd bunked in at $450-a-day condos at the Aspen (Colo.) Club over Easter vacation, the Ethel Kennedy clan made other plans. According to owner Dick Butera, Ethel backed out on an $8,100 18-day reservation just before the holiday began, claiming, "I just can't afford Aspen." Already on the outs with Aspen's service folks for delaying payments on past holiday gatherings there, Ethel added Butera to her list of detractors by leaving him in the lurch. Like all guests, she had promised to pay in advance, then canceled without paying, telling the owner, "I just can't do anything about it." Ethel, who won't comment on the incident, finally did solve her own financial problems. The Kennedys ended up in Aspen after all, at a friend's home—for free.

Alice in Watergateland
For the better part of the past decade, Arlo Guthrie has refused to sing his 1967 hit Alice's Restaurant, claiming that he'd forgotten the lyrics. This spring, however, as resistance continued over draft registration, Guthrie, 35, dusted off the antidraft song and worked out a new introductory spiel for his current concert tour. Arlo's been telling audiences that Jimmy Carter's family found a White House copy of the disc, evidently left behind by the Nixons. "Had it been opened?" Guthrie asked Chip Carter, who passed along the information. "Yep," Chip nodded, which led Arlo to the following conclusion: His 18-minute 20-second song must be the missing link in the famous Watergate tapes. "I mean," Arlo asks audiences, "how many things just happen to be about 18 minutes long?"

Oral Fixation
"Believe it or not, I used to be painfully shy, a conversational weakling, uncomfortable in new situations and with new people. Although I yearned to be warm and sociable, I often came across as cold and introverted." So says famed talker Barbara Walters in an updated introduction to the new edition of her 1970 treatise, How to talk with practically anybody about practically anything. Though the book is essentially unrevised, Walters has made a few changes, including the addition of a comment she heard her 14-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, make: "My mummy can't drive a car, you know. My mummy can't fix a fuse. My mummy burns the meat loaf. Come to think of it, my mummy really can't do anything but talk!"

Rocking the Palace
Michael Fagan, 32, the unemployed laborer who slipped into Buckingham Palace last July for a bedside visit with the Queen, has found another way to pay homage to Her Majesty. Released from his three-month stay at a mental hospital, he leads a rock group called the Ballock Brothers that premiered at one of London's top punk clubs, the Bat Cave, a few weeks back. With a bit less than due respect, Fagan sang a version of God Save the Queen that had been banned from the radio when the Sex Pistols wrote the revised lyrics six years ago. Fagan says he turned the song into a tribute, specifically dropping a line that called the Queen a moron. Though he was booed off the stage by the opening-night crowd, the Queen's loyal subject found a way to cut his first record anyway. "I would have been a star even if I hadn't sat on the Queen's bed," said Michael. Still, he doesn't mind exploiting the past: "I was ill when I broke in, and I have suffered for it. Now it's nice to make a few bob."

The other day Meryl Streep stopped by Carolina, a trendy Manhattan eatery that has served up gen-u-ine Southern specialties such as spare ribs, corn bread and barbecue to scores of New York celebs. What did the seven-months-pregnant actress order? Chicken livers and chocolate truffle. A craving's a craving.

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