The 'Talk-Show Avoidance' Strategy

As an NBA star Bill Bradley played his own game. He's doing the same as a presidential candidate, practicing retail politics while other contenders hit the TV talk-show circuit. "[Bradley's] not going on, but he has been invited," says one producer. "He doesn't even return our guy's calls anymore." A Bradley aide confirmed the "talk-show avoidance" strategy. "When we think the voters are paying attention, we'll start talking to them," she says. Bradley is focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire, where it's essential for an underdog candidate to score. He campaigns in a low-key way, chatting with folks in diners and coffee shops. Keeping Bradley off TV has added benefits. It doesn't reveal how boring he can be as a speaker and lets him duck controversial stands.

Bradley will soon have company in Iowa and New Hampshire. After noticing an "eerie" similarity between Al Gore's image problems and George Bush's situation the year before the '88 presidential race, Gore aides decided the veep should spend more time in the two states. Political analysts believe Bush was defeated in Iowa and nearly upset in New Hampshire because he neglected the voters there. From now on, Gore will visit one or the other every week. The Bradley camp claims to be unconcerned: "Our campaign is about Bill Bradley, not Al Gore." Team Gore isn't ready to engage either, pointing to the veep's double-digit advantage in the polls.

OPPOWarming Up the 'Blast Fax'

Political operatives who specialize in opposition research are eager to dig into Campaign 2000. The Democrats' oppo experts spent the last year looking for dirt that could be used to discredit Clinton foes like Kenneth Starr and conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife. Now the Dems' gumshoes are turning their attention to more familiar targets: Republican presidential candidates. Democratic sources say party researchers are concentrating on GOP front runner George W. Bush. The Democratic National Committee puts out an almost-daily "blast fax" on the missteps of Bush and the rest of the crowded GOP field. For its part, the Republican National Committee's oppo team is focusing on Al Gore. The veep is the subject of a regular RNC bulletin called "The World According to Gore," which ridicules his more awkward pronouncements.

TERRORISMA Bomb-Watch for Londoners

The nail bomb that exploded in a London gay bar last week, killing three and injuring more than 70, was the third attack on minorities in the city since April 17. Though the previous bombs targeted Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani immigrants, police say they were aware that any minority group was at risk. In the two days before last week's bombing, police say, they warned "every single pub" in the city's gay district; that night, a bomb-alert sign hung in the pub. But Londoners aren't relying solely on the cops for their safety. Last week in Southall, a South Asian neighborhood, volunteers as young as 14 donned yellow armbands reading civil rights steward, and kept an eye on the markets for suspicious parcels. Says Jaspreet Singh, "We're being punished for being alive."

TRENDSThe Hot Stuff for the Hot Season

Summer's around the corner. What to wear? Trendoids are stocking up on white watches, translucent nail colors, see-through shoes and plastic henna "Tettoos." Peri's picks for must-haves this season:

1-3 Watches by Coach, Nine West, Hamilton; 4 Estee Lauder and Lancome self- tanners; 5 DKNY shower-cap shoes; 6 Nail glaze; 7 Kate Spade Hawaiian print tote; 8 Chanel shades; 9 Tettoos

VITAL STATSHappiness, Ripening on the Vine

The 40 percent of Americans who raise their own tomatoes do it for taste, not health: surveys show backyard growers favor processed foods like luncheon meat. Michael J. Weiss

REAL ESTATEHillary's New Home?

Manhattanites are chattering about where Hillary Clinton might live if she joins New York's distinguished line of carpetbagging pols. A Peri guide:

She could rent from a friend. Erstwhile FOB Barbra Steisand's West Side triplex hasn't moved at a reported $10 million

Sen. James Buckley lived in nearby Sharon, Conn., but kept a pied-a-terre on Patrician Sutton Place

A buttoned-down bachelorette pad, part of a design showcase this spring is titled Hillary's Term(s)

At Eleanor Roosevelt's last home, Hillary could commune with her role model for only $4.95 million. A broker has already contacted the First Lady

RFK's formal address was a Long Island rental, but U.N. Plaza was his H.Y. HQ. A swanky suite at the complex's hotel would bypass a co-op board.

MOTHERSMerrily We Stroll Along

Rockabye, baby, but leave the knee bends to Mom. Strollercize, founded by trainer Elizabeth Trindade, turns baby-filled prams into props for an aerobic workout: mind Junior and stay fit. It's a social thing, too: moms bond between leg lifts. Chirps Trindade, "If you're a depressed, freaked-out mom who doesn't like her body, that's not good." Classes (about $25 each) meet regularly in several cities.

BRANDINGShe's a Rich Girl

No sooner had children's author Kay Thompson died last year when, as her famed creation Eloise would say, Clink, clank, that phone started ringing. "The day after," says Simon Schuster's Janette Young, "I had a hundred calls." Thompson had sparely licensed her precocious 6-year-old "alter ego"; her heirs have no such reservations. This week, two Eloise volumes, illustrated by Hilary Knight, will be reissued, kicking off a marketing deluge. The $500 beaded Eloise evening bag, hand-painted furniture, dolls--even a boutique at New York's Plaza Hotel, the character's home--will likely whet the appetites of several studios negotiating to make the movie. Eloise, who excelled at squeezing grown-ups, would be pleased.

TRANSITIONPlaying On

Friends called him "Jumbo." Alois Maxwell Hirt, who died last week at 76, stood 6 feet tall, weighed more than 300 pounds and had a sound on the trumpet and a flair for showmanship to match. He hit his stride in the ' 60s, playing Dixieland jazz.

Tom Masland

In 1957, when Arthur Schawlow codesigned the laser, no one knew what it would be good for. By 1981, when he won a Nobel, the technology was almost ubiquitous; lasers play compact discs, course through optic fiber, read UPC codes and power weapons. The "Laser Man" died last week of complications from leukemia. He was 77.

Adam Rogers

BUZZHowdly-Doodly-Do, Neighbor!

Scientists recently made sense of an odd jiggle in upsilon andromedae: the wobble's caused by three giant planets orbiting the star. With huge planets close to its sun, UA's quite different from our own system, but it's the first other multiplanetary system we've found.

I'll Be Seeing You ... Interferometry (measuring light waves from space-based detectors) can find Earth-like planets the wobble system misses. NASA plans to launch detectors within 20 years ... Lights Out ... but not without funding: NASA's budget dropped again this year. Much more and we can forget finding E.T. No Place Like Home Why look afar when many think there might be simple life on Europa, a moon of Jupiter? Stay tuned: a NASA mission heads there in 2003. We Need New Glasses The wobble method solely detects huge planets in tight orbits, so it finds only strange systems unlike our own. Whew! We knew our solar system wasn't unique-but still, it's cool to actually find some company. Circus of the Stars UA's so unlike our own sun's family, it implies a whole galaxy of wildly diverse systems.

JARGONBut They've Still Got Wigs

Last week England banished Latin legalisms from its civil courts. Now 2,000 volunteer courtroom trainspotters are being sought to prevent backsliding. The queen's new English:

OLD NEW subpoena witness summons in camera in private guardian ad litem litigation friend ex parte without notice minor child interrogatory requests for information CONVENTIONAL WISDOMFrisk Thy Neighbor EditionClinton will host a "violence prevention summit" to foster more personal responsibility. Will Oliver Stone or Charlton get the Lincoln Bedroom? Learn to share.

C.W. Clinton = Says he'll "bury the hatchet" with NRA. What, and face them unarmed?
Hillary + Sudden expert in New York school issues. Coincidence? You decide.
Jesse J. + Gets the POWs on TV; even Slobo gets the message that he should let them go.
H. Stern - Says Littleton killers should've had sex with victims, makes Holocaust joke. Hello, CBS?
W. H. Lee - Alleged China spy gave away all our nuclear secrets. CW snoozes.
Baseball - The All-Stars are on the disabled list. Do fans get a discount? Yeah, right.