HOW I REMEMBER THE BEATLES ‘KICK-OFF’ IN 1964. The Human Race

There was a bear standing in the midst of Mrs. Olson’s petunia patch snapping pictures of The Beatles.

When I ordered him to get behind the ropes with the rest of the news media covering the rock stars who were kicking off a national concert tour with a “Meet the Beatles” charity fund raiser on the grounds of an estate in Brentwood, California, the burly newsman with the Nikons strapped to his shoulders snarled.

“You lay a hand on me and I’ll cram this camera through your teeth and down your ass!”

The year was 1964.  The home belonged to Capitol Records president Alan J. Livingston’s mother-in-law.  The cantankerous bear was Ernie Schworck, a veteran news photographer for United Press International.

As the newly appointed manager of the press department for Capitol, I knew that a single UPI wire photo could wind up in newspapers and magazines throughout the world.  But I wasn’t about to take crap from some gray bearded, barrel-chested gorilla who refused to budge from Mrs. Olson’s petunia garden.

“One way or the other,” I said, “you’re coming out of that garden!”

“The only way you’re going to get me out is to carry me out!”

“That can be arranged!” I said, knowing I had 6 LAPD riot squad officers seated in the garage waiting for trouble, and about 20 Burns guards patrolling the perimeter of the estate.

“When you haul me away,” he threatened, “I guarantee that will upstage your news coverage with these Beatles.”

“You asked for it,” I said, and turned to my assistant, Ron Tepper.  “I don’t care how you do it, get this guy out of the garden and back behind the ropes with the rest of the press.”

I was being facetious.  Ron, who knew more about the music industry than I would ever know, was small in stature.  It was like I had pitted Woody Allen against Hulk Hogan.

It was the first day I had met The Beatles; the first time I ran across Schworck, and the only time I had helped organize a Beatles party.  On that same day in August 1964, following my conflict with Schworck, the ABC Television news crew pulled me into the house to talk to their anchorman who was on the phone.

Having just tangled with the bear, now I was listening to a belligerent voice on the other end of the line: “Who’s this?”

As the TV crew surrounded me, I answered, “Who’s this?”

“Baxter Ward,” said the voice.  “I want you to let my crew past the ropes.”

“Sorry, Baxter.  We have a crush of news people out here.  Nobody gets beyond the ropes.”

“Listen, you PR prick,” he barked.  “You want me to pull my crew off the coverage?”

“Go to hell, asshole!” I said harshly as his crew was stifling laughter.  Nobody, especially some recently appointed “PR prick” from a record company who must rely on news coverage, had ever told Mr. Ward to go to hell, much less call him an asshole.  Before I hung up, I could detect nothing but breathing on the other end of the line.

A decade later, Baxter Ward, famed for his hardcore narcissism, went into politics and was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  He served through 1980 and died in 2002.

Ernie Schworck became a “friend.”  Besides spending 30 years with UPI, in 1963 he went into hock to publish the first magazine covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Scooping Life magazine and UPI, he sold more than 3,000,000 copies, made a bundle, and wound up in the publishing business.

Last time we talked was in 2011.  Schworck was 84, still sporting a beard, using a cain to walk, carrying around 270 pounds of flesh.  He was living in a white castle on a hill in Quail Valley, California.  He died that same year.

Back to The Beatles bash:  The “invitation only” fund raiser for the Hemophilia Foundation was attended by dozens of Hollywood celebrities and their offspring.  The kids posed for pictures with The Beatles who were seated on high stools only a few yards from the roped-off news media.

After three physicians turned down my invitation, Dr. Frank Weiser, an old high school buddy and his wife, posing as a nurse, showed up to handle medical emergencies.

Other than a few teen-agers hyperventilating, the only incident I can recall was when a lady balancing on a folding chair took a spectacular tumble.  Standing on a chair next to her was Hedda Hopper, an internationally syndicated Hollywood columnist and celebrity in her own right.

Barefooted, balancing on their tiptoes, the two ladies stood behind a mob of TV cameramen and photogs intent on getting a better view of the bug-named legends.  Had the internationally famous Hedda, wearing her signature wide-brimmed summer hat, taken the fall, that would have been a big sidebar story.  But nobody died or was seriously injured.

Hedda, who had attended lavish wingdings throughout her career, wrote me a note saying The Beatle bash was the most exciting party she had ever attended.

A few months after Brown Meggs, a marketing executive at Capitol, predicted in a memo that “all the press people at Las Vegas and the Garden Party should come away identifying LeBaron and Tepper with The Beatles forevermore,” I was fired.  A couple of weeks later I was publicizing the Universal City Studio Tours where busses were being replaced by trams.

On two occasions I met briefly with the group:  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr.  In Las Vegas, Lennon was the only Beatle I had a decent conversation with.  Since he thought up popsters’ name, The Beatles, I asked him why?

“It’s us.  We could have called ourselves The Grasshoppers, The Shoes.  It’s just a name.  Look at us.  It seems to fit.”  He laughed.  Lennon shot to death by some lunatic in 1980.  Very sad.

In February 2012, McCartney had a star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  During our fleeting acquaintance in the midst of confusion, if I remember correctly, the Fab Four were pleasant blokes.  Especially John Lennon.

Before Capitol signed them, they had been turned down by every major record company in the United States.  Then, in 1964, a song titled “I Want To Hold Your Hand” introduced them to America and Beatle mania followed.

What impressed me more than meeting The Beatles was the chaos and emotional bedlam that surrounded the pop-culture icons.  Because of the intensity of screaming fans, consisting mostly of teen-age girls and wanton adult females, nobody at the concerts I attended could understand a word The Beatles were singing.

I brought my wife to witness the hysteria at the Forest Hills gig in New York.  Like mythical gods, the four Brits dropped from the sky in a helicopter.

The stage was surrounded by a human barricade of cops and security guards.  As The Beatles performed, fans ran down the aisles throwing their bodies at the cordon of sentries in hopes of just touching the dudes from Liverpool.

After a half century of working on both sides of the journalist wall, I can only say that the epitomy of life for me, at least, was never based on schmoozing with high profile celebrities.

Yet sometimes I wonder whatever happened to those young whippersnappers who called themselves The Beatles?

Boots LeBaron

(Note:  This story is in THE HUMAN RACE BY BOOTS LEBARON, my newly-released book on Amazon through CreateSpace.  It consists of interviews with people ranging from astronauts to actors to strippers, plus essays and light poetry.  Take a look by clicking on the link at the top of the page or on one of links provided below.)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1391396437&sr=8-1&keywords=boots+lebaron

https://www.createspace.com/4533294

SIMPLICITY VS BRILLIANCE: IT’S A STANDOFF!

THE HUMAN RACE

SIMPLICITY VS BRILLIANCE: IT’S A STANDOFF!

Time is the ultimate equalizer of humanity. If we are granted a reasonable amount of it, the result is a clearness of vision that shows us where we stand in this sound-bite, Twitter-distorted civilization that suffers from a severe case of multiple stupiditus.
Only with the passage of time do we learn that brilliance and simplicity are two distinct gifts that intrinsically can’t be measured.
Brilliance doesn’t necessarily contribute to the betterment of mankind. Simplicity certainly isn’t always a virtue. Yet they stand as opposing forces. Sometimes, both fail to reveal that in the scheme of things, one is just as significant as the other.
Like genius, simplicity is a gift to be cherished and nurtured. If a simple man or woman are fortunate enough to grow through a lifetime of complexities, surmounting the daily challenges shall never cease.
Each of us are granted our very own window in time to venture forth, to evolve into the person we now are, packing far more knowledge than what we began with.
No matter how brilliant or simple we might be, the climb is always painfully difficult. Because of the myriad paths we take, the struggle will inevitably lead to a clear view of how far we’ve come and the ultimate luxury of perceiving our very own destiny.
Let that final destination not be a dungeon chiseled out of the bowels of degradation, but a mighty stone edifice that’s built with the sweat and personal sacrifice reflecting a wisdom that belongs to you and you alone.

— Boots LeBaron —

50 YEARS AGO, THE DAY U.S. PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY WAS ASSASSINATED

THE HUMAN RACE

HOW PEOPLE IN BEVERLY HILLS REACTED 50 YEARS AGO, THE DAY U.S. PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY WAS ASSASSINATED.

(A NOTE WRITTEN BY BOOTS LeBARON TO HIS THREE-YEAR-OLD SON BRANDON ON THE DAY J.F.K. WAS ASSASSINATED)

Dear Brandy: ​It’s 2:55 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, 1963.   ​Although it’s the kind of day that makes life worth living — a beautiful blue-sky day in Beverly Hills — a horrifying thing happened in Dallas, Texas just a few hours ago.  John F. Kennedy, President of our country, was killed while traveling in his motorcade in downtown Dallas. ​Just thinking about him, I have a lump in my throat.  I feel like I’ve lost a friend.  We’ve lost a President who not only had the potential to be a great leader, but had a presence on television that made you love him.  Who knows what history holds, but to me and your mom he was the caring, good-guy President. ​Ironically, here I sit in an office at Rogers & Cowan, a large theatrical PR firm in Beverly Hills, writing a story about Cliff Edwards, who was the voice of the famous Walt Disney insect, Jiminy Cricket.  I had interviewed him in his small bungalow on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.  He lay in bed the entire interview.  ​Empty booze bottles were scattered all over the place.  An oil painting of Mickey Mouse, signed by Walt Disney, hung over the mantel.  The pathetic old guy has outlived a vital young leader.  ​I guess that’s show business.    ​The devastating news was brought to me by Paul Bloch, a 24-year-old publicist who works at R&C.  There was a faint smile on his lips when he stuck his head into the room and told Vic Heutschy, another publicist, and I that President Kennedy had been shot.  At first we thought he was making a bad joke.  I remember saying, “Who you kidding, Paul?”  He wasn’t. ​Instantly, I left my Remington — I’m head feature writer at R&C (Actually, I’m the only feature writer) — and walked through the offices.  It’s interesting how people react to tragedy.  Paul had a smile on his lips, but I’m sure he wasn’t smiling inside.   ​When I worked on the police-beat for the Times, covering everything from suicides to homicides, I discovered that every person copes with tragedy differently.  Everybody has their own emotional time clock, and it clangs in different ways. ​As I walked through R&C, alarms were going off right and left.  For example:  Erma Bergstrom, a white-haired secretary in her 60s, continued working with dry eyes, while a young secretary who worked at a desk next to Erma was a pitiful mess.  Her mascara was running, her eyes were bloodshot, and there were tears running down her cheeks.  Trying to blot them with a soiled hanky, she was weeping pathetically.   ​Two other secretaries, Myla Page and Greta Liebowitz, sat in the boss’s (Warren Cowan) office quietly discussing the assassination.  There were no tears, no frowns, no sighs.  It was if they were talking about a movie.  An hour later, Myla’s alarm triggered.  Her lips were quivering, tears were streaming down her face, her nose was pink from blowing.   ​In Teme Brenner’s office (another R&C principal), publicists Dick Israel and Dan Jenkins were sitting in a cloud of despair.  I listened as they discussed the shooting.  It sounded so clinical.  ​Jenkins said that the assassin was probably mentally deranged.  Dick suggested that the Mafia might be the culprits.  After a minute of listening to that bullshit, I got out of there. ​Vic Heutschy, a talented publicist I’ve known since our L.A. High School days, had his own theories:   ​(1)  A professional hit man hired by a foreign country.     (2) A Southerner who’s opposed to the President’s Civil Rights efforts.     (3)  Some “glory nut” who’s out for the notoriety.   ​There’s a lot of sickos in this world, Brandy. ​When I suggested another possibility, an assassin hired by a political party, Vic saw that as preposterous.  Who am I to argue with a UCLA grad? ​Myla just walked by wearing dark glasses covering a set of puffy eyes.       At lunchtime, Paul Block told me he had lost his appetite, so Vic and I left without him.  We walked down Beverly Drive and along Wilshire Boulevard.  We stopped by a brokerage firm to check the stock market.  He had invested in Cinerama Inc.     (more)   Then we visited BOAC where your mother works at the front desk as a ticket agent.  She was all chocked up. Your mom and I had an argument this morning.  I was angry as hell at her.  But after the news about Kennedy, the anger vanished.   ​Funny, I can’t even remember what we were fighting about. ​Vic and I walked across the street to a restaurant.  It was so crowded we went to Blum’s.  There we bumped into Paul.  Apparently his appetite returned because he had an awful lot to eat.   ​Maybe that was his time mechanism registering. ​The streets of Beverly Hills appeared less crowded than usual at lunchtime.  There were very few pedestrians smiling.  One well-dressed middle-age guy was red faced and laughing.  Who knows why? ​After lunch, I left Vic and Paul and walked up Canon Drive to Dr. Hoffman’s office.  He’s a cardiologist.  Two week ago he put me on a diet and told me to start working out.  I lost ten pounds.  I’m down to my fighting weight: 190.   ​When I entered his office, the reception room was filled with older people.  I was the only person under 50.  As the doctor was examining me, he told me he was angry and depressed.  If he knew he could contact all of his patients, he would has closed the office. ​After checking me over, he told me that I’ll live and not to come back.  I stopped at the pharmacy and asked the price of a fancy pack of licorice.  The pharmacist told me have one on him, “no charge.” ​ On the way back to Rogers & Cowan two ladies walked by.  One was wearing a gray fur stole.  Her hands covering her face, she was wracked with sobs.  Trying to comfort her, her companion guided her along the sidewalk.  A lot of people loved John F. Kennedy. ​I was feeling pretty good when I got back to the office.  But when I opened the door, I was hit by gloom.  Mechanisms were triggering right and left.  That was 4:45 p.m. ​Vic, Paul and I talked about Kennedy’s successor.  Not that I am an authority on politics, I said that I was afraid that if Sen. Barry Goldwater became president, we would be in World War III.  I’d probably vote for Nixon ahead of Goldwater or Rockefeller.  Vic agreed about Goldwater.  And if I remember our conversation, he wasn’t impressed with Rockefeller either.  Rockefeller is a mushmouth.  He just doesn’t impress me.  He certainly doesn’t have the appeal that Kennedy had. ​Vice-president Lyndon Johnson was sworn in on the plane and I heard his speech on TV after he landed in Washington D.C.  It was brief and ended with: “I will do the best that I can do.  I ask your help and God’s.”  Nobody in the office was overly optimistic about the future of our country with Johnson at the reins. ​Anyway, Brandy, tomorrow is Saturday and we are going to buy you your first bed.  You’ve been sleeping in a crib for almost three years. ​It’s now 5 p.m.  British Overseas Airways Corp. (BOAC), where your mom works, locked its doors about 1 p.m. today.  But JoAnne   will probably have to work until 5:30 p.m.  Then we’ll pick you up at nursery school and maybe go for dinner at the El Cholo.  How will that be?

​Your Dad, ​Boots

(The J.F.K. story is one of many featured in Boots LeBaron’s new book, THE HUMAN RACE.  The book, available on Amazon/Kindle and contains humorous and inspirational views of life, death, courage, the workplace, spirituality, love, heartbreak and Hollywood as told through interviews, essays and light poetry)

The Beginning of Who’s End?

Remember, this is only the beginning

of the end of your life.  Make a note

of that.  You’ve got miles to go.  There

will be more ruts in the road.  Enjoy

the ride.  Heartbreak is not your final

curtain.  Like triumph and tragedy, it’s

fuel for building inner strength.  The

spirit of your being is anything but

mechanical.  You’re not going to run

out of knowledge, exasperation or fun.

Life is an unpredictable journey.  Despite

the consequences, you might discover that

there’s lots to live for.  Like all of us

floundering souls, the end is inevitable.

Just the thought of it proves that life

is a precious yet wretched keepsake.

Everybody squanders some of it.  By so

doing, we are recipients of the coveted

Pain Equals Wise trophy.  When you think

about it:  The process of getting wise

can be a delightful pain in the ass.

But it’s worth the trip.

Boots LeBaron

Boots New Book The Human Race is available now at Amazon/Kindle! Click the link and go check it out!

Boots has just published his new book The Human Race by Boots LeBaron.  Its available now on Amazon and in the Kindle Select Library.

Boots has just published his new book The Human Race by Boots LeBaron. Its available now on Amazon and in the Kindle Select Library.

http://www.amazon.com/HUMAN-RACE-BOOTS-LEBARON-ebook/dp/B00FECDGD2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383000404&sr=1-1

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