Posts Tagged ‘ art ’

CAFE SERVER’S MEANINGFUL VIEW OF THE HUMAN RACE

THE HUMAN RACE

MEET THE BALLERINA OF THE KETTLE COFFEEHOUSE.

     With the grace a ballet dancer, Linda Marie Lauckhardt, balancing heavy plates of food on one arm, glided across the floor side stepping customers, and snake-hipped her way around a maze of tables to deliver her cumbersome cargo.  

     It was a performance that the statuesque green-eyed waitress repeated literally thousands of times during a career that spanned 37 years. It ended rather abruptly after thirteen years of toting culinary freight at The Kettle, a popular 24-hour restaurant/coffee shop in Manhattan Beach, Calif.  

     Linda told me that she had quit the serving profession because she couldn’t keep up with the physical demands of “being the best I can be.

     “I’m the kind of person who runs, not walks,” she said. “My body just couldn’t take the beating.” In many restaurants, she noted, “the attitude of management toward waiters and waitresses seems to be apathetic. The truth is, good waitresses are NOT easy to find.

     “I’ve never been the kind of person who’d just as soon pick up their money and run. When I clear off a table, the last thing I think about is the tip. If they don’t leave a tip, I figure they can’t afford it. When they come back, they get the same care as anyone else. When they run across an exceptional waitress, customers know.”

     Linda, in her late 40s when I interviewed her, had been serving people most of her life. When she was a 4th grader in San Pedro, she dropped out of elementary school to help support her family which included 11 brothers and sisters.

     At the age of ten, her brothers and sisters, many of them parented by different fathers, were split up and Linda began living in a series of foster homes. At 12 years old, she lied about her age to get a job working 10-hour shifts as a “steamer” in a Chinese laundry. When the owner learned she was under age, she was fired.

     From the day she was born to a waitress in a Sweetwater, Texas hotel, adversity was her nemesis. “My mother,” she said, “wasn’t the kind of mommy who’d sit you on her lap and hug you.” So when most little girls were playing house, Linda “was playing mother” in real life trying to keep her family together.

     When other little girls were playing with dolls, Linda made her doll out of a Coca Cola bottle. “We had a lot of mouths to feed and for a time we couldn’t afford the luxury of toys.”

     Perhaps that’s why for more than two decades, her advocation has been making dolls. During that time, she has made and sold more than 150 antique Jumeau French doll replicas and 400 Teddy Bears. Her home in Big Bear, Calif. where she lived with her husband, Rich, who was an avionics technician, was filled with dolls, cats, stray dogs and neighborhood children.

     She and Rich were married when she was 14 and he was 16. They had no children. When she retired, Linda was about turning her avocation into a full-time profession. Authentic Jumeau antique originals at the time, she said, sold for more than $6,000. Her replicas which she made from scratch, took three months to create. She’d pour her own porcelain molds and sew the clothes by hand. Her replicas were selling for as much as $475. Her handmade Teddy Bears were going for $50 to $75.  

     The only fantasy she rememberd as a teenager was wanting to be a singer like Ella Fitzgerald or Kaye Starr. But when there’s “mouths to feed, clothes to buy, and diapers to change, a young girl’s dreams can somehow get lost in reality.”

     Despite the difficult early years of her childhood, the girl from Sweetwater found love rather than bitterness, pride rather than self-effacement, compassion rather than anger with the human race she waited on throughout the years.

     “I loved being a waitress,” she said, then confessed, “I’ve run across my share of hateful customers. They’ve managed to slither out from under a rock somewhere determined to ruin my day. You learn to handle the bad apples. But I’ve been fortunate to have served too many caring people in life to worry about the stinkers.”

     When she approached one “stinker” while working at The Kettle, he snarled, “Get away from here; I’ll let you know when I want you!”   Early in her career as a server, working a graveyard shift at Norm’s, a long established restaurant chain in Los Angeles County, a customer screamed profanities at Linda causing her to break down crying. Then, she recalled, “He predicted: ‘You’ll never make it as a waitress because you can’t take it!'”   

     Of course, the other side of the coin is much brighter. After serving a two-dollar breakfast to a “regular” at Norm’s restaurant in Torrance, Calif., he tipped her with a jar containing $100 worth of Mercury-head dimes.

     At The Kettle, one satisfied woman customer gave her a gold-antique cameo that belonged to her dead mother. A bank president would bring her roses regularly.

     “I believe that every day, if you do something for somebody — on the job or in the streets — you’re doing something for yourself. You can never be too giving or too kind-hearted.”

     — Boots LeBaron

MY DAD BERT LeBARON: A MOVIE STUNTMAN WITHOUT A FACE

THE HUMAN RACE

 

  THIS  STUNTMAN HAD A LOVE AFFAIR WITH HOLLYWOOD

imageStuntman Bert LeBaron, with arms spread in flight,

was about to knock out a machine-gun nest manned

by prison guards in the 1947 Burt Lancaster classic

movie “BRUTE FORCE.” Esquire Magazine ran a full-page

photo of my airborne dad without giving the Hall of

Fame stuntman-actor credit. That’s the way it was

in Hollywood back then. Although today their names

are entombed with crew members in end-credits, stunt

people are still ignored by the motion picture and

television academies. Since more than 50 stuntmen

and women have died for Hollywood over the years,

don’t you think the survivors deserve Academy

recognition? At least for valor? What pisses me off

is to hear actors ooze B.S. (Don’t tell me they don’t!)

taking credit for “gigs” performed by athletes like

my old man. And now, digital animation is replacing

the acts of such stalwart guys and gals. After

35 years of proudly calling himself an actor-

stuntman, Bert LeBaron, who would never qualify as

another Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks, developed

a heart problem that put him out of action physically

and financially. (His last stunt was doubling actor

William Bendix in a TV sitcom) When the film capital

of the world showed no compassion, he tried selling

encyclopedias. When that failed, he couldn’t even

support himself peddling newspapers on the streets of

Hollywood. Having nowhere to turn, he stepped into a

handball court at the Hollywood YMCA where he was renting

a room for $10 or $15 a week and purposely popped his

heart playing the game he loved more than women. He

died in 1956. I call Bert and his unheralded comrades

“stuntmen without faces.” I loved that womanizing rogue

whom my mother shed twice in divorce courts. My father

had so many ex-wives and girlfriends, they were lost

in the midst of his mind. Nevertheless, stuntmen and

women deserve to step up to the podium and accept a

golden statuette for their sensational athletic feats.

So tell the actors who, for the sake of publicity

or self-aggrandizement, to: Put A Cork In It! Their

crime is they continue to take credit for stuntwork

achieved by filmdom’s “faceless” others. In my book,

that’s a felony punishable by truth.

 

Boots LeBaron

TRY A LITTLE FANTASIZING AT YOUR LOCAL LAUNDROMAT

THE HUMAN RACE

A TIDY PLACE TO TWIDDLE LIFE AWAY

 

Sitting in the laundromat

watching the Speed Queen

tumble-dry your clothes

can be a monotonous thing.

 

You may pass the time gawking

at the scrumptious honeys,

or occupy the boring hours

twiddling your thumbies.

 

You can play a game of solitaire,

if by chance you have a deck.

Like waiting for your socks to dry,

it’s one tedious trek.

 

If you’re the type of person

who can slip into a trance,

a visit to the laundromat

might allow your brain to prance.

You may fly away to Paradise

on gossamer wing,

take a lover, become an NFL star,

rule the world as queen or king.

 

But for those who have a passion for

a life jampacked with washing machines,

somewhere in your ancestry

there’s gotta be some screwed up genes.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

IN OUR CELEBRITY OBSESSED LIFE, ‘REEL’ IS ANYTHING BUT REAL!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

HOW ‘REEL’ ARE WE?

 

How real are we?

How true are we

to ourselves?

Compelled by the

need to succeed,

are we no more than

fashion clones,

clusters of puppets

manipulated by designers,

clothing manufacturers,

The Stanislavski method of acting

made commercial by Lee Strasberg?

Are we the by-products

of images created

for the big screen,

television, Facebook.

Must we succumb to

the twaddle on Twitter.

Did directors, producers,

writers, actors and the

make-up lady do us in?

Were we suckled on

this  bullshit?

You betcha!

Are our thoughts so

distorted by peekaboo

 innocent faced center-folds

that make male eyeballs

twinkle with lusty female sisterhood

magazines the playground of self-

obsessed males using  fashion  as weapons.

Is it possible that the lot of us are

governed by a legion of empty-headed

news-anchor types who read the news

a safe distance away from

camera men and women who, with

little credit, put themselves into

the line of fire?

Some of the greatest print journalists

I can recall, don’t look like George Clooney,

Humphrey Bogart or even Clint Eastwood.

They aren’t pretty to look at.

Today, the prerequisite  for a

TV anchor or even a talking head

is to look presentable, smile,

and perform like you’re there in

the midst of danger and despair.

Then there’s the world of fashion

That make male and female eyeballs drop.

The hemline is up.

The hemline is down.

The fly is open.  Pants hug the

butt.  Breasts are large today,

small tomorrow.

The rump is plump,

firm, pouting or touting.

The hair is professionally

ruffled, the eyes are sharp,  fearless,

and belong to Superman or Cat woman.

Study the eyes, the lips, the smile.

Test for tears.   They’re part of TV’s

daily charade grind that screams,

“Trust me!” attempting to

 captures the hearts of

audiences everywhere.

Are we all governed

by such pseudo images?

Has the human race surrendered

to such a slack of honor?

Should we blame celebrities

who in reality can’t even

control their own lives?

Yet we bow with respect to these

perfect facades because they are

our Kings and Queens.

 How real are they?

No matter how masculine,

feminine or gay they might be,

even those who parade on

Hollywood’s red carpet

are only human.

Norman (Jake) Jacoby, a veteran

crime reporter for the Los Angeles

Herald Express, looked like

a happy walrus.  When I was neophyte

reporter for the Los Angeles Times, he

broke me in as a police-beat reporter

at LAPD’s Parker Center.  His comrades were

hardcore detectives who loved  and trusted

Jake despite his walrus mustache, prominent

nose and sardine breath.   If you were in the

market to buy a shiny new Lincoln, who would you

go to:   my mentor Jake, or that Oscar-winning actor

  Matthew McConaughey, who’s constantly seen

peddling that sleek silver automobile

in all those TV commercials?

When it comes to politics and Showbiz

there’s nothing more powerful than

celebrity.  Sorry Jake, no matter how

I’d like to, I’d never buy a Lincoln

 from you.  But I sure like those

 Lincoln commercials.  And I enjoy

listening to McConaughey’s spiel behind the wheel.

      — Boots LeBaron —

ACTOR BOB MITCHUM LEARNED THAT ADRIAN WAS NO SISSY.

THE HUMAN RACE

 ADRIAN THE ‘SISSY’ TEACHES  ‘THEATER QUEEN’ THE HARD WAY

 

     When I knew him, Adrian Leroy Thornberry, 69, was a soft spoken guy with pretty hazel eyes who wore a fancy sapphire and diamond ring on the pinky finger of his well-manicured left hand. He had five grandchildren and was a three-time Senior Olympics racquetball champion.

     When he was a kid growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, he learned to fight because of the bullies who made fun of his “sissy” name Adrian. By the time he reached ten, he had been shuffled to a number of foster homes and was already a member of the Graveyard Gang, a collection of young hoodlums whose lifestyle was violent and criminal.

     At 12 he was sent to the McKinley School, an institution for wayward boys in Van Nuys, California. From there, he wound up at Cal-Poly High School in Long Beach where he ran across another barrel-chested kid with hooded eyes named Bob Mitchum who grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen.

     Early on, Mitchum learned the art of fisticuffs from a prizefighter who fought Dempsey. In 1934, Adrian was the Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing champ for the State of Kentucky.

     “Didn’t you once tell me that Bob Mitchum was kind of a wimp in high school?” I asked Adrian.

     “In those days,” recalled Adrian, “actors and tennis players weren’t highly regarded. I was closer to his brother, Jim.”

     “Did you ever get in a fight with Bob Mitchum?”

     Adrian laughed reflectively, then added. “I did.”

     “Well?”

     “I took care of him at a dance. He probably won’t even remember it!” Adrian shrugged.

     Adrian Thornsberry joined the Navy and in 1942 won the heavyewight championship of the 11th Naval District, which took in all of Southern California. In 1946, following his discharge, he joined the Los Angeles Police Department.

     Teamed with Lad Hassler, a 6-foot-4-inch 240-pound bull, who was later killed in the line of duty, they patrolled what Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not!” described as the “toughest two blocks in the world — Beacon Street between 4th and 6th streets in San Pedro.

     “We had shootings, knifings, drunk rolls every night,” he recalled. “We made as many as 198 arrests a month. Every time we made a bust in saloons like the 409 Club, Tommy Goodfellows Cafe, Tony’s or Manny’s Gayway, it was like war. Hell couldn’t have been tougher.

     “I always thought that the general public, especially the people who are constantly degrading law enforcement tactics, would change their tune if they spent a night on patrol with cops in places like San Pedro, Wilmington, Hollywood and South Central Los Angeles,” he said, adding, “They’d find life on the streets is not the least bit fair.”

     Robert Mitchum died in 1997 suffering from emphysema caused by too many cigarettes and an overdose of swashbuckling. Adrian died of lead poisoning, a self-inflicted gun shot to the head. I liked them both.

                        — Boots LeBaron —

THIS TANKER TRUCK MECHANIC PLAYS HIS ‘STRADIVARIUS’

THE HUMAN RACE

 

HIS UKULELE IS HIS ‘STRADIVARIUS’

 IMG_2074-0

The fingers are powerful and calloused from decades repairing huge tanker trucks that must transport 10,000 gallons of fuel throughout the west. The Hawaiian born Tom (Masaru) Yonamine, a lead mechanic for Union 76, is probably the world’s only amateur ukulele player who refers to his $1,200 Miller uke as “my Stradivarius.” He’s referring to violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman’s multi-million dollar centuries-old Soil Stradivarius of 1714 hand-crafted Italian violin he calls his “fiddle.” Yet Perlman, who for years has been playing his “fiddle” before SRO audiences throughout the world, and Tom who plays before what he describes as a “Sitting Room Only” audience of one — his Japanese American wife, Sharon. Yet, Tom and the famed violinist have three things in common: They are both 70, cherish their string instruments and perform concerts: Perlman at places like Carnegie Hall and The White House; Tom, before his wife, adult kids and grandchildren at their home in Gardena, Calif. “For years he’s been playing that uke,” says his wife. “Seldom misses a day. It’s like watching John Wayne parading around the house picking and strumming.” Sharon, he claims “is my only severe critic. If I’m playing too loud, she lets me know. If Mr. Perlman ever played at our house, he’d get a standing ovation. I’m still waiting for mine!” Tom’s favorite musician is Japanese born Jake Shimabukuro. “Jake is to ukulele what Mr. Perlman is to violin: A super star. They both play classical, jazz and pops to sold-out crowds everywhere.” Tom does perform with a ukulele group in Torrance known as Kanakapla. “For me,” he admits, “learning chords is tougher than replacing a truck transmission.” What has he learned from fiddling with a uke? “The ukulele is growing in popularity. It’s a social instrument that brings people together. Even for a musician like Jake Shimabukuro, it’s fun to play and the challenge never ends.” Despite his linebacker physique, says his wife of 50 years, “my husband is a romanticist. The song he plays most is Chotto Matte Kudasai, a Japanese love song. Translated into English it means: ‘Wait a Little While.'” So playing the uke turns the retired tanker-truck surgeon into a Romeo and teaches him the art of patience. The troubled world could use both of those virtues today.

 

                        — Boots LeBaron

 

(Boots is currently completing “IN THE MIDST OF SHOOTING STARS,” a memoir about a lost kid and child actor during the great depression and World War II whose rogue-stuntman father Bert LeBaron, with close ties to a powerful eastern crime syndicate, teaches Boots his own brand of integrity.The kid never surrendered his soul to Hollywood)

  https://bootslebaronsworld.com/2015/01/18/conversation-with-a-dead-man-5/

  

 

OLD LION STUDIES WILDLIFE AT STARBUCKS WATERING HOLE

THE HUMAN RACE

THE  FASCINATING PREY THIS OLD CAT GETS CHUMMY WITH       

 IMG_1973 Reeking of Eternity cologne and badly in need of a haircut, the old lion sat in a corner licking his chops, slurping coffee at a Starbucks watering hole in Manhattan Beach, Calif. It was early morning. As he scribbled thoughts on a notepad he watched a parade of morsels line up for fresh-brewed concoctions.   For weeks he had perched ready to pounce on a variety of unsuspecting characters who were sampling the dark liquid on the stage of life. It was a jungle more fascinating than the best of Broadway. Where else can one observe and even chat with such an entertaining cast of wildlife creatures — asking questions that only a scraggly old beast like me could get away with.     

Take a look:     

An unemployed wildebeest (actor) with a debilitating hangover sipping a decalf delight.   A lonely old rooster whose wealth, despite his vanity, attracts a handful of young chickadees he loves to impress.    A vulture with a prominent beak who’s always dressed in a blue suit and tie. Where’s he going? To work at the mortuary.     An award-winning body surfer who’d rather ride the waves than be the aerospace engineer whose salary pays for his surfing expeditions.   A belligerent homeless hyena who grabs the discarded newspapers, then exits Starbucks to find his own solitude.    A soft-spoken well-groomed spotted leopard, an authority on sports, turns out to be a racial bigot.    A gray wolf who calls himself “The Poet.”   He survived eight years doing hard time in three state prisons.     A fearless rhino (Los Angeles County deputy district attorney) who has successfully prosecuted and won more than 100 homicide cases, sending three men to Death Row.      A statuesque gazelle (female banker, heavy on the eye shadow) who’s tired of being hit on.     A racoon (physicist) who reached middle age before he confessed to his elderly mother who raised him as a single parent that liver made him gag. Whenever she served it for dinner, he’d wrap it in a napkin and pocket it.     An eagle (entrepreneur from New York) who decades ago maxed out a credit card to start a pharmaceutical headhunter business that now has offices nationwide.      An ostrich (buxom young woman, bellybutton exposed, butterfly wings tattooed above derriere), is poured into a clinging blouse, mini skirt, with shapely legs that stretch into stilettos. She’s looking for a “job that pays good.”          A Bengal tiger (army officer dressed in camouflaged fatigues and combat boots) who has fought his share of wars in the Middle East.      A couple of friendly pandas (English-speaking Taiwanese) who came to America 30 years ago. They diligently read the Chinese Daily News printed in their native language and discuss the editorials in Mandarin.      A chimpanzee (iron worker) who blows about walking the high beams and gushes about an on-going love affair he’s having with the woman who happens to be the mother of his children.          A porcupine (homeless young woman) coiling on the bricks outside Starbucks. Her face is dirty. Her features are classic.      A charming yet squirrely orangutan in her mid-80s who blesses every person she comes in contact with.  She claims one night she actually spoke to God.      A Hollywood gorilla (stuntman) who had injured his back when the car he was driving in a film crashed. Despite the pain, he intends to return to work.      What a parade of fascinating creatures. All tantalizing tidbits.      What a world.      What a life. Too bad I’ve already had breakfast.

                                                                                — Boots LeBaron

Click to read a preview of my nearly completed Memoir.

https://bootslebaronsworld.com/2015/01/18/conversation-with-a-dead-man-5/

(Boots’ new book, “THE HUMAN RACE,” consists of humorous and philosophic essays, poems and human interest stories focusing on life, Showbiz, love, courage, even death. It’s available on Kindle and in paperback via Amazon)

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