Posts Tagged ‘ Death ’

WITHIN EVERY ‘THEE’ HIDES INSPIRATION!

ARE YOU SOLELY YOU, TOO?

Proudly I am solely me.

My search for understanding

is a never-ending spree.

The gift I treasure most is

the wisdom that belongs to thee.

If your thoughts are only dubious,

that’s enough to stir up

a ruckus in my tuchis.

Sure, I’m somewhat of a

gullible fool who

failed in school.

Through life, dyslexia

has been my anchor.

No way can I take reading

comprehension to the banker.

Yet I’ve always felt free

to think as I please,

soliciting knowledge from

you modern day Socrates.

Even when reliability

turns to dust, I trust.

For me, believing in the

worthiness of others is a must.

Writing essays, poetry and human

interest stories about people

such as thee, has proved

to be my fait accompli.

Despite society’s judgemental rule,

a learning disorder has always

been my inspirational tool.

It’s a stubborn confidence

I have found. At times

I’ve run it into the ground.

Listening to the rantings of others,

you might discover thoughts so profound.

Naturally, there’s no guarantee that

such philosophies will astound.

If it happened to me,

it could happen to thee!

 

 — Boots LeBaron —

LAVENDER ROSE SHALL NEVER DIE

Lavender Rose Shall Never Die.

By

Boots LeBaron
Husband, Father, Papa and friend to All.

 

RIP (7/10/1932-8/25/2017)  

 

Photo by Beau LeBaron May25th 2012, Rose in my Back Yard Brea CA

Lavender rose,
with the sun filterring through your frail petals,
I hate to see you go.
Bending so pitifully on that prickly stem
with your green leaves rusting yellow,
you are still worthy of great admiration.
In these last moments of existence,
you remain fragrant and memorably exquisite.
Knowing that your time has come
stings my conscience
with an indescribable melancholy.
What a void your absence will create.

 

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OLD PRO WRESTLER RELIVES THE GOOD OLD DAYS

YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW

DANTE  GRAPPLED WITH IMMIGRATION;

EVEN BEAT MAN MOUNTAIN DEAN ON THE MAT!

by Boots LeBaron

    More than a half century ago Leonardo Rica, a 22-year-old Italian-born immigrant accompanied by his mother and younger brother, arrived by ship in New York Harbor.

     Like millions of foreigners who come to America, their mission was to find a better life. They spoke no English, only Italian and Spanish.

     Leonardo, a ruggedly handsome, mustachioed 225 pounder who grew up in Argentina and trained as a Greco-Roman wrestler in Buenos Aires, was determined to become a professional wrestler.

     With no command of the English language, finding his way around New York City was at times difficult. “If I was in Brooklyn asking directions to 33rd Street and someone would call it, ‘toity-toid’ street, I’d be lost,” said Leonardo, laughing.

     A long time resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Leonardo had initially intended to compete as a wrestler in the Olympics. Instead, he began “free-style” wrestling in Argentina before coming to America.  

     His childhood hero was Argentine Rocca, a world famous “no nonsense” champion known as the Bare’footed Warrior. Rocca helped bring his young protegé Leonardo into the profession where even in those days theatrics sold tickets.

     It was a non-steroid world dominated by a collection of powerful characters using box office monikers like Gorgeous George, Man Mountain Dean, The Great Moto, The Destroyer, Killer Kowalski

The Strangler, The Syrian Assassin, Chief Blue Eagle, Mr. America, Kayo, Mister Terror, The Jumper and Gentleman Jim (who was anything but a gentleman).

     As a professional wrestler, the Italian kid from Argentina became Dante.

     “I liked that name because it sounded evil. Most of the hundred or so matches I had on the East Coast, I was the straight man.”  

     Playing the bad guy, he said, “was part of the act. If the audience booed, hissed, or even threw objects into the ring, it was a successful performance. One time, a little old lady was so mad, she climbed into the ring and hit me over the head with an umbrella.”

     For Leonardo, “that was like an Academy Award nomination. Just like today, there was eye gouging, arm twisting, body slamming, lifts and drops — all sorts of spectacular moves.”

     Of course, he noted, the “big guys” who dominate the sport today could overpower most of the pros when I wrestled.

     “In those days, we didn’t rely on steroids. My enhancement drugs came from Argentina: Beef, beef, beef and more beef.

     “We were gladiators just like they are now,” he said. “We were like a team. You helped an opponent lift you over his head. He knew how to slam you to the canvas or throw you out of the ring. And you knew how to land. I can’t tell you how many times I was thrown out of that ring. More than a dozen.

     “We didn’t have mats at ringside. So the safest way to be thrown out of the ring was to land on the audience.”

     Man Mountain Dean was one opponent he couldn’t lift or heave anywhere. He sported a black beard, wore dungarees, weighed 450 pounds and was built like a Sumo wrestler.

     “I wanted to beat him,” said Leonardo. “Believe me, I tried. But lift him onto my shoulders! Are you kidding? When he finally pinned me and the referee counted me down, he refused to get off of me. When the crowd started booing, they gave me the match. So I beat Man Mountain Dean.”

     Although he wrestled on the same card with the legendary Gorgeous George, who climbed into the ring wearing a golden cape accompanied by a corner man who played the violin, Leonardo never locked arms with the glitzy celebrity who was also known as “The Orchid Man”.

     “Before every match, George would have his hair curled. Like Argentine Rocca, women were crazy about him. He’d strut around the ring pulling bobby pins out of his hair tossing them to lady admirers. They scrambled after them like hungry sharks.”

     But Dante was developing his own fan base. “Kids would circulate in the crowd selling my autographed photos for $2. That was a lot of money in those days.” Despite only a year of professional wrestling, in 2008 he was inducted into the New York State Wrestlers Hall of Fame.

     So his promising career as grappler ended abruptly in 1954 when he was drafted into the Army. When the Korean war veteran was honorably discharged, instead of returning to wrestling, he went into the wholesale jewelry and the photo-finishing business in Yonkers, New York.

    A memory he would forever cherish was the sight of the towering Statue of Liberty that greeted his family when they arrived in New York Harbor from Argentina.

     “I’ll never forget that beautiful lady holding the torch,” said Leonardo. “If she wasn’t so big, I would have hugged her. What do you expect, I was an immigrant, born in Belvedere Marittimo, a small village about 30 kilometers south of Naples in southern Italy.  

     “I was only five when my mother (Victoria), who did without to feed and cloth me, brought me to Argentina so we could be with my father (Francisco).   My mother meant everything to me. We were very poor. As an infant, she would chew up the food and spit it into a bowl to feed me.

     “She sacrificed so much. My father was a decent man with ways of the old country. He taught me to rely on common sense. Throughout life, I have tried to do that.”

     “I was an immigrant twice,” he noted. “Once as a very young boy coming from Italy to Argentina. Again, as a young man immigrating to the America. I can identify with people from any country wanting a better life.  

     “We open the door for them,” he went on. “Finally, they have something to eat, money to raise a family. Yet, there are those who complain: ‘They are taking my job!'”

     What he would tell immigrants arriving in the U.S.A. today?

     Here’s his quick reply: “You want to live an honorable life? Welcome to America! If you are a criminal, GET OUT! Never come back. Never!

     “As for sending millions back to poverty — good people who work our fields, cut our lawns, build our highways, do so many menial tasks for so little money — punishing these innocent men, women and their children is un-American. Come on! It’s so unfair to turn them away. They come here like so many of us with hope in their hearts.  

     “I believe in amnesty. They deserve it,” said Leonardo. When we met, he had three sons, grandchildren and was divorced. He lived with his brother, Carlos, an aerospace/missile scientist, in Palos Verdes, Calif.

     He died in 2012 at the age of 83. Leonardo recalled the words written by Emma Lazarus inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning

to breathe free…”

 

 

(THE HUMAN RACE, written by Boots, is an

inspirational self-help book interspersed

with stories about people, essays and light

poetry. It’s available on Kindle as well

as in paperback on Amazon)

 

A STARK VIEW OF LIFE, HOPE, MIRACLES AND DEATH THROUGH THE EYES OF TWO HEART SPECIALISTS

NOTE: I WROTE THIS STORY TWO DECADES AGO. IT’S ABOUT TWO GREAT CARDIOLOGISTS WHO ARE STILL SAVING LIVES, INCLUDING MINE.

 

CARDIOLOGISTS JACKSON AND KISSEL REVEAL INTIMATE REALITIES OF THEIR PROFESSION

 

by Boots LeBaron

                                

     Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, even Muhammad Ali, couldn’t take the kind of punishment that Gary L. Kissel and Bruce K. Jackson have endured over their 18-year partnership in Redondo Beach.

     God knows how many times they’ve been on the ropes, or found themselves flat on the canvas, struggling to get back on their feet, trying to save a life before the ten count.

     Rolling with the punches simply doesn’t work when you’re in the business of invasive cardiology.  

     Whenever Jackson, 48, is asked what he does for a living, rather than talk about the trauma of a Code Blue, or the frantic seconds of trying to save the life of a person who’s in the midst of a massive heart attack, he prefers to tell strangers that he’s a pump mechanic.

     “We fix broken pumps and broken hearts,” he’ll say. Besides, who wants to hear about implanting pacemakers, intra-aortic balloon pumps, angioplasty or other intra-cardiac procedures at a cocktail party?  

     Jackson, a man with an outrageous sense of humor, confesses that “in this business, you’ll go nuts if you don’t have a sense of humor. Cardiology is stressful. It’s painful. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. I’d pay good money to do this. There’s absolutely nothing in life I’d rather do.

 

     “During my second year of practice,” said Kissel, 53, “I felt a real burnout. I wept for a couple of days. I didn’t know if I could cope with so much life and death. I still break down when my patients die. Crying is a way to relieve grief and express your own sorrow. But I feel truly blessed to be in this business.”

     “Double ditto for me,” said Jackson. “Sometimes when a patient dies, I go home; shed a tear for them; toast the ghost, and wish them off to a better place than they’ve been. I try very hard to leave the sorrows and heartaches back in the office. Sometimes that doesn’t work worth a hoot.”

     Unlike people suffering from cancer, AIDS or other fatal diseases, Jackson noted that cardiac patients “have a notorious habit of dying at very inconvenient times. Very suddenly and dramatically. It’s like god suddenly snatches them away.”

     For Kissel and Jackson, practicing cardiology is like flying through hell on angels’ wings. The view is miserable but enlightening, tragic but captivating, mystifying but miraculous.       “Almost every day of my life, I see tragedy,” said Jackson. “Tragedy is dying alone, being sick without anyone to hold your hand to comfort you. Ironically, people handle stress best under pressure. When we’re squeezed against the wall, we’re forced to be courageous.”

     Many times, says Kissel, as a patient is dying, “when they are gasping for breath or are on a respirator and are incapable of talking, they speak with their eyes.

     “Looking into their eyes, you know what they’re thinking. Their eyes tell you, ‘I know you’re trying, but I’m dying.’ Their eyes show compassion, fear, resolve and courage. They say, ‘Thanks,’ or, ‘It’s okay, I’m ready to go.’ Or, ‘To hell with all this. I give up.’

     “Eyes, soul, spirit,” said Jackson. “When people die, you can almost sense the physical departure of the soul from the body.    “In our business,” said Kissel, “you have to be blind not to recognize that there are unexplainable powers. There is a god!

     “Bruce and I sometimes joke about situations where patients, with no help from us, seem to miraculously regain their strength. After that, we say we gave them an injection of Lazarine mixed with a dose of Resurrectine,” said Kissel, referring to the biblical account of Lazarus being brought back to life by Jesus Christ.”

     “There are factors that go beyond our ability to heal,” added Jackson. “Many times, we could sure use a nice little vile of Lazerine and Resurrectine to make this experience more productive.” “We have a number patients who are walking miracles,” said Kissel. “For reasons we can’t explain, they have survived despite technology and expert opinion.”

     He recalled an elderly man who “already looked like a cadaver when Bruce and I admitted him to the hospital. We thought for sure he would die there. Next day, he was walking. Finally, he left the hospital and went on to live for a long time.”

     Jackson remembered a Code Blue when “This lady was in full cardiac arrest. She wasn’t breathing.

     “Had no heart beat for four minutes. We worked on her for about a half hour. Couldn’t bring her back. As I was telling her surgeon there was nothing we could do, she started breathing. Her heartbeat restored. She came into the office three weeks ago. Walking slower, but she’s fine now.”

     Kissel also had patients who are too busy to die. He recalled a middle aged stockbroker whom he admitted to the South Bay Hospital suffering from a heart attack. “He insisted on having a phone in his room. He acted like his heart attack was nothing more than a major inconvenience, seriously interfering with business. It was like, he simply could not afford to die.

     “When I visited him the next morning, he was on the phone chewing on a cigar. The bed was cluttered with papers. He actually waved me off, telling me to come back later. What a character.” Kissel laughed. “I’m sure he did just fine. Never came back.”

     Kissel believes that “people have a right to die. And under certain circumstances, withdrawing all treatment is not only logical but compassionate. If our culture reaches a point where it’s considered okay for a physician — like Dr. Jack Kevorkian — to assist a patient in dying, I’d find that extremely difficult.” The most neurotic patients, observes Jackson, are physicians themselves. “You run across one in the hall and he’ll say, ‘Got a minute? I got this pain in my chest. Make it go away, will you? “You have to grab him by the wrist and put him on a treadmill. “Believe me,” he went on, “doctors are more neurotic than regular patients who have no medical smarts. Of all people, they should know that denial will kill when you have heart disease.”

     Do the partners ever feel that since they literally hold the fate of their patients in their hands, they possess god-like powers?

     “Every day we are reminded that we are all in the same boat,” said Kissel. “We are no more invincible than our patients. We share the same feelings, we get just as sick as they do, and there’s no doubt that, inevitably, all of us will die.

     “I can only hope that what I do as a physician,” he continued, “will enhance the quality of someone else’s life and will give them a few extra years of happiness.”

     Although Jackson says that his wife, Susan, is his best friend, Kissel is more than a pal. “At 2:15 in the morning, when you’re double teaming, trying to bail a patient out of a deadly tailspin, and you look over and see your partner in action, that’s another view of the soul. No doubt about it, Gary is also my best friend.”  

     Some physicians, says Jackson, believe that the MD after their names stands for Minor Deity. “Luckily, Gary and I have made a clean getaway” from the god syndrome that plagues some physicians.

    “When I get up in the morning, I put my trousers on one leg at a time. I don’t know about Gary, but I’m getting old with as many twinges in the hinges as anyone else.

     “I can testify that I’m just as mortal as the next guy. Maybe even more so.”

     With partners Howard Abrams, Eric Castleman and Steven Weinstein — all cardiologists — Kissel and Jackson operate Cardiology Associates of the South Bay with offices in Redondo Beach, California.

     It wasn’t until Kissel was attending the University of Washington on a football scholarship that he decided on pursuing a career in medicine. He began his medical career working in a M*A*S*H rescue unit as an Air Force flight surgeon in Vietnam. The only thing he found tougher than his two-year stint in Nam, which included flying into combat zones, is practicing cardiology in the South Bay.

     Vietnam, he admits, wasn’t easy. “But private practice is a different world. We are part of the community. We make lasting friendship with our patients. Unlike Vietnam, they are not strangers when they die.” Kissel is the father of two grown children.

     Jackson, also an Air Force surgeon, and his wife, Susan, an accountant, are both working on second marriages. Between them, they have five children and six grandchildren. “The reason we’re so young and have so many grandchildren is we started mating in grammar school,” he joked.  

     “I never realized it would require such personal sacrifice,” he said. “Yet, I feel blessed. I believe that what I’m doing is very important. It seems like you spend half of your life learning to become a doctor.”

     What he’s learned about life facing death is: “Whatever you do in life, whatever livelihood you pursue, it should make you happy. Don’t go strictly for the money, fame, power. None of those can buy happiness! I’ve seen too many people who realized that too late.’

     “Life is very fragile,” agrees his partner. “Very short. Very precious. It should be treated accordingly.”

     On Friday, May 6, both Kissel and Jackson, Associate Clinical Professors at the UCLA School of Medicine, will be honored by the American Heart Association at a fund-raising banquet at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza.

     Unless their beepers go off over the weekend, on Monday Kissel and Jackson will be back in the ring, dancing on the canvas soaked with their own tears, jabbing, weaving, bobbing and punching; hoping for a miracle and trying their damndest to knock their ominous opponents on the ropes one more time.

          ————————————-

Boots LeBaron is a freelance writer who lives in Manhattan Beach.

 

End

The Human Race by Boots LeBaron is available on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465608125&sr=8-1&keywords=BOOTS+LEBARON

WATCHING THE PREAKNESS: A THOUGHT ABOUT COURAGE

EX-JOCKEY LEARNED THE HARD WAY

 

     Stewart I. Haupman was petting a $2,300 cockatoo when I met him several years ago at his parrot shop in Redondo Beach, California. But he wasn’t always in the exotic bird business.

     He grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, a tough tenement section brimming with poverty and controlled by gangs. At the age of seven, he sold magazines and sang on weekends at Jewish weddings to help support the family

     Sharing a small two-bedroom flat in a tenement house with his parents, grandparents and a brother who had polio, he slept on a cot in the hallway.

     When he turned 14, he quit school, forged his father’s signature, and became a stable boy at the old Jamaica Race Track. A year later, he became an exercise boy at Hialeah, a track in Florida.

     It was there he got his first mount as a jockey. The third horse he raced, won! Within eight months, he had won 127 races and had become a full-fledged jockey.

     Over a period of eight years, riding for Sonny Jim Fitzsimmons, whom he described as “the dean of trainers,” he had won 832 races. “Being a jockey, that was my education. I rode and I broke yearlings for the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys… “I owe a lot to those people. They taught me to be a human being. I learned to function in an area of society I never even dreamed I could be a part of.”

     As a winning jockey, the kid from Hell’s Kitchen not only rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, but found a pride within himself. “The racetrack gave me self-esteem. I had a great time. Winning a big race is an unbelievable experience.

     “You hear the crowd yelling, screaming. And You’re whipping and driving. Well, it’s exciting. You wave at the judges in the winner’s circle. There’s smiles. Applause. The track gave me the feeling of being somebody special. Like a track star.”

     During a race at Hialeah, his mount “snapped an ankle” and Steward went down in front of the pack. Trampled by six horses, he was “busted up bad” and spent nine months in the hospital, gained weight and lost that competitive edge to win.

     “To have success suddenly taken away from you — it was devastating! When you’re a kid, nobody paints you a rosy picture. Nobody tells you there’s a rose garden out there. You find it. Then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. It seems that nobody really teaches you that in life, you win a few and lose a few. You should never quit when you’re down.”

                                                               — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

THE HUMAN RACE

 

  

A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

 

Not too long ago,

I was walking down the street minding me own business when

when I heard a rustling of leaves coming from high in a maple tree.

When I looked up, there was Francis Archibald O’Leary with

that waggish face beaming down at me.

He was trapped, clinging to a spindly branch that barely supported his portly Leprechaun frame.

“Top of the mornin’, chappy!” hecalled, tipping his topper.

Up to that point in my life,

I had been a logical kind of guy who believed that elves, mermaids, gremlins,

pixies, brownies, even gnomes were figments of our imagination. But I must admit that

I’ve known my share of Leprechaunic folk the size of Billy Barty.

So there high above me was Francis, oozing blarney winking down with

impish green eyes magnified by bifocals.

As sure as St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland, I had

never met a more whimsical character than the one whose coattail was

was caught in the branches.

“Before you forsake me,” he pleaded, “would

you be up to doin’ a kind deed?”

I shot him an skeptical glance.

“Wouldn’t you agree, it’d be unmerciful

to leave a body trapped in a tree on such a fine kite-flying day?” he rattled on.

“How’d you get up there?” I asked.

“Would you believe I was tryin’ to getcloser to heaven?” he snorted.

“If I help you down, will you give me an interview?” I asked.

“Yer pullin’ me leg,” he howled.

As I began to walk away,” he hollered after me:

“Unless yer interested in talkin’ to the descendent of Ireland’s King Timothy O’Leary?

That’s me, you see!”

No sooner did I help him down that he pushed

out his double chin and tossed me a cockeyed smile.

“Timothy O’Leary was not really a King,”

he explained showing no guilt. “He was more like the

chief of a clan in County Cork. But King

Leary did exist. And his same blood

trickles through my veins and those of

my sons, Shawn, Kevin and Bryan. They

are all sturdy lads.”

“Just where on the Emerald Isle do you

hail from?”

“Sad to say, I’ve never been to

Ireland. My father, Timothy

raised nine of us on an estate in Cambridge,

Mass. where he was a groundskeeper.”

“Are you truly one of the Little People?” I asked.

“Not only am I the largest leprechaun in the world,

I’m the only one with an engineering degree; one

who works with rainbows, pots of gold, taxes,

and has an enchanting wife named Allie who teaches

college calculus. Just think of me as an overgrown

elf with supernatural powers. That’s me!”

That spiel was the beginning of a friendship

that lasted far more than a blink of an eye.

Before we parted, I asked, using tax lingo,

“Francis, would you be up to granting your

rescuer three promissory wishes?”

“Brace yourself,” he said puffing up his

chest and pouching out his belly:

“May the road rise up to meet ya. There’s

one… May the wind be always at yer back…

And here’s me favorite: May you be in heaven

ten minutes before the devil knows yer dead!”

Right there in front of me, Francis vanished

in a puff of smoke leaving the scent of

Irish Spring in his wake.

Francis Archibald O’Leary was truly a happy soul.

Right now, I’ll wager he’s at a place, far above

the maple tree, shuffling his twinkle toes,

dancing a jig. The sight of him will surely cause

old St. Peter to open wide his gates.

And, may I add, leave the many friends he

left behind with heartfelt memories.

Toodleoo, old pal.

In Irish, that means good-bye.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

(Frank, a physicist and former U.S. Marine,died on Valentine’s Day last year when I wrote this story.

He was born in Cambridge,Mass. in 1927)

http://www.amazon.com/Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458011225&sr=8-1&keywords=boots+lebaron

 

 

WHO LURKS BEHIND THAT FINAL DOOR?

CONTEMPLATING MORTALITY

What’s behind that final door?

Do I have the courage to open it?

Will I find a congenial St. Peter?

Or a menacing Satan ready to cuff me

and send me to the brimstone pit

without reading me the Miranda Act?

Or will there be a sorceress

with a ravishing smile sporting

a Miss Universe type sash with

OBLIVION printed across it?

I’m really not prepared

to leave this troubled World

where I’ve battled defiantly

over the past eighty-some years.

I still have unfinished symphonies

to complete before I open that portal

 to Valhalla where Odin might honor

me with a glimmering diploma for

a lifetime of writing meaningful

prose and creating soulful art.

Narcissistic as it might sound,

as a writer and artist, I’m proud of

of my work. So I’m not ready to take

that final step. My favorite Woody

Allen quote just about sums up my

feelings: “I don’t want to achieve

mortality through my work. I want

to achieve it by not dying.”

When I’ve finished my memoir

and published my illustrated book

of essays and human interest stories

that took me a half century to create,

I’ll  give ODIN a high-five and

welcome MISS  OBLIVION  with

open arms.

— Boots LeBaron —

SOCIETY’S POWERBALL HUMAN GAMBOL!

PUTTING A FACE ON THE HUMAN RACE

 

THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND SINKING YOUR LOOT IN POWERBALL

 

     The POWERBALL hysteria which ended Wednesday, January 13, 2016, revealed society’s hunger to fulfill their dreams of reaching instant billionaire status by at the very least purchasing a two buck POWERBALL ticket. Who are these millions of hopeful gamblers who lined the streets and jammed places like service stations and 7-Eleven type stores to hit life’s alleged jackpot?

     I don’t care who the new moguls are or what gold mine granted them a “promissory” existence in a better world for a two-dollar ticket to financial bliss. Sure I’d like to buy bundles of happiness. But this mass performance of men and woman who invested anything from a paltry $2.00 to as much as $10,000.00 for POWERBALL tickets, is one soap opera that exposes everybody’s psyche.

I found a few pros and cons about contemplating billionaire station in life. For example:

     Sally Stowe, an actor-director and stage producer, who soon intends to be greeting friends at her own memorial service while she is still kicking, told me, “I don’t think that my Maker could care less if I stood in line to buy a two dollar ticket that could make me a billionaire. The life I’ve shared with my husband, Charlie, and our kids, can’t be bought for ten billion. My life has been a priceless gift.”

     Bob Aaron, a retired mechanical engineer from Torrance, Calif., had never bought a LOTTO ticket. “I have no idea how much money I have saved over the decades,” he said. “If I failed to buy

a ticket and learned that I would have become a billionaire, I guess I’ll live with it. Sure, I’d take the money and run. On the other hand, if my wife, Sue, who’ve been my best friend for many years, drew a winning ticket at POWERBALL, first thing she’d do is trade her husband in for a newer model.” Bob laughed at that joke.

     Widow Marilyn Hofferlin, a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, said, “The world if falling apart. The headlines are focusing on POWERBALL. It just goes to prove how greedy we are. I didn’t buy a ticket. At the moment, biggest, most frustrating loss I can think of is when Stan Kroenke, who owns the Saint Louis Rams football team decided to move the team to Inglewood, California.

     “Right now, they are pulling down the banners at the Dome, where our Rams packed the stands. That breaks my heart more than losing out as a billionaire. My husband, Richard, if he was alive today, would totalle agree with me. I know the odds of me winning at POWERBALL is laughable. I’m 84. Life is short. I’m not so naive to think I can beat the odds.”

     Marvin Thurman from Rushville, Illinois, who buys and sells farming machinery, didn’t purchase a ticket because, “I don’t think that would be too smart of an investment. When there’s millions buying a chance, one ticket isn’t worth a hill of beans,” he said.

     Entrepreneur Tom Ruff, who years ago maxed out three credit cards to create the Tom Ruff Company, which is now a long established national head-hunting organization, said this: “I’d rather earn an honest wage than gamble against the odds trying to win a billion dollars.” Ruff, who lives in Main and enjoys a comfortable yet busy life with his fiancee, Meg, and dog, Tank, obviously wasn’t compelled to buy a POWERBALL ticket.

     Roland Hueth, an avid fisherman and former paint company executive, asked, “Do you really think you’re going luck out against hundreds of thousands of other dudes who all want to make a quick killing? It’s like casting a hook with yummy bait into an ocean that’s bubbling with fish, and not coming up with a single nibble. Donald Trump can keep his money. I don’t envy him one bit.”

                        — Boots LeBaron —

http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526

 

AMONG OTHER THINGS: ‘JOY’ TO THE WORLD!

BATTERED AND BRUISED, ‘JOY’ OVERPOWERS ‘LOVE’

           by Boots LeBaron

 

     Joy is a three letter word that’s fueled by fear, romance, humor, failure, triumph, even death.

     Regardless of how Shakespeare, Frost, Browning or Dickinson might disagree — they’re all dead poets — I’m convinced that JOY is finally capable of coming off the ropes and knocking LOVE out of the scholarly ring of life! For too many centuries Joy has played second fiddle to Love. My mission, at the moment, is to prove that Joy, despite its diminutive literary stance, is now capable of steamrolling the schmoozy four-letter expression into second place on society’s sweet talk scale. For Joy, the feisty little twit has become what Rocky Balboa was to Apollo Creed, and David and his trusty slingshot was to Goliath: A victorious underdog. The hackneyed line, “I love you,” now belongs under glass at the Smithsonian. Granted, the phrase, “You give me Joy,” might sound trite to some hang’ers on. So what? Love has become an insincere cliché (ask any bartender) while Joy packs a powerful emotional wallop! SHAZAM!!!

 

For testimonial proof read on:


MOTHER WELCOMES HER NEWBORN

DAUGHTER INTO THE WORLD

 

Lori Pettinato works at the Village

Coffee Bean in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Recently she gave birth to daughter

Callie. “Joy,” she explained, “comes after

you’ve gone through the pain of childbirth,

screaming, grunting, gasping for breath,

forcing your child into the world…

That’s the ultimate joy of motherhood!”

 

 

MEN WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE TRUE

MEANING OF LOVE FOR A BABY UNLESS…

 

Seated at an adjoining table

at the Coffee Bean, Emily, an

attractive brunette, cradled

Kai, her infant son in her arms.

“Men,” she said, “will never understand the

true meaning of love for a baby

until they’ve given birth to one…”

She got me there. The closest thing

to experiencing childbirth for me

was when I had a vasectomy. And that hurt

something awful. As Emily gently caressed

her baby, she added, “Kai is my JOY.”

 

JOHN YORK, RECORD HOLDING LONG DISTANCE

SWIMMER, DIDN’T LET A PARTY CRASHER RUIN

HIS JOYFUL BIRTHDAY BASH

 

John York is a swimming coach and

record holding long distance swimmer

from Manhattan Beach, Calif. He told

me about an unforgettable 40th birthday

he celebrated in October 2000. It was

a private affair unlike any ever staged.

Anywhere. He was completing a 22-mile

round trip swim from Catalina Island to

the mainland when he bumped into an

unexpected party crasher. “It was four

in the morning,” said John. “The water

was florescent when this Great White

brushes against me. It was big.

Maybe ten or twelve feet long.

I could feel its scales but I didn’t panic.

Just kept swimming. It did scare the hell out

of my sister Barb and dad (Bob) who were

in a boat watching. We get a lot of blue sharks

in the channel. But very few Great Whites.” It

was the sixth time York made that distance swim.

The good news, of course, was that the

huge predator didn’t attack, allowing

John to complete his birthday celebration

alive and unscathed. When he finally

touched shore at Palos Verdes, he

realized that not only did a Great White

make John’s 40th unforgettable, Jaws

didn’t gobble him up. “Joyful is an

understatement,” he said. “If a big

fish ignored you while swimming the channel,

wouldn’t that be reason enough to let joy

get the best of you? It did me!” he laughed.

 

JOY SUMS UP CARDIOLOGIST BRUCE

JACKSON’S MEANINGFUL PROFESSION

 

Here are a few words about life from

my cardiologist, Bruce Jackson:

“We reinvent ourselves every day! I’d

pay good money to do what I’m doing

right now,” said Dr. Jackson. “For

me, Joy just about sums up my line

of work.”

MEET ‘PROFESSOR’ LUKE BERTALDO CORTESE,

MY SPECIAL NEEDS GRANDSON

When I asked my daughter Brooke

Cortese to explain what joy means to her,

she said, “When I come across some mothers

with or without special needs kids, a few

of them just stare at my son, Luke, who’s

developmentally delayed. They can’t figure

why I’m so content, so happy. I tell them to

look for joy. If you don’t have joy in your life,

it can be very hard to find. Thanks to Luke,

I found it. So did my family. At times, I’ve

overheard [my husband] Rocco when he’s in

a room alone with Luke. More than once,

he’s told Luke, ‘I’m so lucky… I’m

going to keep you forever!’ It’s not an act.

He’s not blowing smoke. Rocco cares

deeply for all of our mischief makers.

The words come from his heart.”

     I’ve described my grandson Luke as

“the family professor” because throughout his

twelve years of life, he has taught all of

us so much about ourselves. He’s just learning

to walk. He speaks with eyes that smile.

His twin brother Max and sister Natalia, love

him. Because of Luke, the Cortese clan

are intimately acquainted with joy.

 

SHE GRADUATED MAGNA CUM LAUDE FROM THE DMV!

For my wife, JoAnne, joy was receiving

a perfect score on a California driver’s

exam she took recently at the Department of Motor

Vehicles. She crammed for that test like her life

depended on it. When she returned home,

she called all of our kids and grand kids

with the ‘breaking news.’ Joy for my mate

was an understatement.

 

A FATHER STILL SPEAKS TO HIS U.S. ARMY

MEDIC SON KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN IN 2007

 

At midnight, on many occasions,

Tony Rogue, an architectural designer

from Carson, California told me,

he goes into his backyard to talk to

his son, Cpl. Lester G. Roque, a

23-year-old US combat medic who in

2007 was killed during an intense

firefight with the Taliban. His

outfit, the 273rd Airborne Brigade,

was ambushed high on a mountainside

in Afghanistan. “Knowing that in

those last minutes of his life, my

son was trying to save the lives of

two comrades, that was a gift my

wife Liza and I will always cherish.

He left us with a feeling of pride,

even joy, that’s almost indescribable.

Lester knows we love him. That’s what

counts.”  

PARENTHOOD NEVER ENDS FOR THIS R.N.

Nurse Yvonne Hashimoto will

testify that “parenting never ends. As a

single parent, raising three kids you love,

it was an experience that occasionally caused

me to shed a few tears of joy. Of course,

there were times I developed a twitch.” Of course, Yvonne

was joking. In fact, she admitted that one of her

many joys was “guiding the little darlings through

their teen-age years. We all mature in different

ways. That includes mothers, too. But it’s no

secret: My kids brought joy into my life. And

besides,” she went on, “now they’re too old to spank.”

 

WORLD FOCUSES ON SPACECRAFT DESIGN

AND SPACE MISSION ANALYSIS.

Physicist James Wertz is a world renowned

authority on space mission analysis and design.

When we first met and I asked what he did for

a living, he replied, “We build spacecraft.”

When I asked, “What do the spacecraft do?” He shot

me a puzzled gaze and said, “They fly into space.”

What did he expect from a guy who flunked Chemistry

at Los Angeles High School? “If you weren’t

involved in all this outer space stuff, what

would you be doing?” I asked. The husky, white

bearded president of Microcosm, Inc. replied,

“I’d probably be driving a cab.” He didn’t

crack a smile until I laughed. Here’s a guy

with five published highly technical books

about spacecraft that fly into space, with

a hell of a sense of humor. So I pressed on:

How do you feel when one of your spaceships

reach the next stage of development? “Naturally,”

he said, “I experience euphoria, a feeling of

joy… Isn’t that what we’re getting at here?”

His wife, Alice, chief financial officer of Microcosm,

explained that “Jim is incredibly passionate about

his work. And that joy relates to the work you’re

researching.” When I told Alice that I hesitated

to ask her husband if he ever thought of naming

one of his spaceship projects a Wertzmobile? She laughed

and said, “He probably wouldn’t appreciate that.”

For scientific reasons, I decided not to ask the

magic question. I didn’t want to be sent on a one way

trip to Mars because it wasn’t on my vacation list.

Besides, Matt Damon who stars as an astronaut in

the newly released blockbuster movie, “The Martian,”

had already made that trip.

 

PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR MEETS JOY

Joy for Don Breem, a former professor of psychology

at UCLA and Whittier College, “exhilaration is a

reaction to internal and external events. After a

heart attack, when I was released from the hospital

and discovered I was still breathing, for me, that

was a joyous occasion,” he said with a smile.

END

TWO UNIQUE VIEWPOINTS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS

HOW TWO VERY DIFFERENT MEN SAW LIFE ON THE STREETS

 

     I’ve had the opportunity to spend time learning about life from two very different homeless men: The late Mitch Snyder who spoke for our nation’s homeless, and Doug Grindeland, who spoke for himself.

     Mitch, in his forties, was a tough, angry, pensive activist. He had gained notoriety when he went on a 51-day fast losing 60 pounds, reaching an emaciated 118 pounds.

     That same year, 1983, the CBS-TV show “60 Minutes” made his plight famous. The objective of his fast was to force the Reagan Administration to renovate an empty federal building into an 800-bed shelter for homeless people in Washington, D.C. It worked.

     Several years before he committed suicide (1990) he told me: “Human beings are basically decent and caring creatures. But because we are a highly competitive and individualistic society, we’ve learned how to step over the broken bodies of our neighbors without seeing them.”

     The gaunt face and those dark, narrow-set despairing eyes bore the conscience of a man who had slept with hunger and degradation. Mitch literally walked in the shoes of the homeless.

     When I asked, if there was one meaningful statement he’d most like to make to the American public, what would it be? Here was his reply:

     “I was about 48 days into my hunger strike and was prepared to die when ’60 Minutes’ asked me a similar question. I knew I had millions of people out there listening to my last words. After I thought about it, I realized it was something we always say.

     “The public must reduce the distance between themselves and the suffering and lonely. The next time you see somebody sitting in a doorway, on a curb or wandering aimlessly, someone you know is alone and hurting, do something. Reach out in your own way and say to that person, ‘I care about you!”

     Mitch, at least in my book, was a rogue angel and the voice of America’s homeless.

     Doug Grindeland could have beat Mitch handily in an arm wrestle. He was a tall, thick-shouldered man with a graying goatee, clear blue eyes, and a salty sense of humor.

 When I met him, he was sitting at the counter of a Manhattan Beach restaurant having a cup of coffee. He was in his mid-fifties and had a “Want to Neck?” badge pinned to his sweater.

     The two men had never met. Each had their own skeletons to rattle. Mitch was riding a newswave while Doug, with his own set of loose marbles, lived on the beach. After he was layed off as a packaging designer at Hughes Aircraft Company’s Radar Systems Corp., the twice-divorced one-time B-29 Air Force crew chief with three years of college, “just gave up.”

     He blamed some of his woes on industry bottom liners. The saying he quoted was this: The purpose of life is finding your gift. The meaning of life is giving it away.

     “Because of greed,” he said, “the financial community today is too busy lopping off heads not really considering what’s inside of them. Sure that bothers me. Sometimes in life, you are given no alternatives. I put my time in grade. I want to enjoy life. For me, being homeless is still an adventure. I have no complaints.

     “People come to California on vacation to sleep out under the stars. I do it every night. I live off my bike. It’s not that easy. I don’t think a lot of people could handle this. When I’m out of money, I’ll go into a bin behind Winchell’s and pull out about 30 pounds of doughnuts. I’ll eat a few and feed the rest to the sea gulls.”

     A few years ago I ran across Doug at the beach. He was no longer homeless. He had spent a year at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in West Los Angeles being treated as a manic-depressive. He was drawing disability and taking medication for what he describes as his “mental short-circuit.” But his opinion about the human race hadn’t changed.

     Here’s what he learned after living homeless for more than three years: “Before the VA took me in, I looked at people going to work every day, putting up with office politics, job abuse and other social pressures. They had to make a living wage to pay the rent. Me, I didn’t have to answer to nobody!”

     He admitted that surviving as a homeless person on the beach wasn’t Paradise. “I was mistreated, even bullied. One time three young men took my bike and the cans I was collecting, and threw them off the pier. Then they tried to egg me into a fight. I might have been a little touched, but I wasn’t crazy!” He laughed at that.

     As a homeless person he discovered that humanity has different faces. “You find good and bad. There are people who detest the fact that you’re not working. There are many more compassionate people than vindictive ones!    “So you learn humility. You learn how to survive on doughnuts. When you dig into a trash can because you’re hungry, you learn to discard your ego. Ego is such a handicap. When you’re homeless you see life from the streets on a day-to-day basis. The pretty little house with the white picket fence is like shooting for the moon.

     “There were a lot of things I appreciated,” he continued. “Every single day at the beach, you look up at the sky and it’s like a beautiful picture. Every day is different. People will see you digging for cans. They’ll come up, talk, give you some change. There were people who gave me twenty dollars. Despite the rotten eggs, you see a lot of caring people when you’re down.”

     Today, whenever Doug runs across a homeless person, he might say a few friendly words. “Usually, I’ll give them some money. Maybe a few bucks. Whether they spend it on food or booze, that’s up to them.”

     One time, during his homeless period, he met a woman in a saloon. “When she asked where I lived, I told her, I live at the beach. When I brought her home with me, was she surprised!”

 

              — Boots LeBaron

 

 

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