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THE MAGIC QUESTION IS: WHO ARE WE?

THE HUMAN RACE

DISCOVERING OURSELVES IS THE TRUE CHALLENGE

 

Life is all about discovery.

 Discovering oneself in others.

 Searching for reason.

 Experimenting with compassion.

 Isolating the hypocrisy in you.

 Experiencing failure.

 Sampling humiliation.

 Monitoring your own ignorance.

 Grappling with bigotry.

 Witnessing death.

 Finding strength in heartbreak.

 And finally,

when your days are full,

basking in the knowledge

you’ve absorbed and dissected

over a lifetime.

     — Boots LeBaron —

(This is one of many poems, essays and

human interest stories featured in  Boots’ book,

“THE HUMAN RACE” available on Kindle

 and in paperback on Amazon)

A FRIENDSHIP NOW ENDED WITH DEATH.

THE HUMAN RACE (Written on August 15, 2014)

 

                  NO TEARS, BUT LOSING HOEF, WOW!

I just had a hunk of flesh bitten out of my soul. I

lost my old 10th Air Force buddy, Richard (Hoef)

Hoefferlin just a few hours ago. His wife Marilyn

called from Florissant, Missouri. Hoef died from

a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. Lung cancer was

the cause. We were both smoking when we became

bunkmates at our squadron’s barracks at Clark

Air Force Base in the Philippines. We’d flip a

spent smoke into the darkness and called the act

“Pulling a Bogie.” Humphrey Bogart used to do it

in movies. When I first met Hoef at the 6207th

AC&W Squadron, I had visited a brothel outside

the base at Angeles Pompanga. It was called the

Uno Bar. I was 19, had a few Manila Rums, went

upstairs with a gal who thought I was “adorable.”

During the heat of the night, a man hiding behind a

curtain, stole my wallet. The Air Police wouldn’t

let me back on base, but Hoef came to the rescue.

“You were rolled,” he told me the next morning. So

“Roll ‘Em!” for 60 consecutive years was (Besides

pulling a Boggie) one of our cherished code words we

used on the long-distant phone and ending letters

Knowing that Hoef was in deep trouble and the Hospice

was helping he and Marilyn, I called. But he was

in a hospital bed inside their home. Marilyn answered

the phone, whispered that his lungs just aren’t working

and he can’t get on the phone. So I told her, “Just

tell Hoef, Roll ‘Em!” She did just that. She told me

that when she delivered the brief message, Hoef smiled.

That smile was worth a thousand words. The memories

he took with him. Speaking on the phone a few months

ago, I asked, You know what’s doing you in?” “What

else… cigarettes,” he said. “But I’ve enjoyed every

smoke.” He knew that I had quit smoking over 40 years ago.

We talked long distance and wrote letters regularly,

usually signing off with “Roll ‘Em!” At Clark we shared

lower-bunk cots and weren’t the tidiest airmen. We kept

our dirty laundry in bags. We called our space, The

Cobra Den. We’d go to the non-com officers’ club and

get slightly stewed on 3.2 beer. Unlike a lot of airmen,

we never passed out. When that happened, guys would carry

the “cadavers” outside, line the bodies up on stretches of

grass and trucks and jeeps would transport then back to

their squadrons. Hoef talked me into trying out for the

Raiders, one of the base football teams that played at the

Clark AFB stadium. Clark was like a small town. When I

made the All Star team, he acted like a big brother. We

were supportive of each other. He was a clean liver. I

was experimenting with life. But we were anything but the

odd couple. Our friendship lasted more than 60 years.

Following our discharge, we both pursued life in different

ways. He lived in St. Louis; was a buyer for Emerison  

Electric. I was reporter, a publicist and a free-lance

writer. We communicated by phone several times a year.

Every Christmas, he’d send JoAnne and I letters about life

in St. Louis. Many times, I told him he should’a been a

comedy writer. I can’t find his letters. But he made us

laugh many times. I had sent him many stories I had written

about ordinary people and celebrities. “My big brother”

seemed to really enjoy them. Hoef died at 84. Truly,

I’ll miss my old pal. Let me end with this meaningful

message: “Roll ‘Em!”

                        — Boots LeBaron —

CAPT BLOOD GAVE POPE’S BLESSING TO FELLOW FISHERMEN.

THE HUMAN RACE

 THIS FISHERMAN TOLD IT AS HE LIVED IT!

     Gerrard Fiorentino made the sign of the cross with his left hand, blessing one of his own, fisherman Turk (Flame Eater) Emirzian. After seeing action in the South Pacific as a sailor aboard a mini aircraft carrier during World War II, a clergyman aboard ship “brought me back to God,” said Gerrard, adding, “Them Japanese kamikazes helped, too!”

     When he returned to commercial fishing at the docks in San Pedro, California, he began blessing his fellow fishermen, their boats and their catches. Since then, he was known by many on the waterfront as Father Gerrard.

     Yet Gerrard would be the first to admit that he was never 100-percent saintly. Proof: As a young fisherman, he was also known on the waterfront as Captain Blood.

The last time we talked, the (at times) cantankerous, white haired mariner was pushing 80.

     “I’m not an ordained priest,” said Gerrard who was standing at a long table cluttered with paper in the office of his waterfront marine supply store. “But when I bless these guys, all kinds of fish come.”

     The husky seafarer folded a pair of powerful hands across his chest. Anchored to thick wrists and muscular forearms, the hands were heavy and calloused from pulling in a lifetime of shrimp, tuna and other fish from the sea, splicing rope and cable, mending nets as well as handling the wheel and captaining his own boat.

     “The blessings seem to work,” claimed Turk, a commercial fisherman who operated The Fortuna, a gill-net boat. “Just like the Pope, Father Gerrard gives me his blessings and I come back to port with a boat full of bonito or shark.”  

     “Don’t laugh,” Gerrard warned, pointing a threatening finger. “We were all put here for a reason. The good Lord gave me this gift. I’m very religious. I bless everybody, even the priests at St. Peter’s in San Pedro. That’s a poor man’s catholic church. I don’t go to Mary Star of the Sea because that place is for aristocrats.”

     “Fishermen are like children,” Turk explained. “We need to have faith because every time we go to sea we face the possibility of death. It’s a very tough life.” He also noted that Father Gerrard’s blessings “miss sometimes. But so do the Pope’s! “

     Gerrard recalled an incident that happened many years ago on his own boat, the Santo Antonino, off the coast of Mexico. “We had been out on the water for 45 days and couldn’t find nothing. I was alone at the wheel, feeling very depressed, while everybody was down in the galley eating.

     “I go, ‘Please God, let me find a mountain of fish.’ I no sooner say that when I see the silver in the water right under the bow. I yell to the guys, get ready, we’re going to lay out a seine (large fishing net)! We pulled in 60 tons of tuna. No joke. Now that was a miracle. Think about it!”    

     “Go ahead, ask your questions,” he snapped restlessly.

     Did you go to college?

     “I went to San Pedro High School to eat my lunch. When I was 14, they took me off the dock and I went fishing on the St. Augustine. They told me, ‘Boy, this is temporary.’ Ha!” he bellowed.  

     “Fishing is in your blood. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s born in you.   I had the pride, the talent, the desire to succeed. You got nothing if you don’t have those. They used to pay me extra money to keep me on the boat. I was an animal. I mean it.”

     He pointed to several huge black-and-white photographs covering the walls behind him.

     “My entire life’s on these walls. See there,” he pointed to a young muscular man cradling a huge Amberjack. “CAPTAIN BLOOD” was printed in bold letters at the bottom.

     “That’s me!” he said proudly, pointing a thumb at his chest. “One time we were sitting on a school of tuna off the San Pedro Channel and the fish, they were getting out of the net. In my apron and boots, I jump overboard.

     “This is true. I go down into the net, get hold of the purse lines and bring them up so no more fish can get away. I was down there so long, my brother (Lorenzo) thought I drowned in the net. When I got back on board, that’s when they started with Captain Blood. They took the name from an old Errol Flynn pirate movie.

     “When you’re young, you take chances because you don’t know no better,” he said. “In those days I could do the work of five men. That’s the truth. Even today, if I thought I could handle it physically, I’d be out there fishing, right now. That’s how much I loved it.    

     “So now I’m Father Gerrard,” he said. “I do blessings with my left hand. It don’t work with my right. Go figure. I’m an Aries. A born leader. I hate monotony and routine work. But I am a humble person. I mean it! I care about the poor. But I’m still attracted to women. ‘Course, I’m not the man I used to be.”

     He recalled an incident from the past, long before he married his first wife, Kay: “I was a wheelman aboard Matt Flamingo’s boat, The Discoverer. Matt’s still around today. We had been to sea well over a month.

     “When we put in to Costa Rica, I took on eight prostitutes in eight hours. I’m serious.

     “I don’t know about all this infidelity; all this sexual harassment people talk about. When I was married, I never cheated on my wife. I loved her. She died a long time ago and went right to heaven.  

     “But when I was single, sure, I chased women. I still chase them!” He laughed harshly, then added, “You know, prostitution and commercial fishing are the two oldest professions? That’s why I’m proud to be a fisherman. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. She became a saint! That tells me one thing: God forgives everybody. I don’t care where or how you worship. In God’s eyes, we’re all the same.”

     Gerrard believed that all fishermen go to Heaven. “When I go, Heaven will be filled with sardines. I love fishing sardines. They got more brains than some people. I used to call them my brothers. I’d kiss them whenever I’d see them. In my lifetime, I must have brailed maybe 16,000 tons of sardines… And lots of the other fish, too!”

     The sea, he said, is like a woman. “She smells good. She makes you laugh. She makes you cry. She feeds you. She humbles you. She is so beautiful, you can’t take your eyes off of her.”

   — Boots LeBaron —      

 

(THE HUMAN RACE, by Boots, is an inspirational self-help book interspersed with humor and light poetry for those who are in search of themselves. It’s available on Kindle as well as in paperback on Amazon)

 

CONFRONTING YOUR OWN YOU??? OUCH!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

FACING YOUR REALITY THE HARD WAY!

 

Don’t tell a person how to live.

Every man and woman has

their own regrets to bear.

Their own insecurities.

Triumphs. Blunders. Failures.

You can tell a person

that he or she can find

happiness despite sadness.

It ain’t easy!

But it can be accomplished.

To find a sense of humor

about your pathetic self,

look into the mirror. There’s

truth behind those sulking eyes.

On a wretched day, hard-core

humility can throw pomposity and

denial out the window. Painful truth

plays a vital part in discovering

who you are and where you stand

in life’s intense spotlight.

Why shouldn’t reality hurt?

Nobody knows precisely

who and why we are we.

It’s like handling your own

confession: The old “forgive-

me-for-I-have-sinned” routine.

In that looking glass,

the real you is staring at you

alone, winking slyly, making

your conscience twitch.

Don’t be afraid. Wink back.

 

Boots LeBaron

(THE HUMAN RACE written by Boots is an

inspirational self-help book containing

philosophies interspersed with humor for

those who are in search of themselves)

KUNG-FU MASTER WEIGHS REALITY WITH HOLLYWOOD.

THE HUMAN RACE

 

HOLLYWOOD VS TRUTH IS LIKE ‘YIN AND YANG,’ HE SAYS.

 

      Gerald Okamura is to Kung-Fu what Babe Ruth was to baseball, cowboy Casey Tibbs was to rodeo, Muhammad Ali was to boxing and Jim Thorpe was to football. He is a master of his art.

      When I asked the 73-year-old grandpa what he did for a living, he gazed at me with dark, unrelenting eyes accentuated by menacing eyebrows. The head was clean shaven. The well-groomed billy goat beard reached below his muscular neck.

     “I am an actor-stuntman,” he said.

     With that beard and hairless dome, I told him, he looked like one of those Shaolin priests who performed with David Carradine in “Kung-Fu,” a popular TV series in the mid-1970s.Kungfu

    “That was me,” he admitted.

    “What kind of actor are you?” I asked.

     “A lousy actor,” he said as his tight lips cracked into a smile. “For God’s sake, Gerald, you’re smiling!” I teased.

     “Those who look into this face don’t realize there’s a sense of humor behind it,” he said. “Society is too caught up in images. Though I’m a lover at heart, I guarantee that Hollywood would never cast a guy with this face to replace Brad Pitt in a romantic lead. If you asked my wife (Maude), my three daughters and four grandkids, they’ll tell you I’m a sweetheart.”

    Yet Gerald, a Japanese American born in Hilo, Hawaii, had delivered karate chops to stars ranging from Mel Gibson to James Caan. How does a Grand Master in Kung-Fu and San Soo compare Hollywood with martial arts?

     “Yin and Yang,” he explained, “is an ancient Chinese philosophy: Two different worlds representing the passive and active forces of life.”

     When I asked, “What if I yanked on your beard?”  Mr. Kung-Fu warned, “You wouldn’t want to try that.”

     When I asked the Carson, Calif. resident for a philosophic thought for a quote, he quickly replied, “Even after death, you can still change the world.”        

     Then he added with a laugh, “But don’t take me too seriously.”

— Boots LeBaron —

http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406497409&sr=8-1&keywords=boots+lebaron

(Boots’ current book, “THE HUMAN RACE,” is available

on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon. It contains

humorous, inspirational and philosophic essays,

light poetry and interviews about life, death, love,

courage, Showbiz, religion and everything in between)

FREEDOM IS THE ELUSIVE GIFT EVERYBODY CRAVES.

THE HUMAN RACE

Freedom is ignoring the consequences,

speaking truth in the midst of bellicose critics.

 Freedom is refusing to take shit from

an abusive lover or partner.

 Freedom is choosing the best path

to take when prison gates open.

 Freedom is confessing your love

for a women who might not love you.

 Freedom is buying love when

there’s absolutely no alternative.

 Freedom is having enough cash in

your pocket to feed your family.

 Freedom is the act of conquering denial.

Freedom is coping with the pain of losing a

loved one in life’s erratic parade of fate.

Freedom is to brazenly face life’s pitfalls

despite wounds to the ego you must endure

 Freedom is ignoring negative impact

with a sense of humor.

 Freedom is that feeling of elation

after you’ve said your piece.

 Freedom is forgiving but never forgetting

the act of  a back-stabbing blabbermouth.

Freedom is returning  the wrath a

 bully with your own brand of gusto.

Freedom is a gift to cherish, yet

such a pain in the ass to maintain.

 Freedom is standing bold

against any kind of indignity.

 — Boots LeBaron —

(Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE, is available

on Kindle and Amazon in paperback. It consists

of human-interest stories, essays and light poetry)

IS ATHEISM JUST ANOTHER RELIGION?

THE HUMAN RACE

 

WHO ARE WE?  WHY CAN’T HUMANITY GET ALONG?

 

     Whether you’re a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, Islamist or devout Atheist, despite our differences, we are here! Together. Sharing the planet we are wrecking. Why can’t we get along?

     Why are we trying to devour one another for philosophic, spiritual, political or self-indulgent reasons? Do we have to blow each other up, shoot or stab somebody, or scorn one another to prove that we are superior; that we are playing on the right team?

     I know an Atheist who’s dead certain that there is no God. He is a cynical man who’s angry with the world in which he thrives. He’s pissed at corruption, racial prejudice, the power of religion, politics, the suppression of womens’ rights, and aggressively condemns overpopulation.

     Me too!

     He’s never been married; has no children. He is college educated. Bright. Knows Shakespeare like I know Marmaduke. And seems comfortable when isolated from a society he often rejects. Once he told me that “there has never been a day when I didn’t experience the pain of loneliness.” More than once he had confessed that his parents failed to give him love.

     Yet here is this intellectual with no God to lean on; not even a slim hope that there might be someone or something out there in the ionosphere waiting to embrace him.

     Of course, it could be one of the three Gorgon sisters with snakes for hair. They are supposed to be absolutely beautiful. But one look and you turn to stone.

     Years ago, I think I met one of them, a sultry-voiced Medusa. It was at Lane’s bar, a watering hole on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The sign out front read: Featuring Nightly: Bill Lane at the Cash Register. Lucky for me, it was so dark in that dive that I never did get a good look at that mythical babe. But at two in the morning, she sounded great.

     I don’t know what happened to Bill. Since he adored women, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had become a stone-cold tourist attraction standing rigidly on the sidewalk outside Lane’s pointing at his sign.

     Back to my old Atheist-actor friend: He played the game of life like a chameleon. He could change colors depending on the audition or social environment he found himself in. I can only appreciate the knowledge of playwriting and acting he passed on to me.

     He touched me with his art. I might envy his knowledge of theater, his curious intellect, and a mind that has absorbed such wisdom studying the thought provoking words in myriad books.

     Yet, the two of us are just as hypocritical as any guy or gal you’d care to name. Like many Earthlings, we’re still breathing. But Death is winking and beckoning.

     I’m convinced that my long-time Godless pal is no wiser about the existence of a Supreme Being than I. In other words, we have a God-given or evolutionary gift that’s locked in the depth of our individuality.

     Our brains, our uniqueness, provide us with the right to theorize about life, death and the hereafter. For a couple of old coots, truth is just around the corner.                    

                       — Boots LeBaron —

(The final edit of Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE, is

  now available on Kindle, in audio, and on Amazon

paperback. It contains philosophic, inspirational

 and humorous essays, light poetry and interviews

 with a fascinating cross section of humanity)

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO MY ‘DEADBEAT DAD’

THE HUMAN RACE

 

I think of my father, Bert LeBaron, often.  Although he was a Hall of Fame stuntman with 35 years serving the demands of Hollywood, he died in poverty in 1956.  Financially, he never supported my mother (who shed him twice in divorce court) or me.  Yet, he was always visiting the one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with my mother and grandmother.  I think the old scoundrel truly loved my mother.  Throughout my life, he was always there for me supporting me morally and physically.  He confided in me, revealing the dark side of his youth, running away when he was 13, winding up in Southeast Philadelphic being raised by a mobster I called Uncle Jake.  In Los Angeles, the kids in the neighborhood idolized him.  Bumbo Channon, my childhood pal, cherished a gift from my dad, a pair of stunt shoes he used in movies swordfighting with actors like Errol Flynn, Gene Kelly and even Laurence Olivier.  He took us on picnics, to the beach, to the circus where an elephant sneezed on another friend, Irv Drasnin.  My old man who died on a handball court at the Hollywood YMCA leaving me, $20,000 in gambling debts, which I didn’t have to pay.  He left a note in the locker leaving all his earthly belongings to me.  Since he was experiencing chest pains when he stepped into that handball court, and since Hollywood refused to help him, I am convinced he popped his heart on purpose.  Just like the man himself, it was a unique way to commit suicide.  He died at fifty six.  Old Bert LeBaron called himself a stuntmen-actor.  After watching him spew dialogue in many movies, I like to say, he was one of the worst actors ever to set foot in front of a camera.  I’m rambling here.  I just wanted to tell my dad, Happy Father’s Dad…  I love you dad.  And whenever I see you in action in some old TV movie I am thankful to showbiz that in my heart, you will never die.  Although you were an award-winning womanizer, thanks to the film capital of the world, you will be with me forever.   My only regret is my wife, JoAnne, kids and grandkids will never know you.  That’s it dad.  When the time is right, I’ll talk to you tonight.  Your loving son, Boots.  P.S.  I’m finishing a memoir about the two of us growing up in Hollywood.  You as a womanizing actor-stuntman, me as your kind’a lost child-actor pal who turned out alright.

 

 

 

HOW’S CIVILIZATION DOING? ASK ALIENS FROM OUTER SPACE!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

A VIEW OF EARTH FROM THE MILKY WAY

 

Get your head out of the clouds!

There are creatures, maybe similar

to humans, living on earth-size

planets in other galaxies.

They’re occupying celestial globes

that orbit their own suns. What if

these outer space creatures are

convinced that Earthlings are a race

suffering from self-centeredness?

Can you believe it? How could they

not want to mingle with our kind?

What if they decided that we’re a

frightening collection of unstable

aliens? Aliens? Who you kidding!

Perhaps we, the chosen ones, shouldn’t

assume that we are so damn divine.

Astrophysicists and other scientists

now tell us that there are lots of

other universes out there. Can you

believe: Intelligent beings light-

years away slapping the Alien label

on us? Sounds almost preposterous.

Yet, from their heavenly vantage point,

we are no more than two-legged, walking-

talking organisms who have miraculously

evolved into this mass of flesh and bone.

Just look at what we aliens are

doing to ourselves and Planet Earth.

There are literally billions of us

over-populating this place, polluting

the environment, and creating the

kind of technology that not only

enables us to spy on our neighbors but

invent snazzy weapons capable of

obliterating most of Earth’s population.

Kind of spooky, wouldn’t you say?

Granted, we are a fascinating collection

of smarty pants who worship radically

different gods, politicians, movie stars

athletes and office managers. But why

would any reputable space traveler from

one of the billions of planets in the

Milky Way want to get his or her bell

rung visiting such a power-obsessed,

greed-ridden orb like Mother Earth?

Got me.

 

Boots LeBaron

 

Boots’ new book, “THE HUMAN RACE,” is now available on

Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback. It contains humorous

and inspirational views of life, death, the workplace,

religion, showbiz and everything in between.

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