Posts Tagged ‘ PSYCHOLOGY ’

I AM ME!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

     THERE’S MEANING IN EVERY BRIEF LIFE

 

I am searching

I am lurching

I am caring

I am daring

I am hellish

I am selfish

I am hypocritical

I am satirical

I am realistic

I am spiritualistic

I am beat

I am obsolete

I am abrupt

I interrupt

I am radical

I am lackadaisical

I am long-wedded

I am embedded

I am bent

I am spent

I am adorable

I am deplorable

I am dyslexic

I am artistic

I am curseless

I am hearseless

I am heathenistic

I am egotistic

I am headstrong

I am woe-be-gone

I am ancient

I am patient

I am quick-witted

I am dip-shited

I am non-racist

I am essayist

I am happy

I am pappy

I am my children

And they are me!

     — Boots LeBaron —

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)

 

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 —

 

 

PERSONALIZED OSCARS TO BEAT PREJUDICE!?

THE WILD AND WOOLLY HUMAN RACE

 

     DIVERSITY has many faces. They come in

different colors, creeds, genders, logic, ethnicity,

religions, prejudices, levels of narcissism and

variances of naivety. As the Academy of Motion

Picture Arts and Sciences proved with its Oscar

show on Sunday, we are an unpredictable species.

Each of us, in our own inimitable way, is a little

goofy. We tote these eccentricities wherever we go:

Showbiz, Wall Street, politics, the workplace,

into personal relationships, even sports. While

watching the Oscars and listening to comic Chris

Rock’s one-liners, the thought, loony as it may

sound, occurred to me: Why not create a dozen

golden statuettes each individually honoring white,

black, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay and

lesbian artists and technicians? Sure it’s a

logistical challenge. But the film industry has

a year to cope with it. To get them started, I

did a quick sketch of what these golden statuettes

might look like. Granted, it ain’t migraine proof.

But at least it’s a thought that might save the entire

celebrity industry from going bonkers.

 

Boots LeBaron

JUST WHO IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!

THE HUMAN RACE

WHO ARE WE?

Lovers can be friends.

Friends can be enemies.

Enemies can be teachers.

Teachers can be preachers.

Preachers can be hypocrites.

Hypocrites can be gigolos.

Gigolos can be heart breakers.

Heart breakers can be liars.

Liars can be users.

Users can be abusers.

Abusers can be cowards.

Cowards can be heroes.

Heroes can be brutes.

Brutes can be romanticists.

Romanticists can be manipulators.

Manipulators can be politicians.

Politicians can be swindlers.

Swindlers can be believers.

Believers can be dreamers.

Dreamers can be schemers.

Schemers can be tycoons.

Tycoons can be ignoramuses.

Ignoramuses can be patsies.

Patsies can be voters.

Voters can be celebrities.

Celebrities can be impostors.

Impostors can be charmers.

Charmers can be shysters.

Shysters can be lovers.

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 —

WILL YOU VOTE FOR SUPERMAN OR WONDER WOMAN?

The Human Race

ONLY THE SHADOW KNOWS WHO’S THE RIGHT CANDIDATE!

Who knows what skull-duggery lurks in the hearts

of politicians running for this year’s

presidential election? Not even The Shadow

knows. Some of you might remember the

spooky crime fighter who petrified radio

audiences before the advent of television.

He had the ability to “cloud men’s minds.”

Thanks to politics, it’s not a lost art.

Today on TV, politicians and other talking

heads constantly cloud voter’s minds.

For proof, tune in to the New Hampshire

primary and listen to mudslingers doing

the hootchy-kootchy as they compete for the

the world’s most influential position: The

U.S. presidency. The current political

extravaganza is not only a sad act to

witness, but at times highly entertaining.

How do we separate the incomprehensible

gobble-dy-gookers from trustworthy

political warriors? Who will be the most

prolific fighting for our individual rights?

         It ain’t funny. The challenge for voters is monumental.

Many these well-financed combatants are

brilliant debaters. Don’t tell me a scant number

of these political saints aren’t dancing the

waltz to garner votes. They focus on whatever

issue their target audience needs to hear:

Immigration, energy, the economy, gay rights,

taxation, separation of church and State.

a woman’s right to choose, stem-cell research,

gun control… You name it. We

fall for brilliantly conceived lines delivered

by TV’s talking heads, radio babblers and scores

of Internet twiddlers voicing their slanted

messages into the ozone. Who should we trust?

Remember, Superman and Wonder Woman are

are comic book characters. Yet U.S. citizens hunger

for the kind of conscientious integrity in humans

that such superheroes are identified with.  

Who should voters with such diversified demands

know which political barrister in the race

for commander and chief is the most righteous?

How do we convince voters to first do their

home work and then turn out to vote en masse

relying on keen instincts governed by

hearsay evidence?”

Got me!

                      

           — Boots LeBaron —

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