Posts Tagged ‘ PSYCHOLOGY ’

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

 

 

ATTN FUTURE BRIDES: NEVER MARRY THESE MEN!

THE HUMAN RACE

NEVER MARRY THESE MEN

 

Never marry a man who drives a Mercedes,

wears a Rolex and lives in a hovel.

Never marry a man whose work tools include

a blackjack, a .38 Special and a silencer.

Never marry a man who allows his nostril

hairs to grow long enough to braid.

Never marry a dude who sees Viagra’s four

hour erection warning as a manly frivolity.

Never marry a man who insists on selecting

your bridesmaids from a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Never marry a NRA enthusiast whose

favorite sport is fortune hunting.

Never marry a man who’s obsessed

with your bank account and his profile.

Never marry a man who asks you to

strip at his bachelor party.

Never marry a man who’s an alcoholic

posing as a workaholic.

Never marry a man who proposes as

you’re pole-dancing at Bada-Bing Bada-Boom.

Never marry a man who has the names of

five ex-lovers tattooed on his buttocks.

Never marry a man who blows his nose on

your grandma’s embroidered dinner napkin.

Never marry a man who twits a close-up

of his crotch on the Internet.

Never marry a man you catch

peddling your thongs on eBay.

Never marry a man who’d rather watch

a Star Trek rerun than you in a nightie.

Never marry a man whose last wife took

him for everything but an empty jewelry box.

Never marry a man who thinks he’s

too masculine to clean the toilet bowl.

Never marry a man who sees a girl’s

night out as a shameless act of feminism.

Never marry a man who goes for a Hickey while

   standing in line at the supermarket.    

Never marry a bank robber unless you

can drive the getaway car.

 

— Boots LeBaron

I AM ME!

PUTTING A FACE ON 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 —

EXPERIENCING SELF PITY? USE HUMOR AS YOUR WEAPON

PUTTING A FACE ON THE HUMAN RACE

EXPERIENCING SELF PITY? TRY TAP-DANCING

IT AWAY ON THE STAGE OF LIFE!

We are all starring in The Theater of the

Absurd. Look into the mirror. See yourself?

Even at your saddest moment of

wretchedness, study the character gawking

back at you. Notice the bloodshot eyes, the

twitch, the frown etched in deep furrows.

Pretty pathetic, huh? Now look deeper. There’s

a gladiator hiding behind that gloomy

facade. I don’t care how you’ve failed

or how your spirit was damaged. Give your

memory sack a good shake and there’ll be

an assortment of memorable moments spilling

out. Guaranteed, you’re gonna find something

to howl, growl or smile about. I know, I know.

You’re uncomfortable. But don’t hide. You’re

tap-dancing under the glare of the spotlight,

sharing the stage with billions whose tragedies

would dwarf the grief you’re experiencing.

You’re suffering an ego attack. Maybe a broken

heart? Everybody gets them. So stop fretting!

Even in the midst of catastrophic sadness,

there is humor. When my childhood friend,

Dick (Bumbo) Channon died at 52, I had his mother

and sister laughing. I dropped a handful of

bubble gum into his open casket. Memories are

made of happiness. Fun, never dies easy.

When my Irish pal, Frank Francis O’Leary

recently kicked the bucket, I wrote a

story turning the portly aerospace

physicist into a leprechaun stuck in a

tree. Death might be an emotional disaster for

many, but beyond those woe-be-gone tears lurks

the soul of truth that’s ready to spring forth

and bite you on the buttocks, infecting your

solemnness with happy memories. Truth harbors

a helluva sense of humor. You just gotta remember

the good times. So, if you want to temporarily

overcome those doldrums, here’s my suggestion:

Go into the bathroom and lock the door. As I

suggested earlier, find the mirror. You’re all

alone, right? Now bend over and give yourself

a kick in the ass. If you’re not double-

jointed, pull down your pants or panties and

“moon” the mirror. That act, I suspect, will give

you good reason to rise above self pity. You might even

realize what a pathetic looking asshole you are.

Remember: Laughter beats tears.


— Boots LeBaron —

MY ‘DIVINE’ MESSENGERS LET ME DO THE THINKING!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

MY  VERY OWN SOCRATES, PLATO, CONFUCIUS, MOSES?

Dear God. Dear Goddess. Oh, Great Spirit who

lives within the conscience of each and every

one of us. I am convinced that the Sacred

Three welcome my inquisitive and perhaps contro-

versial nature. They are my Socrates, Plato

and Confucius rolled into one. Because of them,

I think. I fail. I agonize. I degrade pomposity.

I am forever searching for answers. I live

with guilt. I respect the less fortunate.

I suffer from pride. I trust my wife.

Sometimes I am opposed to her truth.

Yet, she tolerates me. I make

strangers laugh or at least wonder,

“Who is this old guy that just

stuck his foot in his mouth?”

My spiritual icons must get a kick

listening to my prognosis about life as if

I know what the hell I’m talking about.

When I have these one-way conversations

with the Silent Ones. I am in search

of solutions that will help define

the path I am forever breaking.

Although at times I feel inadequate,

confused and indecisive, so what?!

The thoughts I harbor about survival

in this demonic environment bolster my

pseudo-narcissistic tendencies — whether

they are right or wrong. Yet, I am

convinced that humility is my virtue.

Speaking unfettered to my Holy Hearers gives

me an insight that allows me to dissect

my soul. Call it a prayer, a search for

inner-truth, an unforgivable sin, the one

way confession belongs to me alone. For

that kind of gift, I say: Hallelujah!

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

DONALD TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT? NO LAUGHING MATTER!

THE HUMAN RACE

CANDIDATE TRUMP LANDS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

WORTH OF FREE PUBLICITY!

 

     Wouldn’t it be worth a $20.00 ticket and five-buck bag of popcorn to see a Woody Allen movie about a billionaire blabbermouth like Donald Trump who, despite overwhelming media ridicule, is miraculously elected to the highest office in the land? Could you imagine Trump as U.S. President?! Wow! It’s a frightening thought that could materialize in this land of the free and home of the brave.

     I know that storyline’s hard to swallow, but we’re talking comedy and farce here. If I was Woody, I’d cast an actor like Bill Murray as the Trump-type character. Give him a pompadour, of course.   And dress him pretty with groupies hired from Screen Actor’s Guild to follow him about praising his every word.

     What candidate Trump is giving presidential politics is a shot in the arm. His is a performance never before witnessed in a presidential race. It’s slapstick. It’s revolting. But at arm’s length, the unbelievable bigotry is almost laughable. So call it comedy.

     This controversial guy with his repulsive public demeanor is, I can’t believe I’m saying this: entertaining. He even made the cover this week of my favorite magazine, “The New Yorker.” Of course, his headline grabbing approach is winning him millions of dollars worth of free publicity. Yet the reality is exasperating.

     Next step: “Playboy Magazine.”

— Boots LeBaron —

BEWARE OF THE SMILEY-FACED OFFICE JACKAL!

THE HUMAN RACE

THE OFFICE JACKAL WILL EAT YOU UP!

 

Like the owl, the hyena, and

especially the office jackal,

they are out to get us! Comparing

these predatory creatures to people,

they are society’s bullies, workplace

maneuverers who feed on fellow employees.

Even brilliant CEOs have to defend themselves

against management subordinates who are

who are determined to devour their

executive bosses. Using disparaging

tactics, propaganda is the weapon

that keeps them on top of the

corporate and blue-collar heap.

They break hearts. They plagiarize.

Some are so brilliant, so creative,

they lure the naive, unsuspecting leaders

and fellow employees into a steel trap from

which there is no escape. These human

jackals exist because they are so

cunning. Many hide behind purity,

integrity, compassion. Even religion.

Some carnivores actually reward followers

who help carry out unscrupulous assaults

on others. So guys and gals who expect

to earn an honest buck at whatever

job level you are working, you’d

better beware that there are political

hyenas and other hungry predators who,

despite their hypocritical smiley faces,

see you as nothing more than tidbits. You

could wind up as carnage scattered across

that untamed concrete jungle you identify as

your World of Opportunity. Thank God,

that’s your problem. Not mine!

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

 

BEAUTY QUEEN TELLS ABOUT HER ADVENTURES IN LIFE

THE HUMAN RACE

LIFE’S REALITIES FROM A FORMER BEAUTY PAGEANT WINNER

 

     Lee Turner was one beauty pageant queen who wasn’t afraid to tell her true story,  looking at life and death as she lived it.

     Here’s the still-timely interview I wrote 26 years ago:

     Despite their years, the expressive brown eyes are youthful and unmistakable trusting. As we sat across from each other in a corner booth at Buffy’s coffee shop in old downtown Torrance, California, Lee Turner revealed what those eyes had seen in 74 years of life.

     I’ve never used the word sweetness to describe a woman’s face. But in Lee’s case, it was a perfect fit. Even before she spoke, her eyes would reveal the emotional thoughts behind them.

     It wasn’t all good. It wasn’t all bad. Yet there were moments of terror that still lingered in her memories. There were moments of love, restlessness, confusion — and times when she felt “on top of the world.”

     For Lee, motherhood was one dream that never materialized. After several miscarriages, she could never have a baby of her own.

     The last pregnancy lasted six months.

     “It broke my heart,” she remembered. “But looking at the world today, maybe it’s just as well.”

     Although she shrugged away those memories, she recited “My Great Desire,” a poem she wrote after she lost her last child, as if it happened just yesterday.

     “I wish I had a darling boy to tuck into his bed,

     To put away each baby toy and smooth his tousled head.

     I’d walk so proudly down the street

     And take his chubby hand

     And smile at ever one I’d meet

     And look upon his face so tan!

     God, is that too much to ask,

     A favor which seems quite small?

     I would try to master the heaviest task

     If you would heed my call.”

     A half-century before we met, in the former Torrance Auditorium, Miss Leila (Lee) Mae Combs, a striking 24-year-old brunette paraded across the stage in a one-piece swimsuit and high heels.

     In competition with nine other young women, she won, selected as the first Miss Torrance in that city’s history.

     “The country was still very poor then. The Torrance Moose Lodge sponsored the beauty contest. I came prepared to sing a ‘song poem’ I wrote. But it wasn’t necessary.

     Lee walked away not only as Miss Torrance 1939 but was awarded a new swimsuit, a beach towel, a robe, a free hair shampoo and set at a local salon, and the opportunity to compete in the Miss California beauty pageant in Venice, Calif.

     “I lost that one,” she said, smiling.

     Beauty contest winners, Lee noted, “have it made today. If they were asked to compete for the kind of prizes I won, they’d say, ‘Forget it!’ In my day, the honor of being selected as a pretty woman was important.”

     As a young women, her favorite actress was Clara Bow. “I wanted to be like her,” Lee said. “In 1940, she moved into a girlfriend’s apartment in Hollywood, worked as a waitress and taught ballroom dancing while pursuing an acting career. But Hollywood never beckoned.

     “A couple of producers offered to show me their etchings,” she said, giggling. “I told them, ‘No way!'”

     She would never forget the Sunday morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. “Even now when I think of it, I break out in goose bumps.”

     On that fateful day, Lee and her first husband, Eddie Guillow, a crane operator, were newlyweds living in a small house near Honolulu Airport.

     “I was sitting at a breakfast table writing a note to my mother on a Christmas card when I heard the sound of a plane,” Lee recalled. “It kept getting louder and louder. Suddenly, the house seemed to explode.”

     A Japanese Zero riddled her home with machine gun fire, the bullets penetrating the breakfast nook only a foot from where she was sitting. “I ruined the note,” she said, laughing at the irony. “I dove for a door jam, thinking it might be an earthquake.”

     Then a second plane zoomed overhead, dropping a bomb that exploded across the street, sending chunks of shrapnel into her house. About the same time, her husband was operating a crane near the battleship USS Arizona, which was under heavy attack. “When the Arizona exploded and sunk, Eddie had to dive off the crane and swim under the burning oil to safety.”

     A year later, back in the U.S. while walking with her sister-in-law, Lee said she “hit the dirt” when a plane passed overhead. “I felt embarrassed. But when my sister-in-law started laughing, I told her, ‘It’s not funny!'”

     Her husband was killed in a crane accident in 1947. Five years later she married Ken (Buck) Turner. A maintenance supervisor for the Torrance Parks Department, her husband died several months later.

     “It seems that everywhere I go, something drastic happens,” said Lee, who grew up in Torrance in a family of eight children and graduated from Torrance High School there.

     Another calamity she found herself in the midst of was the devastating Long Beach earthquake in 1933. “It was a very foggy Friday afternoon,” she recalled. “I was in the kitchen of my second-story apartment fixing french fries when the building began to sway and shake.

     “Polytechnic High School was right next door. It’s tower collapsed and fell onto my front yard. I was 18 years old and terrified. When I sat down at the breakfast nook, a second temblor tore the gas stove from the wall and knocked me out! When I came to, I was covered with french fries.

     “I was trapped in the kitchen. Rescuers had to break into the room to get me out. Other than a bump on my head and being scared half to death, I was fine.”

     At that time, I asked, “At your age, with all these experiences, what have you learned about survival?”

     “I live today as if it were tomorrow. I have girlfriends. I like to go places. I was a liberated women long before my second husband died. I don’t like to see what’s happening in the world. But I love visiting downtown Torrance.

     “I plan to be around long after everyone else is pushing up daisies,” she said with  that sweet-faced smile.

     Suffice to say: Lee Turner, if she’s still alive today, was my favorite beauty queen.   Ever!

 

                        — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

THE SYMBOL OF BLACK SLAVERY ENDS TODAY (JULY 10, 2015)!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

SOMETIMES A LITTLE POLITICAL RISK IN LIFE WORKS!

If you experiment with life,

Undoubtedly you’ll suffer strife.

Failure can be remorseful

But lessons learned resourceful.

To gamble on a bright tomorrow,

Procrastination may result in sorrow.

Without risky experimentation,

How does one weigh true jubilation?

Symbolizing the brutal act of black slavery,

today the Confederate battle flag comes down

Ending its metaphorical reign of savagery.

After 150 years, fueled by political myopia, no longer

Shall it wave its toxic message across our  U.S. Utopia.

Challengers of fate’s perplexing test

Now have a chance to be politically  the best.

Too unpatriotic to endure, the prejudicial gambol

Has trapped  such ruthless aspirations in a bramble.

Never knowing your true potential

Doesn’t mean you’re inconsequential.

Even evildoers who’ve survived on sheer luck,

Their bullyrag has finally become mired in the muck.

 

Boots LeBaron —

LEOPARD EYES PULCHRITUDE AT A ‘JUNGLE’ WATERING HOLE

THE HUMAN RACE

 

A DARK LIQUID OASIS WHERE YOUNG AND OLD CATS MINGLE

The old leopard

sits in the shade at a

jungle watering hole

known by local natives in

the Manhattan Beach Village

as The Coffee Bean.

Waiting and watching,

he crouches stealthily

sipping on his mocha latte.

He’s seen better days.

His vision is waning.

His quickness is gone.

The fangs are yellowing,

loose and brittle.

The muscles no longer

ripple beneath taut skin.

He’s losing fur

that once was coarse,

ocher, and speckled with

myriad shaped black jots.

He watches morsels

parade by innocently

slurping the magic liquid

that makes life

so socially grand.

But the memories of

his wild predator days

still linger in his heart.

Ancient and pumping,

it’s still

the heart

of a leopard.

 

Boot LeBaron

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