Posts Tagged ‘ truth ’

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

 

 

PRETTIEST MOM ON CRESCENT HEIGHTS BLVD. PASSES ON AT 100.

RUTH CHANNON SHOWED TRUE COURAGE DURING ‘THE BIG

WAR.  THROUGHOUT LIFE SHE EXUDED GREAT JOY.

     Not long after Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler’s attempt to conquer the world, obliterate Judaism, slaughter millions of Jews, invade Poland, Czechoslovakia, occupy Austria, bomb the hell out of Britain using der Furor’s powerful Luftwaffe air force, the Japanese launched its December 7, 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

     They struck with carrier-based planes sinking or damaging 19 ships, killing or injuring 2,200 American servicemen, and destroying 188 planes with negligible losses to the Japanese.

Not only did that devastating attack on Pearl get the U.S. into World War II, it revealed a dormant spirit within the men and women of our nation. It was a wake-up call that made us realize that now was the time for all courageous women to radically alter the course

they’ve been living a comfortable existence as housewives, mothers, daughters, administrators, clerks and community leaders to come to the aid of their country. It was a time for great sacrifice; a time to fight an enemy that’s threatening the freedom of what we continue to call the land of the free and the home of the brave.

     And for those reasons, I’d like you to meet Ruth Channon who was one thousands of American women to abruptly change their lifestyles to support their nation which must go to

war against a well-trained, goose-stepping enemy known as the Axis.

     At that time, hundreds of thousands of men left the workplace and joined the U.S. armed forces to combat a mortal enemy. That’s

when thousands of women from all walks of life and levels of

society, forfeited personal and professional comforts to take over the jobs

men had vacated..

     So Ruth Channon, an ambitious young woman, gave up her dreams to become what she whimsically and proudly called herself, “Ruthie the Riveter.” What makes Ruthie unique, is her positive attitude,

her sense of being a woman, and the fact that the mother of my late childhood friend, Richard (I called him Bumbo, he called me Boots) turned 100 years old on April 1, 2015.

     For at least two years, Ruthie worked as a riveter at Hughes Aircraft Co. in Culver City, Calif. During the war, her mother would baby-sit with Bumbo and his sister Sheila while riveted away helping build fighter planes and bombers to battle a powerful enemy that would make Darth Vader look like a kindergartner.

     When I asked Ruthie if by chance she worked on a bomber that actor Clark Gable served on as a tail gunner, she had no idea. As the story went, when German field marshal Hermann Goering learned that Gable, a well-known motion picture star has enlisted in the American Air Corps and was a tail gunner, the notorious field marshal had offered $5,000 to kill him.

     When Gable learned of the price that was put on his head, he was quoted as saying, “Tell Goering that, ‘Frankly, I don’t give a damn!'” Of course, that line was taken from the 1939 Civil War epic, “Gone With the Wind” when Gable as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn!” “Gone With the Wind,” is considered one of the most famous films in Hollywood history.

     Back to Ruth Channon and reality: In their own way, close to 19,000,000 women went to war replacing their male counterparts who became U.S. warriors. In 1942, the original Rosie the Riveter was discovered. Her name was Rosie Ronavita. She was a welder building planes for Convair in San Diego. To land such a riveting job, the government would explain to female applicants, “If you can use an electric mixer, you surely can operate a drill.”

     Working for less money than the men they replaced, women were proud to become active members of the war effort. When posters showing a sturdy female with the slogan, “We Can Do It!” became quite popular. The significance of Rosie the Riveter became as popular as the Uncle Sam recruiting poster pointing under the slogan, “We Want You!”

     When I asked Ruthie about her going to work, leaving her two young children at home, she explained that as a single parent, her mother would baby sit with her young son, my childhood pal Richard (I always called him Bumbo), and her daughter, Sheila.

     Was doing a man’s job difficult? “Not really,” she said. “I was young and strong.” Ruthie was also one of the best looking mothers residing on Crescent Heights Boulevard. She was a young mom, with raven hair, dark brown eyes and Pocahontas cheekbones.

     Was working as a riveter on fighter planes and bombers exhausting? “Only when I got home at night. But my kids made everything alright.”

     Near the end of the war, Ruthie married an ex-GI named Saul Channon. Lucky for Bumbo and Sheila, he adopted them.

     Saul Channon looked like an husky leprechaun. Actually, he was a Russian Jew and the son of a rabbi. I can’t remember him without a cigar sticking out the side of his mouth.

     Mr. Channon never talked about the hell he went through as an infantryman with the 45th Armored Division; never mentioned the wounds he suffered during a firefight in Messina, Italy, in 1944. They were severe enough to buy him a ticket home. I loved the guy.

     For a long time after his return to civilian life, he remained traumatized like the combat infantrymen who return from the Middle East today. Ruthie told me, a thump in the night would send the former sergeant diving under the bed. Even action scenes in a movie, like “Return to Bataan” would cause Saul to hit the deck in a movie theater, taking cover behind rows of seats.

     To get the trembling ex-GI back onto his seat, Ruthie said she would have to remind him that it was only a movie they were watching in a darkened theater.

     “Most of the time it worked,” she said. “What Saul went through, made me realize how important it was for me and all those other women, to do our duty. Although Saul is dead, I still talk to him. He was a great father and husband. I’ll never stop loving him.”

     As I always told her, “You were the best looking mother in our

neighborhood.” She loved that compliment. It was the truth.

     I once told her, “Ruthie, you come with a button on your shoulder. I could press it any time and you’d register joy.

     “One day,” I went on, “that darned button stuck. There was no turning off your joy button. You’re such a loving and joyous person.”

     Ruthie died on Friday Oct. 30, 2015. Lucky for St. Peter,

although he’s not Jewish, she’ll greet him with a smile as he opens those

pearly gates. No matter who she met, she always had a constant abundance

of love and joy to give. And she was so easy to make laugh.

     I’ll love her forever. Ruthie the Riveter truly was the best looking mom on

Crescent Heights Boulevard. And that’s the truth.

     — Boots LeBaron

THE MESSAGE SHE BROUGHT BACK FROM GORILLA COUNTRY

MUST HUMANS DESTROY EVERYTHING WE TOUCH?

Tarzan would have been impressed with Chris Chambers.

The petite green-eyed blonde animal activist

was exhausted and covered with mud after six-hours

climbing up the side of a steep volcanic mountain in

what is now known as Central Africa’s Republic of

the Congo. Like her five fellow safari members,

Chris’ mission was to experience up close

the kind of endangered primates that the

legendary Diane Fossey had spent a lifetime

studying and protecting. The jungle was so dense

that a guide with a machete had to hack the way.

Finally, they encountered a group of 28 gorillas

including a dominant “silverback”. “I had a feeling,”

she said joking, “that he didn’t appreciate blondes.

The British Airways customer-service agent

recalled that  “It was the most incredible experience of my

life. I feel so proud that I was with mountain

gorillas.  Just to be with them and touch them was an

amazing experience. They were so much like humans. You

look at them and wonder if they share the same kind of

thoughts that we have.” (The gorilla I drew nuzzling

Chris was based on photos she  gave me.)

“Being with those animals was so intense. 

My favorite was a young adult. When he grabbed

the strap to my backpack, we played

tug of war,” she said laughing. “He was so powerful.

I thought he was going to drag me off into the brush. 

He held on until the guide shouted, ‘No!’

Like he understood,  my playmate dropped the strap and

swaggered away.  After he left, I sat there crying

realizing that these wild animals were so much like us.”

Here’s the philosophy Chris brought back  to

civilization: “The problems we create

for ourselves seem almost ridiculous.

So Illogical!   Life can be so beautiful and simple.

Yet we’re guilty of introducing deceit,

violence and greed into the World.

Animals have just as much right as humans to exist on Earth.

Why must we destroy or tarnish everything we touch,

including our own species?”

 

— 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

THOUGHTS ABOUT CIVILIZATION’S POLLUTERS !

THE HUMAN RACE

THOUGHTS FROM THE MANHATTAN BEACH PIER!

 

As I sit and sight dolphins

Cruising by the pier,

Cutting through Pacific waters,

So far and yet so near.

 

As I watch the surfers riding waves

Not damaging the shore,

I find the two are close of kin,

This world they do adore.

 

Yet, the dolphins must survive in those

very waters polluted by the human race.

So it’s brother hurting brother,

What an ecological disgrace.

 

When we look across the ocean

And breath the air so sweet,

Why can’t we seem to comprehend

That we’re desecrating nature’s treat?

 

The skies, the Earth, pelicans in flight,

This gift of life is so profound.

What does it take to make us aware

That we’re treading on sacred ground?

 

If we’re only a speck in the universe,

Is that too overwhelming to perceive?

This World is ours to care and share.

That’s a truth we’d better believe!

 

— 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 —

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