Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Zamperini and Me (Repost)

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Louis Zamperini and his Middle Finger to Der FuehrerThis guy’s story beats the holidays, so here’s a rerun from August. 

Seriously, shoot me if I ever name-drop – except this once…

“Zamperini and Me” is simple to explain; the late Louis Zamperini had been my neighbor.

I didn’t know he was my neighbor until we were introduced through a mutual friend, Dena, who’d petered out beneath a big tree while jogging one day. A chainsaw firing up above her head caused her to spaz and discover a then 90-year-old Louis Zamperini, 15 feet up and clinging to branches. He guided the saw through a thick limb and only took notice of her when it fell at her feet. Or so she thought.

“Hello!” he shouted, repositioning himself to see her better.

“Hi!” she answered. “Need any help?”

“Nahh, been doing this since I bought the place, thanks. Besides, young lady, you need to keep running. Your form could improve.”

What Dena didn’t know at the time is that she’d just received constructive criticism from a famed Olympic medalist, a veteran of the men’s 5000 meter race. Apparently he’d watched her motor all the way up the hill. Dena’s a tough chick, but her asthmatic breathing must’ve reminded him of how his plane sounded when it was nosediving into the Pacific.

Nevertheless, the man climbed down to meet his match (Dena’s a short, hugely stubborn Italian too), and the two hit it off. Before long, they were enjoying tea while the sunset’s glow reached Zamperini’s collection of Olympic torches in the living room of his Hollywood hillside post-and-beam home.

Now, I’m already convinced that Dena’s soul is on loan from WWII infantryman turned B-movie filmmaker Sam Fuller, but she was really on fire after that. “You’ve got to meet Louis,” I heard again and again. “He’s so great and his story is incredible. You’ll really like him.”

Ha! I didn’t know the half of it. (more…)

Zamperini and Me

Monday, August 4th, 2014

"During the Olympics, I tore Hitler's swastika flag off the Reich Chancellery. I thought, 'Boy, what souvenir!'"

Seriously, shoot me if I ever name-drop –– except this once…

“Zamperini and Me” is simple to explain; the late Louis Zamperini had been my neighbor.

I didn’t know he was my neighbor until we were introduced through a mutual friend, Dena, who’d petered out beneath a big tree while jogging one day. A chainsaw firing up above her head caused her to spaz and discover a then 90-year-old Louis Zamperini, 15 feet up and clinging to branches. He guided the saw through a thick limb and only took notice of her when it fell at her feet. Or so she thought.

“Hello!” he shouted, repositioning himself to see her better.

“Hi!” she answered. “Need any help?”

“Nahh, been doing this since I bought the place, thanks. Besides, young lady, you need to keep running. Your form could improve.”

And there it was: constructive criticism from a famed Olympic athlete, a veteran of the men’s 5000 meter race. Apparently, he’d watched her flail all the way up the hill.

He climbed down to meet an equal of sorts; Dena is a short, hugely stubborn Italian. The two hit it off, and before long were enjoying tea as the sunset’s glow reached Zamperini’s collection of Olympic torches in the living room of his hillside post-and-beam home.

Now, I’m already convinced that Dena’s soul is on loan from WWII infantryman turned B-movie filmmaker, Sam Fuller, but she was really on fire after that. “You’ve got to meet Louis,” I heard again and again. “He’s so great and his story is incredible. You’ll really like him.”

I didn’t know the half of it. (more…)

YOU are Chuck Stone

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

You’re told someone upset is waiting to speak with you on line two.

Former Daily News columnist Chuck Stone_Daily News photo by G.W. MillerHe’s alternately weeping and cursing. He’d just informed whoever answered that your office’s most experienced people don’t count for shit: it’s you or nobody.

He’s on the run, apparently, and deathly afraid of the cops learning his location. He’s a suspected murderer they’ve been after for months. He’s tired. He can’t run anymore. It was self-defense, he insists, but in police custody he knows he’s in for beatings and probably death.

Terrific. You’ve got it bad enough as it is; you don’t need more hassles. As the only black man with a desk in this white staff room, you already stick out like a sore thumb. Hell, just out in the hallway, above the restrooms, the words “COLORED” and “WHITE” are under scant few of coats of paint –and you remember when the first was applied.

THE NEWSROOMExplicit racial segregation may have been recently outlawed, but the leftovers of implicit segregation are everywhere. You know some of your colleagues are lurking, questioning why you’d even been given this job. You’re one of maybe three black journalists in America working for a major metropolitan newspaper (white owned, of course).

Not only are you lucky you’re not pushing a broom, here’s your next story being handed to you personally. No hunting down witnesses for lengthy interviews, no knocking on doors or being told to get lost. All so you can stand in the way of 20 seething badges, each of whom is banging at the starting gate for a run at your new friend. There are few things cops hate more than not controlling the narrative of an apprehension, and this won’t easily be forgotten.

But that’s okay: you’ve got this. You are Chuck Stone. (more…)

Victory in Real Time

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

No matter what your opinion of President Obama, his Bin Laden announcement represented what Americans and much of the rest of the world longs for: a sense of U.S. accomplishment.

Original story: CNN

No matter where you look, or from which country you’re looking, Americans have become accustomed to bad news while simultaneously more ‘n’ more distrustful of each other. (more…)