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March 6, 2015     Post-Gazette
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Page 12 BOSTON POST-GAZETI'E, MARCH 6, 2015 LEONARD NIMOY The Vulcan with a Caufiflower Ear Fr. Callahan (Richard Rober) and Kid Baroni (Leonard Nimoy) Leonard Nimoy, who was born and raised in Boston's West End, passed away re- cently. While Mr. Nimoy was never a boxer, and is best known for his role as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek TV se- ries and movies, boxing did have a part in shaping his acting career. I was never a big fan of Star Trek, but I have always found Leonard Nimoy to be a very fascinating man outside of the role he is famous for. He led a very interesting life and was active in many dif- ferent art forms. Not only was he a TV and movie star, he also spent time on stage, was an accomplished photographer, poet, narrator, and even released a record album. I viewed a 2014 documen- tary, Leonard Nimoy's Boston, his son Adam made about him. Mr. Nimoy and Adam spent time reminiscing and walking through the areas of Boston where Leonard grew up. The stories are wonderful to listen to, tales of selling newspapers, work- ing for a vacuum dealer, and selling greeting cards, it brings us back to a very different Boston than the one we know now, before urban renewal destroyed a vibrant neighborhood and displaced many poor, but happy families. The old West End was a lively neighborhood where many immigrants first settled when they came to this country. Leonard's par- ents arrived here from the Ukraine and were Jewish. There were many Jews in the area and also a huge population of Italians along with many other ethnic groups. The West End was a beautiful representation of the American Melting Pot. The Nimoy's lived at 87 Chambers Street, which has since been covered over by the Charles River Park luxury apartments. Three doors down from their build- ing was a synagogue where the Nimoy's would worship. The only remaining Jewish House of Worship from that period is the Vilna Shul on Phillips Street. A number of years ago, Nimoy narrated a documentary about the Vilna Shul in an effort to raise money to restore and preserve it. Towards the end of the film the camera zooms in briefly on a golden pair of hands that appear to be giving the Vulcan sign of greeting. Mr. Nimoy in inter- views has said that it was his memories of seeing this ancient symbol while wor- shipping that gave him the idea for it in the Star Trek series. He remembered see- ing worshipers using it while he was at the synagogue and thought it was a beautiful gesture, and seeing that Earthlings of all backgrounds make some gesture towards each other when first meet- ing, be it a handshake, bow, salute, or something else, he thought it would be fitting for Vulcan's to have such a thing. Seeing as it was in a Boston synagogue that the young "Spock" first saw this, I think Boston can" take some credit for what has become a gesture of peace known throughout the galaxies. Leonard got his first taste of acting at the Elizabeth Peabody Community Settle- ment House at 357 Charles Referee (Harvey Parry) and Kid Baroni Street. While there he was spotted by a priest who was so impressed with his talent that he offered to fund 50% of a scholarship for him to attend a summer acting program at Boston College, an offer the young Nimoy jumped at. It would take years before he found suc- cess in the world of acting. While working to get by, he told a story of the time he was driving a cab in Cali- fornia when a young Jack Kennedy hailed him. They had a wonderful conversa- tion in which they compared the commonalities in poli- tics and acting. Kennedy told him that while there were many competing for leading ................... Poster for movie. roles in both professions, "There was always room for one more good one." So, where does boxing fit into all of this? Well, it turns out the first major film role Mr. Nimoy had was as a boxer in the movie K/d Monk Baroni. I watched the movie recently and it is pretty good. The future Mr. Spock plays Angelo {Jack Larson) and Kid Baroni the lead role of Monk Baroni, an angry young man with a disfigured face who finds an outlet for his anger in the boxing ring. It is appropriate that a priest leads him in this direction as that mir- rors his journey to acting in his own life. The movie fol- lows the usual boxing movie formula with the leading man finding success in the ring and love outside of it only to squander both, but to be led back to a good and meaningful life by his friends who never lost faith in him. Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the Superman TV series, plays Monk's best friend Angelo. Bruce Cabot is Monk's manager Mr. Hell- man. Cabot is best remem- bered for his role in the original King Kong with Fay Wray. The entire movie was filmed in nine days and Nimoy was paid less than a thousand dollars for the part. It did receive decent reviews and was shown at the Bowdoin Square Movie House where the marquee proudly proclaimed "The West End's Own Leonard Nimoy Starring in Kid Monk Baroni." Mr. Nimoy has said that the role did not lead to fame and fortune, it would be many more years before that happened, but it did something very important for him. He said it gave him the confidence that he could do the work. This confidence would serve to motivate him to keep stick: ing with it until he finally made it. He had the deter- mination of a championship boxer. Oh, and he also showed some good footwork and hand movement in the movie. I have not been able to find out if he ever actually spent any time in the ring outside of the movie, but he certainly showed ability in the scenes I saw. In 2012, Mr. Nimoy was given an honorary degree by Boston University. In his speech he said to the gradu- ates, "You are the creators and curators of your own life and work. Give us your best. We crave it, we hunger for it." Leonard Nimoy always gave us his best and we are all the better for it. HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss It's the stretch drive for the Bruins as the local team seeks to make the playoffs over the course of the final weeks of the regular season. The NHL trading deadline came and went in the Bru- ins offices with management electing not to disturb the core of the team. That means that the team that has basically been in place since the start of the season will finish it, either remain- hag in the wild card slot it has occupied for weeks or slipping out of contention and into inactivity come the middle of April. It's true that Jordan Caron is gone, traded to the Colo- rado Avalanche for center Maxime Talbot. But Caron was a utility player, the ulti- mate yoyo man on the B's roster since he shuttled be- tween Providence and the Hub over the years as needed while never earning a per- manent spot in the Boston lineup. However, timing is everything and eaton was on a Duck Boat i'n the 2011 B's Stanley Cup victory parade as the vehicles wound their way through the downtown streets of the Hub. The Bruins also acquired Brett Connolly from Tampa Bay in exchange for draft picks. He was a first round selection in the 2010 draft and could be a positive addi- tion as the B's make a run for the playoffs. We've said it all along and we'll say it again. The 2014- 2015 Bruins are a playoff team -- when everyone is healthy and all players are firing on all cylinders. Unfor- tunately, there have been gaps in the season where the team has sagged and they needed to fight to right the ship. But the B's, of late, have seemed to catch fire at just the right time. However, they may no longer be in full con- trol of their own destiny. A victory, for example, does not necessarily mean putting additional distance between the B's and their fellow play- off aspirants. A recent case in point came on the last day of Feb- ruary when the B's scored a pretty good victory over Ari- zona at theGarden. The B's came away with two points from that win, but didn't move a bit in the standings. Why? Because Florida, the B's nearest rival for a playoff berth, had won earlier in the day, meaning the B's had not been able to widen the four- point margin in the stand- ings. So things remained as they were -- with one less game to go in the regular season. In essence, the day for both teams was a tie. Still, the B's played impres- sive hockey and sent the sig- nal that they are ready to essentially defend their pos- session of their wild card playoff berth from all comers. And it may well be Florida, the team that picked up B's fan favorite Shawn Thornton last summer that poses the biggest challenge. Indeed, the most refer- enced NHL team in the Hub outside of the B's may well be the Panthers over the next few weeks. "How did Florida do today" was heard up and down press row during the B's game with Arizona. Expect such queries to grow expo- nentially as the season enters its final fling. As this was being written, Florida had narrowed the gap with Boston and was only two points behind the B's for the second wild ard slot, with Philadelphia five points out and Ottawa six. What makes the situation with Florida especially interesting is that through a quirk in the sched- ule the Panthers and the B's will face off against one another three times in the closing weeks of the regular season. The first will come at Florida on March 21St, while the second will be a matchup on Causeway Street on March 31st. The third will be at Florida on April 9th in the next to last game of the regu- lar season. Two nights later the B's close out the cam- paign by playing at Tampa Bay. The Bruins also have two games at Ottawa -- on March 10TM and 19 th while they also play at Washington {the team ahead of them in the wild card standings} on March 154 and April 84. "We have to continue to play like we did recently," offered Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. "We are gaining more confidence. We have about 18 games left and we know where we're at. It's going .to be a fight until the end. A lot of teams are going to be fight- ing for those last spots and we just have to continue to play like we did recently (finish- ing February with back-to- back victories)." Brad Marchand feels that the B's may well have turned the comer and are headed in the right direction. Thinking back to earlier in the season, he recalled "it just seemed that when things were going wrong, we still played good hockey, but still wound up with a loss. There were other years, like last year, when we didn't always play our best, but seemed to find a way to win. We're very happy with how we're progressing now. We're turning the comer and we're playing good hockey right now. We're going to continue to build on it and continue to get better." Marchand expressed the growing confidence that the Bruins felt as February became March. "We can beat any team in this league on any given night. We know that, especially when our team is healthy. We're going to work and do the best we can." The big question, though, is whether the Bruins "play- ing their best" will be enough. It could, especially with the showdown games that looming with Florida, Otta L, and Washington. Opportuni- ties to be gained or lost with the season on the brink.