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Home arrow Blog arrow May 2008 arrow May 13, 2008

May 13, 2008
WAWA Blog May 13, 2008: Boom Boom Benny: Looking for a woman to Learn His Russian Mystery Trick-UPDATED: May 15: PHOTOS...THANK YOU L.A. TIMES

I have begun the research for the BOOM BOOM BENNY Story.
If you have any memories to share, please email me: Subject: BBB

Boom Boom Benny: Looking for a woman to Learn His Russian Mystery Trick


[Palm Bay, Fl. May 12, 2008] Boom Boom Benny informed me, "I am look for a young attractive female to teach the mystery of the trick I stole from a Russian. I have at times wished I'd given it back. In my daredevil stunt driver days and while manager of the world famous Hollywood Death Dodgers Thrill Show out of Chicago, while on tour in Canada, I saw that Russian who changed my life.

"He blew himself up in a chair and I knew immediately that I had discovered my way to make a bigger noise in the thrill field. The very first time I tried it I nearly died. I couldn't hear a thing for a week, and then all I heard was a doorbell ringing in my head.

"But before all that and fifteen years before anyone even heard of Evil Knievel, I was jumping ramps, making firewalls with go carts, crashing head onto junker cars going sixty miles per hour.

"As a kid I wanted to be a big-time stock car racer but I went into the daredevil business instead. I had a neighbor who shot himself out of canons and another who was an auto stunt man. Being a daredevil is who I am and I have been hospitalized more times than I care to recall.

"I had life insurance until they found out what I did. Lloyds of London made me an offer back in the1970's but it was more than I could afford. Back then, I carried $300,000 insurance for spectators and $250,000 for the grounds. Today; it's a whole other world after 9/11. Everything is out of proportion and it keeps getting tougher to make a living."

Boom Boom Benny, was still known as Benny Koske; Captain Dynamite when the Chicago Daily News reported on November 12, 1974, "A SMALL MAN with the lean build of a dynamite stick comes from Palm Bay, Fl., 30 miles south of Cape Canaveral, where the only big noise is on U.S.1."

During the race car circuit off season, Benny usually hangs out at JD's not too far from Roonie's Tavern in Palm Bay. The walls of both establishments are adorned with photos of Boom Boom Benny with Jay Leno, David Frost, and Mike Douglas, but none of the T-Bone Crash.

"Before I began to blow myself up, I did the most dangerous stunt trick there was; the T-Bone Crash. I'd floor my car, jump a ramp and land T-bone style into a pair of parked autos. Many who tried it, never walked away.

"The first time I tried blowing myself up, I nearly died. The second time I tried it, it took the most nerve. Every blast is different and I have blown myself up thousands of times. Even after the first eight years, I still hadn't perfected the technique, but I got better fast because I learned a lot more about short sticks of high explosives.

"I began at state fairs, race tracks and I've been everywhere and have met many people. I've been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, and Tampa where I was born. I lived a while in Nebraska, but home is Palm Bay, Florida.

"I was once closing act at the closing show for the Rolling Stones in Buffalo, New York. The last time I did the Jay Leno Show was on 3/3/04 along with Carmen Electra. I'll never tell what she whispered in my ear…

"While on tour at the Canadian National Expose in Toronto, my agent called me to go pick up another of his clients at the airport. It was Red Skelton. I had heard something about a recent big loss in his life and we talked local stuff on our way to the show. After Red performed he took off in a limo and I stood on the stage. I still remember that little kid, no more than seven who darted out on the field. That kid chased the limo until Red stopped it and rolled down his window. Red stopped to give that kid an autograph...

"In the early years I would blow myself up in coffins I constructed from two by six feet long insulation boards that I would buy by the bundle and carry in my van. I learned that if I placed the charges in a certain manner, the explosions would go over my head and outwards. Most of that time, that is. I have been burned, broken bones, had my chest blown open, but it's better than any nine to five job I can imagine.

"One day while in Las Vegas, a guy proposed to me that I should blow myself up in a car instead of a box or coffin. I thought that he was crazy but I was also intrigued. After contemplating the suggestion, I decided that it was a stunt I wanted to attempt.

"The very first day that I was going to blow myself up, just as I was getting into the car, someone suggested we should test the trick first. It was a good thing, because it was a heck of an explosion. Somebody was certainly looking out for me that day because if I had gotten into that car, I wouldn't be talking with you now."

Benny maintains that it is his calm, systematic approach that has allowed him to perform for so long.

"I get the feeling that I am in the eye of a hurricane; there is stuff going on all around me but I remain calm because I only have 15 seconds to make my escape before my suit can no longer take the heat and my body becomes disoriented from the fumes."

"If the crowd is too close to the track, they will feel the heat of the explosion because the car goes up in a big ball of fire before I escape. The fire and noise are spectacular. The hood, trunk deck, and doors all go flying off. People love seeing things blow up so, I am confident that I will find a young lady to learn my Russian Mystery Trick.

"She must know about motorcycles and cars, but no biker chicks, and no tattoos allowed. I am looking for a woman like the one in that Miller commercial who walks into a bar after a race and pulls off her helmet. Her hair tumbles out and she is drop dead gorgeous. That's what I am looking for, someone like that to learn the Russian Mystery Trick of Boom Boom Benny."


May 24, 2008:       THUNDER JAM, Green Bay, Wisconsin

May 30-31, 2008:   Bristol, Tenn.

June 7, 2008:        Cedar Falls, Iowa

June 24, 2008:       Epping, New Hampshire

THANK YOU L.A. TIMES for publishing:

Forget the two-state solution Israelis and Palestinians must share the land. Equally.
By Saree Makdisi
May 11, 2008

There is no longer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Forget the endless arguments about who offered what and who spurned whom and whether the Oslo peace process died when Yasser Arafat walked away from the bargaining table or whether it was Ariel Sharon's stroll through the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that did it in.

All that matters are the facts on the ground, of which the most important is that -- after four decades of intensive Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories it occupied during the 1967 war -- Israel has irreversibly cemented its grip on the land on which a Palestinian state might have been created.

Sixty years after Israel was created and Palestine was destroyed, then, we are back to where we started: Two populations inhabiting one piece of land. And if the land cannot be divided, it must be shared. Equally.

This is a position, I realize, which may take many Americans by surprise. After years of pursuing a two-state solution, and feeling perhaps that the conflict had nearly been solved, it's hard to give up the idea as unworkable.

But unworkable it is. A report published last summer by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure -- roads, settlements, military bases and so on -- largely off-limits to Palestinians. Israel has methodically broken the remainder of the territory into dozens of enclaves separated from each other and the outside world by zones that it alone controls (including, at last count, 612 checkpoints and roadblocks).

Moreover, according to the report, the Jewish settler population in the occupied territories, already approaching half a million, not only continues to grow but is growing at a rate three times greater than the rate of Israel's population increase. If the current rate continues, the settler population will double to almost 1 million people in just 12 years. Many are heavily armed and ideologically driven, unlikely to walk away voluntarily from the land they have declared to be their God-given home.

These facts alone render the status of the peace process academic.

At no time since the negotiations began in the early 1990s has Israel significantly suspended the settlement process in the occupied Palestinian territories, in stark violation of international law. It preceded last November's Annapolis summit by announcing the fresh expropriation of Palestinian property in the West Bank; it followed the summit by announcing the expansion of its Har Homa settlement by an additional 307 housing units; and it has announced plans for hundreds more in other settlements since then.

The Israelis are not settling the occupied territories because they lack space in Israel itself. They are settling the land because of a long-standing belief that Jews are entitled to it simply by virtue of being Jewish. "The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel and only to the nation of Israel," declares Moledet, one of the parties in the National Union bloc, which has a significant presence in the Israeli parliament.

Moledet's position is not as far removed from that of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as some Israelis claim. Although Olmert says he believes in theory that Israel should give up those parts of the West Bank and Gaza densely inhabited by Palestinians, he also said in 2006 that "every hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic homeland" and that "we firmly stand by the historic right of the people of Israel to the entire land of Israel."

Judea and Samaria: These ancient biblical terms are still used by Israeli officials to refer to the West Bank. More than 10 years after the initiation of the Oslo peace process, which was supposed to lead to a two-state solution, maps in Israeli textbooks continued to show not the West Bank but Judea and Samaria -- and not as occupied territories but as integral parts of Israel.

What room is there for the Palestinians in this vision of Jewish entitlement to the land? None. They are regarded, at best, as a demographic "problem."

The idea of Palestinians as a "problem" is hardly new. Israel was created as a Jewish state in 1948 only by the premeditated and forcible removal of as much of the indigenous Palestinian population as possible, in what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe, which they commemorate this week.

A Jewish state, says Israeli historian Benny Morris, "would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. ... There was no choice but to expel that population." For Morris, this was one of those "circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing."

Thinking of Palestinians as a "problem" to be removed predates 1948. It was there from the moment the Zionist movement set into motion the project to make a Jewish state in a land that, in 1917 -- when the British empire officially endorsed Zionism -- had an overwhelmingly non-Jewish population. The only Jewish member of the British government at the time, Edwin Montagu, vehemently opposed the Zionist project as unjust. Henry King and Charles Crane, dispatched on a fact-finding mission to Palestine by President Wilson, concurred: Such a project would require enormous violence, they warned: "Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice."

But they were. This is a conflict driven from its origins by Zionism's exclusive sense of entitlement to the land. Has there been Palestinian violence as well? Yes. Is it always justified? No. But what would you do if someone told you that there was no room for you on your own land, that your very existence is a "problem"? No people in history has ever gone away just because another people wanted them to, and the sentiments of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull live on among Palestinians to this day.

The violence will end, and a just peace will come, only when each side realizes that the other is there to stay. Many Palestinians have accepted this premise, and an increasing number are willing to give up on the idea of an independent Palestinian state and embrace instead the concept of a single democratic, secular and multicultural state, which they would share equally with Israeli Jews.

Most Israelis are not yet reconciled this position. Some, no doubt, are reluctant to give up on the idea of a "Jewish state," to acknowledge the reality that Israel has never been exclusively Jewish, and that, from the start, the idea of privileging members of one group over all other citizens has been fundamentally undemocratic and unfair.

Yet that is exactly what Israel does. Even among its citizens, Israeli law grants rights to Jews that it denies to non-Jews. By no stretch of the imagination is Israel a genuine democracy: It is an ethno-religiously exclusive state that has tried to defy the multicultural history of the land on which it was founded.

To resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, Israeli Jews will have to relinquish their exclusive privileges and acknowledge the right of return of Palestinians expelled from their homes. What they would get in return is the ability to live securely and to prosper with -- rather than continuing to battle against -- the Palestinians.

They may not have a choice. As Olmert himself warned recently, more Palestinians are shifting their struggle from one for an independent state to a South African-style struggle that demands equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of religion, in a single state. "That is, of course," he noted, "a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle -- and ultimately a much more powerful one."

I couldn't agree more.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation," out this month from W.W. Norton.,0,2553769.story

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