And The Beat Goes On








Religion is defined as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural" and as “commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.” Religion is also defined as an organized collection or institutionalized system of spiritual attitudes, beliefs, practices and world views. 


The process of organizing or institutionalizing anything, but particularly spiritual beliefs, necessarily requires adherents to the religion that emerges from it to give up some portion of their natural spiritual freedom. And there's the rub. 

Rather than having spiritual consciousness expanded by religion, religion compresses it. In exchange for the spiritual freedom, the tenets and doctrines of a religion often gives its adherents another freedom: the freedom to discern and magnify differences between their religion and the religions of others. Others, the people who don’t believe as they do, are often denigrated. They have been condemned for their religion and its underlying spiritual traditions. Religious differences and disagreements have led to hatred and to its extreme expression, senseless endless war.




According to Wikipedia, Indian classical music is always set in a Raga; a series of five or more musical notes that render musical phrases and convey moods that are “more important than the notes themselves because in Indian musical tradition, Ragas are more associated with “different times of the day, or with seasons.” Ragas are known to create trance-like states and to express moods of spiritual ecstasy. These qualities may be examined in Bhairav, Malkauns, Hindol, Dipak, Megh, Shree and others of the thousands of Ragas.


Some Ragas are vocal with no instrumental accompaniment while others use percussion instruments to produce intricate cyclic rhythmic patterns known as Tala. The Tala rhythm begins, develops and returns to what is called the Sam or the first beat of the cycle, which may be considered a musical expression of Samsara: the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.


 For the sound of Raga and more about Sanatana Dharma, please go to Page 3  





In the process of seeking emptiness in the solid or finding stillness or non-action in action the Tai Chi student follows natural law. Students can reach the art’s highest spiritual level; the art’s final stage, by studying and understanding xujing.

Jou, Tsung Hwa described xujing in his book, THE DAO OF TAIJIQUAN, as an enduring state of tranquility achieved through the intrinsic effects of movement. He explains that when external changes occur and thought is given up during the occurrence, an internal calm and sense of emptiness, a sense of peacefulness that is unaffected by change can emerge. 


“Give up all thoughts and become tranquil,” Hwa says. “Return to the primal and change the complex to the simple. Pay attention only to yin and yang, changes within and without, changes from action to non-action and non-action to action. As a result, your spirit will blossom and become peaceful.”

The exercise of giving up of thought as change occurs is a retreat into relaxation and though the exercise is natural, it often must be re-learned. In his book, T'AI CHI, Cheng Man-chi-ing says:

“Observe a child. Note how he (or she) breathes – not high n the chest but low in the abdomen. See too, how he (she) meets an accident – relaxed and with no apprehension in his (or her) mind. You may charge this off to ignorance, but, this not withstanding, the child more often than not emerges from accidents unscathed. So perhaps the experience/intelligence clogging the adult’s mind and causing his body to stiffen is really not such an asset after all.  Let the child grasp your finger and try to retract it. Difficult, isn’t it? The grasp is firm but not frenzied; there is true energy involved…T’ai Chi believes that progress can be made only if one becomes like a child.” 


 Legitimate Art?




In 332 B.C. Macedonian warrior king Alexander the Great brought ancient Egypt to her knees. Macedonian rule of Egypt ended in 30 B.C. when Cleopatra committed suicide in the wake of intense intrigue, questionable alliances, and romantic liaisons with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony of Rome and others. Legends of her exotic beauty and strength have inspired artists for centuries.







Edmonia Lewis


Cleopatra’s transition from life to death is captured in a two-ton marble sculpture executed in 1876 by Edmonia Lewis. By most accounts, “The Death of Cleopatra,” is her masterpiece. An article at states that “while many sculptures of the Egyptian queen showed her as a power-hungry seductress, Lewis showed the moment of her death, a tragic and vulnerable figure slumped in a chair after being bitten by the poisonous snake she is said to have used to cause her own death.”

“The Death of Cleopatra” was shipped to Philadelphia for its 1876 Centennial from Italy where it was sculpted. So there was Cleopatra on Egypt’s ancient throne, no longer full of life, having contemplated death and having breathed her final breath. Her head, no longer held high, but back and to the side. Her right hand clutched a poisonous asp. Her left hand hung lifelessly; the whole thing what one source described as a “realistic portrayal” that “ran contrary to the sentimentality about death that was prevalent at the time.”  Still, a journalist noted that the work “excites more admiration and gathers larger crowds around it than any other work of art in the vast collection of Memorial Hall.”

Some art critics disagreed. One wrote: "This was not a beautiful work. It was a very original and very striking one. The effects of death are represented with such skill as to be absolutely repellant — and it is a question whether a statue of the ghastly characteristics of this one does not overstep the bounds of legitimate art."

Failing to sell in Philadelphia, “The Death of Cleopatra” was moved to the Chicago Interstate Exposition where it failed to sell as well. Lewis returned to Europe returning to America from time to time to sell other work. She became a permanent expatriate in 1880. Her masterpiece was placed in storage. Storage was followed by a time as decor in a Chicago saloon and as a grave marker for a racehorse named Cleopatra. "The Death of Cleopatra" then disappeared until it was rediscovered in the late 1970s. 

By the turn of the century, she was, like her masterpiece, "virtually forgotten." Where and and when she died is a mystery. Interest in the life and work of this daughter of a Native American woman and African father was not rekindled until the late 1960s. 

Beyond "The Death of Cleopatra, the story of Wildfire (as she was called by her  people) is one that is remarkable unto itself and well worth knowing.


For more of the story, please click here  (And there's much more elsewhere; enough material for a major feature film!)


 Genius by Bobby West


Years ago my brother asked me to go to a house party. It was a very nice home with some beautiful-looking people. My brother and his wife started yelling, "Bob, they have a piano!" The next thing you know I'm doing a Motown revue/open mic kinda thing because the place was full of singers and wanna-bees..Suga Pie, My Girl, Tracks of my Tears, Get Ready, etc. Then this sista calls out "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By," "Heaven Must of Sent Your”


The three-to-four chord iconic hits of Motown were as easy as me remembering my childhood, but THESE were compositions! They possessed hints of a Bernstein musical, Sondheim-like harmonic progressions, moody, dramatic passages and abrupt modulations.

 So, in the midst of the party sing-along there was cause for pause! These amazing standouts of the Motown canon were written by two black teenagers who were madly in love with each other: Nick Ashford &Valerie Simpson. They were 18, 19 years-old! Their songs were the chosen vehicle of two great artists who, at least, seemed like they were madly in love with each other. The songs were Genius. (That's all I'm saying'.)






A Beautiful Afternoon 



Jazz is a powerful American art form! Its roots are deep in the traditions of storytelling. One of these traditions is described as “the ancient West African craft known as Jaliyaa…a testament to the power of music and words.”




The power of music and words was in full force on Sunday November 23rd at Fais Do Do in Los Angeles California. Chuck Koton of All About says, “If you missed your regular church service, regardless of your brand of religion, you couldve had a swingin' and spiritually nourishing afternoon experience with the Rev Trible.”




Dwight Trible is neither reverend nor pastor in the formal meanings of those titles. And no one in attendance for this Sunday service seemed to care.  One attendee, Ujazi Calomee, testifies that, “no one can say I didn't " go to church" today!! Dwight Trible took me there! !!! What a beautiful afternoon.”




Koton summed things up saying it was a great afternoon show with Trible “in great form, as always, testifyin’ about peace love and beauty...ably supported by 3 great musicians who have play with Dwight often, pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Trevor Ware and on drums, Paul Legaspi...And, of course, a Big Shout Out to Ken Moore of Howling Monk who produced the show and the Jazz Cat, LeRoy Downs, who hosted the ceremonies...thank you ALL!”



Mr. Trible is a Jazz man. Jazz is indeed a powerful American art form worthy of determined cultivation. And yes. It was a beautiful afternoon! Thank You for being there!




Bennie Maupin




Bennie Maupin at Fais Do Do by Dee Dee McNeil for L.A. Jazz.Com - October 26, 2014


"The first place I went to find music was at the church, people getting happy, singing and shouting. Because, it's all about the love. We're playing from the heart."


Bennie Maupin is one of our internationally acclaimed jazz icons. I was excited to attend his recent concert. The space was located at the club known as Fais Do-Do on West Adams Street in west central Los Angeles, equipped with a spacious stage, bar, and small circular tables with hardback chairs scattered about. A few padded booth seats were available against the walls and there was a peppering of bar stools for the overflow of guests.

The event was hosted by Ken Moore, affectionately known as Howling Monk by the throngs of people who are familiar with his community jazz concert promoting and his coffee product line. Street parking was limited, but they had acquired the use of laundromat parking for $5 just kiddy-corner from the building.

The small performance space was a chatterbox of excitement as Bennie Maupin casually seated himself behind an electric keyboard, looked out at the sea of multi-cultural faces and nodded to Munyungo Jackson to start the evening with percussive brilliance. He obliged. Gene Coye, on drums, soon added brushes to the rhythm and Darek Oles on bass joined them. In the hushed silence that followed, Bennie stood like a king before his disciples, lifted the alto flute to his lips and sweetly whispered his musical message to us. The concert had begun.

Maupin was born August 29, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. He mastered the woodwind instruments and established his own style, recording and performing with familiar jazz names like Miles Davis, where he collaborated on "Bitches Brew", "Big Fun" and "On The Corner" albums. He also recorded with Horace Silver and with Herbie Hancock in 1975 as part of the Headhunters group and also with Hancock's legendary Mwandishi sextet; with Roy Haynes, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and more recently on L.A. based John Beasley's Grammy-nominated CD "Positootly." Maupin also recorded with Eddie Henderson, McCoy Tyner and Lonnie Smith ("Turning Point" Blue Note, 1969), as well as Andrew Hill, Marion Brown and with Chick Corea. I'm only scratching the surface of musical giants Maupin has enhanced with his amazing style and delivery.

With a strong bebop and jazz fusion history under his belt, it's no wonder that today's concert reached back to a tradition where saxophone, bass, and drum ensembles were more familiar, excluding the tradition of piano or guitar as part of the rhythm section. It took me back to evenings at Detroit's "Minor Key," which was a beatnik coffee shop and jazz performance space in Detroit. There, you could hear Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Barry Harris, Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, or Dr. Yusef Lateef and many other greats at any unexpected moment. The free-flow improvisation kept the crowds breathless, expectant and humbled at the feet of masters. Bennie Maupin evoked that same type of response and confirmation this afternoon.

In 2006, Maupin released a critically acclaimed album titled "Penumbra", and he gave us a taste of music from that CD. Penumbra means 'a partial shadow', but there was nothing but light on the stage this afternoon. His original composition, "See the Positive" featured Maupin's excellence on soprano saxophone, playing unexpected intervals, beautiful in their own unique way. It caused some in the audience to cry out and clap hands, as though he were a preacher in a gospel pulpit. We got lost in his passion and spirit.

Maupin stepped up to the microphone...

"I grew up in the blues; a blues drudged up from Mississippi to Detroit. It's in my DNA. Lyle 'Spud' Murphy was one of my teachers. He taught me composition and arranging after I moved to LA. I've always had great teachers, but I think that out of all of them, when it comes to composition, arranging and orchestration he was 'the man'. He showed me how to simply state something. But everything I play is steeped in the blues," he shared with sincerity.

Then he thrilled us with his gut-wrenching rendition of "You Don't Know What Love Is." The arrangement displayed unexpected time changes, moving from a sweet ballad to the Avant Garde; than blending into a Straight-Ahead Swing. Derek Oles gave us an impressive solo, stroking the melody from his upright instrument and using a two-string pull on those big, bass strings to add harmonics and dimension. I also enjoyed Maupin's composition, "Equal Justice," where he played piano. "Neopheilia 2006" featured his eclectic talent on bass clarinet. Sitting tall on the stage, that instrument is an art piece on its own and begged to be played. Maupin breathed the life into it. Unexpectedly, it seemed as if animal sounds floated from the bell, along with deep, lush melodies that took us to the shores of the African continent in a musical way.

An energetic rendition of "All Blues" featured Maupin on soprano sax and it gave bass and drums a platform to showcase their skills. Gene Coye, for the most part solid but understated, finally took this opportunity to show us his unique talents on the drums and why he's such an integral part of Maupin's current band. Munyungo Jackson is always charismatic and superb on percussion. He embellished two important factors in jazz; rhythm and improvisation. We were enchanted as he tossed his huge, beaded shaker instrument into the air, while playing it in perfect time, catching it in between beats and never losing the continuity of the tune or the tempo. Munyungo punctuated Maupin's musical art with gongs, shakers and sundry percussive instruments throughout the concert and Bennie told us he always loved having the percussionist as part of his ensemble. He said he and Jackson had an unspoken connection, as spiritual as the music itself.

In closing, Maupin thanked Ken, the concert promoter, for getting people to come to 'the hood' on a Sunday afternoon. He told us that music is emotional and is about being yourself. He said that's one of the many things he learned from Miles, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and mentors like those.

"I learned from them, not just as musicians, but as human beings," he explained. "The first place I went to find music was at the church, people getting happy, singing and shouting. Because, it's all about the love. We're playing from the heart."

He marched us out on 'the funk', taking us to New Orleans, Africa, Detroit, Michigan, Harlem and South Central LA, all in a single tune. Thanks Bennie. We were all feeling the love!


Bennie Maupin - saxes, flutes, bass clarinet, keyboards; Darek Oles - bass; Gene Coye - drums; Munyungo Jackson - percussion







Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa, an Oglala Lakota Sioux holy man) said: “The power of a thing or an act is in the meaning and the understanding.” 

And so. Why then would people who grasp the meaning of an existent thing such as the Jazz state of mind, hesitate to use its power? 



Religious belief has underlying spiritual essences that are often contained in rituals, the signs, symbols, systems, and procedures, etc. people use to release them. People unfamiliar with a ritual have no way to decipher its meaning. And though they therefore misunderstand, they sometimes denigrate and diminish its value to the culture that sustains it. 

In the book, THE HEALING WISDOM OF AFRICA, Malidoma Some' describes ritual as "the most ancient way of binding a community together in a close relationship with Spirit...Ritual has always been the way of life of the spiritual person because it is a tool to maintain the delicate balance between body and soul."




Getting Ready





"A Reading Man and Woman is a ready man and woman." (Marcus Garvey)


Surreal Serenity



Reality is things, facts and events, etc. that stand upon themselves; things that exist independently of other ideas that may relate to them. The idea of Blackness, and Whiteness too, is more a sureality than it is a reality because the idea can't stand upon itself. The idea depends on other ideas; some of them good, some bad, some constructive and positive and others negative and destructive. Yet we deal with it as best we can and at times beautifully.








Harold Newton's Sense of Serenity 



Harold Newton was born in Gifford, Florida in 1934. He was a founder of the Florida Highwaymen, the loose-knit, mostly self-taught group of African American artists who, in the 1950s, began selling their paintings door to door and along the highways. He did this to support his family's needs. He passed away in 1994 leaving an estimated 40,000 paintings as his legacy. 



An internet article says: “Newton is generally regarded as the most talented of the Highwaymen and in recent years his work has been coveted by serious art collectors and Highwaymen enthusiasts both regionally and nationally. His oil paintings, once sold door-to-door for very modest sums, now can fetch in the tens of thousands, depending on the scene, composition, and quality…Arguably, much of the appeal of Newton’s work stems from the unlikely success of a black artist in a time of racial segregation and disenfranchisement. Newton was undeterred, and, pursuing his love for his art, secured a considerable following among the more privileged and affluent members of the Florida communities through which he traveled. Newton was an outsider to the more pervasive depictions of American life in the 1950s and 1960s, but it is this fact that inspires a more enlightened America to look back on his work with admiration and respect. Somewhat ironically, Newton’s life and works represents– from the vantage point of the opening decade of the 21st Century – the very best of a nation that honors the fortitude and independence of its citizens.”


Indeed, Harold Newton cultivated a high sense of serenity. 







Internet archive

This week's mix focuses on the music of West Africa. It's basically a grab bag of various styles from Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Benin, Guinée, Ghana and Cape Verde. I've been very lucky in my years in New York to hear some wonderful music from this region and most importantly, to make some great friends from there. So, this mix is for them. This music starts with the song that first introduced me to African music, Olatunji's classic from 1959. We then hop around the region, getting in some afrobeat from the '70s before focusing on music from the last 15 years. There has been a wealth of musical creativity in the region recently.

Babatunde Olatunji - Jin-Go-Lo-Ba 
Mohamed Bangoura - Sinté 
Ebo Taylor - Heaven 
The Funkees - Ole 
T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - Gbeto Vivi 
King Sunny Ade - Ja Funmi 
Cheikh Lô - M'Beddemi 
Mama Sissoko - Commissariat 
K. Frimpong and His Cubano Fiestas - Hwehwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena 
Cesaria Evora - Petit Pays 
Orchestra Baobab - Coumba 
Habib Koité and Bamada - Batoumambe 
Salif Keita - Moussolou 
Oumou Sangaré - Kayini Wura 
Boubacar Traoré - DJonkana 
Youssou N'Dour - Birima 
Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - Kadi Kadi




Poor Minnie


Here is the story of Minnie The Moocher. For some reason, the video version of the story here excludes the following vital chapter:

She messed around with a bloke named Smokey;
She loved him though he was kokey.
He took her down to Chinatown and showed her

how to kick the gong around. 

Now that we also know about Smokey, let's watch the video:



Folks here's a story 'bout Minnie the Moocher;
she was a red hot hoochie coocher.
She was the roughest toughest frail;
but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale.

Hi de hi de hi de hi
Ho de ho de ho de ho
Hee de hee de hee de hee
Ho oo waooo waoooo


She had a dream about the king of Sweden;
he gave her things, that she was needin'.
He gave her a home built of gold and steel,
a diamond car, with the puh-latinum wheels.

Skeedle-a-booka-diki biki skeedly beeka gookity woop!
A-booriki-booriki-booriki Hoy!

He gave her his town house and his racing horses;
each meal she ate was a dozen courses.
She had a million dollars in nickels and dimes;
she sat around and counted it all, a million times.

Hi de hi de hi de hi
Hi de hi de hi de ho



Poor Min! Poor Min! Poo-oor Min 

 Most African American families and communities have preachers and morticians in them. By the way, preachers and morticians are often intimately connected tone another and are sometimes one and the same. When the, the infirm and old finally succumbs, the preacher and/or mortician extends condolences they promptly asks, “Who’s got the body?” Is there any question as to which of the two, the preacher or mortician, came first during the time of slavery?


St. James Infirmary Joe “King” Oliver, Jimmy Allen, Bubber Miley (t), Jimmy Archey (tb), Bobby Holmes (cl, as), Glyn Paque, unk. (as, ts), Don Frye (p), Arthur Taylor (bjo), Jean Stultz (g), Clinton Walker (tuba), prob. Edmund Jones (d), Carroll Dickerson (vln, dir), Frankie Marvin (vcl) — N.Y.C., 1/28/30


 Louis Armstrong, La Vie En Rose

Your Two Cents Too!






  All That Jass


 Beyond Music Into The Realm of Life Itself



The story of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of a “New World” in 1492 and the more recent affirmation of a “Jazz State of Mind” by Duke Ellington, involve expansions of pre-existing entities.

The date of Columbus’ “discovery,” is significant because historians and their students rely on time and context to establish perspective. The date of Ellington’s affirmation, however is insignificant except for those who argue that “The Jazz State of Mind” could not have existed prior to the lifetimes of Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong and other early masters of the jazz style of music because the word “jazz” didn’t exist prior to its association with their style of making music.

I no longer engage in those arguments.

I’m convinced that Ellington affirmed the existence of something that could, perhaps be understand within the framework of the jazz style of making music, but of a mysterious something that extended well into the broader realm of life itself. 


Consider this: 

And this:

“When I first began my work among the slaves…Frequently they told me that they would wait weeks, after they had decided to run away, waiting for the corn to ripen. As soon as the food supply was available they ran off.,,Men and women who I helped came from Tennessee, requiring weeks to make the journey, sleeping under trees in the daytime and slowly picking their dangerous way at night. How they crossed the numerous creeks that lay waiting for them like a trap was unbelievable to me,” said John Parker in “His Promised Land”

Ideas come to mind by way of a mysterious liaison that occurs somewhere between the fields of unconsciousness/subconsciousness and consciousness producing the feelings, thoughts, desires and dreams that shape our decisions and cause us to do the things we do. 


"Hoka Hey!It is a good time to die!" 


"A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. I was hostile to the white man...we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came...They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight...The Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world; a world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations; a world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again." ((Tashuncahuitco a/k/a Crazy Horse, killed 1877) 


No one knows for certain how many people lived in the “New World” before it was “discovered” by Columbus in 1492. By some accounts the population was more than 100 million.  

A SOCIOLOGICAL VIEW states, however, that when Columbus returned in 1493 with 17 ships “he began to implement slavery and mass-extermination of the Taino population of the Caribbean...Within three years, five million were dead. Fifty years later the Spanish census recorded only 200 living!”

Henry Ramsey writes in “Genocide in the New World” that “for the largely peaceful, content and happy inhabitants of the New World, it was the beginning of the end of life as they knew it. When Columbus first encountered the Caribbean natives, he wrote in his log book of his surprise at how peaceful, naive and seemingly incapable of dishonesty they were. For worthless trinkets or sometimes nothing at all, the natives would cheerfully hand over whatever possessions were asked for, including gold jewelry. Later, anything desired by the Spaniards would simply be taken…It has been estimated that perhaps 100,000,000 people lived in the Western Hemisphere when Columbus arrived, and within a mere hundred years, the population would decline by 70% or more. In some cases local populations declined much more rapidly or became virtually extinct within a few years--especially where they had repeated or continual contact with their new overlords.


  Read more about Wounded Knee and the Medal of Honor


Indeed, John Toland writes in “Adolph Hitler” that Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and uneven combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”


Life is the truest expression of reality. The Holocaust, the Maafa and the "New World" genocide are indeed true. 



ircle of Time



An article on the internet describes time as “a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them.” The article goes on to say that the subject of time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but “defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.”

Defining time may elude some scholars because their perception of time is like a straight line, a neat progression or evolution from the past to the present and on into the future instead of realizing that time is naturally circuitous because we exist in a revolving dimension. 


Hehaka Sapa, the Oglala Lakota Sioux Holy Man who was also known as Black Elk said, “The power of a thing or an act is in the meaning and the understanding.” So it is with time.


Albert Einstein said time is an illusion, however Kahlil Gibran said mysteriously that "the timeless" in us that makes us aware of life's timelessness. Black Elk said: ”Everything an Indian does is in a circle...the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round…The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”


Perchance to Dream


Is a dream an aspiration or an ideal? Or is a dream the series of thoughts, images, and sensations that occur in the mind during sleep? Or is it just an unrealistic self-deluding fantasy? 


Nana's Dream - Featuring Romare Bearden's PATCHWORK QUILT






 December 18, 2012

 We the People Who Kill Our Children?


 So here we go again. 

"Guns don't kill people, people do!" If so, "We the People" of America have a serious problem to be solved because the insanity of extreme violence is clearly on the rise. If not us, then who among us will find a cure for our problems? Who will protect our children from those among us who are insane and need our help?

This video is a musical meditation focused on America, but is inspired by, and dedicated to the memory of the innocent children who were murdered at Sandy Hook, Ct. on 12/14/12 and to the memory of all the children who've died because "We the People" have failed to protect them from ourselves.


Of our children, Khalil Gibran(1883-1931) said:

"Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."





May, 18, 2012


Larry “The Entertainer” Elder Hits the Big Time. Almost





Damn! L.A.’s very own “Sage from South Central,” Larry Elder, who has been entertaining us with a pretty steady stream of peculiar commentaries on the radio for many years, almost hit the big time. 



Almost! According to the New York Times and other media sources, Elder was at the top of the list to get the gig as the “extremely literate conservative African American” spokesman a Republican group needed to “mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the "super PAC" era:" an "attack" on President Obama  in ways "Republicans have so far shied away from.”

According to $10 million plan, a campaign would be launched in time to upend the Democratic National Convention. The campaign would have done “exactly what John McCain would not let us do” and that was to run commercials that would link Mr. Obama to “incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr." (Hmmm. I guess Shawn Hannity's obsession with Rev. Wright didn't get enough play on Fox Cable in 2008)



Alas, the plan was leaked.




So now we may never get to hear an “extremely literate conservative African American” tell us one more time about Jeremiah Wright’s influence on Barack Obama "for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way” or to make sure the world knows that Rev. Wright espouses something called "black liberation theology!” Yikes.




Most of all, we may never have the opportunity to hear an “extremely literate conservative African American” call President Barack Hussein Obama as “a metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” Damn!


Oh well.

All’s fair in love, war and politics. So the proposed 54 page plan came as no surprise to me. I’m just so happy that I’m not so cynically sarcastic in my old age to think that our very own Larry “The Entertainer” Elder ever seriously considered being a “black” spokesman. 


 Yes. Looks like the "circus" has begun. Click here and check it out.


May 16, 2012

Dangerous Disorientation

The resounding echo of “hell no you can’t” and “we want our country back” and other expressions of disapproval and defiance heard today are as dangerous, oppressive and disorienting as the “reverberating silence” James Baldwin said had resulted from the “things unsaid” more than half a century ago.

So we’re talking. We've even elected ourselves a "Black President," but we’re still a long way from coming to grips with our nation's past and who we are as Americans. We've got some things to do before we can rectify our prolonged and dangerous condition of oppressive disorientation.

Fifty years from now, if we continue to reflect only on  the beautiful words of our country’s “Founding Fathers” and the Constitution they crafted from those words, we'll still be plagued by this condition. We must learn that it's OK to also reflect on the plain and often powerful words of those who were oppressed by the founding of our nation; words such as those of the Oglala Lakota warrior and spiritual leader known as Crazy Horse who declared, “my lands are where my people lie buried.”

The resounding echoes of today are painful not only when they reach the ears of Native America people, but also when they reach the ears of African American people who must forever feel the presence and hear the utterances of the spirits of their nameless people who were buried in our nation's inexplicable nightmare of slavery.

(To be continued)


Conscience, the Voice Within

The conscience is like a voice within, a province of the mind that is peaceful and quiet unless it is bothered. And even then, it is soft because it can't be silenced.

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Religious beliefs and their underlying spiritual essences are contained and formalized in and through rituals. Rituals are the concrete signs, symbols, systems, and procedures, etc. used to represent beliefs. Rituals are things people do to express the beliefs that are often misunderstood outside of the ritual's original cultures. People unfamiliar with the rituals of other, with their religious purposes or with the spiritual beliefs they represents, can rarely decipher them.



Indecipherable things are easily misunderstood and therefore as easily denigrated. 

In the book, THE HEALING WISDOM OF AFRICA, Malidoma Some' describes ritual as "the most ancient way of binding a community together in a close relationship with Spirit...Ritual has always been the way of life of the spiritual person because it is a tool to maintain the delicate balance between body and soul."







The Girl Who Came Back From The Dead

A Suhrawardi Teaching Story from The Way Of The Sufi by Idries Shah


In ancient times there was a beautiful girl, the daughter of a good man, a woman among women, rare in her loveliness and in the delicacy of her nature.

When she was marriageable age, three young men, each apparently of the highest capacities and of great promise, sought her hand.

Having decided that they were of equal merit, the father left the final choice to her. But months passed and the girl did not seem to be making up her mind.

And one day she suddenly fell ill. Within a few hours she was dead.

The three young men, united in grief, took her body to a cemetery and buried it in the deepest of silent agony.

The first youth made the graveyard him home, spending his nights there in sorrow and meditation, unable to understand the workings of the fate which had taken her away. The second youth took to the roads and wandered throughout the world in search of knowledge, as a fakir. The third young man spent his time consoling the bereaved father.

Now the youth who had become a fakir, in his journeyings came across a certain place where a man of repute in uncanny arts resided. Continuing his search for knowledge, he presented himself at the door, and was admitted to the table of the master of the house. When the host invited him to eat, he was about to start the meal when a small child started to cry. It was the grandson of the wise man.The sage picked up the boy and threw him into a fire. 

The fakir jumped up and started to leave the house, crying out: ‘Infamous demons! I have had my share of the sorrows of the world already, but this crime surpasses those of all recorded history!’

‘Think nothing of it,’ said the master of the house, ‘for simple things appear otherwise when there is an absence of knowledge.’ So saying, he recited a formula and waved a strange emblem, and the boy walked out of the fire, unharmed.


The fakir memorized the words and the design, and the next morning was on his way back to the cemetery where his beloved was buried.In less time than it takes to tell, the maiden stood before him, fully restored to life. She went back to her father, while the youths disputed as to which of them had earned her hand.

The first said: ‘I have been living in the graveyard, keeping, through my  vigils, contact with her, guarding her spirit’s needs for earthly support.’

The second said: ‘You both ignore the fact that it was I who actually traveled the world in search of knowledge, and who ultimately brought her back to life.’

The third said: ‘I grieved for her, and like a husband and son-in-law I lived here, consoling the father, and helping with his upkeep.’

They appealed to the girl herself, She said:

‘He who found the formula to restore me was a humanitarian; he who looked after my father acted as a son to him; he who lay beside my grave – he acted like a lover. I will marry him.’ 


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Killing Time

Killing time usually means someone is being entertained. One dictionary defines "Entertainment" as “a public performance designed to divert or amuse" and illustrates the idea with the phrase, "Negro orchestras are in demand at white entertainment;" a strange definition indeed, but one that may contain an element or two of truth.  

In THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS Eileen Southern observes: "In the North, black musicians provided much of the dance music for the colonists of all classes. All over the South, slaves played for the dancing of their masters at balls, assemblies, and special ‘Entertainments’ in the plantation ballrooms and palaces of colonial governors." Looks like killing time was, and may still be, mutually beneficial.

Truth is, we all need to kill some time sometime. Who doesn't need to pull down the shade and try to get a reprieve from reality? 




Art is defined in many ways. One of the broadest definitions says art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities. Another says art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the expression or production of aesthetic objects, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture. A work of art may, however, also be musical or literary or in other forms. 

According the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, art and artistic works have existed for “almost as long as humankind from early pre-historic art to contemporary art” adding that “some theories restrict the concept to modern Western societies.”  In saying the word “art” was first used in the 13th century, the Merriam Webster Encyclopedia, perhaps, offers and explanation for that restriction. Some people believe art must be beautiful or be emotionally powerful. The subject of art, its definition, and what it is and is not, will remain open for debate.

From the standpoint of many artists, art is a way of working with ideas that come to mind and stir the imagination opening the mind further to the inspiration that carries them through the creative process.

Art is best defined as a branch of learning. 









The motivation to act may be born in the mysterious field where the collective unconsciousness/subconsciousness and consciousness meet. Acts resulting from such liaison are often so audacious that no one has the power to prevent them from being carried out.

“When I first began my work among the slaves…Frequently they told me that they would wait weeks, after they had decided to run away, waiting for the corn to ripen. As soon as the food supply was available they ran off.,,Men and women who I helped came from Tennessee, requiring weeks to make the journey, sleeping under trees in the daytime and slowly picking their dangerous way at night. How they crossed the numerous creeks that lay waiting for them like a trap was unbelievable to me,” said John Parker in “His Promised Land”



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