Happy Father’s Day 2018

For those of us who are blessed to have fathers and extra blessed to have grandfathers, Father’s Day is a special day.  My brother Wayne and I have been blessed to have a wonderful father who is our #1 cheerleader!  Many of my friends were also raised by outstanding fathers.  I have to say the essential thing that makes a father great is that he complements a mother’s love.  My mom and dad have been complementary for 60 years.  Wayne and Marcia are on their way to similar success.

My father has always exclaimed the importance of mothers.  His relationship with Granny was special and his success is a prime example of what a man can attain with the love and devotion of a great mother.  Wayne and I are blessed to also have such a mother.

Many of the people I’ve met over the years have been raised in single mother households.  My father served as a wonderful example and filled a void for many of my friends who were fatherless or lost their fathers.  Now my father is teaching many of them how to be a grandfather.  As I am 60 years old now (grandfather age), many of my friends are embracing grandfatherdom.  Especially in the black community, grandfathers are a prize and supreme blessing.

We are living in trying times now and witnessing some disturbing things that are happening that go against the values of our forefathers.  Our country is one founded by immigrants and dreamers.  Our country has the reputation of being the place where dreams come true (the “American dream”).  It’s a place that should embrace everyone!  Surely, our immigration laws and policies need to be changed.  People still come and risk their lives to come here because of how we promoted ourselves.  Surely, we can come to a more humanitarian resolution for our current Dreamers and other immigrants.  Our President is supposed to serve as a symbol of the best of what our forefathers envisioned.  Can Donald Trump truly be considered the father symbol of our entire nation?  I THINK NOT!  It’s up to our democratic society to save us from his shortcomings and lead our nation to GREATNESS.

For those of you who are fathers, always strive to be great and look towards your own great examples to figure out how.  Observe and listen to your children and consider their happiness and accomplishments as indicators of how great you’re doing.

Dad, I was blessed to have a great father!  I love you and thank you so much!!

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Mother’s Day 2018

60 years ago, I began the most significant and substantial relationship of my life with my mother (yes, this July 2, I’ll be turning 60 years old).  My relationship with my mom has changed over the years.  My first 17 years, I was dependent on her, my dad, and my grandmother.  My mom encouraged me to overcome my challenges and amplified my strength.  She encouraged me to think about and helped prepare me to go to college to start a more independent and contributory life.  Once I got accepted to Berkeley, she and my grandmother brought me to California.  The next 40 years became a totally blessed and outstanding life.

Through all those years, my mom was always there for me, encouraging me and loving me unconditionally.  Because of her, I gravitated towards people who had similarly great parents.  I have to say that most of my relationships are with people who have been blessed with great moms and great fathers.  Most of you who have read my past emails know about my mom.  I am so proud of the woman that she has always been.  I’m so grateful for all that she has done and all that she continues to do for me.

I appreciate all of you that read my emails and have taken the time to adapt to my life changes and maintain a relationship with me.  I am thankful for all of you and I encourage you to reach out this weekend in one way or another and give your mom the kind of appreciation that she deserves.  For those of you who no longer have your mom, I encourage you to reach out to a sister, cousin, aunt  or friend who has given their all to nurture their child or some children that mean a lot to them.

Happy Mother’s Day.  I love you all!

Always,

DJ

Keschia Potter – The Rebirth of a World Stage Prodigy

Keschia Potter is a jazz saxophonist who I met when she was a teenager at Billy Higgins World Stage Jazz Gallery in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.  She dedicated her life to playing jazz.  Her formal introduction began at Washington High School in Los Angeles.  She was awarded a scholarship to study music at UCLA with a jazz concentration.  Although the saxophone is not typically a girl/female instrument, she liked it and showed an aptitude for it.  She was encouraged by her mentors at the World Stage.

Keschia and her mother have a strong relationship.  Her mother has always been supportive of her music.  Keschia took a brief hiatus from performing approximately 16 months ago to have a 16 month old daughter, who has become her muse in this resurgence.

I love Keschia.  She inspires me and represents everything I love about jazz music.  When I came to Los Angeles from the Bay Area to go to grad school at USC, my friends and I put together a jazz/reggae program.  A local percussionist, Buddy Clark, introduced me to a young saxophonist, Gerald Albright.  Gerald remains a friend of mine.  I love his music.  Keschia reminds me of Gerald.

Keschia is performing at Industry Cafe and Jazz in Culver City (6039 Washington Blvd.) on Thursdays from 7:30-10:30 p.m.  The cafe is a casual eatery and music room and serves house blend coffee, fresh lemonade, and a combination of  American and Ethiopian dishes.  Her set displays a range of styles, from standard classics to her own renditions of contemporary tunes, from Sugar and My Funny Valentine to Grover Washington’s Winelight and a crowd favorite, Mr. Magic.  She also does a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely, no doubt inspired by her daughter.  She has a quartet, which includes her husband on keyboards, a great electric bass player, and a swingin young drummer, who is outstanding!

If you love jazz music, I encourage you to give Keschia and the Industry Cafe and Jazz your support on Thursday nights.

Happy Mother’s Day 2017

Most of you that know me, especially those of you who are on my Contacts list, know how special my mom, my dad’s mom, and my mother’s grandmom have been to me and how they have helped make me the person I have become in this life.  To me, Mother’s Day is the ultimate holiday, and nothing comes close.  That’s been reared in me by the man I most revere, my father, and been shown to me by my mother’s example and the example of friends, family, and associates throughout my life.

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Those of us who have the ultimate blessing of a mother who’s always been there for us and that we can count on are especially responsible to make the most of ourselves as an offering and homage to the contributions our mothers unselfishly and constantly bestowed on us.  I am blessed to say that I know through many examples the important influence a mother has on a person’s life.  Most of you that have read my Mother’s Day messages are aware that I have chanted and testified to this throughout most of my life.

I am also moved this year by my young six year old friend, Peyton Farwell and her older sister Summer, who recently lost their mother, and to all my other good friends (Jeffrey, Brian, Dominic, Leonard, Cardell, George, Lisa, Leslie, Natalie, Peggy, Lance, Jason, Mike, and Roxane) that have also endured the ultimate pain from the loss of a mother.  You are some of the people that I hold most dearly that have shared the experience of a mother’s major influence in their lives, and I thank you for that.  Honestly, the just and loving God that I believe in would take me before my mom.  I pray every day that he will keep my mom alive and happy to continue taking care of my dad, my brother and his family and all those other people we love.

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge those special mothers that I’ve been blessed to know, those friends, family members and nurses that do the WHOLE job, the hardest job, by themselves or with little support from the fathers.  You know who you are and know how special you are to me.  I am in awe of your strength, resilience, and ability to assemble bigger resources to provide what’s needed for your children.  You’re amazing!   All of us know women like this, that take God’s ultimate responsibility on by themselves and raise children that become accomplished, contributing, and successful members of society.  I believe it’s a special responsibility to do what we can to assist and support them and to give their children whatever we can to help them show appreciation for their mothers.

I love all of you and your mothers that I’ve had the opportunity to know.  On this special day, we should take the time to express love and appreciation to the special mothers in our lives and those wives, sisters, cousins, and friends that we know who are doing the best they can to be the best mothers they can be.

Once again, this message is especially dedicated to my sweet Peyton, who will no longer get the opportunity to experience the kind of support and love that we get from our mothers, as well as to those of you who have prematurely said goodbye to those mothers that helped to make you who you are.

God bless all of you!

Much love always,
DJ

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  You all mean something special and important to me.  Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday, but if you believe in love and its importance in your life, it’s a good time to acknowledge the special connection that you share with the people you love and admire.  Love is an essential part of all of our lives.  And we could not live without it in all its various forms.  Take advantage of every opportunity you can to express how you feel about the people you care for.

Love always,
DJ

Election Day

Tues., Nov. 8, is a very big day!  We should be electing the first woman president of the United States.  I believe that Hillary Clinton would do so much more for so many people than her opponent.  I feel like most businessmen, he has an agenda.  He says he wants to make America great again, but he doesn’t have a connection with the masses of people or an understanding of their problems and how our system can create some answers for them.  Please give Hillary a chance and let her do the best she can to continue to fight the Republican Congress and make the lives of the masses more bearable. 

Much love,
DJ

Father’s Day 2016

This has been an extraordinary year, filled with both good and bad.  We said goodbye to Muhammed Ali, who gave us 74 years of the greatest!  Ali, Stevie Wonder, Mandela, and my father have been my guiding lights.  I was blessed to meet the first three briefly in my journey.  Ali and Stevie always treated me with the greatest kindness, which enabled and encouraged me to believe the good things said about them and the outstanding things they accomplished.  Mandela made an extraordinary gesture by acknowledging and greeting me during a major procession when he was being celebrated during his first visit to Los Angeles after being freed in South Africa.  That said something to me about him as well as inspired and encouraged my self-worth.  Gestures make all the difference in who we are and what we mean to other people and society.  Knowing how to accept and interpret gestures makes your relationships more meaningful and satisfying.

My father has made countless gestures to me and my brother and sister in our lives.  They have meant so much to me!  They have given me joy, strength, and encouragement to accomplish.  That’s what fathers and mothers do!  It is important that we do our best to let them know how important those gestures are to us.
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Last week, we saw the first female presidential nominee from a major political party (which happens to be my party).  I am proud and blessed to have witnessed it.  She’s not perfect and I don’t agree with everything she’s done or espoused, but she is so overwhelmingly the best choice for our country.  What she will be able to accomplish will be of benefit to so many more people than the alternative choice.  She is a good friend, a loyal wife, a doting daughter, a good mother, and she is becoming a great grandmother.  These things will help her to become a great president!  Donald Trump is a formidable man but the President needs to be for the people, for the majority of the people. Hillary will be much better!!

I want to acknowledge the loss of life in Orlando.  This is a country where you should be safe, proud, and able to be who you are and express what you like.  It’s unfortunate that so many of my gay brothers and sisters lost their lives or were injured by doing that.  My prayers go out to them and their families and friends.  Ultimately, memories are what we have to satisfy our feelings of loss and help us to reach our best destiny.

This Father’s Day, remember that we all have fathers and mothers given to us by God and we should try our best to remember them, their love, and their sacrifices and be the best people we can be!

Much love always,
DJ