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

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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.
AliCirca1980
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

2016: A Year of Positive, Accelerated Change

Most of you know that I’m a much more spiritual than religious person.  I have my beliefs and my faith that have served me greatly for almost 58 years.  I don’t go to church regularly, but I watch Joel Osteen on occasion.  I’ve seen him twice and I’ve gotten some good sermons from him recently.  One talk in particular proclaimed this year as one of accelerated goodness and healing, and I embrace it, especially for my mom and other members of my family, as they deal with some particularly tough challenges now in their lives.

Those of us from my generation have seen so many wonderful, uplifting, and enlightening changes, living in no doubt the greatest country in the world.  My testimony is that I’ve had a truly blessed, exciting, and wonderful life because of what’s available to people like myself in the USA.  I have always been provided for.  You know how it is when you’re blessed with good parents.  My God started me out with not only the best parents, but also with wonderful siblings, grandmothers, and great grandmoms!  He connected me with the best friends, teachers, professors, and extended family a person could ask for.  He gave me television, computers, ventilators, electric wheelchairs, cars, and airplanes that got me to Cal Berkeley, UCLA and USC, as well as social workers, concerts, cultural events, and political awareness.  What a life I’ve had SO FAR.

Thankfully, my mom has survived three surgeries for her back this year.  She’s presently back at home with my dad and on the mend.  Hopefully, we’ll be seeing her in California sometime this spring.  I haven’t seen her since last June.  Although we talk frequently (daily), I miss that uplifting and rejuvenating energy that a child gets (no matter what age) from an unconditional mom’s love.  She’s truly my earthly life source, like a car generator.  We need to be together to charge each other up.  My lifelong friend Robin, who I love dearly, had a similar back surgery and is recovering in her upstairs apartment in the valley.  She’s my most faithful/spiritual friend (Hyacinth, you’re a close second).  I wish I could do even more to help my mom and Robin during their recoveries.  I’m sure though that prayers and good thoughts have carried both of these women through their challenging surgeries and in this accelerated year, will bring them better health and more comfortable mobility.  They both have many people dependent and reliant on their positivity to make it through!

Other than visiting her children and grandchildren on the west coast, my mom has a really chaotic and desperate election to get involved with.  This electoral season needs her experience, wisdom, and influence desperately!  My bias leads me to believe that some accelerated change is needed, given the mockery that Donald Trump and the Republican party are making of this critical election.  I believe Democrats have two better candidates.  They almost cancel each other out though, harping on their differences and jockeying for the lead position.  Sanders has many great ideas, but America is a democratic state, “supposedly.”  Sanders will have even worse luck dealing with a Republican Congress to get his ideas and policies implemented.  Like Barack Obama (whose journey to the White House and grace through pressure and prejudice I have been so blessed to share and observe), Bernie, a Jewish-American, would make history were he to win the election.  Yet Bernie has been in politics for years, with marginal positive impact.  Although he will have familiarity with the political process, his voice will be muted and his effect will be diminished by the conflicting Republican reality.

Of course Hillary has her issues too.  While super intelligent, she’s also sometimes stubborn and doesn’t always connect as well with the electorate at large.  Yet she’s connected to the best part of the establishment and most importantly, she’s a woman and we need that change right now.  I think America can be made better by her representing some of the more positive female leaders of the past and present in the world.  I hope that the electorate gives her a vote of confidence, knowing she’s a positive piece of clay that can be molded into something extraordinary if given the chance.  The alternatives we can’t afford.

Now is the time that we need some positive accelerated change to make our domestic and international positions more secure and help us achieve a more just society.  We need a forward thinking administration to address real problems in our country and save the lives of men, women and children in dire need.  We need to affirm the right to equality for men, women, and children of all kinds.  That’s what our president and our electoral system is supposed to be about.   We need a president that can encourage the electorate to vote in better senators and congressmen and women as well as local politicians so they can deal more effectively with local matters such as the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan.  I remember Jesse Jackson saying when he was running for President that America “can be better than this.”  I embraced it then and I still believe it now.

Barack has done some great things, Obamacare, same-sex marriage, among others.  He is now perhaps in the midst of his greatest political fight and challenge as he tries to achieve political cooperation in order to select a moderate Supreme Court justice who will be accepted collectively and will look at the Constitution as the great document that it can be, not the conservative restrictive document that it’s being presently interpreted as.  Hopefully, we’ll get a Supreme Court that will even more fully champion equality and civil rights for everyone.  If he isn’t able to win this fight, hopefully our next President will be able to achieve this vision.

Lastly, some congratulations are in order.  First, to Peyton Manning.  I guess it wasn’t Cam Newton’s time to reign victorious over the NFL.  God willing, he’ll have other times, like other great quarterbacks have.  Peyton is a great example of overcoming challenges to receive destiny.  And also, congratulations to my friend Brian on finding a house where he can hopefully find great happiness and inclusiveness, which he deserves.  He’s so great to me!

Thanks for listening to my opinions and hopes for the future.  I love all of you for sticking with me, reading me, and encouraging me to keep going.  Your prayers and positive thoughts are highly effective.  I love all of you!

Always,
DJ

Mothers mean so much!

Our mothers have taught us how to love ourselves and others.  They’ve been there for us and they’ve taught us how to be there for others we care about.  They’ve been examples and shown us how to live with the best and the worst of times.  We’ve also seen them endure hardships of their own and those of the people they care about.  One of the first and most consistent lessons that I learned from the man I admire most in my life, my father, was to always care for, support, and revere my mother (“you only get one” he would say).  He not only told me that but he showed me how by the way he loved and supported my grandmother.

All of you that read my messages, check out my Facebook, or view my webpage know how much my mother and grandmothers mean to me.  My mother has been a great source of support, love, strength, and kindness my entire life.  Despite the challenges that come from growing older, retirement, and helping her children through their different difficulties, my mom continues to set a stellar example of grace, dignity, intelligence, and kindness for me, my brother, and her grandchildren.  Even though it’s time for her to focus on herself and her needs, my mother continues to call me twice a day and interact with my friends and caregivers, making sure that I’m being taken care of.  She’s also in constant touch with my brother to make sure that he, his wife, and their children are OK, happy, and well taken care of.

My mom’s been having a particularly difficult time with her health these last couple of years.  We’ve all been supporting and praying for her as she continues to fight head on these challenges to reach a healthier and happier place in her life.  Nothing makes me more proud of my father and my brother than the way they are supporting my mom.  I’d appreciate all of you that read this to think a blessed thought of healing and contentment for my mom at this time, as I do for all of you.

Those unable to have a good relationship with their mother spend much of their life trying to fill that void.  Those who have lost their mothers realize how difficult it is to cope, especially without faith.  I have a friend who recently lost her mother, who was supportive and dedicated to her and her children throughout their lives.  I have another friend who recently lost his wife, the mother of his children.  He continues to represent her memory by being the kind of father and grandfather to their children and grandchildren that we would all cherish.

What I’m trying to say is, no matter what, a good mother, like a faithful God, is the gift that keeps giving.  Although we should do it more often, I think we should take this time to extend our appreciation, love, affection, and gratitude to that person that we mean so much to.

I love you guys!  Thanks for reading.

Recognition of Effort is Important

DJ Riley

Wynton  and jazz have been important to me since the mid 1970s.  Whether it’s because of my tenaciousness and help from friends or my radio connections at the schools I went to, I’ve been able to get backstage for years and stay in touch with musicians, particularly jazz musicians.  It’s music that’s older than me.  But ever since George Benson’s “Masquerade” and “Breezin” and Grover Washington’s “Mr. Magic,” I’ve been hooked on it and connected with it, like I have with Motown and the R&B classics from the 1960s to the 21st century.  Getting a chance to meet the “young lions,” the practitioners of jazz and soul music (a term Wynton uses), has given me a particular love, energy, and connection.  A lot of these young guys that have connected with this timeless music have inspired and motivated me to keep active and involved, just like the Civil Rights movement that I was born into.

Wynton is a very busy, intelligent, and participant individual that I’m proud to know and blessed to be able to make the effort to go and see.  It makes me particularly proud to know that he still thinks of me and is pleased with the relationship that we’ve cultivated and what I’ve been able to bring to his life and the music.  I’m particularly happy to get this message today, since I’m embarking on a weekend long vigil to support the Roy Hargrove quintet, who are in town at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood.  Roy Hargrove is my second favorite jazz musician, whose dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm I’ve enjoyed since I’ve seen him when he was 17 at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland some years ago.  He’s as talented in every facet of the music as Wynton and Branford Marsalis and just as dedicated.  I’m pleased to have watched his career evolve and I look forward to sharing it with my jazz comrades in L.A. this weekend.

I love all these guys for the respect and dedication and commitment that they’ve made to our musical culture and the respect and warmth they’ve shared with me this past 30 something years.

Much love always,
DJ

Valentine’s Greeting

Happy Valentine’s to all of you that I love and who love and keep positive thoughts for me. I didn’t get a chance to send you all my usual New Year’s message. Things change and I haven’t been able to coordinate it. Me and my boy Brian are working on a different schedule these days. But he still keeps me in touch.

I’m so thankful to be here in 2015! My mom’s back is not where she would like it to be yet. She’s planning on visiting later this month, and I’m so happy. I’m looking forward to seeing her and my dad. It’s a big year for my family. My brother’s boys are both graduating, Tommy from high school, and Jordan from middle school. We’re so proud of both of them. I’m looking forward to being a part of that celebration, if everything works out. They know I love them so much.

Valentine’s Day is a special day for me. It’s a day of love. My life has been blessed and graced with love from so many people in so many places. My love for music, especially jazz and old school R & B, keeps me invigorated. I’m hoping we get some more from both this year in L.A. and I get a chance to get out and see it and be part of helping to keep those great traditions alive.

I’ll be 57 this July and I’m thankful! I’m looking forward to it. It’s the power of love and prayer that’s keeping me here. I can feel it! Keep thinking good thoughts for me. Write me, call me, and come and visit when you have a chance. I’m making every effort to stay as vital as I can, so I can be contributory and helpful to you when we make our connection. I love you very much. Thanks for everything! Stay in touch!

Again, Happy Valentine’s. I hope you were able to share it with people you love!

Always,
DJ

Catching Up

My good friend Brian came by to see me last week, so I got a chance to get on email.  So much has happened recently.  President Obama is still catching hell from the Republicans.   He’s traveling around trying to get some more Democrats in the House and maintain the Senate in the mid-term election.  It doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to get to see him while he’s President.  The process is so involved.  I’m hoping my friend Steve will connect us when he comes to L.A. after his term is over.  Looking forward to meeting him and Michelle at some point.  That’s one of my goals.

So many things are happening with ISIS, trying to keep a consortium of countries together, working to resist their development.  I believe that we’ll be able to do it, but I fear they will bring us some more challenges in the near future.
Ebola is another international issue that we have to stay on top of.  I was watching Dr. Oz on Wendy Williams, and he was saying it doesn’t spread without physical contact and body fluid exchange, similar to the AIDS virus.  It’s going to create challenges for West Africa, the U.S., and the world because people are so fearful and stereotypes keep us suspicious of each other.  We have to get past that to deal with Ebola, AIDS, and ISIS.  I believe that we can.

I’m sorry to see that Attorney General Holder had to resign.  I’m happy that he’s putting into motion some reforms that could improve community relations between minority communities and police.  I wish he was going to be here a while longer so he could see some of the reforms materialize.  I’m worried about the replacement that will be chosen to take his place and whether he/she will be as dedicated in dealing with these issues.

I was also disappointed that Leon Panetta wrote a book challenging some of Obama’s decisions on international policy.  I guess they had disagreements so he decided to write a book expressing some of them around the time of the elections and before Obama’s term was over.

I’ve had a chance to check out some jazz recently and attend the Watts Tower Jazz Festival.  I saw some friends in the music business whom I’ve known for some time.  I’m so thankful to be able to get out to see my music and stay in touch with my friends and to keep connecting with what’s happening.  Watching football and basketball keeps me connected to a lot of my friends.

My mom and dad are taking care of each other while my mom rehabilitates from her back surgery.  I love them so much!  I love my brother and his family as well as my brother Baron and his daughters and mother.  I also love staying in touch with all of you.  Your messages and your calls mean a lot to me.  Remember I’m here for you.

Looking forward to the upcoming holidays.  Check out the TV shows from the new season.  And don’t forget to vote!