“We Dem Boyz!”

wiz

Happy Hump Day, All!

So, how are your weeks going so far? As for me, I am staying focused … things change … I adjust and adapt. Then, I start again. Each day is a new opportunity for me … just to be the best that I can be.

Do you know what “We dem Boyz!” means? I am sure that there is no single correct definition for it. Yet, for me, it means we are friends who share some important things in common. “Those are the guys!” Oh!! “Yeah, we dem boyz!!”, as the title of a song on the latest Wiz Khalifa CD goes. It is so interesting to watch people change depending on who they are talking to or who they are dealing with. That is a skill that I haven’t really mastered because I try to be myself … the same person … in as many situations as possible. For me, I don’t have to remember a lie I told nor who I told it to … nor do people have to guess how I might handle a situation … except those who don’t really “know” me … I think all of us may have a group of friends that we identify with … “Our Boys”!

I still enjoy all kinds of music and fondly remember back when I played trombone in elementary school at Rochambeau. I played in both the band and the orchestra; I had standing solos in the orchestra at the school auditorium and even marched with the band in the streets of the City of White Plains for a Memorial Day Parade or two! I went to music school … on scholarship … at the County Center for several summers. I learned to play drums, basic piano while I studied trombone at the Summer Music School there at the Westchester County Center. I truly love music … I have an ear for it … the different sounds and melodies of everything ranging from classical music to fusion jazz … even hip hop and some pop music. When I taught and lived in Cali, Colombia, I embraced even more salsa music as well as the horn arrangements on some of the popular music in Colombia. I had played trombone with a group in White Plains first called “Inner City Funk”, then our name changed to “The Whole Damn Family”! That’s because several of the members were actually married, had children together … and so on and so on. I was the “head of the horn section” and played a mean cowbell with a sawed off pool stick!! We had 13 well blended “pieces”, including three female vocalists, congas and timbales played by Frank Jones. We were “bad”, Baby! “We wuz dem boyz!”

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to “Mr. 305″ aka Pit Bull and “FLO Rida”, two of the Miami area’s rappers who try to keep it positive … keeping it “real”, so to speak. I often listen to rap music and hear lyrics that I am SURE some of the youngsters emulate. So that’s why me and EE are out here, too, just to let them know that there are options. Pick a good role model, let the “young people” be young people. Yet, dare to show them options of how to be “spiritual people”, too, without shoving it down their throats. Some of us “oldsters” can use an occasional attitude adjustment every now and then, too. Have a great Hump Day!

Peace,

John I. Cook

The Global Citizen’s Initiative

gci

Happy Monday, All!

How were your weekends? I hope they went well. You know, life has it’s ups and downs and twists and turns … as many of us sometimes learn … So, I keep going with the flow, that’s how I roll!

Saturday night, as I went from channel to channel (I don’t have the onscreen “insert” on my Mom’s old tv!), I noticed that there were some “stars” like Alicia Keys, Jay Z and Beyonce, The Roots and a few other talented musical groups. There was also the Prime Minister from India and the female Prime Minister of Norway on the program talking about their commitments from their countries towards ending “extreme poverty” by the year 2030! I think that they’re referring to “world poverty” because India’s Prime Minister promised to get a toilet for everyone in India by a certain year, which escapes me … but it’s in the near future. Then, Norway’s Prime Minister pledged something like $250 million USD annually towards making improvements “world wide” to end extreme poverty. What a concept, heh?!

Sunday morning as got ready for yoga, I watched a couple of tel-evangelists … Steve Alessi from Metro Church in Miami and Joel Osteen out of Houston, TX. Their messages were similar to mine from last week about “miracles”, regarding those of “us” who may not have been treated so well in our lives, had some bad breaks – nasty divorce, job loss, serious health issues … and need a “miracle”. They both suggested that “one’s time will come” when the angels do their magic in your life OR … that person comes along with that opportunity that you need. Our Creator is working to bring those things to those of us who mayn’t have fared so well! Beautiful concept, too, isn’t it!? And as I stated, one’s got to believe in miracles … in order for them to come true!

So, The Global Citizens Initiative is a huge movement seeking to deal with the major core issues to bring basic “humanity” to the entire world! There is a lot of support for the Initiative and one can join free and become more aware of their initiatives. In closing, I just wanted to mention a story that I saw on “60 Minutes” in addition to the close up on the POTUS with questions and answers. Very very enlightening. The story that I am referring to is one about a boot camp that convicted persons can attend to eliminate lengthy prison sentences. While it was intense and interesting, I think that most boot camps have been closed down in Florida after the death of that teen-aged boy at a boot camp here in Florida a few years or so ago when the young man died after being told to run by guards, and, when he didn’t (and couldn’t!), they attacked him. He lost consciousness and died. This “camp” on “60 Minutes” had a few success stories and seems to be trying to rid “boot camp” options to prison of that negative stereotype for being mis-managed! Do what you can to be a “global citizen”. Reach out and help someone … touch someone … even inspire someone when you can!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Are Miracles Real . . And Worth Waiting (Working) For?!

my miracle

Happy Friday, y’all!

Sure … I got this … T.G.I.F.! Okay, your turn!! Is there anyone or anything that you want to thank for being here today? Go for it!

There is no wonder that I was a sociology major in college … I love people! I love observing them … and us … to note how we behave in certain circumstances. I like learning about others and what makes THEM tick. Of course, I often take a close look at myself and how my life may be a lesson for others. Yet, there are some things that happen in life that one cannot explain! The best moments are those when listening to explanations by humans … of a clear miracle, definitely “caused” by something “greater than ourselves”. Now, it could even be a conglomerate of “persons, places and things” beyond our understanding … unless you believe! In what?! In miracles!

Okay, here is my first example. How many of us remember the homeless woman being beaten by a California State Trooper near Fresno that was caught on video by some motorists passing by? How many of you thought that the trooper would get away “scott free”? I did … for a moment. Then I thought to myself, “If justice is not served HERE, it cannot be properly served anywhere in these here United States!!” It was served! Not only did the woman NOT die nor suffer any serious injuries, she was awarded $1.5 million dollars!! Take it and twist it however you wish … but … she cleaned up nice, and hopefully, will do much better with the earnings from the law suit. Do you believe in such miracles?!

Here’s a second one, though I “twisted” it a bit to fit the “miracle” category. Just a few days ago, another incident with a South Carolina state trooper took place … and was caught on camera! It was when the trooper had stopped an African American man and talked to him a bit and finally told him to get his license. The man went into his car to retrieve his license with the door opened … and him unarmed … yes, again … UNarmed! When he turned around to show the trooper his license, who happened to be a young white male, the trooper began discharging his firearm at the black man who immediately put his hands up. He was hit by the trooper’s bullets … twice maybe … and didn’t die, or er uh … and wasn’t killed! MIRACLE!!

Okay, here’s the last one … and again, I twisted it a bit so you can see the miracle. Four middle school boys in Miami brought “guns” to school. One had a gun in his waist band at school and another had a LOADED gun in his backpack … AT SCHOOL!! When I witnessed the photographs on the news of the young men being taken into custody, I saw how small and frail these young black boys were!!! Wow!!! Here’s the miracle …. Other students at the school reported what they had seen and heard … IMMEDIATELY!! Administration was alerted, police and their dogs were called in and the middle school in Miami was shut down. Parents worried for their children’s safety and many tried to get into the building, but to no avail. Yet, NO ONE was killed … not even a shot fired!! The youth were arrested and taken to a juvenile facility. May they learn to study and live at school without guns!

The choice is yours … to believe … or not to believe. I believe in miracles … look at US!

Peace,

John I. Cook

“Carry On!”

keep calm carry on

Happy Hump Daaaaayyyy, Yeahhh!

Mid week isn’t so bad either. I mean … it could be Monday again?!!!

First things first … So, in my last e-mail/piece, I wrote something that an old college chum brought to my attention when he asked if I wanted to write “White Public Schools … ” or “White PLAINS High School”. So, I told him that it was supposed to be “White Plains …” and that it was not a Freudian slip!! Thank you Lloyd Lawrence, Esquire! White Plains was very progressive, integrated its school district upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) which also called for the desegregation of public schools. White Plains was not just “white” and sought to include ALL the members of that community when possible. Of course, we had our racial tensions, too, and the High School erupted into a “riot zone” around the time I attended St. Paul’s School (1969 – 1972) in Concord for prep school! It was … and is not … a perfect City but I don’t knock White Plains High School.

It appears that our lives move in cycles. Ultimately, our bodies expire. Do you believe that YOU have a soul? A spirit? Or do you believe that when this physical existence ends … so do YOU? This is something that most people don’t contemplate … until the end. I remember when my mother was struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease, though I didn’t think she was on her “death bed”, she would often scribble things in a little Bible that I gave to her when I had completed this “program” I was attending. I still have it … it is underneath the small computer table in my living area. There are some meaningful words that she scribbled in it … including the day that I gave her the Bible … July 12, 1990 … one day before my birthday! She also had written in the rear cover: “The Shadow of Death … 9 – 14 … John 14 1 – 2 Transformat Heart”. She kept this little Bible with her … and I retrieved after her passing. Peace be still …

A gentleman that I have never met in person who graduated from Princeton and played football there, Mr. Steve Williams, suddenly passed away over this past weekend. I know that there are a lot of “Princetonians” (and non-!) who knew Steve personally, some enjoyed his splendid photographs, as did I, that he had posted on social media from time to time. He owned and operated his own video production business. His passing, too, was unexpected … as was my mother’s when she fell and hit her head during the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. This caused her brain to bleed internally … and went undetected until she fell into a coma. I guess that all I am trying to say is … “What do you think your loved ones would want you to do once they pass on?” I suggest: “Carry On!” in a most respectful and spiritual manner, making and keeping their lives an integral part of yours!! After all, we ALL are connected!

Peace be with each of you,

John I. Cook

“The Black Holocaust”

chained

It’s Monday … yes, it is! Let’s get this week started, okay?!?

True … it is the first day of Fall 2014. Temperatures are changing in some areas as the rain continues to pelt South Florida …. making it a tad bit cooler!! Still, I have a lot of gratitude today … just because! Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the International Day for World Peace at an event hosted by the Brahma Kumaris Hollywood Meditation Group. It was held at the Hillcrest Country Club Hollywood, FL. It was very memorable as singers sang, flutist fluted, meditations and music filled the air there as we overlooked the golf course from the event room. It was also the “Day of Gratitude” and the first “People’s Climate March” held in New York City, which was attended by 100,000 people there! “People do make the world go ’round!”

Most of you know that I taught history in the White Plains Public Schools System for 10 years. I often had occasion to add tidbits of history lessons that weren’t in our books. And, as Sandy Nobles says about the Black Holocaust, “It’s something that you won’t find in your children’s history books … not because it didn’t happen, but because it was one of the most horrific events in human history!” Now, I don’t write this piece to play “one up-manship”. I am writing it to shed some light on a subject that has been tucked away from human memory for so long.

The event was held at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center where Dr. Edmond Abaka, associate professor in the history department at the University of Miami also has an art work exhibit which is part of his new book, “House of Slaves and The Door of No Return”. This book is quite remarkable in that it pulls together so much “unwritten” history about the castles and dungeons that sprang up along the “Gold Coast” of Africa in Ghana. When one has the chance to see the fortifications built in Africa by Portuguese and Dutch slave traders, not to mention to “tools” used to transport the slaves to “the door to no where” on the Atlantic Ocean where they were transported for many many years across the ocean to America, one can truly see the crimes against humanity. This was truly an inhumane system of “chattel” (property) slavery. It was as dehumanizing as it can get!! Dr. Abaka mentions in his book, “Even the routes of sharks across the Atlantic Ocean had changed, since they, too, followed the slave ships to get that “free meal” of a human who could not make it to no where!” …. Peace be still!

There were others who participated in this event directed by Ms. Sandra “Nefertari” Nobles, retired guidance counselor from Broward County Schools, which has been designated as an official “Black Holocaust Memorial Commemoration” Day in Fort Lauderdale! My hat goes off to you, “Sandy”, and all the hard work you put in. Dr. Abaka’s book is available now since its release on September 10th, 2014, and his exhibit is in the African American Research Library and Cultural Center for another week, I believe. Thanks to all who participated … It was a great lesson!

Have a great week. Be inspired by others who paved the way for us …

Peace,

John I. Cook

Still . . . “Stop The Violence”!

family yoga

Happy Friday, y’all! “Yes, yes, y’all!” T.G.I.F.!!!

Somehow, the weekends seem like mini-vacations to me sometimes. Now, I still go to the gym … maybe teach or write something … usually able to find something “enlightening” for me … hang out downtown FTL at “The Club House” even!! But when I have some great things to do like I have this weekend, I feel rather grateful!!

First of all on Saturday afternoon from 1pm – 5pm, one of my sister Edna’s friend, Sandy Noble also from New York and a retired Broward County Schools employee, is having a “Black Holocaust” event at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk Blvd. It seems that there will be a variety of education and entertainment (dancing and drumming and spoken word) there. I plan to attend. Then on Sunday, there is a World Peace Meditation at Arts Park in Young’s Circle here in Hollywood, FL, from 6 – 7:30pm. It is sponsored by some very good friends from the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Group Hollywood including Roz Reich. I understand that Sister Veronica who leads BK Florida will be in attendance, if not at the Miami BK Center! Looking forward to it.

Now you all know how much I have advocated attempts … every and all … to “Stop the Violence” and seek to share my meagre knowledge and “takes” on issues and events. I just like to keep myself thinking about improving human relations and inviting any interested others to read with me … and chime in, too! These next two “stories” are horrific at minimum. Over a week ago on the weekend, a young man came to his mother’s home in Davie to find her murdered in the bathroom with multiple stab wounds. She is a member of the famous “Halliburton family” and was married to a renown professor. The entire families mourn their unnecessary loss, though the murderer, a 20 year old convict of multiple home invasion cases, was finally found hiding at his girlfriend’s home in Sunrise, FL. He is clearly being charged with murder.

The most horrific incident that I’ve heard of lately was just a few days ago in Belle, FL, Gilchrist County, just 30 miles from Gainesville, FL. A father of a young woman fatally shot his own daughter and her six … yes SIX … children … ranging in age from three (3) months to ten years of age! According to Gilchrist County Police, this is not the first time that they responded to a call at that home for some sort of domestic violence. This time, it was for murders! As the police closed in on the father, Don Charles Spirit, he turned the weapon on himself and committed suicide. I just don’t understand the ease with which some folks commit cold blooded murder, especially on innocent children!!!

As difficult as it may seem, we must each do our part to “Stop the Violence” … yes, even while living in a world seemingly full of violence.

Peace be with you!

John I. Cook

Another Love Affair Gone Wrong?!?

R & J

Happy Hump Day …. yeahhhh!

As the school year continues and hurricane season looms in The Tropics, the POTUS authorizes and conducts air strikes against ISIL forces and is gaining support from many nations to challenge the terrorists in that region. So much going on while we live our personal lives to the fullest. Is anyone feeling any anxiety regarding the international arenas? How about in your own “hometown” arenas?? Is there anything “poppin'”?

Here in SoFlo, it seems that another love affair has gone wrong. Last weekend when Tanya Gonzalez, an employee at “Mojito Hut” in Bayside near the AA Arena, had finished shopping with her aunt at the Dolphin Mall or thereabouts in Miami, she and her aunt said good-bye for the last time. Tanya is … er uh … was a very attractive 28 year old Latin American woman that was very close with her family, including her biological father who flew down from the New York/New Jersey area as well as her mother’s “new” husband in Miami, who suddenly disappeared from the family’s radar. After that shopping trip with her aunt, she was supposed to go home and then meet up later with her aunt. That never happened. She also didn’t show up for work on Monday either. Suspicions rose and the ex-boyfriend, Roy Blanco, became the prime person of interest. Various reports had he and his mother renting a car for “work” first; then they rented a small watercraft that they were supposed to keep in the waters of Miami. Soon after, Blanco, the small boat then out of gas, a Siberian huskie and his mother were found in Key West hanging around an open field.

The search continued for Tanya as family members feared the worse when calls to her cell phone had gone straight to voice mail. No one had heard from her and soon … the ex-boyfriend and his erratic behavior, including the aforementioned car and boat rentals, drew suspicion. Neighbors near that field in Key West called the police to investigate the trio’s strange behavior in that field. As officials closed in, people in the area took note of Blanco’s mother’s behavior. One local gent described her facial expression as one that had seen a ghost! Soon, Blanco emerged from the woods wielding a knife, saying nothing to officials, and stabbed himself in the stomach. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but to no avail. His self inflicted wounds proved fatal.

Tanya Gonzalez’s new model BMW was found in Miami … with a body in the car. It was Tanya Gonzalez … What?!?! Now, amidst the grieving process, the family is also left with trying to figure out what happened, not to mention understand WHY this happened. Blanco and Tanya had been considered “exes” by the family, friends and media. So many co-workers,, friends and family members described Tanya as a very caring and peaceful person, responsible and close with her family … and now gone! Blanco’s mother was taken to a local hospital and is expected to be okay … and may be facing charges, depending on what the investigation unfolds. It just goes to show, as Tanya’s biological father wept and said, “Love your children every day! Hug them and kiss them … tell them how much you love them. Keep them safe . . .”

Peace,

John I. Cook

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