On this Thanksgiving I would like to extend gratitude to those that have supported my book thus far. Within the past 5 days, it has made the Amazon Best Seller’s List! Thank you kindly. I look forward to the 350 page soft/hard copy edition being released within the next few weeks.
Today I went to Temple. It was so nice to be surrounded by a community that welcomes compassion and wisdom into their teachings. As I entered the Shrine…I noticed a beautiful Japanese garden amidst the thick fog. It was so peaceful. The temple is led by a Jodo Shinshu (Pure-Land Buddhism) minister, Rev. Usuki. He was born in Kagoshima, Japan. I appreciated his words so much today in regard to practicing loving-kindness towards self before extending it to others. It is important not to forget self. The best thing one can do is be kind to themselves, be gentle, and push forth…Whenever I read or hear Rev. Fumiaki Usuki messages it just brings it all back down to the reason(s) to live in the here and now; avoid the suffering of thinking of yesterday or what tomorrow will bring.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment-Buddha
I also like his comment on a question posed to him by a student. “Do you practice vegetarianism?” A) “Vegetarianism is a misconception in my belief. It was introduced only around 200 years ago and was not part of what Sakyamuni Buddha taught or practiced 2,6000 years ago. We can not live without something being killed or taken, even plants and vegetables. So vegetarianism is an ideal way for one to be mindful of life.”
I wanted to extend a Thank You Kindly to one of the best people I welcome to know, cousin Susan. She always has been so gracious and supportive. I wish her well. My family Loves her, as do I. This is my dedication to you.
Incidentally, her father, Edwin L. Jefferson, was the first African-American Justice appointed to the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District in Division Four. Every time I share this history with my children they feel so excited. Hearing stories of their ancestors really instill a lot of drive in the children. They imagine anything to be possible, as they should. Jocque even said that he wants to be “President,” but, Lourdes tells him that he will have to wait, because she will be first! Out of the mouths of babes…
This is a guest post by Misterfengshui. He has been a very supportive force in my life for over 12 years. I thank you kindly Master Kerby Kuek. He has published nine books on feng shui. He specializes in yin and yang feng shui, I-Ching, life analysis and astrology.
Website: www.misterfengshui.com Be well my friend…
The Goat and Turtle Race
Once upon a time, there was a goat who challenged a turtle to a race. The turtle agreed to race him the next day.
Before the race, the overconfident goat looked down at the turtle and said: “You are never going to beat me as I am much faster than you.” The turtle replied: “Say no more and let the race begin.”
Just after the starting point, the goat asked: “Where are you turtle? You are nowhere to be found.” A voice in front of him replied: “Here. You’d better catch up.”
The goat ran faster and after a while, he asked again: “Where are you turtle?” Again, the voice of the turtle came out from the woods:”You better catch up, I am in front of you.”
The goat started to falter in his rhythm and lose his confidence.
He continued to run as fast as he could, but by the time he reached the finishing point, the turtle was already there.
The goat was distraught and his confidence had completely evaporated.
How did the turtle do it?
Before the race began, he had lined up his family members from the starting point till the finishing line.
Moral of the story: Intelligence is better than speed!
Thought for the week: Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate -We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually will pass – Zhuangzi
Today we enjoyed the 29th Annual Abbot Kinney Art, Food, Music, and Craft Festival. A massive amount of folks were there. I didn’t snap too many shots of the area because of the volume of foot traffic, but it was fun. There were so many nooks to hook into that we initially just walked and walked and walked, taking it all in. The Abbot Kinney Festival Association (AKFA) usually expect well over 120,000 people to roam the area. There was such an eclectic mix that I felt right at home.
According to the brochure, the festival has become one of the largest events within its industry. For families, the association set up a huge Kids-Quad zone. Our children had so many choices in which to pick from, it was great. The food was priced just right and all the boutiques looked so inviting along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. One of the best things is that the crowd kept moving along in a steady pace. The whole set up looked so clean and organized.
You know, as a youth, my mother and I use to put on these type of events from scratch to finish. A lot of preparation goes into planning for things to run smoothly. I use to spend hours and hours at such causes. I couldn’t wait to leave. However, now as an adult, I find myself feeling so in my element when I attend them. It’s great when the money made can be reinvested within the community or go to other worthy purposes.
The goal of the event is to raise funds that reinvest back into the community to support the youth , families, art, and beautification within the niche. “Since 1984, well over $275,000 in Festival proceeds have been invested into the community of Venice.” The only salt was the parking. They were trying to charge way too much. Who wants to pay $25.00 a pop in order to attend a FREE event? Nevertheless, we found an area away from it all and just walked to the event. The children got all their energy out for the day by doing so. I would defiantly recommend this festival to anyone interested in spending a day enjoying some unique exhibitors, art galleries, clean food trucks, you name it. Incidentally, our family does not restrict our diet to only Ital food. But, I even came across a strictly vegan Jamaican cuisine spot. What a surprise.
Until next time…Bless up.
This weekend, after visiting the TarFest Music and Art Festival, I ventured out to spend my Saturday night in Chinatown to help celebrate the 75th Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. The energy of the evening was diverse and explosive. All ages and ethnicities enjoyed the cultural performances, moon cake sampling, workshops, and moon viewing from telescopes. I could tell that Fall was in the air from the chill of the night. Now, I don’t believe in coincidences, however, one of the volunteers called up to sample a moon cake said that her name was Zenobia! Now imagine that.
Incidentally, this area, where the festival was held, is considered “New Chinatown,” formed in 1938. In fact, in the early 20th century, this part of Los Angeles was called Little Italy. Actually, the original Chinatown was first established in 1880 near Alameda and Macy Street, where the current Union Station and the Mexican-themed Olvera Street are. At the time the original Chinatown existed there was even a Chinese Opera House. However, by the early 1900′s this part of town began to decline and redevelopment started to occur at its present location. It took about 40 years to reestablish the project elsewhere. Consequently, the only reminder of the old Chinatown near Union Station is the Chinese American Museum. I will have to take a visit to that area to show you around.
Nevertheless, the New Chinatown is a blend of a Chinese-American theme. It’s so colorful and beautiful to me. I love to see all the lantern style lights glow at night. I’ve always admired the architecture of Central Plaza. One can say that it’s the Hollywood version of Shanghai. In fact, did you know that Chinatown Los Angeles was designed by Peter Soo-Hoo and Hollywood film set designers? Now isn’t that something? In addition to the exotic style buildings there, I love the public art. One statue that caught my eye in particular was of Guan Yin. She was everywhere, and I loved it. She is the Bodhisattva associated with compassion.
Another piece that caught my eye was a Bruce Lee Statue that had its unveiling just this past June of 2013. I’ve long admired this great Kung Fu Master for his skill of the art and philosophical thinking. He believed that any knowledge ultimately led to self-knowledge. His influences involved Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism. Consequently, Bruce Lee was a well-known atheist. He was born in Chinatown San Francisco under the Chinese zodiac of both the hour and the year of the Dragon. Also, did you know that his father was an Opera singer and actor? You know, as a youth I can remember watching Lee and Jim Kelly in the movie Enter The Dragon. Incidentally, Kelly was the first African-American martial arts film star that went on to make many other movies.
The last time that I was in Chinatown was for Chinese New Year. If you haven’t done so already, you should really try to make it out to see this village. It’s a must experience. It looks great at night and is full of a mixture of music and crowd. There are great eateries and art galleries that I’ve visited…in addition to shops that one can buy little mementos from. In fact, that’s one thing that I love about Los Angeles, there are so many little towns in which to explore and get to know about different cultures. Notably, Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the United States of America.
Hancock Park at the Page Museum Tar Pitts
This weekend in the Miracle Mile neighborhood, which happens to be known as the area that jazz pianist Nat King Cole became the first African-American resident in 1948, put on a great event at the George C. Page/ LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Arts.
Captain George Allan Hancock
Saturday the 8th annual Brazilian Day Carnival ExPloDed with life as the Samba dancers, from the SambaLá Samba School, set the tone for the day. Wow, they were Beautiful and Sensual. Incidentally, my introduction into the Brasilia culture started out as a youth and when my mom introduced me to her friend Sergio Mielniczenko of the then KPFK radio program called Sounds of Brazil. He use to come on right before her KPFK radio program called The Sounds of Jamaica. I can remember him always being so kind. In fact, he has been an advocate for the Brasilan Culture here in Los Angeles for 35 years.
Consequently, the annual Brazilian Day in LA event was sponsored by The Consulate General of Brazil in Los Angeles. In fact, the organization started the event in 2006. Their office, that is located on Wilshire Blvd along Restaurant Row, is just up the street from the South African Consulate. I can remember as a youth being apart of numerous protest in front of that building to help fight against the Apartheid injustice going on in Africa.
It’s worthy to note that the energy of celebrating Brazilian Day started almost 30 years ago in New York City where an estimated 100,000 Brazilians live . It was so nice to be around such a mixture of people and I can’t wait until next year’s event.
Finally, this weekend I also traveled to Little Ethiopia in celebration of their 2006 New Year during an annual cultural street festival. Though it wasn’t as diverse and full of energy as I hoped, I envision this celebration to be more of a “Taste of Little Ethiopia” type of gathering. We shall see…
The Autry National Center
Today we traveled to the Gene Autry Museum in Griffith Park. Incidentally, Mr. Autry is known as ‘America’s Favorite Singing Cowboy’. I didn’t know that he is the only entertainer to have five stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame being in radio, records, film, television and live theatrical performance-rodeo. The first and only exhibit that I was able to see was of the one entitled “Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic.” It was very informative. The material covered the migration of the estimated 5,000 Jews into California during the 19th century Gold Rush. The majority of European Jews traveled from the areas of Prussia and other German-speaking lands-others came from France, Spain, England, Poland, and America’s East Coast. Those same people took the opportunity to establish supplies to meet miners demands for boots, clothing, hats, and equipment. Other Jews worked as engineers in mines, however, most started supply businesses. “These Jews put together chambers of commerce, worked to broaden local public education, advocated for publicly funded railroads, and pushed the government for federal subsidies to advance their towns civic plans.” They also founded Jewish fraternal clubs, kosher bakeries,boarding houses that served kosher meals, established synagogues, schools, and relief organizations . Some of the percentage of Jews that migrated did so into the areas of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Washington. Consequently, the most infamous German-speaking Jew to make a profit during this time was non other than Levi Strauss and his partner Jacob Davis- That’s so funny, because just today I spoke about wanting Levi jeans…lol.
Nevertheless, at this time, Jewish women also played a key role in economic, political, social and cultural development. How you may ask? Well, they were the wives, sisters and daughters of the merchant elite. Therefore, they had the means and leisure time available for strong involvement in civil life, social welfare issues and societies dedicated to charitable projects. Furthermore, the West-coast offered these same Jewish women the possibility of greater access to higher education, professional positions, and entry into formal politics. Most importantly, at this same time women’s suffrage was in effect within the American West. And, by 1900, most women could vote in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. Moreover by the time the Nineteenth Amendment to the constitution was passed in 1920, almost every women in the western state, with the exception of New Mexico, had been enfranchised. The museum put on a great display.
I took a visit to an area known as Little Ethiopia. It is in the West-side of Los Angeles California and walking distance from LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts and The Grove. It’s also walking distance to and from a newly built tube station. Little Ethiopia is a stretch of Fairfax Avenue in the Carthay Square and Wilshire Vista districts and part of the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. More specifically, this neighborhood is surrounded on the north and northeast by Beverly Hills, on the east by Carthay and Mid-City, on the south by Mid-City, Beverlywood and Cheviot Hills and on the west by Beverly Hills.
As I was walking into the village from LACMA I spotted a Little Ethiopia sign that greets all who visit. I noticed a lot of restaurants there, well over eleven (11), that seems excessive. As I walked further in, I noticed a well-known bakery named Hansen’s Cakes. It has resided there for sometime. A lot of local celebrities visit often. I would love to see some upgrades done in this area in order to bring it into a cultural center for the Caribbean community here in Los Angeles. Incidentally, when I was a child I was enculturated into the Ethiopian culture through family, friends, music, food, and books.
Nevertheless, the quaint little village known as Little Ethiopia dates back to the early 1990s, and, it had a significant concentration of residents of Ethiopian and Eritrean ancestry. To me it seems as if an active recruitment of such people should once again be generated within the area? Walking through, I hardly noticed any Ethiopians! Incidentally, there is an estimated 96,000 Ethiopians living in Los Angeles, which makes it the second largest population of Ethiopians in the USA, behind Washington D.C. But, for Los Angeles, I would like to see this area as a sort of Greenwich Village-a bohemian culture. Imagine, the neighborhood being known for its colorful, artistic residents and alternative culture they propagate-a focal point of new movements and ideas, whether political, artistic, or cultural. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Incidentally,in 2004, former Los Angeles Mayor, James K. Hahn, officially gave the neighborhood its name Little Ethiopia. Previously, the area was filled with a number of Jewish businesses that have since migrated to North Fairfax. However, there are still some that remain. There is even a local Starbucks. However, I feel, the whole radius of the strip of Fairfax is not being utilized effectively.What happened to the annual festivals and people?
Moreover, while there I didn’t see a Rasta in sight. Incidentally, among the Rastafarian movement Selassie is revered as the returned messiah who lead a golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity to his people. I’ve always viewed this belief as him attaining Buddha-hood, even though he was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
Now I am often asked, how can I admire such a man and still be a Buddhist and a Feminist? Again, I started my spiritual practice out in Zen Buddhism. Therefore I have always viewed self as only being concerned with attaining my own Buddha-Nature. Furthermore, growing up, I was also surrounded by a lot of Japanese and Japanese Americans. I stayed in their homes and saw them actively practice their faith. Therefore, I understood that my focus was on Selassie’s ability, within his lifetime, to be able to be considered a living vessel of light himself. I didn’t get caught up in the Dogma of it all. But, the Afrikan HIStory did give me a strong culture background in which to identify with as I focused on Empress Menen. And, a past in which to tell a future is an important part of self for any child to have. Moreover, even when I was being indoctrinated with some of the church as a child, I focused and followed the light, Mother, Goddess, The Queen of Sheba, The Virgin Mary within all of my paths, for she was comforting to me and was the focus in my Catholic exposure. She was the key, the link within it all;as she shall continue to be for the rest of my days. I live within the Buddha-nature now. And, there is nothing wrong with doing so. And, as a woman, she is my focus.
While I sat in Little Ethiopia, I remembered, as a child, I use to take my ballet classes right in that very same neighborhood. It has changed so much since then. It needs some life, some Spirit involved. I can remember after class my cousin and I would go play at the local green space known today as La Ciengia Park. It was so much fun. I would like to see this area restored and Ethiopia’s valuable story preserved here in Los Angeles. I envision an area full of different ethnic groups all working towards the same cause-keeping the Peace, thereupon sharing the rich story of a Humanist-Ethiopia here in America, it is possible. And, that being said, the very same culture extends into the Rastafarian Community as well. Incidentally, that is the culture in which I was raised directly. In fact, my mother is a Jamaican Citizen. Growing up, I was aware that the main religions in Ethiopia were Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Paganism. All I need to do now is pass the knowledge on through my children. This is their legacy. I am not here to please any other source.
To tell you a bit about what I was taught in regard to the Emperor, he was the heir to a dynasty that traced its origins by tradition from King Solomon, the son of David, and Queen Makeda, Empress of Axum, known in the Abrahamic tradition as the Queen of Sheba. Her legacy is in which I focus.
Ethiopian Coptic Virgin Mary
Currently, most Ethiopian Muslims are Sunni, and some belong to various Sufi orders. That mysticism is more of which I follow. Now, moving back into Judaism and the Beta Israel-these are a long-isolated group of African Jews who have lived in Ethiopia since antiquity. This is more of the story in which I grew up within that eventually spun into traditional Animist beliefs. Nevertheless, around the time I was born I heard about a number of Ethiopians being accepted as Jews by the Israeli government, around 1975. Later, I became familiar with Operation Moses and Operation Solomon. These were conducted in 1984 and 1991 where the vast majority of the Ethiopian Jewish population was sent to Israel. Again, I also grew up within the Rastafarian movement and the belief holds that Ethiopia is Zion. And, yes the Rastafarian view is that Emperor Haile Selassie I was Jesus reincarnate. But, as I say again, I don’t follow HIStory, though I respectively have tolerance for others and their beliefs. My focus has been and is on the concept referring figuratively to St. Mary. She is the LINK. For she is everywhere and nurtured by all walks of faith. Listen, I am not here to defend patriarchy or the politics of Ethiopia and the Jewish people. More people should realize Judaism isn’t about skin color. I am here to show that through all my indoctrination, again, my guide has been the Black Madonna.
According to some research I’ve come across, a group of Blacks existed in Mobile Alabama that were able to organize a society known as the “Friends of Ethiopia.” They launched a state-wide drive for medical supplies and other such aid for the Children of Ethiopia. In addition, as a youth I grew up with the surrounding of the Ethiopian World Federation Inc which was founded in August of 1937. It awoke great consciousness within me. And, I am grateful for that knowledge. Incidentally, I am a spiritual being not a religious person. I am not here to defend or insult the bible. To be quite honest, it’s Dogma. Listen, I am free to choose what I want to believe. You should not want to change a person in order to extend kindness.
Furthermore, in regard to the Emperor, it has been said that Haile Selassie “never denied or affirmed his divinity. In fact, it has been recorded as him saying during his visit to Jamaica in 1966, that he was not God, or head of the G-d body. “Who am I to disturb their belief?” replied the emperor. However, through my eyes, everyone is capable of becoming one with divine energy, through their own Buddha-Nature. But, he will forever remain the architect of the centralized Ethiopian state. He transformed Addis Ababa into a core city and developed a central government. And, for that alone he should be respected. I am free to evolve from the influence of a childhood ideology into creating my own stance in which to follow.
My mother and I, Ms. Wirewaist. She was the 1st woman Reggae/World music disc jockey/promoter in Southern California at KPFK/KCRW, over 30 years. She received senate recognition for her efforts. If you came to LA and was a Reggae/World Artist you came to her first.
References: The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913 and Haile Sellassie I The Formative Years 1892-1936 -both books by Harold G. Marcus