Three . . . The Hard Way . . .

Happy Hump Day, All ….

That is, if you are not one of the parents that said good bye to their teenager on Monday morning, February 27th, 2012 as he headed off to Chardon High School in Ohio, not knowing it would be for the very last time! What an unpleasant surprise that must have been. Peace be still . . .

Now, I woke up this morning, my only child is all grown up and able to take care of herself, and I felt some soreness in my back as a reminder to ride safely on the Night Hawk. I am very grateful for all the aforementioned conditions. What are the young people still thinking today? Has society failed them? Do the parents today have too much to do to raise their own children? Is this the way that some of them scream for attention … by carrying a gun to school and unloading it on innocent school mates? Just last week or so, a kid in third grade had toted his parent’s gun to school in a back pack and upon slamming the back pack on his desk in the classroom, it discharged and a bullet entered the belly of an innocent little girl who sat just in front of him!

How sad it must be to know your child’s life has been cut short . . . by accident . . . one fine day . . . at high school!? Not only had the youngster hinted at what he planned to do on Facebook several days before, but somehow had gotten into school with a back pack from which he retrieved his firearm and began to shoot in the school cafeteria. Sources say it was not about drugs or bullying, just a very mentally unstable child who sought to make some sort of statement NOT with a basketball in the gym or a pen in class, but with a pistol in the cafeteria at lunch time!

How about the college student at the University of Miami here in Florida who issued death threats to President Obama when he visited the college campus recently? What was he thinking about? Now for some reason, probably because it was the President of the United States that he was targeting with his words, law enforcement swooped down on his home like Batman and Robin to thwart whatever plot he may have been harboring and planning. As it turns out, his home had no more than a couple of air pistols and he supposedly was just joking about putting “several bullets in Obumma’s head” on his Facebook post.

This is the last day of February and a leap year February at that. It is also the last day of Black History Month for 2012. I hope and pray that we can learn to live together better through all of the fanfare, fantasy and fanaticism daunting the planet today. Thusly, I constantly seek peace . . .

“Power is strength and the ability to see yourself through your own eyes and not through the eyes of another. It is being able to place a circle of power at your own feet and not take power from someone else’s circle.” – Agnes Whistling Elk

I will place a circle of power at my own feet and stand with dignity inside the circle. (TOUCHSTONES February 29th)

Peace …. please …

John I. Cook, Director

Some of Life’s Little Wonders . . .

Good Monday morning, All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well. Sometimes the peace and quiet of the home is nice, as one friend told me after he had sent his son, sister and her daughter out to eat at Bokamper’s one night since he wasn’t “feeling it”! He told me he enjoyed himself at home. My weekend was nice as I spent most of it home alone though I did have one kind soul come to visit for a few hours Saturday evening and we snacked on brie cheese and crackers along side some jumbo shrimp and cocktail sauce followed by a light white wine.

We often look for amazing things and big events to keep our blood running, so to speak, but there are those quiet moments that linger and have a unique impact on our psyche quite often. After the excitement had died down about the Miami HEAT setting the record straight with arch rival New York Knickerbockers and the intrigue of “Lin-Sanity”, I was ready for a somewhat quiet laid back weekend as I am still recovering from my motorcycle incident from two weeks ago now.

There is one person I wanted to mention who took the time to call “911” and have an ambulance sent to my flat while she worked late into the early morning hours that Friday night/Saturday morning. I had sent Christina aka “Tina” a Facebook message once I had arrived home badly injured and realized that I did not have my cell phone or wallet since my rear pocket of my blue jeans was torn off and the cell phone case literally ripped open and emptied as that was my only means of communicating with anyone at that hour – 2AM Saturday morning. What a great friend who called, was told the address was wrong because I had written 18th Street in the Facebook message instead of Avenue, which is where I live, and the ambulance workers persevered and found me anyway! She still has no idea of how important that was for me.

A second person I wanted to thank, as I thought about him and finally called yesterday, was my nephew, Brandon aka “Big Boy”, who came over after my sister told him I may need a helping hand that Saturday after I got back from the Holy Cross Hospital ER and had trails and puddles of blood all over my flat in every room as I slithered around after the accident trying to comfort myself until finally seeking help by writing Tina. When he came, he first took my prescriptions to Publix Pharmacy and had them filled, even adding an extra $5.00 since my wallet was lost with almost a couple hundred dollars in it and I had only like $20.00 in cash to my name. Then, he took it upon himself to disinfect and clean the floors in all four rooms of the flat with Spic and Span and some lavender scented Fabuloso floor cleaner! Thanks again ‘Big Boy” …

So, this past Saturday afternoon was Muhammad Ali’s 70th Birthday Party held in Las Vegas. How nice it was to see everybody from Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jordan, Quincy Jones and a host of other super stars and celebrities there to wish a “Living Legend” a most happy birthday! I can’t tell you how many times I tried to push back my tears as they showed clips of “The Greatest” doing the “rope a dope” and his fancy footwork, aka – The Ali Shuffle, to lull his competitors into a false sense of security or entertain them with his theatrics and then …. wham!!! – followed up with a knock out! It was quite touching to see Sean “P. Diddy” Combs state that after his father had died when he was three or so, Ali had become his father figure and how his words, dedication and flair for entertainment became a positive example for the young budding rapper/producer! He was definitely a major influence in developing my pride of being an African American young man at a predominantly white, private, Episcopalian and all boys boarding school in Concord, NH! He still is “The Greatest” and his concern for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and others like him looking for cures and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, something my mother suffered from until her untimely passing, who have placed the “self” aside in working tirelessly for others.

“Self interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only begins for man with self-surrender.” – Henri Amiel

Today, I surrender my self-interest again, knowing I must do it over and over. (TOUCHSTONES February 27th)

This is the key for the world-wide human community …


John I. Cook, Director

“Lin-Sanity”? Not in Miami!!

Happy Friday, All!

What a wonderful world … it is … when we T.G.I.F.!

It seems another week has come to an end and we’ve just a few more days of Black History Month. Friends of mine have posted interesting tidbits of African American History on Facebook and I’ve tried to keep up and absorb the many many things I did not know. Peace be still. Yet, we must admit that the peoples of African and American heritage have contributed quite a bit to our nation and … the world.

So, last night as much of the nation’s and world’s basketball fans waited to see a miracle in the American Airline Arena, things seemed to take an awful turn for my beloved New York Knicks! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a sportsman. In particular, an avid fan of the game of basketball. I’ve played for some of the best coaches including Maurice Blake at St. Paul’s School and Pete Carrill at Princeton University. I love the game so much that I tried my hand at coaching in White Plains for five years. But one thing I learned is that “the best team will win”!

Proof of the pudding was in the game last night when D. Wade and LeBron James along with Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers and a little help from the bench in Cole and Miller ultimately put on a clinic. It seemed that each HEAT player knew exactly where the other ones were almost all the time. While I was born and pretty much raised in New York, I must admit that there was no sight of “Lin-Sanity” in the American Airlines Arena last night. Maybe he … and Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis and Amare Stoudemier just had a bad night. But woe to the team that faces this HEAT team running on all pistons on their home court! One thing I can say is that there was “no fussin and no fightin” on either team!

One thing I know for sure is that we are ALL on a journey that will … at some point … come to an end. Try to be pleasant with one another, in games and in life, respecting and caring for one another when possible …

“It doesn’t happen all at once . . . . You become. It takes a long time.” – Margery Williams

As I grow, I see that I was always real. I was just looking at the outside. (TOUCHSTONES February 24th)

Have a great weekend … wherever you are!


John I. Cook, Director

Moving Right Along . . .

Happy Hump Day, All!

It is the day after “Fat Tuesday” and the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, and elsewhere. Yes, other than Friday, Hump Day is my favorite! It goes back to my college days when I was a disc jockey for WPRB’s Triad radio program … Triad was the “sound of the Third World” as we used to call ourselves, which are people from the countries with less financial stability, etc, etc. We tried to bring music on the otherwise “Ivy League” FM airwaves from progressive jazz, funk (ie – Sly Stone, Parliament and George Clinton, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham and so on and so on) to a collage of other music forms from reggae to classical jazz, if you will. I used to always start out my Wednesday night show saying, “It’s Wednesday, and the weekend has begun!”

Nowadays, it signifies the middle of the week with two more days left to the weekend . . . Yesterday was the 47th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination in New York City. It was also the birthday of a few friends including Lee Blair, a college chum living in “Jersey”, and Maisa McPhee, a friend from Canada. There are things to be remembered as well as things to be forgotten. Try not to overload your consciousness with those things better off forgotten, as long as we got our lessons from them.

In watching the news last night after a long day, thank you God, I noticed a story about Chris Brown and Rihanna doing some music together, as they have often done in the past. Many of her fans were concerned because Chris is still on probation from last year’s brutal beating, to which he pleaded guilty, of Rihanna the night before an awards ceremony. Some people “Twitted”, “It’s time to move on and let them make music together, if that is what they want!” Only the future will tell if that is plausible.

As I continue to heal from my small, yet injurious, fall over a week ago, I am applying the ointments and bandages to my physical wounds and continue to nurture and heal with the spiritual ones that came with it. I often try to remember to let things go, or, “Let Go and Let God”, while maintaining my course along this journey called life. I am grateful to all of the friends I have made along the way and fortunate enough to have learned how to better handle the enemies I’ve encountered. Peace be still ….

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

“A man (or woman) who studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.” – Francis Bacon

Have a great Hump Day, y’all!

In Peace and Love,

John I. Cook, Director

Anger Management and President’s Day!

Happy President’s Day!!!

Now, I hope that most of you got the day off … ’cause I have to go to work … not complaining, just stating the facts!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well! Mine was pretty peaceful and all … still recovering from some “bumps and bruises” and stitches in my right knee and left shin, which will be removed tomorrow. That’s the least of my problems; yet, I must deal with it. The interesting thing is that the Night Hawk had minimal damage – my right mirror was scratched but not broken; my right hand grip and hand brake lever was scraped and bent but not broken; my front blinker cover was broken but not the light bulb inside; and, the foot brake lever and footrests were bent and scratched respectively, while the front head light casing was scratched but not broken! The Night Hawk lives!!! I went to price some parts and order a few this weekend … not too expensive … but I am alive!!! Peace be still . . .

Here of late, I always try to maintain my cool and not get involved in any negative conversations. My spirit feels so much better when I am using my mind and heart for loving peaceful interactions with others … in particular, with myself. While I was pretty upset that no one returned my wallet, which had my driver’s license, bank and credit card, motorcycle registration and about $150.00, I tried not to let it get me down. I thought that the person might take the money and at least return the wallet, as I had my Post Office Box information inside as well as a few business cards. So, I got a new cell phone with the Android logo and touch screen and spent hours trying to figure it out and even went to the Metro PCS store for a tutorial Saturday morning!

Saturday afternoon, we had the Black History Month Panel Discussion at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Sistrunk Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with Mr. Desmond Hannibal. Our competition, so to speak, was Whitney Houston’s live coverage of her funeral. I watched it and wept a bit from home as I got ready for the Panel Discussion which was to begin at 2:30PM. We had a total of 8 people including Mr. Hannibal and myself. Our group was diverse and included a young gent of 19 and a “snow bird” couple from New York. We started around 3:15pm since the funeral was being played on the tv in the reception area of the library and we watched intently. Our discussion focused on African Heritage, the Civil Rights Movement and major players as well as the influence of the Black Muslim movement on “Black America”, if you will. We plan to follow up and design some activities at other libraries through out Broward County.

I spent Sunday lounging around and watching NBA basketball! What a fine option to being angry, right?!

“That’s what happens when you’re angry at people. You make them part of your life.” – Garrison Keillor

I will be aware of those people I am making important in my life and will grow in dealing with my anger. (TOUCHSTONES February 20th)

Enjoy your President’s Day however you wish!


John I. Cook, Director

Black History Panel and President’s Day Weekend

Oh …. oh …. ohhhh! T.G.I.F.!

If I could say it in fifty languages, even though I only am fluent in two, I would say “Thank God It’s Friday!” all day long

You know, in the aftermath of a major devastating event, I have questioned myself, as have others, as to where I went wrong last Friday night when I apparently lost control of the Night Hawk and hit the ground. I was so curious, that I went back to the scene of the accident Wednesday, driving off the very same exit ramp where I had my fall. When I got there, I discovered a disturbing fact: it was not gravel that I hit but an actual raised sidewalk type structure which caused me to go air bound. I had thought that this was like yellow paint on the ground; yet, after closer examination discovered that it was yellow paint on an actual curb separating the traffic on the main road and the traffic coming off the exit ramp!! I hadn’t a chance. Yet, I am grateful to be alive with no broken bones.

Tomorrow, I will be moderating a panel at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center where the topic will be a “Civil Rights Era Roundtable” and will include discussions pertaining to the work of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and even Malcolm X. It is scheduled for February 18th, tomorrow Saturday, at 2:30PM. All local professors and scholars, community activists and members of the local community and abroad are invited to participate. With the leadership of Mr. Desmond Hannibal, we expect a fine turnout and look forward to welcome all participants.

Saturday will be the funeral of Whitney Houston and it will be held in Newark, NJ. May she finally “rest in peace” . . .

Monday is a National Holiday known as President’s Day and I am sure that many of you will be enjoying a day off from work. Be sure to have a wonderful weekend, folks!


John I. Cook, Director

Educational Excellence

ps. – The 3 kids who set Michael Brewer on fire in Deerfield Beach, FL last year finally have been sentenced and one has chosen to go to trial!

What Do They Think?

Happy Hump Day, All!

Another day waking up with a bit of soreness but the key here is …. I woke up …. all body parts attached and apparently working. Thank you God!

I am sure by now, most of you figured that I was trying to show that when I had fallen off my Night Hawk that my cell phone wasn’t there … and I could NOT make any calls from the scene. Nowadays, we rely so much on them for everything while I continue to use mine moreso for calls and texts. My, my, my how things change over the years … That includes us!

I have always considered myself “a hopeless romantic” and probably should have been born in another place and another time but that expresses truly how hopelessly I am romantic. Speaking of romance, I hope all of us had a nice Valentine’s Day with some celebrations where and if possible. A family member mentioned to me that she doesn’t normally celebrate Valentine’s Day but chooses to show similar love to her friends and family like every day. Considering her thoughts, I find that I am similar in that way, choosing to show care and affection … at least, appreciation … to those I feel it for. While I got a few messages for Valentine’s Day, I celebrated it alone at home with a grilled cheese sandwich, chips and some mushroom soup with a glass or two of cream soda! That was cool …

In the aftermath of Whitney Houston’s death, which was somewhat sudden and unexpected, I enjoyed hearing her music over and over again as well as viewing various tributes to her music, even on “Glee”! May we cherish our time with our loved ones simply because we don’t know when our times together will expire. As a jazz musician, Roy Ayers, old tune goes, “Life Is Just A Moment”! With the plans for Ms. Houston to be buried in New Jersey being challenged by other family members of hers, I simply wish that the quarreling could stop and allow her to “Rest In Peace”. Amen

“If I truly showed my feelings, the other guys would eat me alive. It’s too dog-eat-dog out there to be honest about the things that really count to you. You can’t leave yourself wide open like that.” – Michael E. McGill

This quote obviously is designed to get people – men in particular – to NOT hide their emotions or feelings in a true sense of the words, but hints at how others might think about them if they actually showed and expressed their true feelings. I have grappled with this personally and have found the balance and technique of saying and showing how I really feel.

“I pray for the courage to be honest with myself and to stand up for who I truly am with my friends.” (TOUCHSTONES February 15th)

Have a great day and a wonderful rest of the the week!


John I. Cook, Director

Alive and Grateful

Happy Monday, All!

Here’s a word or two hoping that you each had a great weekend. Mine was a little stiff and sore in the aftermath of the motorcycle accident I experienced late Friday/early Saturday morning around 2am. I am sitting here still counting my blessings.

It is the very first time that I hit the pavement so HARD on my motorcycle though I have been down a few times but at much slower speeds. It was interesting because it happened in such a split second that I almost didn’t know what had occurred. There was no traffic as I was exiting I-95 on the Cypress Creek Road exit and I was a bit wide leaving the exit. So, I sought to compensate by turning the handle bars a bit more to the right to avoid any oncoming traffic in case there was any …. and BOOOOMMM …. I hit the ground!

My body felt some pain, especially the knees, but I got up, picked up the motorcycle and tried to get back on. I fell again . . . So one more time, I mustered up the strength to get up again and pick the bike up. By this time a gentleman was approaching me walking from the other side of the road. He had stopped his vehicle to see if I needed some help. I told him that I didn’t and would be okay. Once I got home, which was less than a mile away, I realized that my jeans were torn and there was a lot of blood coming down my right leg. Just as I attempted to bend over to see where the blood was coming from, I felt a tremendous pain coming from my back and my right forearm. Then I stood up and reached for my cell phone . . . It wasn’t there. I reached into my back pocket and realized it was torn off … and no wallet. So I decided to lie down a few minutes and think what to do.

Finally, I got up and hobbled to my computer and sent a message to a friend via Facebook and asked them to call an ambulance and send it to my address. So things went rather smoothly from there. A neighbor came out as I was standing in my doorway after arriving home from the Holy Cross Hospital ER. So, I asked him if he could take me over to the scene of the incident and see if I could locate my wallet and cell phone. We had no luck. Then, since I explained to him that I had an old cell phone that I could connect, he offered to take me to the Metro PCS office which is just down the street a bit from where we live. What a kind gesture, right?!

Yes, I am up early doing my thing and testing my body to see if I can make it to work. It is also rather chilly outside, too, yet I feel very grateful that I had no broken bones, as the helmet visor also protected my face from what appears to be some serious skid marks on it. My nephew came by twice – once to get the prescriptions filled and again late last night to bring some dinner that my niece had cooked up. My neighbor whom I call “Big Bro'” brought me some delicious home-made chicken noodle soup that his girlfriend made, which I consumed heartily yesterday afternoon.

“It is a cheap generosity which promises the future in compensation for the present.” – J. A. Spencer

May I feel the exhilaration of being alive in this moment and maintain a balance in my perspective today.

Have a wonder-filled day!


John I. Cook, Director

Baby Buddhas

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, I’d like to thank my Creator, whom I choose to call God today, for waking me up and starting me on my way. T.G.I.F.!

Last night was pretty cool, not only because it rained a lot but also because I hunkered down to watch “American Idol”. Since “X-Factor” came and went, I thought I had had my fill of entertainment shows like that. “Idol” was pretty interesting last night because it showed all the “drama” that went on behind the scenes as the contestants selected members for “Group Night”. I don’t remember this segment from the previous seasons of “AI” but perhaps I simply didn’t watch it.

The rain here in South Florida had a cleansing effect on me and things. As I slipped into a peaceful sleep, I had a most refreshing experience with the windows open in my flat and I could hear the sound of the “pitter patter” of the rain on the trees and street outside my windows. Refreshing and peaceful.

I had an image from the presentation at the Lauderhill, FL Boys and Girls Club of Broward County location that I did on Tuesday. Okay, so here it is: “I had completed my chat with the youth about STOP The Violence and had also given them a few scenes from my book: From The Projects to Princeton, including how my father required me to do my homework before going out to play, and be responsible for it. I had transitioned into some background music from Keiko Matsui’s cd entitled “Walls of Akendora” since the dj had cued up the selection I use for a yoga demonstration with the youngsters called “Blue Butterfly”. I asked them if they had watched the “Super Bowl” and they began to yell like youth do. The staff quieted them. I then asked them if they noticed the player on the Giants team, who, at the very end of the game stood on the field with his hands clasped in the prayer position and bowed to the stadium. Some remembered that, too. I was still in my suit, as I like to be to show the audience that you can be dressed up and still honor your Creator on the floor at the gym at the BGCBC (besides it was pretty clean!), and had lowered myself down into the “Lotus position”, gently closing my eyes and clasping my hands.”

As I bowed in Lotus, and, upon lifting my head up slowly, I noticed five or six young boys not too far from me seated on the floor in a semi-circle doing EXACTLY the same thing! I thought that I had died and gone to yoga heaven and was in the presence of these “Baby Buddhas”! They all stayed in the pose and we bowed to each other intermittently as the other youth looked on … some in awe while others were imitating us in their stadium-style seats. What a moment that will remain etched in my mind, probably for eternity!”

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” -Shunryu Suzuki

Today, I will appreciate my vulnerability. It keeps me spiritually alive and growing. (TOUCHSTONES February 10th)

Have a great weekend!

Namaste … and Peace!

John I. Cook, Director

The Boys and Girls Club at Lauderhill, FL ROCKS!

Happy Hump Day, All!

Yes, it is Wednesday again … I am up early again … and I’ve got a story to share with you again!

But first, I’d like to mention that for the past few days, the news has been broadcasting a story about a little girl and her brother who had been terribly abused by their foster parents. It was last year on Valentine’s Day that a pesticide truck that was pulled over on a highway in West Palm Beach, FL was part of a gruesome discovery. While the Department of Children and Families in Miami had been alerted multiple times about the abuse of these adopted children, it took the discovery of this “home business” pesticide truck with the body of a deceased Nubia Barahona wrapped in plastic and the body of her fraternal twin brother, Victor, doused in chemicals but still clinging to life in the front seat, to finally get the two monstrosities of foster parents behind bars … Peace be still. Every time I see the photos of Nubia’s smiling face, I wonder what type of person could throw bread and milk into a bathtub to feed two children, pour hot sauce in the eyes, mouth and ears of young Victor and even force him to eat a cock roach?!?! My eyes fill with tears, and … I honestly feel a sense of hopelessness, yet not like she must’ve felt. RIP, Nubia … we love you. Now, you are officially God’s child … with your Creator … never to suffer again.

So, yesterday, I was propelled to the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County’s Lauderhill, FL facility directed by Mr. Eric Louis. A special thanks to my “Big Brother” Robbie Williams for lending me his truck to cart my materials. We, Eric and I, had made plans for me to visit in celebration of Black History Month. I thought about Nubia, and my own daughter, Ayanna, several times throughout the presentation. It gave me energy and determination and a goal to reach and inspire and involve these young people in my presentation. I was particularly impressed when after my opening skit from “American Gangster” where I do a prayer, I asked the group of kids who surrounded me courtside in the gym there, if anyone knew what I was recounting, you know, the source? One young lady, no more than 10 perhaps, like Nubia and Victor, raised her hand. I brought the microphone over to her and she said, “The 23rd Psalm”! Not only was I happy for her and the fact that such a young person could NAME the scripture, but I remembered my mother and how and when she taught me to memorize that passage … especially in times of discomfort and indecision.

The presentation was funtastic as I incorporated all the stories I knew of James Brown singing “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!”, to Louie Armstrong and the trumpet he found in the trash at the orphanage right up until and including a big fan of the Boys and Girls Club, Mr. Denzel Washington. Over the course of this day, perhaps this month, or even our lives, may we take the time to touch base with the youth in a loving and positive way. Thanks again, Mr. Eric Louis … and thanks to all the kids and staff … at the Lauderhill, FL Boys and Girls Club!

Always yours … in peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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