End Of Summer Edition/Post Seven/Volume Four

Ron10-183x300Fall is upon us, lurking, waiting in the wings; maybe to entertain us with a short period of Indian summer perhaps. Or, giving us a hint of autumn that brings us an early fall so that it will prepare us for cooler weather. For those in the northern states, I hope it will not bring on an early winter, the kind that you experienced last year.

Relationships and friendships are very important to most of us in our lives. For those people who have not built any relationships and friendships with others is unfortunate. We need the comfort and support of others at various times in our lives, and especially if we enjoy the company of one friend or the company of many. Today many of us use technological resources to communicate with friends, family and associates, especially with social media like Face Book, LinkedIn and other resources. For those of us who used to correspond with our friends with post cards and letters, the social experience for many who contacted others around the world was the use of Pen Pals, that preceded  the media operation of our time, Face Book. Now, anyone can usually find friends and associates by searching information on Face Book and get results. I experienced this first hand recently, and I am sharing this possibility for those who are interested in using that operation.

As we all know who use the technology available to us on our smartphones and computers, we also can use Google to find out pertinent information as well, concerning locating family members especially in historical websites like Ancestry.com. Again, I used this service recently to locate information about family members that I was interested in investigating for more details that were not available to me at the time. So, the use of technology is vital for those of us who use it and in most cases it is the only way to research information that is not readily available to us without getting into complicated situations.

Relationships and friendships, in my opinion, go hand in hand. Usually one does not survive without the other. There are folks who experience long term relationships for years, sometimes from childhood. And, in some cases, move away from each other for many reasons, marriage, jobs, relationships with others who are in different places and different parts of the country, but, only to stay in contact with a best friend and relate to their needs and experiences at a distance. Again, the use of technology provides that convenience to many of us as we experience contacts with others through the social media available in today.

Jazz treat…JazzTimes magazine celebrated it’s 45 years anniversary with a poll that voters took part in, to choose the top five groups in jazz out of 25 groups, that included trios through nonets. The results of that poll are listed here:

1. John Coltrane: The Classic Quartet
2. Miles Davis: The First Great Quintet/Sextet
3. Miles Davis: The Second Great Quintet
4. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers (1961-64)
5. Bill Evans Trio (1959-61)
6. The Dave Brubeck Quartet
7. Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five/Seven
8. Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie: The Quintet
9. Weather Report (1976-81)
10. Thelonious Monk Quartet (1957-58)
11. The Modern Jazz Quartet
12. Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet
13. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet (1966-69)
14. Oscar Peterson Trio (1953-65)
15. The Ornette Coleman Quartet
16. Keith Jarrett “Standards” Trio
17. Ahmad Jamal Trio (1957-62)
18. The Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971-73)
19. Miles Davis: The Lost Quintet (1969-70)
20. Benny Goodman Quartet
21. Art Ensemble of Chicago
22. Herbie Hancock “Mwandishi” Sextet
23. Charlie Parker Quintet (1947)
24. Charles Lloyd Quartet (1966)
25. The Tony Williams Lifetime (1969)

Polls are interesting, especially if you take part in them. Mostly, as required in this poll, choices are made based on individual preferences over the years of listening to mainstream jazz, especially in the last century, that the list suggests based on the musicians and groups chosen. I wish to point out that this group of 25 groups is just the tip of the iceberg. As noted, there are some groups that contain some of the same musicians, like the Miles Davis groups on the list. There are members that were part of Miles’s aggregations who were playing with Miles and then went on to become leaders of their own groups. There are also groups that surely have earned mention beyond the list of the 25 selected. Jazz is a big world, and there are younger players who are coming up the ranks who will surely the next elite suggested players in the future.

The list, as I mentioned, contain the musicians who are and were the finest in the jazz spectrum, and the voters who chose them realize that they are paying homage to the musicians that were of their time, the creators of a development that spoke of a special group of creative musicians who maintained and created an art form that spoke to a large segment of our society and carried the expressions of jazz all over the world that will never be forgotten and cherished. The practitioners of that art form are many and their contributions in performances and recordings are well documented, and while they may be on a list of many their artistic abilities are surely appreciated.


This is an article that needs to be repeated:

Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot – and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.

Good Lord.

This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands – is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.

And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.

All is love- even math. Amazing.

Chase’s teacher retires this year – after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day- and altering the trajectory of our world.

TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one is watching- it’s our best hope.

I wish to comment on this article because it is very prevalent in our society at this time. This was sent by someone I know on Face Book who has had the much experience over the years grooming and supporting young people. This article speaks to all of us in our society who realize the importance of reaching out to those who are disenfranchised and are unable to determine who they are as individuals. It relates to those people, youngsters especially, who are bullied and taken advantage of by others who disrespect them as individuals and use their bullying tactics to control others.

Because this article is mostly directed to young people, I would like to draw your attention to another situation that is prevalent in our society, especially with young African American teenagers. That is, those who take the position that they do not appreciate others who are determined to move ahead educationally, and use their efforts to discourage them from growing and following their dreams. We have to make an effort to design programs that use a method of mentorship to get young people to understand the responsibilities that they need to acquire to move  our young people forward in this society.

Finis As I look over my posts for this month I realize that there is so much going on in our world and in our individual locality, much of it seems to include lots of negative interactions with others that seems to be senseless in the scheme of things. A case in point: the story about a Muslim teen who brought a clock he invented to class at school and was arrested because his teachers thought the boy had made a bomb.


My immediate reaction to this story is that it seems that this is an attempt to destroy the obvious creativity that the young boy possessed. At times we believe what we see as racism, and in this case, it is obvious; however, let’s break it down a bit. The boy showed his creation to his engineering teacher, who was less than overwhelmed, but at the same time this teacher http://www.arcamax.com/currentnews/newsheadlines/s-1723264?fshttp://www.arcamax.com/currentnews/newsheadlines/s-1723264?fssuggested that the teen “not show it to the other teachers”. The alarm went off on his clock in his book bag and his english teacher created circumstances that jeopardized what should have been a teachable moment for the teacher and the students, rather than the circumstances causing the unnecessary arrest of the teen in handcuffs by local police who also did not have a clue of understanding the circumstances as well.

Now let us understand what I mean by “obvious racism”. There are people who we assume should be bright and intelligent, especially those who are in an educational system that teach our children. We expect these people to be of a higher standard because of their experience and expertise. But, unfortunately, that is not the case. Because someone is different from them they have a blind spot that prevents them from seeing that difference, and because of that blind spot they react in a negative way towards that person. The engineering teacher that the teen discussed his project with indicated that he not share his creative project with anyone else. That teacher knew that the circumstances of the boy’s project would create exactly what transpired in school that day. While he did not use that situation as a positive opportunity (a teachable moment) he not only failed the student and his class, but himself as well.

Those of us who use a common sense approach in our lives are able to see through these moments that we observe especially in these times that deserve more attention to our values as human beings and the diversity that is presented to us by others.

Pope Francis I cannot close the month’s post without commenting with Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States. I have found the visit by him to be a special occurrence, and an historical one. His message has special meaning to me personally, I am not of his faith, but his message is compelling and inclusive. He has been impressive.





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