On February 10th, 2018 Rainbow Productions will present a Smooth Jazz Valentine Day’s Concert from 7:30 pm – 11 pm, starring Howard Hewitt, Jonathan Butler, Michael Lington, and Paul Taylor at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Come out and hear these fabulous artists perform the music that will put everyone in the mood for love.
On January 13th, the City of West Hollywood presented the Lesbian Speakers Series showing three short films, Shelby’s Vacation, Nona Hendryx Transformation, and Twenty. There was a panel discussion afterward conducted by Angela Brinskele, Director of Communications of the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives and the filmmakers. On the panel were Nancy Beverly, writer/producer of Shelby’s Vacation, Victoria Sampson, Director of Shelby’s Vacation, Lily Richards, writer/actor/director of Twenty, Caitlin Combe, producer of Twenty, and Mary Jo Godges & Renee Sotile, filmmakers of Nona Hendryx Transformation.
Nona Hendryx Transformation was filmed at the Women’s Palm Spring’s Jazz Festival where the filmmakers, Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges interviewed the recording artist plus showed Nona performing onstage. The quick cuts back and forth from hearing the 71-year old artist speak about her personal philosophy of sexuality, aging, and making it as a female in the music business to Nona’s electric, dynamic pageantry onstage, created a colorful portrait.
Twenty is a web series created by Lily Richards. In this particular segment, the main character, Maya, played by Lily Richards was dealing with heartbreak because her girlfriend was getting deported. The close-up shots of the two women talking in bed set an intimate tone so the audience could delve deeper into the lover’s psyches. In the next scene, Maya was visited by her two wacky friends who were there to console her. Again, an intimate space was created but this time it was done through humorous dialogue that was witty, yet poignant.
Shelby’s Vacation had the qualities of a feature film with expert script writing by veteran Nancy Beverly who has worked in television for 25 years on hit shows, such as Desperate Housewives and Ghost Whisper, and directing/film editing by Victoria Sampson who is an award-winning producer/writer/director, film and sound editor. Victoria was the sound editor for the movies, Speed, and The River to name of a few. The story reflected the difficulties of modern day romance as Shelby sets out from L.A. on a much-needed vacation to mend her heart from its latest unrequited crush and ends up at a rustic mountain resort where she meets manager Carol, who has her own fantasies that are getting in the way of creating a real relationship. The audience is pulled into Shelby and Carol’s world through provocative dialogue that painfully punctuates each character’s psychological hang-ups. Through superb editing, a fantasy world was interwoven with the gorgeous natural setting of the woods in which Shelby and Carol interacted. Here, we watched the two women attempt to free themselves from their past wounding from previous relationships and families of origin. Beverly doesn’t give us a happily ever after ending and we are left with the question, will their brief encounter lead to any significant changes in Shelby and Carol’s lives?
All three shorts represented different categories of filmmaking: documentary, webseries, and short features, and all the women filmmakers did an outstanding job in crafting their projects
In today’s world of relationships, a very dangerous game is being played in regards to intimacy or the human connection. I have had many conversations with women who have reported that they thought they were deeply engaging in a relationship with a man via phone conversations, texting and going on dates, then the next minute, that person is gone. No communication. No answers as to why he is gone. No taking personal responsibility as to ending the connection. Then that man moves on to his next relationship leaving the woman questioning and doubting herself.
Unfortunately, this behavior is now the norm, not the exception! There is an epidemic in our society that allows people (because I am sure women do this as well to men) to discard relationships like throw away garbage because of people’s inability to truly engage in intimacy on a mature and responsible level. This careless and narcissistic way of treating another person damages our human condition as we continue to survive on the planet.
As I have written in previous articles, our addiction to using social media to conduct relationships contribute heavily to this problem. Before we had texting, Facebook Messenger, online dating services, Smartphones, etc., we had to rely on meeting our future mate face to face … there were no distractions when two people were out on a date … a man and a woman had to rely on their ability to connect in each other’s company. If a problem occurred, they had to work at getting through the problem face to face or perhaps the phone. In most cases, if the there was a breakup, both people had to face one another to talk. Yes, face to face relationships can be painful, difficult, stressful, but here, we develop ourselves as human beings to grow, evolve and mature. True intimacy is created when we don’t run away from our problems but struggle together to share our core selves with another person.
How easy is it to text a love message to someone or send an emoji, a love sticker? How easy is it to message multiple women or men with the same heartfelt line without that person knowing you are sharing these sentiments with many others? How easy is it to just cut off a person and disappear like a ghost when you feel your intimacy tolerance has been challenged, or you’re bored? How easy is it to move on again and again so you continuously feel that high of falling love? The answer … TOO EASY!!!
Every human being has a tolerance for intimacy. Our ability to be intimate with another person (intimacy includes sex, but it involves so much more than sex) is based on how love was shown to us as we grew up in our families and how we interpreted that feeling of love into our emotional constitution. Typically in relationships, one person will move toward their partner with an act of love. Depending on the other person’s tolerance for that intimate act, they will either unconsciously accept it or reject it, if they are inwardly threatened. For example, if the people in your family were affectionate and showed it openly, then you will likely be the same way with your partner and want them to be the same way with you. But if your partner came from the opposite type of family where people didn’t show affection openly and were reserved, then they could feel uncomfortable with your openness and push you away.
Intimacy is also established through our communications with each other … some topics fill us with dread and are painful. We push our partners away because we cannot tolerate the subject matter, or we move toward our partner because the communication feels positive and loving. Intimacy involves our self- esteem and how much we feel worthy of love. Intimacy involves revealing ourselves and how we accept the parts of us that we believe to be bad without feeling shameful.
Here’s how the intimacy game goes in relationships. One person moves toward their partner with acts of love, the other person begins to feel overwhelmed with that love because of their own inner emotional tolerance level so they pull away. However, the person that has shown their love feels that pull away, so then they back off which then triggers abandonment issues in the person who has pulled away. Now he or she wants the love back so they move toward their partner to try to get the love back. And on and on it goes.
Here’s what we need to know about intimacy. It takes two emotionally mature adult people to be truly intimate. Love is not a game. Love shouldn’t be taken lightly. Developing intimacy with another person takes commitment, takes work, takes self-examination, takes courage, and takes time.
Let’s start a new movement for relationships called: The Real Deal: Face to Face Love. Something has to change or we are accepting that our superficial and flimsy ways of connecting are now the Real Deal.
Greetings once again!
Among the ten competition categories, there were over 5,100 entries in total – our judges were very impressed! As you already know, your entry was selected to represent your entries category as a Writer’s Digest 86th Annual Writing Competition Award Winner; and we understand how important bragging rights can be!
Love. A word that takes on so many meanings to us all. How do we summon our call to love and how do we answer when we hear that call from another person?
We all have an inborn descriptive canvas of what being in love means and the canvas has been painted by all the experiences we have gone through in life. From our personal histories, we have formulated what love means to us and have come to certain conclusions. The first call to love is to know what has been painted onto your canvas.
Here’s the reason why this knowledge is crucial. Your emotional operative system is being run by these beliefs. Your emotional operative system then determines that when a person treats you a certain way, it feels like you are being loved, or not. So, it’s critical to understand what beliefs are controlling our emotional operating system. What has been painted on our canvas of love?
Before I go further, I want to state that we make the mistake believing that because we are in love with someone and they are in love with us, our emotional operative systems are the same. I will guarantee you in most cases this does not hold true! And one of the biggest challenges for couples is understanding this fact. This is when conflict and fighting occur because our emotional operative system is ringing loudly inside of us that we are not being loved by the other person.
Set aside some time and write down what love means to you. What does your canvas look like? Here are some examples: love means my partner and I have a night out once a week away from the kids, love means that when birthdays or anniversaries occur a big deal is made, love means that my partner listens to my feelings without giving me advice, love means that we share a spiritual practice together, love means that we have sex 4 times a week, love means that my partner knows what I want without me telling them, love means we never argue …
There are multitudes of ways that we have decided what loves means to us and our beliefs can be very different than our partner’s beliefs. More importantly, we want to know what our beliefs are so we can measure our satisfaction in a relationship and discuss with our partner how we can balance what we are looking for with what they are looking for without thinking our way is right and their way is wrong.
If you are single, then you want to do this inventory of yourself to better understand what factors you are looking for in a relationship that answers to your call of love. Once you have done this task, you will be able to determine how a potential person will meet your needs.
Now, I am not saying you can’t be attracted to a person who might have very different ideas about how love is displayed, what I am saying is that relationships work much better when both people are aware of what their emotional operative systems are so a better communication around our needs can manifest instead of conflict.
Don’t delay. Take the time to understand what the call of love means to you … what echoes back so you feel love … what brilliant colors are splashed across your inner canvas.
Sheryl Aronson, MFT
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
(Part II will talk about how to develop emotional maturity to better deal with conflict that arises when our call of love is not being answered by our partners. )
How does each of us respond to our partner’s call to love? How do we interpret the actions and words of another? As I pointed out in my previous article, we all have an inner landscape which is our emotional operative system that has been constructed by the experiences we have had in our families of origin plus our interactions in relationships. This emotional operative system then gets triggered by our partner’s actions and reactions to us.
When we find ourselves arguing with our partners, it usually means that they have disrupted our inner emotional system and our belief about what loves means to us in this situation. Our response might be hurt or anger, it might even be feeling rage. However, when this happens we usually lose the ability to tap into our emotionally mature self and fall into behaving like a hurt child. At that moment, we ARE a hurt child or a hurt younger version of our mature selves. For most of us, we are carrying around a lot of unhealed emotional baggage, so even though our physical selves have matured throughout the years, our emotional self might be stuck underdeveloped.
Harville Hendrix, PhD, best- selling author and founder of Imago Therapy for Couples wrote about this theory in the book, “Getting The Love You Want.” “Our partners help us to find those places within us that need healing. Don’t underestimate your choice in a mate. It’s no mistake that you are with the person you are with. The person you choose is ideally suited to help you finish off the unfinished growth of your childhood. We always choose the perfect person to help us grow into our highest selves. However, it’s hard to grow. And so we resist. We don’t like to change.” Exactly. We usually choose to love people who are very different than us because initially we are attracted to the differences, but then those differences become what really annoys us about our partner. Many times we choose a person who recreates our hurts from the past and we can’t get beyond the hurt feelings.
It’s imperative we develop our emotional mature selves. When we are feeling hurt by our partner because we feel they are not showing us, love, the first action to take is a self-examination of our feelings. What are you feeling, what exactly is your partner doing that is causing that feeling. We instantly take the position, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” (it doesn’t matter what the subject is) and the argument goes on and on without anything being resolved. Why? Because at that moment we have two people who are not displaying an emotionally mature attitude toward the other. Instead of taking the position one is right and the other is wrong, the best position to take is… right now my partner is giving me very important information as to who they are in the world and I should pay attention to their feelings. My partner is sharing with me their emotional response to my behaviour. When we step out of ourselves and truly listen to what our partner is saying, we gain a lot of information to handle the situation. So instead of getting ready to fire back an insult or telling the other person what they did wrong, you actually get the underlying feeling or thought the person is expressing.
When two people can listen and validate the other’s feelings the communication now takes on another dimension. We create a setting for love and respect, instead of hurt, anger, regret. Remember, our inner landscape of what love means to each of us is usually very different than our partners. So instead of making the other person wrong for what they are feeling or for what they want to happen to feel loved by you, respect the differences, celebrate the differences, get out of your inner landscape and work together to create beautiful new places where love can flourish.
Don’t make your partner wrong. Be open and accepting. It takes two people to do this, not just one! Understand why your feelings get hurt, understand why your partner’s feelings get hurt, share those realizations with one another. When your partner is brave enough to share their feelings with you, don’t dismiss them, don’t reject them, accept and validate them. The reason this is so hard to do is that we are not in our mature emotional selves when these interactions are happening. We are in our child-self or adolescent hurt self and can’t get beyond that inner landscape. We have to practice checking inside and seeing what part of us is responding to our partner’s needs.
Practice! Practice! Practice! I have given you some tips and awareness to help you understand better how your call to love is answered inside of yourself, how it might be heard by your partner and what you both can do to create a positive, loving atmosphere for love to grow.
Sheryl Aronson, MFT
If you have any comments or questions about what I have said, please write them below or send me an email.
Tis the season for Holiday Concerts and I had the pleasure of covering two excellent ones this past Holiday Season: Keiko Matsui’s Tiding of Jazz and Joy at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center and Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas at Yoshi’s in Oakland. Here are my reviews of these lovely gifts of music performed by some of the top artists in the Contemporary Jazz Scene.
On December 19th, 2017 Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas was performed at Yoshi’s in downtown Oakland featuring the All-Star musicians, Norman Brown, guitar/vocals, Bobby Caldwell, vocals/keys, Marion Meadows, sax and Gail Jhonson, Musical Director/keys.
The band also featured Tony Moore, drums, Travis Milner, 2nd keys, and Robert McDonald bass. The background vocalists were Norman Brown’s three gorgeous daughters: Rochella Brown, Kesha Janaan, and LaNika Fayah Tapii. Yoshi’s had a sold-out crowd as the audience partook in the bountiful joy the band bestowed throughout the night.
Before Norman Brown hit the stage, a slideshow was presented that was designed like the book of Charles Dickens’, Christmas Carol, as we saw photos of Norman Brown’s band on tour all over the country. To my surprise, some of the photos I took of their rehearsal in Burbank were also included in the presentation. Gail Jhonson, the Musical Director created the slideshow, providing the perfect whimsical mood for “Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas” to begin.
Norman Brown commented to me in our interview, ” I have a beautiful Christmas Tour that I call Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas. I invited Bobby Caldwell with his smooth, silky vocals and Mr. Marion Meadows playing that smooth saxophone. We have put together a beautiful show. I have my lovely daughters as featured background vocals. You are going to get your favorite holiday classics. You are going to get them vocally and instrumentally. And you’re going to get the hit songs that you love to hear us play.”
As promised, the band burned brightly performing one hit song after another … Marion Meadows ripped the tinsel off of “My Favorite Things” as he ran delectable riffs up and down on his sax; Bobby Caldwell adorned the airwaves with his soulful crooning of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and then Norman Brown led the band into a Santa Medley that got down-home funky with Gail Jhonson and Robert McDonald taking turns soloing on the keytar. Norman Brown took us on a scatting sleigh ride too as he matched his voicings expertly, flowing along with the chords on his guitar. Kesha Janaan showed off her powerful vocals singing a duet with Bobby Caldwell to the song, “It’s Cold Outside” and LaNika Fayah Tapii raised us up to the heavens with her rendition of “Silent Night” with her superb voice.
All in all, it was a Groovin … Jazzin … Snazzin … Joyous Christmas at Yoshi’s. The night ended with “This Christmas” and everyone left with the gifts of love and joy in their hearts as they scurried off into the Christmas Holiday season.
Norman Brown summed it up when he told me, “We all get a little more grateful, a little warmer and loving at this time of year. Those songs stamp the deal. You know how powerful music is. It will take you right to those beautiful moments that people enjoy.”
On December 17th, Keiko Matsui, EUGE GROOVE, Adam Hawley, Lindsey Webster performed the “Tiding of Jazz & Joy” concert at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center. The audience was gift wrapped with sugar plum chops from all the musicians as they played some favorite Holiday songs.
First, Keiko Matsui wore a shimmering black gown with gold trim and she not only looked stunning, she pounced on the keys with sublime intensity and passion. Her outfit after intermission was a Santa red gown with silver beaded adornment that radiated glamour; however, Keiko Matsui’s strong, proficient technique on all the keyboards permeated the airwaves with pure magic.
Lindsey Webster also looked bewitching in a black lace gown which she matched with bewitching vocals … her style crackled with tones of jazz singers of old yet was fresh and soulful and had touches of Maria Muldaur’s sultry sound.
Euge Groove looked dapper in a black suit as he roared pockets full of his signature funk-filled grooves on the sax. He and Keiko shared a spirited battle of the instruments as they traded off lightning fast riffs trying to outdo the other. (I think Keiko won or Euge Groove was being a gentleman, LOL.)
Adam Hawley rocked the house with the combination of shredding licks on the guitar mixed in with lush, thick jazz chords as he expertly improvised on the strings.
The “Tiding of Jazz & Joy” concert lit up the Cerritos Performing Art Center with the pure merriment and rejoicing that the Holiday Season promises.
After the concert, I was able to have Keiko Matsui sign my copy of Agenda Magazine, October 2017 issue that had the feature article I had written on her.
Keiko Matsui wished every Happy Holidays and said, “I have the magazine that Sheryl wrote a beautiful article on me. I will be going to Japan after my tour and spend a quiet holiday with my family. “
Keiko Matsui is celebrating her 30th year performing as a musician. She continued saying, “I would love to share more songs with all my fans and I am beginning to work on writing new music. I want to thank everyone for their support over the 30 years I have been performing.”
Ist Row (L-R): 1. Sheryl Aronson (Center) with Keiki Matsui, Euge Groove, Lindsey Webster, and Adam Hawley; 2. Keiko Matsui, Lindsey Webster; 3. Sheryl Aronson and Gail Jhonson
2nd Row (L-R): 1. Norman Brown & Gail Jhonson; 2. Norman Brown’s Group Performing; 3. Marion Meadows
3rd Row (L-R): 1. Bobby Caldwell, 2. Norman Brown, 3. Norman Brown & Gail Jhonson
4th Row (L-R): 1. Yoshi’s Brand 2. Keiko Matsui and Sheryl Aronson, 3. Keiko Matsui on Stage
The Icon Mann Red Carpet: A Night of Community and Power
By Sheryl Aronson| February 2015
Walking down the red carpet at Mr. C Beverly Hills Hotel on Wednesday night were the representatives of the third annual Icon Mann, Power 50 Experience. These are successful black men who exemplify the Influential Brokers in front of and behind the scenes of the entertainment industry. All the participants held themselves with grace and dignity, diligently on a mission to build a community of men where support, inspiration, and networking flourished. The founder of the organization is Tamara Houston. She and her team provided an All-Star lineup, which included Oscar winners and nominees, actors in the film and television industry, musicians, businessmen, and artists.
The attire varied from classic black tuxes to satin gray suits to some very snazzy, buoyant additions such as a wild colorful red/purple plaid jacket and matching pants to some polka dot shoes worn by David Oyelowo. Each man had a distinctive look and each man had distinctive comments about what it meant to be an ICON MANN.
Jamal Joseph, who co-wrote “Raise It Up” and was nominated for the best original song at the 2007 Academy Awards talked about the importance of the evening’s event. “Tonight we get to stand on the shoulders of the great men that came before us, not only in film but in the Civil Right’s movement. The song “Raise It Up” celebrates young people. Each day I want to make sure I am a role model for young black men when they might think their lives don’t matter.” Jamal is also a full professor and former chair of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division and the artistic director of the New Heritage Theater in Harlem.
A well-known face in the television world, Jason George who plays Dr. Warren on “Grey’s Anatomy” and lawyer, Dominic Taylor on the dramatic soap, “Mistresses,” approached me with a warm smile. He laughed as he said; “It’s not been a bad couple of years for me. I get to be married to Dr. Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy and be the lover of beautiful Savi a fellow lawyer on Mistresses.” Jason attributes his philosophy of life of being an ICON MANN to his grandmother from Louisiana. “I tell my kids I go to bed in the same way your great-grandmother and grandmother would be proud of me. Be aware people are always watching you and conduct your behavior accordingly.” He looked up to the heavens and said, “I know my grandmother is watching me now and she would be proud.”
Two men from the business side of the industry stopped by and reported their involvement in the organization. Charles King, one of the advisors for ICON MANN, just launched a new company, Macro Ventures. “My company will finance film and television content across the board with those platforms that focus on the multi-cultural marketplace.” Charles knew about the concept of ICON MANN from its inception. “I totally supported Tamara’s vision of from the very beginning which was bringing black men together developing a strong community of support and encouragement.”
Paul Martin, Diversity Officer at Sony Pictures works hard at ensuring the Entertainment Organization offers opportunities for all different cultural groups. A new idea in the industry, his job has only been in existence for five years. “I work for Sony Pictures Global Diversity Initiative making sure diverse voices are reflective in front and behind the camera as well as on a corporate level. I am honored to have been asked here tonight as a guest.”
Last year’s Oscar winner for best screenplay, “12 Years Slave”, John Ridley graciously gave all reporters an interview as he walked down the red carpet. I was surprised to find out that Mr. Ridley did not go to film school but did study at NYU. He had always been interested in writing about historical events. “I write about history, not just black history, it’s all a part of American history. There’s an audience for all kinds of entertainment and it’s not necessary to break it down into genre entertainment.” When asked about what it meant to him to be at the ICON MANN event that evening he said, “I am with people I have admired all my life. There are men here across the American performance arena whether it is music, film, or business and they represent people of color. It’s very special.” What’s Mr. Ridley working on now? “I have a television series coming out on ABC premiering on March 5th called “American Crime.” It’s about family, faith, and where we are in society.”
One the elders of ICON MANN, whose creative talents have illuminated the entertainment world for over 50 years and has won an Oscar for best-supporting actor in “Officer and a Gentleman”, also made sure everyone got an interview on the red carpet. Louis Gossett, Jr., refined, handsome, soft-spoken, said very simply, “Tonight I get to see the guys I never see or can get on the telephone because we are all so busy. I miss them all. Tonight is about friendship and community.” He takes his role as an elder seriously. “I am passing on my experience as an elder to the ones coming up. I am giving them my opinions and wisdom that I have gained over the years. There is a responsibility I must fulfill.” Mr. Gossett’s new television mini-series, “The Book of Negroes,” was being shown that night on BET Television.
A familiar face appeared at the beginning of the interviewing line and I was excited I would get to speak with him again. I had interviewed Blair Underwood in January 2015 at the Super Bowl Party hosted by the advertising agency, Walton Isaacson. Blair’s voice had been used for their Lexus Super Bowl commercial. Blair Underwood, looking dashing in his black suit, talked with me about his new role-playing a psychiatrist to Super Heroes on the show for ABC. “The sky is the limit with these characters that have no boundaries. I get to evaluate them. I’ve never worked on a project with superhero dynamics.” When I asked Blair what does being an ICON MANN mean to him, David Oyewolo was standing to his left giving an interview. Blair looked over at the young actor who had performed the role of one of the most iconic Black Leaders in American History, Martin Luther King. “I’ve been in show business for 30 years. Louis Gossett, Jr. and Sidney Portier have been very generous with my generation of actors and now I want to do the same and pass my knowledge and experience down to David’s generation.”
As I waited for the Golden Globe nominee, David Oyelowo, best actor in the role of Martin Luther King for the movie “Selma” to finish his interview, I thought it would be interesting to ask David what did he learn playing this iconic figure. With an extremely composed manner and speaking with an English accent, Mr. Oyelowo said, “It’s easy to be a talker but being a doer is what Martin Luther King was all about. He walked out to his calling despite his life being under stress every day. I will not be just a talker but a doer, as a father, as an actor, and as a friend, I will strive to be socially responsible.”
The definition of Icon is the following: a person regarded as a symbol of a belief, notion, community or a cultural movement. Every man that walked down the red carpet that evening exemplified what it meant to be an Icon Mann.