Unusual Teachers

Dear Pop,

I’m happy to hear that Thanksgiving went well. I had a great time here as well. Jean and Arthur are amazing hosts. You’re still breaking chops but don’t worry I didn’t eat them out of house and home! I admit it felt strange being in a warm climate for the day, I’m so used to the East Coast and cooler weather. Now that the majority of elections are done, we’ll what happens next. The story about Alexander is tragic but I can’t say I’m surprised. I think his empire may have been too large and his attention was diverted in multiple directions at once. I’ve heard as we age, our circle of close friends gets smaller, I sense there’s a good reason why. I started watching American Horror Story NYC, it’s really good writing and contains so many messages. I’m still early in the season but so far so good. I’ll let you know what I think when I finish it. The internet is a bottomless pit, what mom sends probably doesn’t scratch  the surface. You asked how people have time…..they usually don’t! But the devices are seductive and pull you in, and before you know it, hours have gone by. Make sure to keep mom from going down the rabbit hole. And if she resist, just tell her that the engineers who created these platforms usually keep their own kids away from them.

I thought about what you said regarding death and I can relate. I don’t fear it as much but confronting it will continue to be a challenge. But I also learned something that a lot of guys forget and that is men are not afraid to die alone. When I first heard it, I thought the statement was off base but when I thought about it, I realized that it’s true and partly explains why men have always sought seclusion to process deep thought and self-reflection. Even the late Lorraine Hansberry once said never be afraid to sit a while and think. There’s so much about manhood I’m still learning and surprisingly, it gets better over time. I wish I had been given the chance to meet your mother and have her as a grandmother. The pictures we have show an amazing woman who raised her kids right. What do you miss the most about her?

It seems the whole planet is in a fix right now. Between the chaos in Brazil and protests against Covid lockdowns across China, people everywhere are reaching their breaking points. I’ve heard Moynihan’s name but haven’t read that report. Let me take a look at it first so I can give you some feedback. But I can say now that the role of a father is critical to children. I don’t know how we would have turned out without you there. Mom is an incredibly strong woman but no one can do it all alone.  We were blessed to have uncles and aunts who supported us but a strong dad is invaluable. And I hope more young people understand this. Pop, were there moments when you felt conflicted as a father? Strange question, but I know you’ll have an answer for it.

I visited L.A. and there’s so much I learned during that trip. It proved the point that most of what we learn in life takes place outside of the classroom. During the visit, I stopped by Skid Row and talked to some of the locals. What they told me I will never forget. There are people on the streets who’ve graduated from college, traveled the world, had good jobs and still ended up in terrible situations. and they have been forgotten by society. It makes you wonder how this happens here in America.I know life isn’t always fair but it seems too many of us are being left behind. The pool of talent on the streets is larger than we think. I spoke to store owners who voiced concern about crime, taxes and the quality of life. I soon realized that regardless of our origins, at the core we’re all in search of the same things at times. And many of us have the same fears. I remember reading Jacob Riis’ ‘How the Other Half Lives’ and it’s chilling that even today we still have so much to learn about each other. L.A. is also a place where dreams can come true but most people struggle to catch that big break. Wishes are granted and dreams are broken in the City of Angels. There’s a dark side to the city and when the sun does down, you can see a whole other Los Angeles that’s not for the faint at heart. During my last day there, a street vendor asked me how I was doing. I answered and we had a good discussion about California and America, and before I left she said “never lose track of reality”. When I think about everything I saw in L.A. and what we see now on a daily basis, I understand.  Before I forget, I picked up something for you both in L.A., it should be in the mail soon.

Give everyone my love,

Junior.

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