In my early 20s, the Beach Boys turned me out! Me and my first love had gone to the Capital Center because we both dug Chicago, the opening act. We almost left the arena after Chicago blew us away with its muscular horn section. But as the song says, God only knows!

I was drifting on a contact high, the buzz of 20,000 fans, and my lover’s uncut groove, so I advocated that we give the corny California white boys a chance. We decided to listen to a couple of songs, and if they failed to meet the standards of two Chocolate City natives then we’d hat-up.

Have no idea which song they sang first, or the song list, but I swear the Beach Boys made believers out of two skeptics from SE, DC, who were steeped in the ferocious scope and depth and dimension of Black music.

But like Marvin sang: Come get to this!

I sang along fiercely with California Girls, I Get Around, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, and songs I didn’t even know I knew!

Alongside the most beautiful woman in the world, I glowed, she glowed, the whole joint glowed. 

I was so uplifted! I clapped till my hands ached. Stood up the whole damn show. We danced on-beat to the soaring, mesmerizing vocal overtones of the Beach Boys. We danced like two flower children from Topanga Canyon who made a stop in PG County Maryland on their way back home from Harlem’s Summer of Soul, with a side stop at Woodstock!


Everybody’s bioluminescence blazed in the house that night. Everybody was linked. We celebrated as “members of the same species.” We were inflamed by music and love and sincerity. Illuminated by song(s). Lit by lyric and voice and echo.

We could see each other listening to each other.

The light I shared with my first love didn’t keep us together, but it keeps us connected! Close my eyes and I can see her joyful face and I can feel my own joy reflected in my memory!

I mean, Good Vibrations for real!

Our glow remains palpable. Pure. Reminds me to sustain myself, to love myself more today than yesterday, and swing that love/keep it supple, ignite that love/keep it blazing, peep that love/stoke it till it’s ever ready to amaze.

Glow head on brother/bring that love on home.

BONUS EXCERPT from my book, Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right,’ WINNER, 2015 AMERICAN BOOK AWARD: “…. I’m trying to tell him that none of this will be easy. That it takes the hardest work of our lives to remain personally resilient, ethical, hopeful, artistic, and resourceful, especially in the face of challenges …. I tell him that we should look within ourselves at least as deeply as the think tanks, foundations, nonprofits, prison systems, and public intellectuals are looking at our lives. We should care more about our health and more about our futures. I just want to be an animating force in my grandson’s life, which he has to live for himself, of course. I want him to have a clue about those elemental focus areas of all our lives: education, health, family, work, living incomes, and criminal justice. But I want his tool kit to also include inspiration, imagination, creativity, metaphor, celebration, empathy, compassion, and improvisation.  When I think like an administrator (and not a grandfather), I ask how can we trust the cultivation these so-called ‘soft’ tools? What role could they play in our lives? How could we seamlessly weave and incorporate them into even administrative processes? How could ‘Inspiration Specs’ maintain the rigor necessary to execute an administrative mission or reach organizational goals? Talking and listening to Jelani, I am full with the understanding that there’s nothing soft about trusting intentions, knowing viscerally, concentrating deeply, loving simplicity, developing fortitude, building stamina, and accepting excitement and curiosity as catalysts for new angles, supple thinking, leaps of associations, and vocabularies of possibilities. But don’t wait until you’re in crisis, I’m trying to say…. Locate the sources of your power, your strengths, your vitality, your vision, and become a powerful circuit breaker to actual and potential violence by using your mind and imagination to inspire change within yourself and within your world. Create your own governing myths, craft your own life-saving metaphors, generate your own inspiring narratives for the future, and stitch what’s awesome into the quilt of ‘practical’ approaches necessary to ensure your healthiest future.…”

3 thoughts on “Bioluminescence”

  1. Wow!
    I absolutely love the way you write and what you have to say. I have been receiving your emails, for a while now and I am so happy that you’re in my life.
    More, more, more! Keep it coming, dear man.
    Thank you.

  2. I always feel good when I read these essays. Not let-off-the-hook good, but a little joy, a little hope. I’m sharing with a few friends.

  3. Let me check out the Beach Boys a little closer now. Hope I don’t need a “contact” to feel the groove. Hahahaha. I grew up listening to mostly Blues, Motown, and later Funk. So many Rock groups have soul, that I am now just discovering. It was always there, but for some reason, I just couldn’t see past the color to really get what was right in front of me. Can’t wait to listen to the Boys with neutral ears. 🙂


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