Messin’ With My Mess… January 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog


Christmas fam pic

  • Two filmmakers.
  • One aspiring dental hygienist.
  • Two people who own their own housecleaning business.
  • A great cinematographer.
  • Three sound technicians.
  • A drum-line instructor.
  • An ordained minister.
  • A guitar maker.
  • Five grandchildren.
  • An extraordinary musician.
  • A gamesman and blogger.
  • Food service.
  • National director of a beauty company.
  • An entrepreneur businesswoman.
  • An English teacher.
  • Two bass guitar players.
  • A studio producer.
  • A pair of young singers and actresses.
  • A retired administrative assistant.

Behold–a list of the doings of the family and friends pictured above, which happens to be the group of individuals with whom I shared Christmas cheer.

I was “Daddy” to some, “Pop” to others, “G-Pop” to a few, longtime friend, confidante, and now I am the aging patriarch who travels the country, cropping up every once in a while to remind them of their heritage.

As I sat in the midst of the photo session for the picture  you see today, I was thinking to myself, “What do I hope for these people?”

Is it realistic to dream that they might share my faith? Part of me wishes they would, because my substance of hope certainly conjures delightful, unseen evidence.

How about my politics? Well, since I feverishly and fervently avoid such foolishness, it might be difficult for them to pinpoint my leanings.

No, family is the great testing ground for us to realize that it is important to love people without ever thinking you’re going to control them. I really only hope that they maintain three cardinal principles:

  1. Love people.
  2. Like your work.
  3. Hate injustice.

Because without loving people, you have absolutely no chance of ever seeing God. And if you don’t like your work, it makes most of your day feel tedious. And if you don’t have the foresight to stand up against injustice, you will feel very silly and be proven wrong more often than not.

So take the picture. Preserve it for all time.

But hopefully when we stroll out of the room to our varied pursuits, we can remember that great trinity of responsibility.


The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Terkel… February 23, 2013


On the third day I decided to stop.

Sprawled on the gravel near the dumpster behind the convenience store, sitting out in front of my motel, was a man who certainly conveyed that he had lots of time on his hands and not too many places to go. I guess that’s a quaint way of saying–homeless.

I passed by him in my van the first two days, waving and smiling. On my first passage, he seemed a bit bewildered by my friendliness but on the second day he returned my greeting with the vigor of a long-lost friend watching his confidante fly off to Siberia on a secret mission.

But on the third day I decided to stop. I rolled up, eased my window down and said, “How ya’ doin’?”

Stumbling to his feet, staring into the distance and refusing eye contact, he replied, “Zeus has given me the light.”

I paused, recollecting my Greek mythology. Zeus was the top-dog god on Mount Olympus. I continued. “Zeus, huh? How’d you get an appointment with him?”

The question obviously baffled him so he continued his runaway train of thought. “Mercury gave me wings,” he proclaimed, still staring off into the distance.

It seemed we were going to run the entire roster of Hellenistic deities.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

There was a long pause. I decided not to repeat my question. I felt it would seem as if I were insensitive or impertinent. I just waited. At length, he responded.

“Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” Each letter grew in pitch of volume and intensity.

“I would have guessed Brian or Kenneth based on your age,” I replied.

For the first time the trance was broken and he glanced at me with a crinkled brow. Noting his coherency, I asked, “So what are you doing out here behind the convenience store?”

He yelled, ‘The policeman said I could be here as long as I didn’t lean against the building and sat on the gravel. It’s public property.”

I obviously had struck a nerve.

“You misunderstood my question,” I explained. “What I’m asking you is, what’s your story?”

“Zeus gave me…” he began.

I interrupted. “Listen, Terkel. I don’t know whether you believe in Zeus or not, but let’s just pretend for a second that you don’t. If you’d like me to stop bothering you, I get it. But really, it’s quite simple. I have passed by you for two days and waved, and I thought i would stop this time–just to see if there was anything human that could happen between us.”

This time he paused, recollecting human manners. “Do you have any money?” he asked.

“You know I do,” I replied. “You see, they don’t let you leave the back end of the convenience store and roam around if you don’t have it.”

I think he smiled, which led me to believe there was a little bit more inside of him than just a supernal messenger from Zeus.

“Do you have any money you can give me?” he asked more pointedly.

I reached for my wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills, and as I was beginning to hand them to him he added, eyeing the cash, “Breakfast tacos are three dollars.”

“You  mean Zeus left you out here without breakfast?” I probed with a smile.

He smiled back, as if mirroring my image. I reached into my wallet and added an additional one to my offering. “Breakfast tacos it is, then.”

He took the money and inquired, “What’s your name?”

“This is gonna be weird,” I said. “My name is also Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” I mimicked his previous bravado.

He chuckled in spite of himself. “You’re not Terkel,” he said.

“Neither are you.”

He chuckled again.

“You see, this wasn’t so bad. We talked for a minute, we got past the lineage of the Greek gods and you ended up with money for breakfast tacos.”

I reached down to close my window, finishing up the conversation. He stepped forward, and for the first time, looked me in the eyes.

“Thank you, Terkel,” he said. Then he stepped back and stared in the distance as if perched on the deck of the Santa Maria, peering for the north star. He mumbled something about Zeuss and collapsed onto the gravel in a giant heap.

I drove away. I do not know if I did a good thing or a bad thing. Such determinations, in my mind, are deliberated by foolish souls who pursue levels of divinity instead of acquiring the true depths of their humanity.

What I did was something different. And without difference, we are stuck with what and who we are … believing that nothing can change.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

We Gathered Together … November 25, 2011


In Washington, D.C.

Family is a collection of souls who share common experiences with often varying conclusions.

This is why those members of your household can be your best friends or your worst enemies. As the contradictory sayings put forth, “absence DOES make the heart grow fonder” but “familiarity has a tendency to breed contempt.”

So when it came time this year for Thanksgiving, I had one son in Miami, one in Los Angeles, one in New York and three in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. So it was logical to migrate the entire herd to Music City, USA. I rented a large house for four days so we could simulate the experience of the growing up years and share fellowship and the better baking of a bird. It was a fascinating experience.

All of these people who once lived under my roof, subjected to my tutelage, are now adults with lives of their own, with emotionally Xeroxed images of their particular interpretation of the philosophies put forth in our little experiment. I love them all–and even like them. But to assume that I agree with everything they do, approve of their actions or would find myself in complete synchronicity with their purposes is utterly ridiculous.

I think there are three phases in having children. Up to the age of five, you infuse manners, kindness, generosity and just general hygiene into them. From five to fifteen, you present yourself as an example–touting the better ways to handle things and also teaching them the value of having a clean emotional life, which lends itself to the possibility of spirituality. From fifteen to twenty-five, you have to gradually release them to their own missions, and also the favor that they will curry with God and man. After twenty-five, the deal is pretty well done and you need to settle in and become their friend instead of insisting on remaining their father or mother. Any other approach creates tension, disagreement and nasty disapproval, which in no way assists a human being towards for ongoing success. It was just wonderful to sit back and stop trying to be a patriarch and instead, reap the benefits of being a retired parent, who now is trying to find out–just like them–how to maintain the integrity of being a good human being.

The evening was further enhanced by the arrival of five friends of my son from Miami–old acquaintances of his from when he used to live in this region.  They brought freshness, energy, appreciation and joy to the excursion. We closed out the night in the master bedroom, playing songs around the piano, with Jan tootin’ her horns–creating the kind of “Kum Bay Yah” moment that makes for a great Hollywood ending. Yes–to a certain degree, I guess life is like a movie, or as Shakespeare put it–a stage. We develop relationship, we advance the plot, we encounter difficulty and we overcome together. (Honestly, anyone you do that with becomes family. And if your family hasn’t accomplished that, then you’re just related instead of relative to each other.)

I will go back on the road for a sixteen-city tour of a Christmas show of my own making. But I will have the memories of all these folks that I had the pleasure of nurturing, who have now found a way of enjoying their nourishment through life–absent of my interference and present of my approval.

Yes, we gathered together, but not to ask the Lord’s blessing.  No, just to look each other in the eyes and know that the Lord’s blessing is available if we will just have the tenacity to enjoy the pursuit of it. I am a father of sons, many of whom have found wives. I am not outdated, but rather, have updated my status to friend and confidante instead of tutor and disciplinarian. Because of that I am still of value to them. After all, in the adult world, spanking doesn’t work, even when error is made. All that truly is valuable is support and a lack of criticism.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of us–and may we continue to realize that what constitutes family is loving your neighbor as you love yourself.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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