Monday, 6 November 2017

A Random Call That Hit Me In The Feels

I remember my first interaction with Lonny and it was during my early days at the Venice Beach Drum Circle. After warming up for a while by the Boardwalk with the guys we headed towards the sand. I thought I’d help him with his instruments. So as we were walking side by side, he asked how long I have been playing; to which I replied as I long as I can remember and that I would always drum on benches and desks. He then remarked that as soon as I put my hands on the djembe he knew that I was a player.

“You know what you do?” He asked. I curiously inquired. “You count. Most people just play,” he said. After a brief moment of reflection I explained that even though it occurs subconsciously, but yes I do count. And it was Lonny who first noticed. 

Almost three years later, a friend and I had an idea for a documentary about the VBDC. We gathered some old-timers, including Lonny, and began shooting. This was when I reminded him of his remark and how it boosted my self-esteem on those first days at The Circle. He proceeded to explain how pleasant it is to play with someone who counts: And that’s because you can synchronise with them by doing your own counting, which has a magnificent effect on the music and the final melody.

During the interview I was stunned to know that Lonny is 89 years young — the age of my grandparents. Yet he still makes it almost every weekend to the beach with his instruments just to jam with the rest of us. What an inspiration. 

He actually became my living example of age is just a number. I mean, we all know those who became ‘old’ way earlier in life, while look at Lonny kicking ass with his sweet tunes week after week. I think he serves as a huge wake-up call to many who allow life to live them rather than the other way round. Be like Lon and do something you are passionate about instead of watching TV all day long, slowly decaying.

More can be found on A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15) and its Sequel.

Alex and Lonny getting ready for interview

Fast forward to a few days ago when I found a missed call from an unknown number. A while later, it was followed by another, then a message on the voicemail. To my surprise, it was Lonny. It was the Full Lunacy Drum Circle event that night so I couldn’t call him back.

However, he called back the next day, twice, leaving more messages. When I returned the call, he didn’t pick up and it was my turn to leave a message. Two more missed calls from him before I finally called back and he picked up. 

All this time I was sincerely wondering what it was. In fact, once I dialled his number that last time I had a pen and paper ready — for some odd reason I had a feeling that I would need them.

Hey, Brother. 

Is this the famous Omar Cherif? I couldn’t reach you for days.” He jokingly said. “I hope you’re doing well my Brother. I wanted to ask you about that documentary we shot some months ago.”

I explained that Alex is finalising it and it should be ready soon. “Whenever it will be, we will all get together somewhere to watch it.

He then suddenly said “You’ll need to write that down!” 

Oh, well the pen was actually in my hand. He gave me his address, explaining how to get there from Venice. 

I said I will definitely pass by someday, though also mentioning that I don’t have a car. The man then didn’t hesitate to say that he can pass by to pick me up anytime in his. How cute. You can even see him holding his phone in our featured photo together because he insisted to take another one using it. Auwh. 

Carrying on the phone conversation: “You know I like you, Omar, and I want to hang out sometimes. Because I know how much of a good person you truly are.

His words hit me in the feels, causing my sympathetic nervous system to produce goosebumps all over my body along some watery eyes. I thanked him for the heartfelt words, mentioning that coming from him it’s even more humbling. 

I love you, man,” I blurted out.

I love you too, Brother.

We’ll speak soon and make it happen. Have a wonderful night.” 

Long Live Lonny The Beautiful Soul.

Lonny the inspirational Venice Beach Drum Circle icon


A Letter That Hit Me In The Feels

For The Love Of Storytelling

Rooting Into The Past

My Correspondence With a 31-Year-Old Reader Before He Passed Away

Some People I Shot

The Night We Turned ‘Beast Mode’ On

A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15)

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

A Wacky Day Out at LA Burning Man Decompression in Photos & Video

The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

How Inspiration is Transferable

A Saturday Evening with an Old Brotherman & His Doggy

Why I Share Stuff

The Night I Became a Stripper

Give That Man Some Groceries

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