Yes, Gun Control. But . . .

Yes, Gun Control. But Here's Another Critical Measure To Keep Us Safe

by Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times

Students gather at a memorial at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla., to remember those who were killed and injured Wednesday in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The day after the Florida school massacre, I was on a plane and kept hearing the faint sounds of gunfire.

I flinched the first couple of times, then calmed down when I realized the noise was coming from young folks shooting up virtual enemies in video games.

If I try really hard, I guess I can see how those games might be fun for about five minutes. But we're talking about a form of addiction here, and at the risk of sounding like the grumpy uncle, that ain't healthy.

It's hard to establish irrefutable evidence of a connection between virtual violence and the real thing. But as we see more horrifying mass shootings at schools, concerts and elsewhere — along with the far more deadly daily carnage of the unsensational firearm-related murder and suicide — it's clear something is horribly wrong in this country.

The first problem is obvious.

We have a ridiculous amount of weapons in circulation, thanks to the spineless, blood-on-their-hands lawmakers owned by the National Rifle Assn. Periodic calls for greater gun control seldom advance, no matter how many innocent children are murdered by people with military-style weapons purchased legally.

But given the fact that the gun lobby usually wins these battles, despite more than 150 school shootings in the last decade, what else can be done besides the usual calls for national prayer and mourning?

There's no fool-proof remedy, and no solution that doesn't involve trade-offs. You can't round up everyone who looks peculiar or seems angry, nor can you predict behavior with any certainty.

But it would help if warnings about dangerous behavior were properly investigated, and the FBI has admitted that didn't happen in Florida. The agency failed to probe a January tip that a young man had bought weapons and threatened a family member, and that same guy is accused of opening fire on his former classmates Wednesday in Florida, killing 17.

Shooters in such cases aren't necessarily mentally ill, and aren't always young people, as we were reminded by the 64-year-old man who killed 58 people in Las Vegas in October. But the human brain undergoes changes from the teen years into the early 20s, when mental illness and emotional problems often manifest, so it's critical to have enough counselors and mental health professionals at schools and colleges.

When my flight landed, I caught the tail end of a radio interview on KNX with Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, talking about the Florida shooting in the context of shortages of school nurses and counselors. So I called him to see what I'd missed.

Caputo-Pearl said 57% of California school districts do not have full-time staff nurses, and although the American School Counselor Assn. calls for a 250-to-1 student counselor ratio, most states have much higher workloads.

"California is at 945 to 1," said Caputo-Pearl.

"We've got proposals on the bargaining table right now to increase nurse staffing, counselor staffing, psychiatric social worker staffing and the number of school psychologists," he added.

Caputo-Pearl last taught in 2014, and I asked if he thought the job of teachers and other school staffers is complicated like never before because students are distracted by digital obsessions and dark influences.

"I can tell you it's very difficult, dealing with electronics and the internet," he said. "The cauldron gets all the more explosive when you add hate groups into it, and access to hate groups through the internet."

Michael Pobanz, an L.A. Unified School District psychologist for 18 years, said he and his colleagues spend a huge amount of their time interviewing students and writing reports on those who need special education placement, but not as much time on the social and emotional needs of other students.

"In general, our workload is too high," said Pobanz. He said he experienced "the worst stress of my career" during a former assignment to a school where he was too overwhelmed to respond immediately to requests for help with struggling students.

Frances Marion, a psychiatric social worker for LAUSD and a UTLA representative, sounded exhausted Friday afternoon following another week of overwhelming demand for her services. Psychiatric social workers typically have thousands of students at multiple schools in a given week, she said. Where they work is based less on a district directive, she said, and more on which schools can scrape up discretionary funds while choosing between critical support resources and basic supplies.

"Every day, it's trying to decide who the biggest safety concern is because of domestic violence, abuse, self-injury or suicidal ideation," Marion said. "Getting to prevention and early intervention with kids who have more minor symptoms falls to the wayside."

I asked what kind of issues she typically sees in her students.

"Families are in crisis because they can't afford housing, they're living in unsafe living conditions, they're doubled and tripled and quadrupled up with other families, they're working multiple low-wage jobs which means they don't have time to be with kids who need guidance and nurturing," said Marion.

Like I said, preventing senseless gun violence in a country that has more weapons than people will never be easy.

But that's no reason to stop fighting for sensible gun restrictions, more comprehensive mental health services and more support for students growing up in a culture of digital addiction and social dysfunction.

Bridgette Robinson, a teacher on leave from Sal Castro Middle School this year, said she needed a break from the shortage of resources for troubled students and the extra work and pressure she endured because of it.

"Students should have more access to more counselors and more mental health services, because if they have someone to talk to, they will," Robinson said. "That's the bottom line."

Robinson has been in the news lately following a shooting Feb. 1 at Castro. Her former student, 12-year-old Issa Al-Bayati, was shot in the head and is still recovering.

A teen girl was shot in the wrist.

And a 12-year-old girl was charged with being a minor in possession of a semiautomatic pistol.

Issa and his family came to the U.S. after his father was killed in Iraq, according to Robinson.

The family moved here thinking it would be safe.


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Click here to read Steve's original article at the Los Angeles Times


STEVE LOPEZ is a California native who has been an L.A. Times columnist since 2001. He has won more than a dozen national journalism awards for his reporting and column writing at seven newspapers and four news magazines, and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist for commentary – in 2012, for his columns on elder care, and in 2016, for his columns on income inequality in California. He is the author of three novels, two collections of columns and a non-fiction work called “The Soloist,” which was a Los Angeles Times and New York Times best-seller, winner of the PEN USA Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and the subject of a Dream Works movie by the same name. Lopez’s television reporting for public station KCET has won three local news Emmys, three Golden Mike awards and a share of the Columbia University DuPont Award. Get more of Steve's work and follow him on Twitter @LATstevelopez




America's Gun Violence: Director's Message March 2018

Greetings MCLA Sacred Path Community,

March 2018

It’s Sunday, as I’m writing my Director’s Message, and the closing ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place tonight. In the midst of the agony of defeat and the ecstasy of accomplishment associated with the games, we also witnessed olive branches extended as athletes from North and South Korea, Russia and the Ukraine united and embraced in youthful enthusiasm and fellowship fueled by good natured competition.  It gives us a glimpse into the possibilities for a world comprised of nations existing in peaceful and harmonious camaraderie. 

However, a few days following the opening ceremony we once again suffered the agony of another heart-wrenching shooting massacre, this time of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  It reignited the debate over gun control but also launched a group of teen age activists and set in motion the #NeverAgain movement. 

This past week I was riveted to the TV watching some remarkable examples of the youth of America expressing themselves with great clarity, dignity and courage.  Survivors of the mass shooting, they bore witness to the horrors of gun violence in the hands of another angry, mentally deranged male inflicting his rage on society. 

This latest incident raises many urgent questions requiring accurate answers.  Central to what’s on the table to be considered and resolved is the question of why America is the only nation that experiences this form of violence, and what needs to be done about it.

As I listened intently to the young activists, the pervasive heaviness that I’ve been feeling for the past year began to lift.  I recalled how I felt when I was in my 20’s and was an activist protesting the Vietnam War and those responsible for sending over 56,000 American youths of my generation and countless numbers of Vietnamese to their deaths. Deep in our hearts and souls we knew that it was the wrong war to fight. It was later confirmed when President Johnson realized that it was a war that we could not win and finally pulled out our troops.

This week I felt buoyed by the spirit of the young representatives of Generation Z who stood up to take a stand on behalf of what needs to change. I expressed at one of our Call to Adventure Rites of Passage Retreats many years ago that our future is in the hands of our children and we, as a nation and as a world, will go where they ultimately take us. 

"Seek out evil, wherever it is seen. Speak out against it, and give your enemy no quarter." -- the HAVAMAL

My generation, the post World War II “baby boomers”, felt that we had made a positive and lasting difference in the world on many fronts when we were young.  We were idealists but we were also activists.  Over the years we have witnessed many hard realities that have overshadowed our idealistic vision for a world that works for everyone.  Yet, this week I felt a renewed enthusiasm when I viewed the passionate pleas that punctuated the heartfelt expressions of grief expressed by a unified group of America’s youth.  Their voices rang true.  Their power was evident.  I believe in them and feel a sense of relief that our future is in their hands.

We at MCLA will continue to do what we can to support males in the world to become and be Mindful Men.  Our programs will continue to serve the cause of “bringing good men together and bringing out the best in them.”  Thank you for joining forces with us to make the world a better and safer place to live.

One of our men, Dan Stradford, sent the following to me:  "I just returned from a vacation in Norway.  I like to collect books of wisdom from the various places I travel to and came across the Hávamál, a collection of Viking proverbs from a thousand years ago. I thought you'd like this one, if you hadn't seen it already: 

"When I was young and walked alone, alone I lost my way. I felt rich when I found company.  Man delights in man."

In the spirit of brotherhood.


Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
Executive Director






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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit



Dr. Johnson is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men . . . AND for the women who care about them.



"THE SACRED PATH MEN'S RETREATS" MCLA's Wisdom Council honored Dr. J's amazing 30 years of mindful leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative tribute film. See for yourself the incredible men's work that we do on the mountain.


Colorado River Men's Retreat Launches March 8

Colorado River Men's Retreat Launches in One Week


Ewing Ventures

I’ve been kayaking this stretch of the Colorado River since before I can remember.  In fact, this year’s retreat marked the fifth year in a row that I’ve been on the river that exact week.  I think it’s a powerful place to unwind and let go and unplug and just enter a different kind of flow.  It’s a slower pace, filled with wonder and beauty, where the new things I’m doing help me to be fully present to a new and different reality than my own.

Over the years, taking groups to the river and conducting retreats there and just visiting with family and friends, I have introduced about 150 people to this little piece of paradise.  It’s where I want my ashes spread.  And I would like to take you there.

After an evening at a local hotel where we gather and smile and hug and have a meeting about logistics, we retire to our rooms for final preparations and our last night’s sleep in real beds.  Heads are filled with excitement and reflection, gear is packed and repacked, food and clothing are set out.  And, if we’re lucky, we get a little shut eye.

Bright and early, we get up and it’s launch day!  Each man reports to the parking lot for gear check and I.D. check, we load up, and off we go.  We’re part of just a small number of people who pass through a government secured gate annually to the base of Hoover Dam.  There, we help each other to unload the kayaks and get them to the water.  We help each other load the boats, and it's float time.

To me, this is the best day of the whole weekend. Immediately, we become a school of men, a tiny few of the living, breathing organisms in this slow-moving river of water.  There may be twenty of us, but we may not see another human all day. 

We picked these days at the beginning of March, because, if we’re lucky, the weather is not too cold, but also not so beastly hot that we have no interest in the hot springs.  Because men, this place has got some of the most amazing hot springs in the world.

The entire trip is a flat-water, eleven-mile, down river journey, but the first stop is just two hundred yards away. I call it the vapor cave.  We go in one at a time and gather at the far end.  Those who want to examine fears of the unknown, fears of the dark – they go first.  In there, we tune out, drop in and talk about why we’re there.  It’s a perfect and powerful start to an amazing retreat.

From there, we visit several stops, including a natural hot shower, several hot spring rivers, streams, pools and brooks, and then arrive at camp late in the afternoon to make camp.  It’s a day filled with adventure . . . and it’s just the beginning.

Whether you’re an avid boater, a life-long camper or a man who has never been off of pavement in your life, if you can walk, we hope you’ll join us and enter the flow. You’ll be part of a band of brothers that has your back for a potentially life-altering experience.  You’ll learn a little more about self-reliance, too, coming off the river with an expanded sense of what it means to be truly alive.



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Scroll down for more photo memories of the 2017 Colorado River Retreat
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SCOTT WAYNE OBRIEN EWING  is a long-time member and leader Men's Center Los Angeles. He studied Technical Theatre and Design at Peppedine University and today works at Quest Theaterworks in Grass Valley, California. Click here to visit his Facebook page.


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The Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat 2017

by Daniel Stanton


On March 9th, 2017, twenty-one men from the Men’s Center Los Angeles began a four-day, three-night journey in the Black Canyon on the Colorado River, between Arizona and Nevada, downstream from the Hoover Dam.

The best way to describe the Black Canyon is that it is one of the most beautiful, majestic, and incredible places within the United States, if not the entire world.  The Black Canyon is a 12-mile stretch of river that is home to big horn sheep, bald eagles, striped bass, and a variety of birds, reptiles and plants.

On most visits to the Black Canyon, one will find sun-baked mountains and canyons with very little vegetation and an abundance of emerald green, crystal clear water that averages about 58 degrees year round.  With all of the rain the west coast has received this year, we witnessed an abundance of “green scape” that covered the mountains and canyons, with blossoming cactus and wild flowers everywhere. 

The weather conditions on the river were exceptional with temperatures in the mid-70s to low-80s during the day and mid to upper 50s during the evening.  The water level on the river was high, but there was little to no current on the river, which made the maneuvering of the kayaks and canoes easy to handle. All in all the conditions on the river during the four days was exceptional.

The Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat was the third time the Retreat was hosted in the Black Canyon.  Several of the men had attended all three retreats including Clayton Norcross, Tommy Holmes and Daniel Stanton.  The 2017 retreat was co-led by Rob Bruce, Dr. Michael Lewis, Scott Ewing and Daniel Stanton. 

The Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat began by launching our kayaks and canoes from the base of Hoover Dam, then taking most of the first day to experience the Sauna Cave, Gold Strike Canyon, which has a great walking trail, water falls, and hot springs, followed by a visit to “God’s Wall” which is too incredible to put into words.

The Black Canyon is known for its natural Hot Springs, clear emerald green water, big horn sheep, bald eagles, calm water, and connecting with Nature and yourself in a way that you may not have ever experienced before. We enjoyed a nice leisurely pace where there were no schedules, no cell phones, no computers, just connection with Nature and yourself.  We explored incredible caves that can only be accessed from the River, including the Emerald Cave which is a popular location to stop relax and enjoy the beauty.

We arrived at our Base Camp, located at a place called the Arizona Hot Springs. approximately four miles downstream from our launching point at the Hoover Dam, mid-afternoon where we unloaded our kayaks and canoes and set up our camp for the next three days.

Some of the best Natural Hot Springs were located at base camp.  There is also an incredible view of the River from a “look-out” point.  At base camp we set up our Sweat Lodge, build a couple of fire pits, enjoyed our meals, shared stories, kicked back and relaxed, and woke up to the smells of fresh brewed coffee. We even saw some big horn sheep across the river from our camp. Each morning after our coffee, some light breakfast, and a morning dip in the natural hot springs, we enjoyed incredible hikes, jumped off rocks into a beautiful lagoon, and paddled upstream to explore more wonderful trails.  The day was ours to seize.

On Friday afternoon Dan Stanton and Bill Arena coordinated the building of the Sweat Lodge.  With willow, twine, tools, tarps, and stones that were brought down river in the canoe barge we successfully built an incredible Lodge.  Dan and Bill led the Sweat Lodge ceremony on Friday and Saturday evening under the curiosity of a nearby father/daughter group of campers.

On Saturday, Rob Bruce led a Tibetan prayer flag blessing ceremony where each man wrote the names of family members or those who have passed on their prayer flags. 

A heartfelt anthem about the Individual prayers that each man inscribed indelibly onto genuine Tibetan prayer flags which we then endeavored to stretch and fly across the 300-foot width between the sacred canyon walls.

The prayer flags were then strung together to create this amazingly long prayer flag that was then connected to the back of a kayak, with a long pole mounted from a paddle.

We will never forget the emotion of listening to Tommy Holmes’ soulful voice and stirring lyrics bound and echo off the river’s ancient walls while we witnessed Anthony Dimaggio heroically paddle his kayak in a warrior–like pilgrimage with our detailed, intimate prayers to the other side while Rob and Patrick Mannion helped feed the prayer flags as Anthony paddled across the river. Adam Zawadzki videoed the event on his Go Pro.

“Prayers across the River, Prayers across the World” are just a few of the passionate words our retreat brother & poet troubadour, Tommy Holmes, spontaneously crafted and played on his acoustic guitar for our band of brothers on the second day of our Colorado River adventure. 

Our intention, purpose and aim, quite literally, not just metaphorically, was for our collective prayers to bridge the divide and as Tibetan tradition suggests, be "blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion”  into the flow of the river and all pervading space throughout the world.

So, as the flags soared and fluttered across the river and our moonscape like campsite during sunset and while a bonfire blazed under a full moon rise, Tommy shared his song one more time at the end of our traditional community talking stick time.

There had been challenges during our 4-day hero’s journey in the wilderness. Brother Anthony didn’t know it until he returned home from the trip that had he had actually fractured his foot and still he soldiered on.

Brother Michael received some heart wrenching news and was required to hike back four miles to civilization. A platoon of brothers and spiritual warriors walked by his side to assure a safe return over the difficult terrain to the main road so that he could head home after receiving devastating medical news about his sister. The men made sure Dr. Mike did not make that journey out of the canyon alone.

The entire Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat was a huge success and we could hear the words, “This was the Best retreat ever…” as we repacked our boats and headed home.  There were many special moments during the weekend that the men will need to share for themselves. 

The men all wanted to make the Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat an annual Spring event and that will be discussed at a later date.  In the meantime, check out the “Prayers across the River” retreat photos on our MCLA Facebook page.  You’ll have to come to the Sacred Path Fall Retreat in October to hear the individual stories.

We thank everyone who accepted the challenge to get out of their comfort zone, to spend time with other good men out in the wilderness, to partake of the hero’s journey. It was an amazing retreat.


We especially thank our founder and wayshower, Dr. Stephen Johnson, for creating the Men’s Center of Los Angeles over 30 years ago and leading us in such a powerful and soulful way. Dr. J’s mindful work has touched the hearts of all of us and empowered us to become better men.

Ho, Mitakuye Oyasin (To All of Your Relations.



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More photo memories of the 2017 Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat
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“Bring good men together . . . and bring out the best in them”

THANK YOU DR. J __ The 21 men of the 2017 Colorado River Men's Retreat extend our deepest thanks and sincere appreciation to Dr. Stephen Johnson. Thank you Dr. J for listening to your own internal guidance and taking action on your dreams. Click the video at left to see our heartfelt tribute to this man's indomitable leadership. 

  COMING SOON:  Colorado River Kayak Men's Retreat -- March 7-11, 2018. Spots are limited.    Click here to reserve your space.

COMING SOON: Colorado River Kayak Men's Retreat -- March 7-11, 2018. Spots are limited. Click here to reserve your space.

Men's Wellness Summit

Welcome to The Men's Wellness Summit!

[Click here to start listening now!]

BLAST OFF into the world of men's wellness with our speakers who give a brilliant overview of the factors most contributing to the chronic health problems in men. Learn to not only survive, but to thrive, to be your own "health hero" and an innovator of change in your community. It's time to usher in a new era of healthcare and it starts with you.

  • You'll receive an email each day about that day's talks. Make sure to look for it and open it to learn more about the speakers.
  • Some email providers are known to BLOCK our emails: Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo, SBCglobal, AOL, to name a few. We recommend a Gmail address!
  • You DO NOT need the daily email to listen to the talks. Use this link each day if you don't get your email (you might have to clear your browser history).
  • Each day's speakers are available on demand for a 24-hour period ONLY, from 10 A.M. U.S. Eastern until 9:59 A.M. the next day.
  • Enjoy learning! We'll replay all of the talks on Encore Day (Monday)!

Click here to listen to today's talks!


Thank you for being here this week!

In health,
Matthew & Mahboubeh


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Click here to join The Men's Wellness Summit


The Boys Are NOT All Right

The Boys Are NOT All Right

By Michael Ian Black
New York Times Op-Ed

I used to have this one-liner: “If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes . . . order for him.” It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity — but it is.

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.

The brokenness of the country’s boys stands in contrast to its girls, who still face an abundance of obstacles but go into the world increasingly well equipped to take them on.

The past 50 years have redefined what it means to be female in America. Girls today are told that they can do anything, be anyone. They’ve absorbed the message: They’re outperforming boys in school at every level. But it isn’t just about performance. To be a girl today is to be the beneficiary of decades of conversation about the complexities of womanhood, its many forms and expressions.

Boys, though, have been left behind. No commensurate movement has emerged to help them navigate toward a full expression of their gender. It’s no longer enough to “be a man” — we no longer even know what that means.

Too many boys are trapped in the same suffocating, outdated model of masculinity, where manhood is measured in strength, where there is no way to be vulnerable without being emasculated, where manliness is about having power over others. They are trapped, and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to discuss the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine.

Men feel isolated, confused and conflicted about their natures. Many feel that the very qualities that used to define them — their strength, aggression and competitiveness — are no longer wanted or needed; many others never felt strong or aggressive or competitive to begin with. We don’t know how to be, and we’re terrified.

But to even admit our terror is to be reduced, because we don’t have a model of masculinity that allows for fear or grief or tenderness or the day-to-day sadness that sometimes overtakes us all.

Case in point: A few days ago, I posted a brief thread about these thoughts on Twitter, knowing I would receive hateful replies in response. I got dozens of messages impugning my manhood; the mildest of them called me a “soy boy” (a common insult among the alt-right that links soy intake to estrogen).

And so the man who feels lost but wishes to preserve his fully masculine self has only two choices: withdrawal or rage. We’ve seen what withdrawal and rage have the potential to do. School shootings are only the most public of tragedies. Others, on a smaller scale, take place across the country daily; another commonality among shooters is a history of abuse toward women.

To be clear, most men will never turn violent. Most men will turn out fine. Most will learn to navigate the deep waters of their feelings without ever engaging in any form of destruction. Most will grow up to be kind. But many will not.

We will probably never understand why any one young man decides to end the lives of others. But we can see at least one pattern and that pattern is glaringly obvious. It’s boys.

I believe in boys. I believe in my son. Sometimes, though, I see him, 16 years old, swallowing his frustration, burying his worry, stomping up the stairs without telling us what’s wrong, and I want to show him what it looks like to be vulnerable and open but I can’t. Because I was a boy once, too.

There has to be a way to expand what it means to be a man without losing our masculinity. I don’t know how we open ourselves to the rich complexity of our manhood. I think we would benefit from the same conversations girls and women have been having for these past 50 years.

I would like men to use feminism as an inspiration, in the same way that feminists used the civil rights movement as theirs. I’m not advocating a quick fix. There isn’t one. But we have to start the conversation. Boys are broken, and I want to help.


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Click here to read Michael's original OpEd article in the New York Times _________________________________________________________________


MICHAEL IAN BLACK is a comedian, actor, writer, and director. He has starred in several TV comedy series including The State, Viva Variety, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Michael & Michael Have Issues, and Another Period. He also appeared on Celebrity Poker Showdown several times. He released his first children's book, Chicken Cheeks, in 2009, and has since released six more, in addition to four books for adults. Follow him on Twitter.

Director's Message February 2018

Greetings MCLA Sacred Path Community,

The SPRING KAYAK RETREAT is about 6 weeks from now. There were 14 of us who experienced this adventure eight years ago. I had an amazing time and so did the other Wisdom Council brothers who attended. A few years later I signed up again with a larger group of men, somewhere over 20, for a whole new adventure. Each time I went there were indeed new elements to the experience. There were certain things that were similar while the second time around presented a whole new set of fun challenges.

We bonded around the nightly campfires sharing our stories that we brought with us and the new ones that emerged each day during the trip. We laughed a lot and emoted the deeper feelings that were stimulated via each element of the day’s activities. 

This next Colorado river adventure is open to 20 men. Eleven men have already signed up. I encourage you to pick up one of the remaining 9 slots. Think about joining with a family member or a friend. If you come alone, you’ll make new friends along the way. I have a lifelong friend that I met on a Mendocino Men’s Retreat in the mid 1980’s.

As men age we tend to lose friends. Some friends die, some move away and lose interest in maintaining close long distance relationships. I know men whose wives and girlfriends have systematically excommunicated their male friends. Men tell me all the time that they don’t have as many male friendships as they once had and some tell me that they don’t have any. That is one of the primary reasons that I founded the Men’s Center over 30 years ago, to create a community that would provide ample opportunities for fellowship and friendships to flourish.

We have two excellent men's events coming up in February cohosted by members of our MCLA Wisdom Council.

On Sunday, February 11, Bill Arena will join Dallas Police Detective Ed Lujan in Fort Worth, Texas, for a special men’s workshop “How To Be A Spiritual Man During Very Difficult Times.” 1) Respect Women, 2) Honor Fathers, 3) Forgive Others. Click here for details about INDIGENOUS PROPHECY OF THE CONDOR AND THE EAGLE.


On Saturday, February 17, Christo Pellani, Miguel Rivera and Fred Sugerman will cohost “Return to Roots: An Offering for Men. The full-day sacred journey begins at The Church In Ocean Park in Santa Monica and transitions by caravan to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains (weather-permitting). Click here to learn more about RETURN TO ROOTS: AN OFFERING FOR MEN.

On another note,  I’ve been notified by Gindling Hilltop Camp that they can no longer secure the October dates that we have maintained for 20 years. They are attracting more members from their Wilshire Boulevard Temple who want to book the camp for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and weddings. They also have groups that number upwards of 150 who want the dates.  As a business person myself I understand that economics can speak loudly.  I know that it’s tough for them as it is for us to not be able to accommodate our needs given that our numbers have averaged around 60 for some years now. Facts are facts and it appears that we may need to move on. We’ll see, since they have placed us apparently at the top of the cancellation list.

We’ll have a Wisdom Council meeting in February to discuss this issue and to decide what to do about it. We’ll update you in March as to our thoughts about our October Retreat that has been the jewel in the crown of our programs for 30 years.

Stay tuned for more news forthcoming.


In the spirit of brotherhood.


Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
Executive Director






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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit



Dr. Johnson is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men . . . AND for the women who care about them.



"THE SACRED PATH MEN'S RETREATS" MCLA's Wisdom Council honored Dr. J's amazing 30 years of mindful leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative tribute film. See for yourself the incredible men's work that we do on the mountain.


Indigenous Prophecy of the Condor and the Eagle


MCLA Wisdom Council

HUGE ENERGETIC SHIFTS __ There are some major vibrational changes occurring right now here on planet Earth that have been foretold by the Indigenous Prophecy of the Eagle (the North) and the Condor (the South). We're clearly living through some difficult times while simultaneously moving toward a potential and beautiful return to balance and wholeness.

The Prophecy of the Eagle (the North, masculine energy, the intellect) and the Condor (the South, feminine energy, the heart/feeling/divine intuition) foretells a coming time when the two shall fly together, a time when the world will once again experience a sacred rebalancing of divine masculine and divine feminine, a spiritual joining together of mutual respect and energetic embrace between the head (intellect) and the heart (intuition). The time is coming.

To make this prophecy come to fruition, we must first see and acknowledge the imbalances in our world. These things are now being brought into the Light for purification and transmutation . . . racism and sexism and intolerance and judgement and global warming and focusing on our differences instead of our commonalities. This critical need for balance is especially true of men, the people of my own gender. The men of our species definitely have work to do.

These ancient teachings explain the world’s current energetic rebalancing on three levels:
Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine
Spiritual and Physical
Heaven and Earth

Come join us and learn more about this amazing transformation and explore powerful action steps to help raise the global consciousness of all people living on this planet. In the indigenous Lakota Sioux language of the North "Mitakuye oyasin" / All my relations. We are all related.  

MEN'S WORKSHOP __ In the afternoon Dallas Police Detective Ed Lujan and Bill Arena will co-host a special Texas workshop (for both men and women):  
How To Be A Spiritual Man During Very Difficult Times”
1)  Respect Women
2)  Honor Fathers
3)  Forgive Others

Our world is currently undergoing an energetic explosion and sacred rebalancing of the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine. The energetic pendulum is swinging. Balance is coming.  This workshop is for both men and women and focuses on love and respect for ALL people.


Dallas Police Detective Ed Lujan was working an off-duty security assignment at a Dallas nightclub escorting a suspect out of the building after a disturbance. The enraged individual later drove an SUV over the officer crushing him on the pavement, then backed up and drove over his body two more times leaving him for dead. Miraculously, Detective Lujan survived this vicious attack and today shares his amazing experience of being coaxed back from the other side by his own beloved, late father who appeared on the sidewalk over his dying son. Love, forgiveness and compassion played an incredible role in Officer Lujan’s return to life and health. Click here to view WFAA's profile of Detective Lujan's brush with death. 

MEN’S ISSUES __ Several critical topics from Dr. Stephen Johnson’s groundbreaking book "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR" will also be explored and discussed including:
*  Four crisis points in a man's life
*  The Father Gap wound that just won't heal
*  How a man can become the father he always wanted
*  What men are feeling but not saying
*  Types of men vulnerable to dangerous relationships
*  Types of women who collude in a man's downfall
*  How a circle of good men can be a lifesaving grace
*  The importance of mentors
*  Six challenges that men meet on the chivalrous path
*  Six mindfulness practices on the Sacred Path
*  Finding and renewing your true love
*  How to increase "Male Net Worth"

The afternoon workshop "How To Be A Spiritual Man During Difficult Times" is open to both men and women and starts at 1:00 pm.  $20 love offering at the door. Workshop proceeds benefit ASSIST THE OFFICER FOUNDATION. Copies of Dr. Johnson's book "The Sacred Path: The Way of the Spiritual Warrior" will also be available. 


POTLUCK LUNCHEON: In between the "Indigenous Prophecy of the Condor and the Eagle" at 10:30 am and the afternoon men's workshop "How To Be A Spiritual Man During Difficult Times," such divine timing, this Sunday is Harmony's monthly potluck luncheon. Bring a healthy food item to share.

Good program. Good food. Honoring and returning the sacred balance of divine masculine energy and divine feminine energy. We ALL love to eat. We're ALL in this together. Mitakuye oyasin (Lakota)/ALL my relations. 

Harmony Fellowship Order of Service
10:30 am “Indigenous Prophecy of the Condor and the Eagle”
12:00 noon  Potluck luncheon. Bring a healthy dish to share
 1:00 pm  "How To Be A Spiritual Man During Difficult Times."

Harmony Fellowship is located at 824 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76104. Click here for a map. Click here to visit the Harmony Fellowship website. 



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BILL ARENA lives in the east bay San Francisco. He's an MCLA Wisdom Council member, Men's Work facilitator/guide, Sundancer/Pipe Carrier in Lakota Sioux spiritual tradition (the North), Pachakuti Mesa carrier in Peruvian cross-cultural shamanism (the South), Jin Shin Jyutsu hands-on energy healer, Animal/Bird wrangler, Black Belt MMA instructor, Survivalist, Guided Group Meditation leader, Olympic-style Discus thrower, open water Endurance Swimmer, and head writer/editor ARENA CREATIVE GROUP.  His be-in-the-moment focus graciously gifted to him by previous life Renaissance mentor and Italian paison, Leonardo da Vinci: "Sto ancora imparando" (I am still learning). “La vita è molto, molto buona.” (Life is very, very good). “Gioia e gratitudine” (Joy and gratitude). "Facciamolo" (Let's do this).




Return to Roots: An Offering for Men

 Return to Roots: An Offering for Men

MCLA Wisdom Counci

Return to Roots: An Offering for Men, will be held Saturday February 17, 2018. 

Cohosted by Miguel Rivera, Christo Pellani and Fred Sugerman, the journey begins at The Church In Ocean Park in Santa Monica and transitions by caravan to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains (weather-permitting)


RETURN TO ROOTS: An Offering for Men

RECONNECT TO NATURE __ As modern culture and civilization have evolved in the past decades, we have continually removed ourselves from a consistent relation to nature. No longer are we familiar with the gestation cycles of the plants and animals that surround us. This creates an alienation from the world we live in, a separation from our surroundings, a virtual reality.

CONNECTIONS __ This is an invitation to create paths to the world around us, to renew the relationship and sustain it so we may continue to be connected. To explore old ways that have resurfaced again and new ones so we may benefit from them in the way those that came before us did. Tuning to the land through breath, song, movement, rhythm, steam and creating community. These experiential methods will serve to harmonize, vitalize, and awaken your inherent self care potential. Giving us keys to deepening and developing a practice that will allow individuals to renew, re-sanctify and reclaim the core of the being .

CORE WORK as it is understood in contemporary culture deals only with the physical body, leaving behind emotional, psychological, spiritual and elemental components. This day will offer ways to connect all of these levels or layers so we are aware of how they function simultaneously.

This approach can be applied in a broad range of settings with all ages, stages of life, abilities, and cultural backgrounds, and is also useful in clinical practice for treatment of stress, chronic or life-threatening illness, and addictions. Training or experience in the therapeutic arts is not required.

FIERCE MEN ON THE SACRED PATH __ Join musician, singer and ritual leader Miguel Rivera, master percussionist and sound healer Christo Pellani, and movement artist and energy wrangler Fred Sugerman as they combine forces to bring you and other fierce men together so that we can close the gap between that which we hold deeply internal, and that which we can express safely, and for the good of all concerned.

RETURN TO ROOTS: AN OFFERING FOR MEN, will be held Saturday, February 17, 2018, cohosted by Miguel Rivera, Christo Pellani and Fred Sugerman. The journey begins at The Church In Ocean Park, 235 Hill Street, Santa Monica, 91404, and transitions by caravan to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains (weather-permitting) 12:30 - 8:30 pm.  $100 (work exchange possible). 



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To learn more visit RETURN TO ROOTS on Facebook


CHRISTO KARAM PELLANI facilitates human potential through experiences blending rhythm, sound, and movement therapies for personal expression, growth and well being. He is recognized internationally as an expressive therapist, master drummer, rhythm awareness drum circle facilitator, healing arts educator and practitioner, teaching artist and seminar facilitator. He is a longtime member MCLA Wisdom Council. To learn more visit SOUNDFORMATION







Amazing One-Woman Show with Mindy Fradkin and MCLA's own Roland Mousa

Friday: January 19
Whitefire Theater
Sherman Oaks

"Ageless Wonders: When did I become a Senior?" is a triumphant one woman performance designed to enlighten people on aging in modern times under the direction of Best National Solo Artist Jessica Lynn Johnson. This musical/dramady ultimately aims to give new perspectives, and will shed light on the benefits of entering the club of senior wonderhood and how ageism in our society is rampant yet there is evidence that it is beginning to wane.

Throughout a one hour performance, this musical could evoke some tears, guarantee smiles and even laughter. The play has a catchy original score written by Roland Mousaa & Mindy Fradkin, both of whom had the privilege of working and befriending the late great Pete Seeger.

"Ageless Wonders: When did I become a Senior?" features Mindy Fradkin, the writer, actress and singer with a comic flair. Her story is unique yet strikes a universal chord. When Fradkin made the realization that she joined this club as a senior wonder, she began to research it and found information that inspired her as profound and helpful, and wanted to share it with others. Mindy went to the extent of finding metaphysical solutions which embodies who she is. Ms. Fradkin realized that sharing her story through edu-tainment would be a help to others.


Mindy Fradkin has been involved in the arts her whole life-as a performer, hat & accessories designer, more recently as a singer/songwriter with MCLA's own Roland Mousaa, former radio show host, music promoter & founder of The Smile Revolution. See more on her blog,

Princess WOW, which is her stage name, while her design label is now called, Fradkin Hats, started performing as a child when she booked herself for her own birthday party and her cousin, Mark, talked about it for decades. The young performer naturally created laughter wherever she went. She sang her whole life in the shower, until she met Roland Mousaa, who quickly realized that she had good pipes, and started encouraging her to sing, and became her vocal coach, and co-writer of songs to promote The Smile Revolution.  READ MORE




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