Welcome to my Webpad

My name is Dale Lafayette. But, somewhere along the line my best friend Tom started calling me “Deej” …and it sorta stuck.

This may be a somewhat lengthy introduction (kudos and thanks to those who make it all the way through), but it is by no means a complete accounting of my life. For instance, I’ve purposely left out my most embarrassing moments; since they alone are probably good fodder for a forthcoming, self-deprecating rant of some sort.

Sitting down to write this, it occurs to me that I’m lucky I never quite figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Starting life in a low-income, dysfunctional neighborhood, then bouncing in and out of orphanages, foster homes, group homes – and of course, schools – I ultimately ended up spending most of my time on the street. Strangely enough, I guess that worked out pretty good. Over the years I’ve alternately developed skill-sets and taken on work as a DJ, musician, vocalist, music producer, artist, graphic designer, web developer, author, editor and publisher. I’m leaving out things like pizza delivery guy, bindery guy, bartender, nightclub doorman, security guy and others, since they fit better in the aforementioned upcoming article of blunders.

The nickname my buddy Tom coined referred to my love of all kinds of music, that I published a music magazine for five years and became one of his go-to DJs when he ran the DJ department at one of the largest and most well-known booking agencies in Northern California, Joel Nelson Productions.

My lifelong affair with music began as a kid living in the East Oakland projects in the 1960’s, collecting 78s and 45s and listening to radio stations KFRC, KDIA, KSOL and KRE. Then came 8-tracks, cassettes, and eventually, CDs. I was fanatical about growing my collection and pursuing a diverse variety of music.

I became a kind of “Bedroom DJ” (if you can say that about a guy playing music way too loud in his studio apartment) and loved mixing music that most folks would never imagine throwing together. I might drop some Miles Davis and Return To Forever right behind The Zombies and Led Zeppelin with a little JB, George Clinton or Sugarhill Gang sprinkled in. I was giddy with this stuff and started making crazy-ass mix tapes.

This sort of reckless musical cross-contamination became a kind of soundtrack for years of creative adventures in art, graphic design and publishing – probably the result of my early obsession (similar to music) with comic books and illustration, specifically, Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics and artists like Jack Kirby, Barry Smith, John Byrne, and the great Jim Steranko.

During the 1970’s I was among the first Berkeley “street artists” who sold various crafts and products like leather belts, jewelry, pipes and clothing, etc. – just about anything that could be made by hand – on Telegraph Avenue. I created and sold mobiles made from fishing line with shells and driftwood collected at Marin’s Stinson Beach, along with psychedelic watercolor paintings and cosmic collages I did at my hotel room on the corner of Haste and Telegraph, right across from the historic One World Family New Age Center & Natural Foods Restaurant.

In fact, I joined, lived and worked with this amazing group of artists, musicians, writers and healthy lifestyle visionaries on and off for several years, learning an amazing variety of skills while gaining a heightened sense of responsibility and purpose. Our “Teleport Lounge” became a must-see popular visionary art-filled musical wonderland hosting a variety of wildly colorful groups, bands and talents from all over the world (my favorite being the the Sun-Ra Orchestra) on the same stage as our communal bands and weekly cosmic channelings by Allen-Michael. I’ve since re-connected with many good folks I know from those days, and currently help with tech support for the website.

Born to publish, early efforts during that same period included psychedelic posters and promotions for rock concerts, a book of poems, and a news magazine about UFOs and ETI — showcasing the Bay Area’s only-ever listed and recognized UFO Sighting & Contactee reporting service. I’ve recently resurrected this effort globally online.

In 1980, I opened “Signs & Graphics” next to Berkeley’s People’s Park, and soon my art could be found at small businesses all over the Bay Area, and in phone book, newspaper and magazine ads. Wanting to move beyond local commercial art by 1989, I helped friend and accomplished jazz musician Art Maxwell create the Tonal Gravity Records label, did graphics and set design for John Kaye’s Cherry Terry at Theatre 6470 in Hollywood, and produced a series of illustrations for Ellen Sebastian’s stage production of Face at SF’s Theatre Artaud. In 1991, I completed a collection of original paintings entitled Kozmik Thang: Explorations In Synergistic Art which were featured at a variety of Bay Area galleries, coffee houses and an office building or two in downtown San Francisco.

Later that year, I was recruited to manage a small karaoke enthusiast newspaper called Karaoke USA, during which time I also wrote for Mobile Beat Magazine and Nightclub & Bar Magazine. In 1992 I acquired KUSA, transforming it into a slick, full-color national trade magazine for the DJ and Karaoke industries, and started VisionMagik Multimedia Group, a successful ad agency and publishing company. VMG’s magazine flourished, became a staple at NAMM, CES, DJ Times Expos and N/C&B Shows, a sponsor and co-producer of the Karaoke Music Awards (Bimbo’s 365 Club – SF) and the Coast-To-Coast Karaoke Challenge (American Gladiators Arena – FL). The magazine won awards and effectively raised the bar for similar industry publications nationwide.

After an exit from VMG almost five years later, I became the Creative Director for VisionQuest Expositions Inc., doing branding, marketing and program guides for expositions in the holistic alternative lifestyle space. And, as previously mentioned, I left marketing and trade publishing to cultivate a career as a popular Bay Area DJ and entertainer in 1997, regularly booking gigs at some of the most sought-after parties, events and venues in N. California.

But the art and publishing bug wouldn’t go away. I went on to establish Advanced Marketing & Entertainment (AME), a creative media development company. I also met my awesome life partner and became a father. I thought, “Maybe this is how things level out” and felt pretty dang good about everything I had accomplished up to that point. Content to do some DJing, recording and website design to keep busy and pay bills, I settled in and began what became the biggest chapter of my crazy-multi-dimensional-life: being a work from home full-time dad, and learning as much as I could absorb about web development – in that order.

With some encouragement and inspiration from fellow music nut TomKat (yeah, him again), I also began self-training in digital music production and released my debut album online. Entitled “Adventures Of A Digital Pirate” (borrowing from Lenny White’s ‘Adventures Of Astral Pirates’), it features a nonsensical mixmash of various beats, samples and concepts, and alludes to the fact that no music genre, track or sound is safe from a hungry DJ.

An interesting footnote to all this: I originally wrote this piece for Steemit, a strange new beta launch. In reflection, I contacted my old buddy Ben Fong-Torres, who interviewed everybody who was anybody in music back in the day as managing editor at Rolling Stone. I knew Ben because I had been lucky enough to rope him into an associate editor position at my old DJ/Karaoke magazine, and I asked what he thought of this piece.

As usual, his editorial advice was spot-on. He recommended that I trim the content significantly and remove much of my history, saying it, “won’t connect with readers.” He also suggested that I add more “substantial” credits, along with my “hopes of posting tips and insights…and maybe even the end story about the hot girlfriend.”

Got it. Thanks, Ben.

Ben Fong-Torres

Then I recalled that some time ago (after reading an old bio I’d done), Ben had indicated that I not be so quick to indulge in “namedropping.” Sounds like damn good advice, too.

So, this all got me thinking and – for guidance – I took another look at the man’s Facebook page, website and some old articles he wrote for my magazine. Curiously, I came across instance after instance of namedropping, along with references to stuff I’m not sure that anyone but Ben could possibly understand and relate to. Hmmm. Well, the guy’s a legend in publishing and then some, so maybe there’s something I’m missing. According to his website, there’s a documentary coming out entitiled “Like A Rolling Stone: The Life And Times Of Ben Fong-Torres” sometime this year, and I for one can’t wait to see it.

Anyway, turns out you can’t edit a Steemit post after 7 days. Who knew. One thing I know for sure: nothing in the Universe travels in a truly straight line. For me, none of this makes any sense by itself, because it was always one thing evolving into another. In that vein, I have replaced my older, shorter bio here on my website with the revised Steemit piece, and not only kept the history; but added to it. Truth be told, most folks who know me will probably tell you that not conforming to the usual way of doing things is just my style, anyway.

And for added grins – since there will probably never be a documentary about me or a Wikipedia page – here’s a bunch of names I can drop of notable public figures, authors, entertainers and celebrities I’ve rubbed elbows with, hung out with and/or worked with over the years. Some you may have heard of:

Afrika Bambatta, Andrea Puharich, Ben Fong-Torres, Ben Thum, Birdlegg, Cool Papa, Country Joe McDonald, Danny Glover, DJ 2nd Nature, DJ Babu, DJ Beni B, DJ QBert, DJ Rhettmatik, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Eric Arnold, Father Guido Sarducci, Freddie Ravel, Gabriel Green, Gary Radnich, Gary Wright, George Clinton, Grandmaster Flash, Herbie Hancock, Huey Lewis, Jim Gabbert, John Kaye, John Voight, Karl Detken, Leonard Nimoy, Mixmaster Mike, O-lan Jones, Patrick Stewart, Robert Downey Jr, Roger Sanchez, Roy Lee Freeman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sinbad, Stanton Friedman, Sun Ra, Tim Curry, Uri Geller, Walter König, Whoopi Goldberg, William Shatner. Hmm, I’m sure I must be forgetting a few.

Freddie Ravel (left)

With Freddie Ravel (Left-Former keyboardist with Earth, Wind & Fire) and his publicist in 1996 during his radio blitz and solo album debut tour for “Sol To Sol”

It’s 2018 (as I write this) and, still a dad in training, I own and operate the AME Network of web properties and marketing assets, which includes subsidiaries AME WebXpress, AME DevDepot and AME Studios, our creative media division. AME offers everything needed to make an impact on the web and beyond — from domain names and full service web hosting to complete website development and cutting edge real world marketing solutions. Many clients have been with us over ten years now.

Musically, in addition to home-studio mixing, recording and some planned live video broadcasting, I’m working on a ”DJ Tribute” mixtrack series featuring my treatment of various DJ performance styles, tracks, samples and mixmasters that have been key inspirations over the years.

Speaking of which, I’m like a kid in a candy store with my elaborate new home-studio Digital DJ Workstation, featuring cutting-edge gear and software from top companies in the industry along with an ever-growing, massive library of material. The evolution of music in just my lifetime is staggering, and I’m incredibly lucky and thrilled to have been a part of those early discussions with Pioneer and other key manufacturers while a music trade magazine publisher, advocating for exactly what we are witnessing now with emerging new production and performance technologies.

What blows my mind is that, with all the transitions in music since watching Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and buying my first James Brown single on King Records (I Got The Feelin’ – 1968), it’s still all about that funky, blood-pumping rhythm. The DJ has become the cultural music icon of our time, and young DJ stars from the dance music industry are pulling in millions around the world. Man, is it just me, or are there angels singing? Turns out DJs not only save lives, we even brought vinyl back from the proverbial grave.

And the beat goes on…

My thought here is to share my music, artwork and various other creations, together with a series of tips and insights I have gained into DJing, the music industry, web development, etc., some stories (fact and fiction), and probably a few heavily opinionated rants, which I prefer to call “observations.”

If you find any of this worth reading and would be willing to check out my confusingly convoluted creative explorations of an often awkward Universe once in awhile, please support my recurring delusion of significance and encourage my behavior by liking, sharing and commenting. If not, I can only say I appreciate your visit. Either way, its all good.

And, if even a few folks need branding, a website, a DJ or a soundtrack developed and decide to check out what the Deej and AME can do, then all the cold shoulders in the world won’t shrink my grin. With a wink and a nod, I’ll get to work and wow ’em every time! Well, so far at least.

Finally, a true story:

This super hot girlfriend (let’s call her “Lisa”) once dumped me, saying in parting that I was “ineffectual.” It crushed me for about a week. A few years later, she showed up on New Year’s Eve at a popular North Oakland club I worked at called King’s X, grabbed up and passed out a bunch of my cards, bragging all night that I used to be her boyfriend. She capped things off by dancin’ dirty on a bar table right in front of the DJ booth at midnight.

Ineffectual? Yeah, right. I never saw her again. But, I forgot all about one of the worst weeks of my life. So, like I tell my son when things get generally stupid: “Stay frosty, dude… it’ll pass.”

And it does.

Deej – March 21, 2018

MC TomkatMarvel ComicsGalactic MessengerKaraoke & DJ USABen Fong-TorresFreddie RavelAME Network