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Halloween in Schuylkill County

These pictures were taken by me walking around Schuylkill County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the Halloween season of 2009. These folks have a very special tradition of celebrating the season, each borough has its own parade and they coordinate with each other so during the week of Halloween the kids can go to a parade every night. That is a LOT of candy. Most of the decorations have been on display for generations. Some of the pictures were taken through glass and have strange superimpositions.

1979

PETOSKEY MICHIGAN 1979

The Theater of Transformations, me with Lorraine M. Tong. This photograph by Jan Nagel was taken in the Spectrum Center located in Petoskey, Michigan above the old Food Coop and Mercado restaurant.

My Colonoscopy

OLYMPIA WASHINGTON

Frank Zappa died because he did not get a timely check up. That does not mean I think of me and Frank, it means the world lost Frank Zappa due to this oversight. Some kinds of cancer have no symptoms until it’s too late, and the early stages are usually most successfully treatable. Frank left way too soon. Now you all are stuck with me instead.

Agreeing to do it was probably the hardest part, I did it because of Frank. I did it because the insurance covered it. I did it because I had no conflicts to argue with. I did it to get it over with.

The next hardest part is the preparation. They gave me two pieces of paper, detailing what needed to be done. Acquire specific and inexpensive laxatives and gatorade, no red gatorade no red dye anything and there is fasting so the system is empty and most easily examined. I put some effort into considering the aftermath, what I would do after the procedure, what I would eat after such a long fast, I do not fast often. I decided on yogurt and nuts and berries for my first meal after its over.

Three days out: no more nuts and berries. Certain meds get discontinued. You tend to wonder what is going to happen, but nothing short of cancelling will halt the countdown. I waited and distracted myself. Working is best for that. There are other options, I tried my favorites. Writing. Sleeping perchance to dreaming.

Two days out: dinner tonight will be the last meal I eat. Sounds final doesn’t it. The Last Meal.

One day out: no solid food, instead drink salty broth. The salt causes water retention, that will be handy later in the laxi-fast when things are flooding out. Next comes the beginning of the laxative regiment. Three PM take the two tiny laxative pills. Four PM mix the powder laxative with the gatoraid. Chugalug one of the two bottles.

The morning of the procedure: There Must be a Designated Driver Present. The patient will not be able to drive or navigate reliably after the procedure, so there must be someone to get The Patient safely home. At 7 AM comes the second round of powder laxative and gatoraid. I felt no specific discomfort, but there was lots of talk to read in my instructions about nausea and how to get that gatoraid laced with laxative down the hatch. I rushed it, it was done in 30 minutes, and they allowed two hours. There was no advantage in chugging it in 30 minutes.

Belly feels full, and there is lots of pooping starting shortly after the first laxatives were taken, and it just keeps on going but not in a messy way. I had no close calls because I stayed close to the you know what. They suggest a moist “wipe” rather than paper to ease the skin around the opening. The Opening. The procedure is to send a camera with special tools up through The Opening. I hope it’s a small camera. What about lights?

The doctor needs a clear view, hence the massive laxatives so things will be clean and simple in there. The procedure I experienced started with a long wait in the waiting room after check-in at the desk. I was light headed from the fasting, so I pity my poor driver, I probably chattered like a nervous monkey between long silent staring trances. They called my name and I went with them.

They put me to bed and attached stuff, most notably a needle and tube taped to my arm, try not to think about bumping it or tearing it out, or having it accidentally caught on someone passing by. They added the drug through that portal and I actually remember the whole thing. The doctor introduced herself, she seemed perfect for the role. She was magnificent. I seem to have survived, unless of course all this is just a dream as I now lie there dying.

I watched it all on TV as I lay on my side and they drove the camera and tool pack up the dark wet tunnel. I felt nothing THANK GOD. To get a better view they inflate the entire chamber (the colon) which is painless but does require extensive expulsion for the next twelve hours or so. Who is counting? It’s noisy.

I got home and enjoyed that yogurt with nuts and berries. I listened to Peaches En Regalia. Now I am all weepy, I miss Frank.

UPDATE Mr Zappa died of prostate cancer, not colon cancer, same neighborhood, different house. The lesson remains, get that check-up! Thanks HMV for this correction.

A very long drive

LIBBY MONTANA

I left Detroit around 3pm on Saturday (the last Saturday of July 2018) after a brief visit with an old friend in Plymouth. Well, he really isn’t old, actually he is younger than me, by about 130 days.

After going over the Mackinaw bridge traffic slowed way down. There was not much time before dark and I will do anything to avoid driving at night these days. This is one of the distinctions of my getting older, which is hardly an excuse.

Looking for a motel on a Saturday night is always tough, but this area has lots and lots of little cheap motels. Pretty much all of them are now closed down and boarded up. I drove on and on into the night.

Until I came to Dreamland. It was perfect (there was a no-show, who for all I knew would be arriving in the wee hours to be turned away, no rooms for 80 miles said the proprietor of Dreamland. I love that name. There never was a peep from the no-show, as it turned out therefore it was all good, I got a room!), and I got my oatmeal at the Dreamland café, where the hummingbirds put on an excellent show of high speed death defying stunts.

Day 2: Michigan to Wisconsin and then deep into Minnesota.

Stayed at a little place in Crookston.

Day 3: Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana.

Saco is where I landed, the only thing worse than night driving might be driving West at sunset.

Now I am in Libby Montana, home of the ongoing vermiculite disaster. I have always enjoyed visiting this area, nice trails in the forested hills.

Tomorrow, Sandpoint Idaho to visit with my cousin, with whom I spent the summer of 1963 at the home of my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tommy in McComb Mississippi.

From there Home to Olympia, where I will immediately get a job and live happily ever after.

The main thing I accomplished was to close out my storage locker. That was very difficult.

Sturgeon in the Kalamazoo river?

BATTLE CREEK MICHIGAN

I am back. It’s been a long time but everything is pretty much where I left it, but it all looks so different.

Sturgeon lived in the Kalamazoo River for many thousands of years. We did well and had abundance, and shared it and time went by and it was a great life.

Things are different now.

I was told that in life I could do anything I wanted to, I could choose any career. I have no regrets. A rich man teaches his son to prosper, a poor man teaches his son to survive. I chose what I thought was the best. I did nothing wrong. I guess the problems of the world are bigger than they used to be, and that is what is keeping most people up and some people down. You see them, sitting by the traffic light holding tattered signs. You can’t tell me you have not seen them. What are we doing with them?

Not everything works all the time. There are days when it seems hopeless. But there are days when it’s amazing, the water is clear and there are lots of little creatures eating each other all around the river. On the surface maybe there is a calm duck making its way along the surface of the river and maybe a little breeze and it’s all so peaceful but just below the surface, in the water, it’s a jungle. Eat or be eaten. The big ones have no fear and most of the little ones become a meal for the slightly bigger ones. Nobody gets a free ride.

History and Economics

ALBION MICHIGAN

1974 High School Graduate

“You can do anything. What will be your profession?”

“Art.”

Message to the past: DON’T DO IT! Pick something that will pay the rent, you can still do your art.

My name is Robin B. James. The B distinguishes Robin from the other awesome Robin James’s out there: an actor, a famous children’s book author/illustrator, a wise professor, a Man for Himself stylist, a pop rock singer, and many, many more. I am an American Artist. I am a proud graduate of Albion College 1978, with a triple major Theater, Visual Arts, and English. A triple major was possible because experimental education was an option at that time (not any more). I had the only Independently Designed Major when I graduated. My parents were both Albion College faculty stardust. I am a child of a history professor and an economics guru. They were both self proclaimed Children of The Depression which was followed by World War II, and they practiced daily lives of thrift. Because they had experienced extreme poverty, they were extremely mindful of waste and were always figuring out ways of reusing things. Waste not want not. I was told, which is a good foundation for life in general.

My first position after graduation was forming a touring poetry-puppet show. This lead to radio theater arts and then music journalism. I invented a system of using pictures to improvise story telling. I became the world’s authority on the electronic folk arts of the 1980s and edited The Cassette Mythos (ISBN 9780936756691). Adding the study of library sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle allowed me to not have to choose between any of the academic specializations, arts and sciences, thus I can study them all. Which means I have a shallow understanding of everything. Next I invented a quantified keyword system for a stock photography business pioneering new commerce models on the world wide web.

On September 11, 2001 I was the guy at the office of the Center for World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan International Institute. For a very brief time I was living the dream of being an actual Art Librarian at the Kalamazoo Institute for the Arts, looking back now this probably was the zenith of my professional career, an opportunity to blend my background in undergraduate studies (fine arts) with the practice of library science, even if this was mostly volunteer work. I was a reference librarian in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (historic Schuylkill County, home of the Molly Maguires) followed eventually by being the library manager at the American Institute of Alternative Medicine (Columbus Ohio) which includes the studies of acupuncture, massage therapy and traditional LPN/RN training. Most recently I spent several years working with elderly and developmentally disabled adults, respectively.

I still write reviews of recorded jazz and experimental audio art. I search for my Albion Moonlight. My inner author has not yet levitated. I have failed at all these things, but I have few regrets. Thank you Thomas Jefferson College of Grand Valley State Colleges (now GVSU), Albion College, The Evergreen State College, and University of Washington Graduate School of Library and Information Science for the training to adapt to most anything and to have the confidence and courage to try new things.

Gallery of Robin James

the jazz singer

the singer-songwriter

Man for Himself England-based fashion consultant

this is me, Robin B., in 2011

 

 

 

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