Biographical sketches and in-depth articles. Get to know me!
(more about James)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lazarus People II: Extras

[Read more background on my "Lazarus" days here.]

To make a TV show or film, you need authenticity. You can't just have the actors with speaking roles up there; you also need set dressing, furniture, props, and the kind of set dressing that breathes: extras.

Because I had lots of time on my hands when I worked on "The Lazarus Man," I had plenty of time to chat with extras, and take their pictures.

Here are a few:


There's a funny story about her:
One of the cowboys who wrangled for the show was hot
for this girl. She had been made up to look like a refugee,
complete with "dirt" makeup on her face.
So Bobby, the cowboy, screwed up his courage and
approached her with a pickup line only a cowboy could concoct:
"Ma'am, you got sh*t all over your face."
He never went out with her. But I did once.


Great face. As I recall, he was one of the many extras
who was always trying to "expand" his role.


Real Indians, fake costumes

Monday, July 20, 2009

Freedom Express

Cruise around this site and you'll learn a lot about my beliefs: Sri Ramakrishna, Buddhism, Joseph Campbell, vegetarianism; "sacred travel" in America, China, Japan, the Philippines, other parts of Asia--all paint a sort of cohesive picture, don't they?

So you might be surprised to learn that the man commonly called "the Laughing Buddha" and "the Temple Guy" was once a member of an evangelical Christian rock band (named "Freedom Express") that played in prisons and on street corners, yeah?

From somewhere around 1977 (I think) until 1981 or 2, I played the trombone in a group headed by James Samuel "Nick" Pratt ("Nick" was just a nickname--get it?) Nick had been a professional musician in his younger days, and since his conversion had been heading up groups that played to attract a crowd before a preacher preached. The whole thing was based at a peculiar institution called "The Canyon House," formerly located in Sierra Madre Canyon, near Pasadena, CA; I'll write more about my weird years there another time.

Anyway, with this rock/R&B/gospel outfit, I've played in a drug dealer's front yard. I've played in rescue missions. And churches, of course. And I've been in more California prisons than I can count. Playing, I mean.

So here's a look at the whole band, then individual shots of a few members. No one is being featured for a particular reason; these are just the shots I have from way back when.


Start with Jere (sp?) Hernandez (vocals), the long-haired girl (seated) and go clockwise: Nick Pratt (in the hat), bass, guitar, trumpet, vocals; Jimmy Roy, smokin' hot guitar (frequently compared to Jimmie Paige); Steve Maurer, drums; Jim Shepherd, trumpet, flugelhorn; Bill Cates, the only full-time "pro" in the group, a music teacher who played sax, clarinet, flute, and about everything else; yours truly, with the usual Bible in hand; on the far right, Bob Murch, guitar; and (standing) Kathy Spurney (I think), vocals.


Nick on the bass


My buddy "Shep" (as horn players we stood side-by-side)


Our youngest member, when Jere started in the band, she was still coming to practices in a Catholic high school uniform


A long lost friend, Steve and I were at Pasadena City College and Cal State L.A. together; then we taught together for three years at Chaminade in Canoga Park (now West Hills), CA. He was also best man at my first wedding. He was a madman on the drums; now I think he's an M.D. somewhere with lots of kids; wish I could find him. (Yes, I Googled; lots of results, nothing concrete.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Classmates: 1968-1969 Grade 8 (8-7) Mrs. Wojahn

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

A1 Louise Hitchcock
A2 Jeanne Baker
A3 Patricia Schintz
A4 Jennifer Lamb
A5 Betty Bennett
A6 Ronnie Torres
A7 Trudy Honma
A8 Greg Vetti
A9 Rich Thayer

B1 Sandy Travanti
B2 Pat Larimer
B3 Janelle McKay
B4 Beauford (Boots) Blair
B5 Nancy Nelson
B6 Alan Werner
B7 Meri-Lyn Mitchell
B8 Tom Hughes
B9 Linda Jensen

C1 Diane Quinn
C2 Pete Talley
C3 Karen Hildebrand
C4 Jim Baquet
C5 Carolyn Bromley
C6 Ron D'Amico
C7 Virginia Clawson
C8 Mike Orth
C9 Huygen (Hogan?) Hilling

D1 Mrs. Karen Wojahn
D2 Tony Badura
D8 Judy Ecklund
D9 Mr. Bill Jones

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1967-1968 Grade 7 (7-3) Mrs. Lyall

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

A1 Steve Yanagisako
A2 Louise Hitchcock
A3 Alan Werner
A4 Sandy Travanti
A5 Steve Ware
A6 Jan Johnston
A7 Bill Eberle
A8 Gay Cangelosi
A9 Tom Rauth

B1 Sharon Wheeler
B2 Mark Spencer
B3 Christine Kato
B4 Tom Hughes
B5 Karen Hildebrand
B6 Richard Ingram
B7 Michelle Walsch
B8 Lee Grey
B9 Meri-Lyn Mitchell

C1 Chuck Paling
C2 Beverly Throne
C3 Stuart Maude
C4 Diane Mayo
C5 Andy Hedrick
C6 Debra Hatch
C7 Robert Williams
C8 Carolyn Bromley
C9 Jim Baquet

D1 Cheryl Crook
D2 (?) Gloria Mapes
D3 Rich Thayer
D4 Karen Yagami
D6 Diane Quinn
D7 Huygen (Hogan?) Hilling
D8 Lindee Francis
D9 Doug Plummer

E1 Mrs. Esther Lyall
E9 Joanne Ledig

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1966-1967 Grade 6 Miss Webster

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

[First year in color!]

A1
A2 Darnella Dorado (?)
A3 Mark Spencer
A4 Virginia Clawson
A5 Jack Smith
A6
A7 Scott (?)
A8
A9 Ralph Hernandez

B1 Shirley Kuntz
B2 Reid Gulley
B3 Gay Cangelosi
B4 Dale Myers (sp?)
B5 Carolyn Bromley
B6 David Rowden
B7
B8 Steve Alvarez
B9 Gabi (Gabriella) Reull

C1 Miss (Janice) Webster
C2 Claudia Boomer
C3 Valerie Vaughn
C5 Mario Barrios
C7 Ramiro Hernandez
C8
C9 Jim Baquet

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1965-1966 Grade 5 Mrs. Twomey

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

A1 Rick Thompson
A2
A3 Mr. William Breon
A7 Mrs. Twomey
A8 Diane Quinn
A9

B1 Mike Delk
B2 Kim Angles
B3 Jim Baquet
B4
B5 Jack Smith
B6 Valerie Vaughn
B7 Dale Myers (sp?)
B8
B9 Mario Barrios

C1
C2
C3
C4 Shirley Kuntz
C5 Tom Rauth
C6 Carolyn Bromley
C7 Steve Ware
C8 Vickie Dutt
C9 Craig Guire

D1 Reid Gulley
D2
D5 Julie Garnant
D8 Cecelia Kelley (sp?)
D9

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1964-1965 Grade 4 Mrs. Briggs

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

A1 Steve Yanagisako (?)
A2 Valerie Vaughn
A3 Mr. William Breon
A7 Mrs. Arlene Briggs
A8 Jan Johnston
A9 Jim Baquet

B1 Joe Oliveras
B2 Julie Garnant
B3 Doug Buchan
B4 Karen Hildebrand
B5
B6
B7 Mark Martinez
B8 Sharon Wheeler
B9 Tom Hughes

C1 Richard ?
C2 Diane Quinn
C3 Rick Thompson
C4 Cecelia Kelley
C5 Velma Ayala
C6
C7 Doug Plummer
C8 Carolyn Bromley
C9

D1
D2
D3 Diane Mayo
D7 Janelle McKay
D8 Colette ?
D9 Walter Kaye

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1963-1964 Grade 3 Mrs. Francisco

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

A1 Dale Myers (sp?)
A2 Laraine ? (sp?)
A3 Mrs. Francisco
A7 Mr. William Breon
A8 Julie Garnant
A9 Don Walker

B1 Mark Spencer
B2 Louise Hitchcock
B3 Jeff ?
B4 Melinda Powell
B5 Alan Werner
B6 Robin ?
B7 Walter Kaye
B8 Lorie Alexander
B9 Steve ?

C1 David Rowden
C2 Barbara ?
C3 Jack ?
C4 Richard
C5 Craig Guire
C6 Debbie ?
C7 Jim Baquet
C8 Sharon Wheeler
C9 Arthur Ybarra

D1 Tom Hughes
D2 Kim Angles
D8 Collette ?
D9 Mark Martinez

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1962-1963 Grade 2 Mrs. Vanderveer

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.
(click on the picture to see a larger version)
[One strange thing here: I'm shown twice! Both C4 and C9 are little old me. Weird, huh?]
A1 Stuart Maude
A2 Ana Varona
A3 Mrs. Vanderveer
A7 Mr. William Breon
A8 Sharon Wheeler
A9
B1 Mark Martinez
B2 Collette ?
B3
B4 Melinda Powell
B5 Tom Rauth
B6 Kathleen Caputo (sp?)
B7 Joe Oliveras (sp?)
B8
B9 Rick Thompson
C1 Doug Buchan (?)
C2
C3 Steve Yanagisako
C4 Jim Baquet
C5
C6
C7
C8
C9 Jim Baquet (again!)
D1 Arthur Ybarra
D2 Sharon Townsend
D5 David Rowden
D8 Janelle McKay
D9 Ricky Reed
See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1961-1962 Grade 1 Mrs. Barker

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

Many of these names were written by my mother on the back of the picture, probably based on what I told her. The rest is filled in from memory. HELP!

A1 Arthur Ybarra
A2 Joe Oliveras (sp?)
A6 Ricky Reed (sp?)
A7 Robert ?

B1 Leslie ?
B2 Rusty Spade
B3 Sharon Townsend
B4 Mrs. Marilyn Barker
B5 Valerie Vaughn
B6 Walter Kay (sp?)
B7 Andy ?

C1 Ricky Thompson
C2 Monica ?
C3 Patricia Schintz
C4 Karen Yagami
C5 Sabrina Salmon
C6 Jack Smith
C7 Craig Guire

D1 Tom Rauth
D2 Virginia Clawson
D3 Velma Ayala
D5 Kathleen Caputo (sp?)
D6 Jim Baquet
D7 Doug Plummer

See all of my classmates

Classmates: 1960-1961 Kindergarten Mrs. Ristrom (PM)

The Classmates Project is an effort to re-build my elementary and middle-school years by first, finding the names of all my classmates, and second, rounding them up into an online group. You can read more in the introductory post.

(click on the picture to see a larger version)

Learn how you can help!

Many of these names were written by my mother on the back of the picture, probably based on what I told her. The rest is filled in from memory. HELP!

A1
A2 Valerie Vaughn
A3 Don Walker
A7 Bobby Jolly
A8 Kathleen Caputo (sp?)
A9 (?) Walter Kaye

B1 Kent ?
B2 Julie Garnant
B3 Wayne Anderson
B4
B5 Mrs. Ristrom (sp?)
B6 Velma Ayala
B7 Jim Baquet
B8 Robin ?
B9 Ricky Reed (sp?)

C1
C2 Carolyn Bromley
C3 Craig Guire
C4 Tom Rauth
C5 Ricky Thompson
C6 Patricia Schintz
C7 Jack Smith
C8 Donna Speed (?)
C9 Bobby

D1
D2 Sabrina Salmon
D3 Arthur Ybarra
D4
D5 Lindy Barker
D6 Karen Yagami
D7 Steve Yanagisako
D8
D9 Alan Cash

E1 Monica ?
E2 Virginia Clawson
E8 Joyceann (sp?) Contreras
E9 Karen Hildebrand

See all of my classmates

The Classmates Project

NOTE: I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles called Rosemead, a little place with a surprisingly stable population. There are lots of kids I went to school with for 13 years, as did my two brothers before me and my sister after me. This project is dedicated to them.

On a visit to Rosemead in July 2009, I scanned a series of nine photos, representing my classes at Encinita School (K-6) and Muscatel Intermediate (7-8). These do not represent everyone in that grade, only those in my class (in elementary) or homeroom (at Muscatel).

We completely covered the 1960s, starting Kindergarten in 1960 and graduating from Muscatel in 1969!

If you were in my grade-level, I'd like to ask your help on three tasks:

1. Help me fill in names
Even if you weren't in my class that year, you would probably know the names of classmates. Also, please check my memory on the ones I've already filled in (spelling counts, too). You can add names in the comments (by number), and occasionally I'll move them up to the main post for that picture. Please use question marks if you’re not sure, like this:
9F John (?) Smith=not sure of spelling of first name
9F John Smith (?) =not sure of spelling of last name
9F (?) John Smith=not sure of spelling of entire name
9F John (sp?) Smith=not sure of spelling of first name
9F John Smith (sp?) =not sure of spelling of last name
9F (sp?) John Smith=not sure of spelling of entire name
2. Send more class pictures
If you have pictures from the same year/grade but a different teacher/homeroom, I'll be glad to post them so we can do something similar with those, as we were all classmates. Write to me (use the "Contact" link above) and I'll tell you the ideal specs for the scans (but I'll take anything I can get).

3. Locate other classmates
If you know some of the people in these pictures, send them my way! Ask them to look at the pictures and contribute to Task 1 or Task 2 above.

For you:
I can send you the same scans as those here (roughly 8"x10" at 72 ppi) but without the ugly numbers. Or you can have the original scans (slightly larger, and 300 ppi--you can cut yourself out if these at a fairly good size!) Just tell me which size ("small" or "big") and which years you want.

The next step
Maybe we could make a "closed group" on FaceBook to share old pictures and memories.

To see all of the pictures and notes click here, or click the "Classmates" tag on any of the posts.

To see an individual year, click below:
  • 1960-1961 Kindergarten Mrs. Ristrom (sp?) (PM) (view)
  • 1961-1962 Grade 1 Mrs. Marilyn Barker (view)
  • 1962-1963 Grade 2 Mrs. Vanderveer (view)
  • 1963-1964 Grade 3 Mrs. Francisco (view)
  • 1964-1965 Grade 4 Mrs. Arlene (?) Briggs (view)
  • 1965-1966 Grade 5 Mrs. Twomey (view)
  • 1966-1967 Grade 6 Miss Janice Webster (view)
  • 1967-1968 Grade 7 (7-3) Mrs. Esther (?) Lyall (view)
  • 1968-1969 Grade 8 (8-7) Mrs. Karen Wojahn (view)
More thoughts

As I recall, there were two kindergarten classes, "AM " and "PM." I don't know how many classes there were in the other Encinita years (let's put our heads together?) And I'm pretty sure there were eight homerooms in seventh grade (7-1 through 7-8) and 10 in eighth grade (8-1 through 8-10). Anyone who has the yearbook from those years could settle that.

Further, I remember this about "my hall" in 7th and 8th grades:

7th grade, 1st hall:
Science: Mr. Erwin Florence (7-1 homeroom teacher)
English: Mrs. Curturillo (7-2 homeroom teacher)
Math: Mrs. Lyall (7-3 homeroom teacher)
Social Studies: Mr. Todd (7-4 homeroom teacher)

Principal: Mr. Woodland
Music: Miss Jodie Boies
Band: Mr. Warren Lindgren
P.E.: Mr. Roger Young
Shop: Mr. Nikeloff (sp?)

8th grade, 2nd hall:
Social Studies: Mrs. Karen Wojahn (8-7 homeroom teacher)
Science: Mr. Walker (8-8 homeroom teacher)
English: Mr. Kelley (8-9 homeroom teacher)
Math: Mr. Walter Emerson (8-10 homeroom teacher)

Principal: Mr.
Music: Mrs. Jodie Adkins (she got married)
Band: Mr. Warren Lindgren
P.E.: Mr. Roger Young
Shop: Mr. Nikeloff (sp?)

I can't remember other teachers (art, home ec) or the other halls in any detail (Mr. Blugrind?). Again, if you have a yearbook from those years, I'd appreciate your helping me out, either with scans or by adding info to the comments. (I'm sure I have yearbooks somewhere; I just haven't found them yet. Maybe next time I'm back from China.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Lazarus People I

In 1995, I moved to Utah to live with Heather and Robert Urich and family. I was still not quite recovered from my divorce, and the Urich's job offer (a couple of hours of tutoring a day, with a nice stipend and room and board) provided a much-needed healing space.

At the end of the year, Robert asked me to come to Santa Fe and work with him on "The Lazarus Man," an intriguing western-cum-mystery.

I spent four months on set--ranches around New Mexico--with little to do except keep Robert company. As he was busy much of the time--carrying the show as its only weekly character, conducting interviews, etc.--I had lots of time to kill. I shot lots of pictures and chatted with cast and crew.

You'll be seeing pictures of some of those people off and on throughout July and August, culminating in a few precious pics of the great man himself--in cowboy duds.

Today: Crew.

Well, I say "Crew," but actually it's mostly the stand-ins; because they have a lot of time on their hands, they became some of my closest friends.

Bill Huckaby was an avid reader, Joseph Campbell fan, sensitive soul, and all-around good guy. Note the book in his hand (and his beloved vintage Stetson on his head) as he sits on the edge of a horno oven enclosure at historic El Rancho de Los Golondrinas, where we filmed for one episode.

Here we see the three male stand-ins, all reading scripts. Bill's on the left, Jim Bowie (musician and Buddhist) in the center, and Jon (whose family name I've forgotten) on the right. All three were avid readers, a must for the stand-in, who spends most of his or her time waiting.

Here's Laura Auldrich, whom I called nothing but "Sunshine." She's holding my copy of A Joseph Campbell Companion; we had lots of great discussions of film and literature. I since spotted her in a Natalie Portman movie.

OK, so this last old friend is not a stand-in, but I wanted to share this as a tribute.

Rod Wilson was a veteran make-up man; the IMDB link given lists only a fraction of his work, which started back in the 60s. He also ran a make-up school.

When my folks came to visit in Santa Fe, he went all-out to meet them; I also saw him several times after we returned to L.A. Rod passed away in 2003, just shy of 70. IMDb lists "natural causes"; he was a heavy smoker, so maybe...?

Anyway, fare well Rod, wherever you are.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Every Dog Has a Story

And both of these dogs' stories has to do with escape.

My first wife and I owned these dogs (sort of), Ginger on the left, and Buster (Buster Brown, get it?) on the right. You can divide all dogs (and people?) into two types: Fidos and Rovers. Fidos stay faithfully by their masters' sides, but Rovers ... uh ... rove.

Both of these dogs were Rovers.

Ginger (named by her former owner for a famed Gary Larson cartoon) came to us from a neighbor, and only stayed a short time. When she belonged to our neighbor, she had been picked up several times by "Animal Control" (the dog catcher).

Finally, the neighbor gave up, and asked if we wanted her. We said "sure," and my then-wife went to pick her up from the "animal shelter" (the dog pound).

But because Ginger was a pit bull, only the registered owner could retrieve her. And the registered owner was not the neighbor, but her ne'er-do-well brother-in-law, who didn't want to be bothered to go get her. So it took a lot of finagling to spring her. (As I recall, the neighbor posed as her brother-in-law's wife--same last name, you know.)

She was the sweetest dog I've ever known. Despite what you may have heard about pit bull terriers, the greatest danger from Ginger was being beaten to death by her whip-like tail.

Well, when we got her, the neighbor kept her puppy. Ginger didn't like that at all, so she kept getting out to go see the kid. She not only dug under wire fencing, she chewed through it.

One day she left and didn't come back. We put up posters, and got a call from someone who had found her dead on the railroad tracks.

It's not as gruesome as it sounds. The tracks were high where she was found. She had been running along when a train came. She hunkered down to let it pass, and apparently died of a heart attack, not a scratch on her.

The ne'er-do-well brother-in-law owner retrieved her and buried her for us on her old home ground.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Buster's story is happier. We found him in a park up in Altadena. (We lived in Simi Valley at the time.) He had been living on the streets, eating trash.

We took him home, still almost a puppy, and one or the other of us kept him until he died of old age on my ex-wife's Tennessee farm.

When you adopt a Rover, don't expect him to stay home. Hugo, an English professor who had moved in to Ginger's owners' old place, used to see Buster nearly a mile from home, cadging fries at a fast-food place. English professor that he was, Hugo nicknamed Buster "The Artful Dodger."

After my wife left and I stayed on in the house, Buster would get out one way or the other, and when the dog catcher came, he'd try to get back into the yard. Another neighbor saw him get picked up as he was scratching at the locked gate (even though he was on my property, he was clearly "free").

I learned to leave the gate unlatched. That way, he could just push it open; the dog catcher wouldn't dare enter a closed yard.

Another of the things I miss in Asia: the company of a dog. If I ever have another one, though, I'm going for a Fido.