Handy with engines, can walk long distances

I spent part of my afternoon today going through a friend’s website.  I have known Jim Yates since the beginning of my college days, and we have been on many adventures together.  I can trace many of the wonderful things I have incorporated into my life back to this man and his creativity and ingenuity.

During my wild evangelical days, he taught me how to cover a Desert Storm surplus NIV Bible in duct tape and secure it with snaps from a pair of baby pajamas sewn to the cover in order to keep the pages safe when out adventuring for Jesus.

When I broke my skateboard, Jim took up a collection from his friends back in Indiana, telling them that I had busted it in half, trying for some highly technical-sounding maneuver like a 180 inverse varial rail slide (I just slung a bunch of words together there trying to sound like a cool skater punk.  I don’t even know if I just said anything or not) when in reality, I broke the board by jumping right in the middle of it to see if it would break.  Jim also donated lots of trucks, wheels and risers to my skating endeavors throughout my college years.

Jim and his roommate Luke introduced me to pipe smoking.  I had often wanted to smoke a pipe in college and had even stolen one of my grandfather’s pipes from my mother’s antique collection once.  However I threw it away on the way back to school because I didn’t want to be overcome by the sin of polluting my body with tar and nicotine.  Jim and Luke, however, helped me get over that fear and gave me my first pipe: The Hobgoblin–so named because I thought that a foolish consistency with it would make my mind little.

Jim founded the venerable sport of couch burning at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.  I doubt the sport has survived, but it provided an abundance of pagan influence and practice that our over-evangelized lives desperately needed.  On the eve of my graduation, Jim donated his prized “Igmo Couch” to be burned.  The importance of that gesture has never been lost on me.

Jim housed me in his dorm when I became a wandering campus nomad.  He also introduced me to the Bird House boys when my nomadic ways became tiresome and a comfortable bed became desirable.

I have floated the Caddo and Ouachita rivers with Jim.  Tromped through the Ouachita mountains with him, driven on long journeys in a Volkswagen van, eaten dehydrated and other “snackable” food items, camped in thunderstorms, and survived floods and tornadoes with Jim.

Jim was the one of our group who discovered the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and began applying the term “oddfellow” to our group of strange friends.  We have no association with the actual order, but we felt the term perfectly described our nature.

Jim and our mutual friend Guy fostered a love in me for both photography and Volkswagens.  My first VW van came to me from the endeavors of Jim and Guy.  Part of the journey to obtain that van involved the three of us encountering true inbred rednecks in southern Arkansas.  The stories from that encounter will live on for many generations.

Jim was the one who discovered the underworld nature of mysterious Gurdon, Arkansas.  He led me on adventures to Frankie’s Lair.  We danced on the railroad tracks around a bonfire before the cops came to scare us off.  It was Jim’s political ease with “the man” that brought us through freely.  Later that night, on those same railroad tracks, we encountered the women that we would each marry, and afterward we walked into the darkness on the tracks to find the Gurdon Light.  We saw its eerie glow in the swampy darkness at each other’s side.

This month, Jim will get married to that girl that walked by our fire in Gurdon, Arkansas.  I believe they are destined for a life of adventure together.  They are cut from similar cloth.  The enduring spirit of good, honest, country people flows in the veins of both of them.

I recommend that you stop by Jim’s website at yatesphoto.com and view the products of his creativity.  Jim has a powerful eye, and he puts it to good use.  I want people like Jim by my side when the oil runs out.  People who can imagine and create, who can think their way around an engine or a Bible or a situation to be photographed.  People who are (as Jim notes in his resume) “handy with engines” and “can walk long distances.”  As Ran Prieur points out in How to Survive the Crash and Save the Earth,

As the 15th century had the Renaissance Man, we’re going to have the Postapocalypse Man or Woman, someone who can fix a bicycle, tan a hide, set a broken bone, mediate an argument, and teach history.

That’s the kind of person I want to be.  That’s the kind of person Jim Yates is.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mike on 06/12/2007 at 7:00 pm

    Quite a fucking testamony to jim.


  2. i love this.

    what beautiful images and memories…

    (a long, deep, content sigh.)


  3. I’m sure Mr. Yates would be very proud of your post. However, you failed to mention that he has bad eyesight and arthritis in his back and watches too much TV to be any good for anybody. But he does at least take take long walks and he did quit smoking pipes a long time ago.

    yatesphoto.com | yatesphoto.blogspot.com | myspace.com/montgomerytrucking | montgomerymusic.com


  4. Posted by Rix on 06/14/2007 at 7:48 am

    My apologies to Mr. Yates (or “That Little Jimmy Yates Kid,” as I sometimes like to call him) for my remissness. I also forgot to mention the following:

    Jim Yates studied old books and archaic languages in college and received his B.A. in 1998. He has worked as a freelancer for the Associated Press, a foreign expert for Peking University and an Overseas Correspondent for The Commission magazine. He has also worked in landscaping, roofing and shade-tree mechanics. Before beginning graduate studies in August, Yates completed an internship at the Birmingham (AL), Post-Herald. Yates was reared in Indiana and has photographed in 28 countries, survived automotive break-downs in 12 U.S. states and slept on six mountains.1

    I’m not sure which I find more impressive: “foreign expert” or “slept on six mountains”. I have been considered foreign before, but not an expert in my foreignness. And I have only slept on one mountain.

    Mostly, though, I’m just glad to see he has a photo blog. That bitch sure knows how to point and shoot, don’t he?


  5. […] out the trunk of my car to get ready to visit my friends Jim and Bonnie for their wedding reception,1 I dropped a heavy board on my toe.  The edge of the 1/8 inch fiberboard cut a gash just below my […]


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