Sunday, July 29, 2007


From the Hollywood Book Festival website:


"HOLLYWOOD (July 29, 2007) _ The 2007 Hollywood Book Festival has named Will Clarke’s novel, “The Worthy: A Ghost Story,” as the grand prize winner of its annual competition honoring books worthy of greater attention from the film, TV and multimedia industries."

Congratulation to Mr. Clarke!

I spoke earlier with my Godchild, Lucy Bailey Elizondo, who represented "us" at the festival and read excerpts from QUADALAJARA - The Utopia that Once Was. Lucy was also sought out for an interview by a news reporter from Los Angeles' Spanish language TV station. (Tentatively scheduled to air in the L.A. area this Tuesday, July 31st at 12:30 PM)

I was informed that QUADALAJARA received an "Honorable Mention" in the category of "Biography/Autobiography".

It's been an interesting week :) And, of course, if I hear anything more, I'll post it here.

Thanks for all the well wishes and support!


Friday, July 27, 2007


As some of you know, I was invited to the Hollywood Book Festival to read from my book. Since I will be unable to attend tomorrow's event, I have asked and received the OK for my Ahijada Lucy Bailey Elizonda to represent me, the book and the Quadalajara "family".

I now refer to my Goddaughter as "First Daughter". Lucy is the daughter of Bill and Maria Elena Bailey, the first quadriplegic veteran to marry a pretty senorita in Quadalajara (October 23, 1958)!

Below is a touching response from a Myspace friend who has become a true friend! Thanks, Laura!

"WOW Jack,

What a great choice! She is a living, breathing example of the happiness and the existence of love and care in that Utopia! She has a heart felt interest in the story and will represent her parents, the story and you well. She must be very proud of your accomplishment too!

I am in tears when I think of you, her Godfather, hammering away at the keyboard for her parent's legacy... and how special she must of felt when all this effort and love was revealed in your words.

I wish I could be there, as I am sure, you especially, would be too... to hear Lucy Bailey Elizondo, read from your book. We would feel the circle of life spinning out from this special place in time, her smile on one end, her arms wrapped around the book on the other, as she reads your words. What an poignant moment in time, a living metaphor of Quadalajara.

This a great time for all of the living members of that community, their children, and all those who are living through these situations today, who wish there was a place to go - that felt like a Utopia and resulted in such love and care.

I think this is bigger than you think, my best to you and your Goddaughter Lucy."

Love, Laura

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Paraplegia News - June 1964

Wheelers Throw King-Size Party for Orphans
By John Reese


Those guys are at it again.

The same incorrigible bunch of American quadriplegics and paraplegics who gave the big Christmas party at the state orphanage took 300 of the kids for an all-day picnic and swim at one of the newest and most beautiful resorts here, Los Camachos, in the spectacular setting of the wild Barrancas.

This was an even more ambitious project than the Christmas posada. It meant transporting everyone but the nursery babies 15 miles out into the country, feeding them all day, providing lifeguard protection in an acre of clear mountain water in a blue-tile pool, and getting them all back, exhausted but happy and safe, that night.

3,200 Pesos Raised

The paraplegics “Alliance for Compassion,” as they now call it here, raised 3,200 pesos in one of the quietest fund drives in money-raising history.

What baffles everyone in the big American colony here is that nobody seems to want any credit, nobody wants his name in the local papers, nobody even wants to admit he was a part of it.
Nevertheless, although only 18 contributors showed up to see their money at work, it is know that “around 30 or 40” donors contributed.

The picnic was unprecedented in the 177-year-old history of the Hospicio Cabanas, the state orphanage. The kids drank 900 bottles of soft drinks and ate three-quarters of a ton of food. They kept the pool filled in relays, some of them wearing swim-suits paid for out of the paraplegics money.

Record in Foreign Aid

When you figure that the cost per kid was only about 10 pesos - that’s 80 cents U.S. - you're getting pretty close to a new economy record in Foreign Aid. It couldn't be done, but they did it.

The attention this “impossible” act of charity drew makes the American paraplegics one of the most influential groups in the big American colony here. From now on, their support is going to count heavily.

After the success of the Christmas party, it was relatively easy to line up help for this. The American School and the Municipal Police contributed the buses. State and Highway police detailed men to help handle the kids. A big brewery brought in folding tables and chairs, set them up, and hauled them away afterwards.

From page 150: QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia That Once Was

Thursday, July 19, 2007

QUADALAJARA --- A Hollywood Book Festival Award?

Soooo, I was minding my own business, reading and deleting emails and spam when I noticed an email from the Hollywood Book Festival.

A couple months ago I submitted QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia that Once Was for consideration in a contest which, I believe, focused mainly on relatively unknown books/authors.

Just thought I'd 'share' this unexpected email. Meanwhile, I'll attempt not to get on too euphoric a high. It's an honor just being considered and asked to read from the book at the event.


Your book is receiving strong consideration for an award from our panel of judges. As such, we would like to offer you the opportunity to read from your book at the event on Sat. July 28.

Please let us know if you would be interested in appearing. The stage schedule would call for about a 10 minute-15 minute reading, followed by a brief signing appearance at a table provided by the festival.


Bruce Haring
Hollywood Book Festival


Saturday, July 07, 2007


Vinnie and Jack, two hospital buddies reunited in Quadalajara enjoying the warmth and sunshine in front of their $40/month 3 bedroom house on a typical day in paradise --- seventeen days after arriving in Quadalajara. (Vinnie's attendant, Salvador, in the middle.)

October 14, 1972. I met Earl at Boston's Logan Airport for our flight to Guadalajara. In addition to the nervousness, there was a definite excitement because I'd been waiting to check out Mexico for over a year and a half.

Earl was a mountain of a man, 6'5” and now close to 300 pounds. It was a wonder his wheelchair didn't collapse beneath him. We made quite a pair as I only tipped the scales at about 125. Earl's little brother, Chris, would accompany us as our attendant for the flight. Like Earl, Chris was close to 6'5”, but he was a slender high school basketball player.

After changing planes in New York, we were finally on our way. The Air France flight from New York to Guadalajara would take about five and a half hours. I thought a lot about what Vinnie Nash had told me about Mexico: how a quad could get a full-time attendant for $50 a month, how accessible the city of Guadalajara was, and how one could live like a king on $500 a month.

Our destination in Guadalajara was a place called Casa de Vida Nueva, or House of New Life. We had selected this particular “gimp-camp” (as the guys so affectionately referred to them) at random from The Paraplegia News (PN), the official publication of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. There were half a dozen places in Guadalajara that regularly ran classified ads in the PN. They all tended to sound alike: 365 days of sunshine, skilled personal care attendants, American-style food, beautiful gardens, etc. Earl had made the reservations reluctantly, since he had wanted to go to Hawaii. We had taken two previous trips together, both times to Las Vegas, but somehow I convinced Earl we should try Mexico. I just had to see for myself what Vinnie and some of the other guys from the West Roxbury VA Hospital were so excited about. Little did I realize that I was about to enter into a special place in time.

* * *

At some point in the history of this intriguing Mexican city, someone cutely gave it a nickname which—at the time—seemed quite appropriate. By replacing the letter “G” with the letter “Q,” Guadalajara became Quadalajara. Advertisements that appeared in the Paraplegia News and elsewhere made Quadalajara seem like an attractive alternative to U.S. institutional living or living as a virtual shut-un with ones' own family for newly injured quadriplegics and paraplegics—victims of auto mishaps, swimming and diving accidents, and those whose lives were permanent reminders of the horrors of war.

* * *

The sun had already begun to disappear beyond the horizon as the plane touched down at the airport. To my horror, I discovered we would have to be carried—wheelchairs and all—down a deep flight of some twenty stairs to get to Customs and Immigration on the ground floor. Three or four uniformed men came to help us. I took a deep breath; if they could get Big Earl down those stairs, they would not have a problem with me.

After clearing customs, and getting our tourist visas, we were greeted by our driver from Casa de Vida Nueva. The man spoke English and, as we piled into his red station wagon, he and Earl began to talk about Pele, the famous Brazilian soccer player. This guy was a real soccer fan. (We soon found out that in Latin America it was “futbol,” not soccer—soccer is what Gringos called it.)

The drive to Quadalajara from the airport took longer than I expected. As Earl and the driver talked about futbol, I stared out the window at the darkening landscape. We passed cornfield after cornfield where adobe houses were spread out here and there, all the way into the city. My expectations began to drop as the reality was sinking in—we were in a poor, third world country.

We arrived at our vacation destination, and after that my enthusiasm was dampened even more: this place was depressing. The October night air had turned cooler as Gabino greeted us while we unloaded the station wagon. Like the driver, Gabino also spoke English; he was the head honcho in charge of directing the other attendants and running the place.

Casa de Vida Nueva was like some strange ghost town. There were a series of individual bungalows arranged in a houseshoe shape. At one end of the property there stood a building in the shape of a boat. Rumor had it that Casa de Vida Nueva, or “the Boat” as most Gringos referred to it, was a former dance hall/bordello. That might explain the group of bungalows located on the property.

The silence that hung in the air added to the eerie feeling that was eating at me inside. Gabino tilted my chair back and pushed me across the grass to my quarters as Chris helped his brother. Once inside, the slender Mexican disappeared into the night, leaving us alone inside my bungalow. It was the first time Big Earl and I had had a chance to talk and compare notes. I had a feeling he wasn't very impressed either.

The wall in the living room was covered with mosquitoes and a variety of other insects. Earl just shook his head, “This place is depressing.” Where had I heardthose words before?

Gabino suddenly reappeared with a short young man. “Jose Luis is going to be your attendant,” he informed me, as he began to blast the walls with some concoction of insect spray. It was the first positive thing that had happened since we safely made it down the stairs at the airport. Maybe I was judging this place a bit too prematurely.

After getting some fresh air and gazing at the stars on this cool Mexican night, it was time to turn in. There were a few voices in the darkness, and some of the bungalows' lights were still on. It had been a very long day; I had already been up for fifteen hours. I said good night to Earl and Chris as they made their way to Earl's bungalow. Chris still had to help his brother unpack and be back to the airport by midnight for his return trip to Boston.

Little did I know I was about to be hit with another series of unwanted surprises. As Gabino helped Jose Luis unpack my stuff and put me to bed, I found out that the stockyyoung man who was to be my attendant didn't speak a word of English, as advertised, and didn't have any experience.

I lay in bed watching the two Mexicans unpack my things and felt a cold draft pass over my left shoulder. The window was broken; jagged-edged glass protruded all the way around the cement wall, which served as its frame. As I turned my head to examine further, I noticed what looked like blood smeared on the flimsy, flowered curtains. I didn't want to speculate on how it got there.

Gabino listened to my complaints. How was I going to communicate with Jose Luis? What about the broken window? And this certainly wasn't a hospital bed; wasn't I paying an extra $44 a month for that?

“I'll talk to Sergio in the morning,” Gabino replied. I asked, “Who is Sergio?” “Sergio is the lawyer who owns Casa de Vida Nueva,” I was informed. Figures, I thought to myself. I'm getting ripped off by a Mexican lawyer.

My roller-coaster day was headed back down again. What else could go wrong? As Jose Luis and I tried to communicate with the few words I remembered from high school Spanish, Gabino reappeared with a list of commonly used expressions with their English translations. “Ah, quiero un vaso de agua.” I remembered that one.

As my attendant left the room, fulfilling my first request of him, Big Earl came rolling in with Chris and another man behind him, carrying bags. “I'm getting out of here,” Earl stated. “This place is a dump. I've got a taxi waiting; we still have time to make it to the airport by midnight.”

“Damn it, Earl! There's no way I could possibly get dressed and packed in time,” I said in frustration. Besides, I had waited a year and a half to come to Mexico. I was at least going to stay until the sun came up.......

Friday, July 06, 2007



(The comment below comes from a Myspace BLOG post - of a Memorial Day BLOG post here -re-posted on July 4th in "Memory of Robert Thomas Taylor.....July 5, 1949 - February 27, 1970")

There are so many poignant moments, just like this, in Jack's book. I think his manner of writing is like spending an afternoon with him, sipping a cool ice tea on some lawn chairs in the shade as he tells his story. You can feel his emotions, flip through the photos, and almost see the passion on his face as he tells this historic moment in time! One thing you never do is get bored, you get attached to Jack like your watching him and saying, "Wow, Wow... this guy is amazing!" ...and he is. He's tough but kind, he's loves women but he's a real gentleman, he's smart and he's assertive (the two don't always go hand in hand). He wrote a fabulous book and yet he never stops saying, "In memory of Bobby Taylor and all those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that we, too often, take for granted." So therefore he is considerate and humble... I say this because you get to know Jack in Quadalajara, I say it because he wouldn't... I say it because it's true!.....Laura, MA

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I just finished reading the BLOG posts of a globetrotting friend of mine "vacationing" in Asia. It made me realize that --- even if I have nothing special to write about, unlike my friend --- that posting something was better than nothing at all!

So as I ramble on here --- a special skill that I honed through countless emails sent over the past decade --- I realize that normally I'd be on my way to Saturday afternoon mass at Our Lady Of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Church about now. Unfortunately, this is Phoenix (OK, Glendale but right on the Phoenix boundary) and June 30th means 113 degrees in the shade! If you doubt me...............

Annually --- at least since 2002 --- I wouldn't care that much because late June meant packing for an extended July/August visit to my favorite hangouts in San Diego. Not this year --- at least, not unless a couple of really cool caregiver types knock on my front door volunteering their skills/services. Highly unlikely. Those who know me can attest to that.

Which brings me "back" to Myspace. It's been an interesting, time consuming "experiment" in networking on the Internet. I even sold a few books and received some very encouraging feedback from Myspace friends both here and abroad. There's even a rumor that there is a pending QUADALAJARA/Jack Tumidajski Myspace Fan Club. But, it's only a rumor! I should know because I kinda/sorta started it. It does sound like a COOL idea though:)

I do intend to spend less time "networking" on Myspace and more time BLOGGING and delving into the area of magazine article writing. Since QUADALAJARA - The Utopia That Once Was started as a bunch of short stories and not-yet-written short stories, breaking down the book and featuring stories as diverse as 'Bangkok's Exotic Nightlife' to 'Mexico - a Haven For Disabled Vets' should give me a good jumping off point. It would also serve as a vehicle to bring more traffic to my sleepy website:

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