By Rebecca Lomax, Ph.D.
This was the interview that almost didnít happen. He
had written a strongly worded letter of complaint about another interview.
He knew things about the subject that I didnít report, simply because I
didnít know them. The person who had been interviewed didnít talk about
them. Then he rethought the whole thing. He is, after all, a radio and
television professional. This isnít, after all, investigative journalism.
So we sat down and talked quite frankly about journalism and its
liabilities. We talked about a columnist who had been threatened because he
poked none-too-gentle fun of the current president of the United States. We
talked about the dangers of writing about speculation. And we talked about
Jim Cox, where he came from and what heís doing in Chiang Mai.
Itís a long journey from Fresno, California in the USA to retirement in
Chiang Mai, from a natal family that he can only describe as ďholy
rollersĒ. Itís a pejorative term, maybe derisive, and yet to many people
it describes a certain zeal among some Christian denominations. All of the
things that the other teenagers enjoyed Ė bowling, parties, music,
dancing, swimming Ė all of that was ďof the devilĒ and forbidden to
Jim. Ironically, despite missing out on all of that, young Jim felt that he
had been called to be a minister and went off to Bible college following
high school graduation.
But that didnít last long, and he transferred to a nearby junior college.
He had no clear focus. He had grown up with a lot of ďthou shall notsĒ
but not a lot of goals. He loved to surf, and soon racked up an astounding
45 unexcused absences from class. The surf was up and he was out of there!
But Jim had grown up with other differences, too, not just the separation
from the fun his peers were having. He was gay in a family that outright
rejected the reality of a gay son. He had an older cousin who was also gay,
and who was in a long term, stable relationship. Jim decided to visit him,
and ended up living with him in Oklahoma City for a year. And there he not
only came out as a young gay man, he began working at a radio station as a
disk jockey. He met a lot of interesting people, and radio got into his
He moved to California to try to break into radio there, but Oklahoma City
experience didnít exactly qualify him for big time radio in California. He
heard there were good jobs in Florida, so he moved to the Miami area. He was
young and willing to work at anything while he found the job he wanted in
broadcasting. He worked for a hotel, he pumped gas, and he kept on looking.
He learned about a radio and television school, and thought that it would be
a good idea to get some professional education. So he signed up and was
surprised to find himself in production television classes. He loved it. It
was fast moving and exciting, and television was developing so fast that
nobody could keep up with it. He got a job with a CBS affiliate that later
became an NBC owned and operated station. Life was good. And there he stayed
for the next forty years.
He married a woman he had met while living in Oklahoma City. She knew he was
gay, but they were fond of each other and thought they could work things
out. She was Native American, and understood that sometimes you conform to
societal expectations to avoid a lot of heartbreak. They had a daughter, and
the marriage lasted twenty years. But he wasnít being himself, and she
wasnít being herself and they ended up divorcing and becoming good
friends. She remarried, and he visits her and her new husband from time to
time. Jim remains close to his daughter.
So life went along in south Florida. Jim spent twenty years as a videotape
editor, and six or eight years on the live action truck. It was good work,
not glamorous but interesting, good work. He loved the sense of camaraderie
that developed among the television people in the field. They were, at least
superficially, competitors. But when the action was rolling, when there was
a murder or robbery or a car wreck or anything else that pulled all of the
stations together in the middle of the night or into bad neighborhoods, they
took care of each other.
Time went on, and Jim thought about retirement. He visited a friend who had
left broadcasting and was working in Bangkok. And so the story goes again.
He fell in love with Thailand. His television station merged with another
and the new management offered people who were close to retirement age an
early retirement package. He was out of there again.
After a stay in Pattaya, he came to Chiang Mai. He found it to be a
better-rounded culture, and he was comfortable putting down roots. He spent
a few months doing all of the things you have to do when youíve moved half
way around the world. Once settled in, he began to look around. He had
visited an Expatís Club while in Pattaya, and the idea took hold. This was
an opportunity for expats to help other expats, to develop resources and
information that could be shared. So he visited the Pattaya clubs several
times, talked to folks there and got a little help in organizing the first
meeting in Chiang Mai.
Jim does not think of himself as a leader. I beg to differ. He yearns to
retire, to get up when he wakes up, to go out when he wants to do so. But,
for right now, heís working hard on Chiang Maiís new Expatsí Club. You
can meet him at the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel at 10.30 a.m. every second and
fourth Saturday. You can meet a lot of people there. Thanks, Jim.
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