This is a sort of online diary, or a
consisting of my mass
most of which are annual holiday greetings.
There is also a
narrative of my experience at
Lollapalooza 2006 with pictures.
These links take you to points lower on this page:
Thanks everybody for checking in. It's swell to feel the love from all 'round, we Iowans appreciate it.
The short answer is that I am fine. I was evacuated from my "Water Tower Place" home on Wednesday, and ended up being one of 24,000 evacuees in my town. The water had been rising for a couple of days previous to the evacuation order, and even though the water was already higher than the famous Iowa floods of 1993, on Wednesday I could walk to my building along a narrow strip of the street which was still dry.
I had expected that the water would not even reach through the front door, what with sand bag fortifications and the remoteness of that possibility even though the forecast crest exceeded all previous records. When I left my house the last time, I took enough provisions to last me though today, Saturday.
Unfortunately, Cedar Rapids was hit with a colossal amount of rain on Thursday, and when the river finally crested, it was more than ten feet higher than the 1929 record, about eight feet higher and a day later than Wednesday's prediction. It's a flood Cedar Rapids has never seen, with one outcome being that you heard about my home town on the news.
A picture of the whole downtown shows that the impact is indeed massive and widespread. My building is on 2nd Street, a block from the river on the east side, and at about the extent of the flood in 1929. When I evacuated, I went to stay with a friend uphill on 14th Street, and the edge of the water at 10th Street, where the National Guard maintains a perimeter, was visible from his front porch last night.
Needless to say, the seemingly over-cautious preparations at my building were thwarted by the rise of the dirty Cedar River, driven by a current powerful enough to knock down the railroad bridge along the tracks which run under my balcony, even though the bridge was weighed down by parked boxcars loaded with gravel.
My building is visible at the top of this picture from Thursday, with the water level almost reaching the awning above the front door. It rose higher the next day, to the top of the black garage door visible on the right side. My apartment is on the 4th floor, so it's certain that it was not breached by floodwater, and will probably escape mold and other kinds of water damage, although some serious dehumidification may be recommended whenever I'm able to get back there.
The natural disaster's effect on my personal property will be minimal, more of an inconvenience than a kind of "devastation" which television is fond of reporting. My building is unique in Cedar Rapids in that the association of condominium owners is required to carry flood insurance for this type of "500 year" event, so our residents' recovery will be relatively simple.
Along with the people whose homes were totally destroyed, the most painful loss will be suffered by the owners of small businesses downtown, which are ruined, and not covered by flood insurance. Some of them have long histories in their downtown locations. The water has never risen this high, so no one knew that it could, or predicted that it would, and no one knows where the water will go. Many of the downtown businesses will be lost forever, and a budding downtown revival halted. Ironically, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce had christened 2008 "The Year of the River" to focus the revitalization efforts.
Among the downtown institutions affected is the one closest to my heart, Theatre Cedar Rapids, whose home in the Iowa Theatre Building was thought to be out of harm's way, and remained just at the edge of the water until Thursday night. The recovery for this organization will be difficult, even in the midst of a capital campaign for improvements to its building. It's very likely that there will be no productions on this stage for years to come, and new locations will need to be found for TCR's 75th anniversary season.
At the present time, the most dire threat to Cedar Rapids residents is, oddly, a lack of water. All but one of the city's wells were knocked offline by the flood, and there was a mad scramble on Thursday night to save the last operating well. Until further notice, we are asked to use water only for drinking. Restoration of electricity and water are at least a week away, as well as the chance that I'll be able to move back into my home.
Meanwhile, flooding of historic proportions is bound for Iowa City, where the Iowa River is not predicted to crest until next week, at levels far above previous records. The greatest share of Iowa's devastation will be there, in all likelihood, following the punishing tornado which blew through two short years ago. We all wait to be awestruck and surprised again by what nature holds for the University of Iowa's home.
Naturally we are grateful for the remarkable lack of reports of deaths due to the disaster. We are taking care of each other in Cedar Rapids and other towns along Iowa's seething, contaminated rivers, and will surely recover, if slowly.
Here's to wellness... for me, you, and everybody...
Dear friends across the e-universe:
Two Thursdays ago I made the season's first sledding expedition,
under thin cloudcover. There were some pretty good runs I guess,
but nothing sensational other than the light in the sky. It also
marked the first time
In case you haven't heard, the management of Cedar Rapids city government last month eliminated funding for the 35-year-old helicopter program. No more police helicopters over CR. It's expensive to keep them birds in the air, so they were trying to team up with other regional police departments, but none were talked into it. Now Iowa's only (ever) police helicopter patrol is grounded, ushering in what is sure to be an era of unbridled criminal lawlessness by the poor against the rich right here in my back yard. Only kidding.
I don't know about you but I'm buying stock in zeppelins. Don't think I'm serious? As if the nation's eyes won't be either fixed on or transmitted through a blimp in Florida (by means of "tele-vision") at least once today. Whether you're watching football, the year's most innovative beer commercials or helium-filled dirigibles, I hope you're well and I send greetings. Having omitted 2006 entirely from the tradition of the annual holiday letter, I return to form appropriately enough on the occasion Superbowl Sunday, and based on a gladiatorial fantasy football game between team mascots, hereby predict a victory for Chicago, unless the colt is ridden by a cowboy who is skilled with large firearms.
You may have noticed I bin using some o' them five dollar words, words like "ever" and "my back yard" and "I don't know about you but I'm buying stock" and such. Infer what you like, but know that last year I implanted myself in Cedar Rapids, becoming an owner of property. Sweet property too, and with a ten year tax abatement, baby!
If you are beginning to doubt this strange assertion, then I applaud the fervency of your belief that such action is uncharacteristic behavior for the KRopa. Yeah, I'll cop to uncharacteristic, but all the same I think it wise and reasoned. So there, and come visit... but not today. I moved in at the end of November but it remains largely unfinished. I have no television to watch the big game, either. The place is swanky, though, a converted loft condo with lots of exposed concrete. When complete, it will retain the exceeding Spartanness of my previous residences, and you're gonna like it, or anyways I am. Thank you Andy and Mom and Dad for helping me heft crates. Hi Mom!
If you think that moving into a condo was uncharacteristic, know that I also bought a car last year, and one that was built in this millennium! I have not christened this automobile with a name, but it is a black 2003 Hyundai Elantra hatchback, exactly like the one in this here pitchur:
My grease monkey gearhead Dad told me "Hyundai" is the Korean word for "Japanese car." He's funny. He also loaned me a lotta money so I could buy a home, what a guy.
Don't anybody expect that I will acquire furniture, however. The colossal amount of the mortgage and car payments means that my mostly frugal lifestyle will now be sustained by sheer necessity from being broke all the time, and I find that a real lack of liquidity is even more compelling than willpower. Meantime, I am habituating myself to spending money I don't have, like a real growed up adult.
Another unbelievable thing I did last year (like a real growed up... NOT! teenager) was to become a myspacer, though admittedly not much of one: www.myspace.com/kropa
In the finest tradition of the KRopa e-holiday letter, I offer highlights of the theatre career which is, like, the fixation of my, like, life? Luckily I was busy last year, in four shows including one professional gig. Last January marked my first appearance as a cast member in a show at Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, playing Willy Loman's wire-recorder-obsessed boss in Death of a Salesman to favorable reviews. In April I practiced a British accent for my turn as a veteran of World War I who then became a portrait painter, in TCR's production of Enchanted April. My seventh summer production at Brucemore (or is it my eighth?) was The Fantasticks in which I was cast against all odds as el guy who sings the September song. Everybody sweat a lot at this outdoor song & dance gig, my own excessive perspiration showing in the photo on the left. The year was rounded out with an animal act, performing as the yard dog from Hans Christian Andersen's snowman story in an original Christmas show co-produced by SPT Theatre.
And has it been since the Halloween 2005 edition of my holiday letter that I started doing radio again? Fans rejoice, Eddie James is back on the air: www.krna.com/jocks/eddie_james.shtml
Without actually being present in the KRNA studio (since most of my on-air talking is pre-recorded and played back by computer automation) Eddie James provided live coverage of Election Night 2006. Clips are compiled into a 4.2 mB mp3 file, mildly entertaining and radically non-partisan: www.kropa.net/media/ejElection06.mp3
Both the famous Eddie James and I are of course into rock music, and another memorable event from my 2006 was attending Lollapalooza in Chicago. If you appreciate the kind of verbosity that you're getting from me herein, you can read my extended blog-style narrative of the experience, complete with captioned pictures of many of the performances I saw: www.kropa.net/sightings/lollapalooza2006.htm
Even in the years of single singularity, though, Valentine's Day has never caused me to fret as it does for some people who fear and despise it. I can understand why it can be a difficult holiday, and I would identify Christmas as the holiday which arouses my greatest feelings of disgust, perhaps for many of the same reasons... i.e. it's over-commercialized and inescapable in the media, and it can make a person feel lonely.
All the same, what other holiday gives you a deliberate excuse to tell of your dear friends that you're fond of them? And not just your dear friends. I remember that in elementary school, it's customary for everybody to trade Valentine cards with everybody else in the class, and why not? Warmth and love could use some spreading around, 'specially in frigid February, and it's always good to say to the people in your life, "Hey there, you're all right."
I know I must sound like some kinda hippie or something, so what if I am? A couple of more things before I go... here's a book which I think should be read by every member of the human race: www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php
This is a fascinating article titled "The Persistence of Memory" about an experiment with using a computer to log your life, which will become more common as technology continues to advance, making us ever more like Star Trek's Borg: www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2007/01/05/07
Finally, you should take a look at my brother's latest posted photographs from New York City. It is some of his best work ever. Perhaps I am drawn to his distinctive style because our sensibilities are naturally close, or maybe he's just got a lot of talent: www.kropa.net/photo
Happy Superbowl Sunday, Valentine's Day, President's Day, Ash Wednesday, Warshington's Birthday, Flag Day, Pi Day, Saint Patrick's Day, and resumption of daylight saving time... which comes extra early this year.
Hello again everybody. This is a shorter mass e-epistle to notify y'all that I won't be going to the Festival Theatre in Wisconsin this year after all.
At t-minus five days to my scheduled departure, which would have been yesterday, the Artistic Director called with the official word that the gig was cancelled, and that he himself was looking for the escape hatch. I gather they're having trouble keeping the doors open up there.
It's kind of a bummer, but no big deal to me since I at least have a job and a place to live, and I have been granted an unplanned infusion of spare time. What could be better, really?
So those of you around Cedar Rapids will be seeing more of me than you expected, and for that you are most welcome, or I offer my humblest apologies... whichever.
Have a spooky Halloween,
From Cedar Rapids Iowa, oats butcher to the world,
I the KRopa send greetings unto all people of the Earth:
"Greetings, people of Earth!"
And since this e-epistle takes as its form a traditional annual Christmas letter, I also wish heaps of holiday cheer upon all of you and remind you to go easy on the eggnog... please, we don't need another "incident" like last year. Did you get all of your shopping done yet? You'd better get with it... it's already after New Year's, for crying out loud.
What happened this year? More of those silly amateur theatricals which seem the endless object of my life's compulsion. In the spring I was in rEvolutioN 1963-1973, a rock musical produced in Cedar Rapids with songs from those years and an original script by a local writer. It was also produced for television, so you Iowan people of Earth may have seen it at various odd hours of the night in the MediaCom metaverse.
Summer yielded my seventh outdoor "Classics at Brucemore" production,
where I played Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath,
and thus got to drive a 1917 Hudson
As usual with the summer productions at Brucmore, it was most
gratifying to be surrounded by seasoned actors and dramatic artists
who are all serious about theatre's importance to the world.
It's humbling to have people of Earth stop me on the street or in
the grocery store, even two months after the production closed,
to tell me the Joads' story made them cry. Personally, Tom Joad
has made me all the more aware of how far away my life has kept
me from truly desperate
What else is new?
In July an expedition into the depths of my treasure chests
secretly vaulted in Mom & Dad's basement turned up an
old DAT cassette (remember those?) of funny things I
produced for radio back when I was a DJ. In keeping with the
holiday spirit of this newsletter, I offer you six
I'll be in two shows at
the Festival Theatre in St Croix Falls,
frozen northern Wisconsin. Last year at this little regional theatre I got
to play Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest
and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, along
Peace out and
a merry Christmas to all
and to all a good night,
Howdy-hi, friends and neighbors. Here is my annual Christmas letter! Yeah, sorry if the delay seems inordinately long. It's been a hectic couple of weeks.
For those of you who have been able to keep up with me, this will be something of a recap. For all of you, it's a chance to look at pictures of me with different hairstyles.
Those of you living around Cedar Rapids may have seen pictures
of me in several different sexual orientations as well. Check page 1E
of the July 30th issue of the
The picture above appeared in that same newspaper back in the spring of '03. Don't let the hairlessness throw you, it really is me, using my favorite alias. To the right is another of me at Beatlefest last August.
My professional and public life since February of 2004 has consisted of a
sedentary job punching keys in the service of Internet software development,
and several roles in amateur theatrical productions, respectively.
Among these theatrical roles was Ernst the Nazi in Theatre Cedar Rapids'
recent production of Cabaret, for which I had all the color removed
from my newly regrown mop in order to appear more Arayan. Any color in my
eyebrows had to go too, so it didn't look like a fake blonde. Judge for yourself...
the hilarious outcome is shown in another picture below, in which I also model a
the only garment besides show
This month I adjusted the proportions of my time slightly, so that I'm acting
Here in scenic St. Croix Falls, I have joined the company of the St. Croix Festival Theatre, where I'll be appearing in four shows through the end of the year, including as Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest, and as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Come see me if you get a chance to drive all the way up here, an hour beyond St. Paul, in the far frozen north. Check the comapny's Web site at festivaltheatre.org for performance schedules.
For more pictures of me, and to keep tabs on my ever-shifting location and occupation, you can always check on my own personal Web site at kropa.net, which includes my new headshot for your entertainment, and to illustrate how I look today, as opposed to seven years ago when my previous headshot was taken.
For the future, I'm planning to be back in Cedar Rapids again at the end of the year, and probably to hang about there until the next August.
That's the KRopa news capsule. I hope you're feeling great. "Peace out," as the kids say, and hugs all 'round.
Since last night my brain has been dealing with contemplations of time, memory, and the nature of reality. All my anticipation of the concert has faded into the past, into the obscurity of memory, just like the present moments of the concert itself. The nature of reality is I have no control over how time advances. The instant that the show ended I couldn't help but feel loss, as if something had died.
Evidently this sort of mental activity is what occurs when I see Sweat Lodge play again after six years. I wanted time to stop, while I was wishing I could relive my past.
We were all parts of creating and sharing an extraordinary experience, the reunion concert last night as well as the timeless legend of Sweat Lodge... an underground, secret story, undocumented by VH1. I will remember last night for the rest of my life despite my lack of control over the nature of memory.
In the future,
Hello all. This is my mass
Again this year reports in the media announced that some people watch the Superbowl because they're actually more interested in the advertising, as if it were some sort of rebellion. We'll show those football fans.
Tonight I'm waiting to hear the thief-in-chief, insecure in the knowledge that among all the voices in world politics, ours (that of the most powerful nation in the world) is the one yelling "CHARGE!" What if Iraq insisted that the United Nations appoint foreign inspectors to monitor the next US Presidential election? What happened in Florida in 2000 is as much justification for war as invading Kuwait, or possessing nuclear weapons.
If (as some assert) this would be a war for control of oil, I'm wondering what I'm prepared to sacrifice to make the world a more equal place, a more egalitarian human society. Actually, I would be wondering that even (isn't it transparent?) if it were not about oil.
This year finds me in Cedar Rapids Iowa, working at my old Internet Development job and living at the Roosevelt again, the same building where I work. Commutes are rough. My audition for another year of touring with Shenandoah Shakespeare is on March 3rd, and if I get cast, I'll start on June 1st.
I hope you're all well. Merry Christmas!
Hi there everybody. Most of you know that I'm currently on tour with Shenandoah Shakespeare, a theatre company which specializes in producing Shakespeare's plays in their original staging conditions. Coe College in Cedar Rapids usually hosts Shenandoah Shakespeare a couple of times each year, but unfortunately my troupe won't be coming to Cedar Rapids.
Your nearest chance to see me perform with ShenShaks will be at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt Pleasant on Wednesday, April 10th. The show is Macbeth, in which I play Macduff and slay the title character with a big ol' broadsword. It will start at 7:30, and the event is FREE and open to the public.
Wed Apr 10th 7:30 p.m.
Iowa Wesleyan College Chapel
601 N Main St
Mt Pleasant, IA
Mt Pleasant is located 50 miles south of Iowa City on Highway 218. Precise directions to the Chapel aren't possible, since they're working on the road, adding a Mt Pleasant bypass to the "Avenue of the Saints" highway, and it changes every few days.
Your best bet is to follow the sign for Iowa Wesleyan College, a right turn off Hwy 218 about five miles north of Mt Pleasant, then turn left into the large parking lot after you pass the main "Iowa Wesleyan College" sign on the campus. The Chapel is on Main St half a block north of the parking lot. If you end up downtown, ask directions. From the center of town, just go north on Main St.
Please come if you have some time to spare on April 10th, and help make the Mt Pleasant crowd huge.
My troupe is performing two other Shakespeare plays in repertory, and traveling to various destinations around the USA. For more information and my schedule, follow the links from my home page at http://www.kropa.net/. If you'd like to come to shows in other locations, give me a few days' notice and I should be able to wrangle free tickets for you. Luckily, all of the Mt Pleasant tickets are free.
Finally, I apologize to any of you who have tried to reach me with e-mail over the past few weeks. The modem in my laptop computer is broken, and a replacement part is backordered, so I don't know how long it will be before I'm fully operational again. I plan to impose upon the courtesy of someone who has a LAN connected to the Internet in order to send this message. So if you've sent me a message, a reply will be delayed until I regain regular, reliable Internet access.
Hola amigos. All of you know that I have trouble staying in one place for any length of time, so less than a year after my "KRopa arrives" mass message announcing the address of my latest apartment in Cedar Rapids, I'm writing again to let everybody know that I'll be leaving next month.
I would tell you my new address but I don't know exactly what it will be. The reason for my departure is that I landed a 12-month contract with the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express. I'll be one of the actors in a touring troupe performing The Merry Wives of Windsor, Macbeth, and Love's Labors Lost. I'm very excited to work for this company, which promises "the acting experience of a lifetime" and makes every effort to replicate the performance style of original productions of Shakespeare's plays. The company's Web site is http://www.shenandoahshakespeare.com/.
Though I'll be on the road, I'm resolved not to become destitute again, as was the case after my last excursion into a professional acting career. To be able to look for my next job while mobile, and so that I can keep in touch with y'all, I'm taking along a laptop computer with Internet access. You'll still be able to reach me at my jim @ kropa.net, e-mail address, and anonymously check on developments in my life via my Web site at http://www.kropa.net/. I'll update the site soon with a link to my tour schedule.
For those of you who lurk around Iowa, look for me to be showing up again in November of 2002, as I have tended to be held by the gravity of cornfields and factory-style hog farms. Of course, I may be back before then if the tour swings this way.
Everybody be well. Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New (palindromic) Year, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc.
Hola to the throngs of people receiving this
Many of you may also know that since 1997, I have not stayed in one place for any lengthy stretch of time. The signing of a 12-month lease at my new location marks the dawn of a new era of stability for me, during which I plan to hoard up enough cash & resources for more extended nomadic intervals without the stress of being simultaneously destitute.
So, also in the spirit of this festive shopping season, I've taken the
opportunity to scour my old
Though my geographical location ("meatspace") may change again within
a year, I've registered my own Internet domain so hopefully I'll have a
permanent cyberspace location. Reach me by
Happy holidays and new millenium,
« Jim Kropa Home Page
updated Monday, September 01, 2008