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Adi Da – Renaissance Man

My first encounter with Franklin Jones was twenty years ago, when I read two-thirds of his religious autobiography, The Knee of Listening, self-published when he had lived a mere thirty-six of his eventual sixty-nine years of life. His regurgitation of Eastern nihilism is so dense and pompous, that I could never finish any of his books or audio tapes.

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That’s okay because his story did not end with that early Melrose Avenue incarnation. Now I am having a new relationship with Adi Da the digital artist and underwater motion picture cinematographer. 

Franklin Jones has many different names; Bubba Free John, Da Free John, Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj, etc. Franklin Jones wears many different colored hats; Melrose Avenue bookstore proprietor, guruGod-Man, costume designer, painter, digital artist, nature photographer. The foundational element tying it all together is the genius of Mr. Jones’ creative vision.  Franklin Jones was a master of the visual art form. 

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Staged Spiritual Theatre

Adi Da would have been a natural as a blogger with that camera. He already had a stockpile of excellent images ready and waiting to post on the Internet. Da could have invented and reinvented himself at the speed of electricity by using the Internet. This article was written specifically to showcase Franklin Jones skills at being photographed as an underwater cameraman. Notice how he is perfectly posed in the safety and comfort of his own swimming pool. Where are the production assistants for that huge camera?  What is he photographing? Where is the camera person who is shooting Adi Da?  Why is Adi Da wearing a wet suit in Fiji? 

These photographs are pure spiritual theater with Da as the rock star. Photographers always have production assistants. I know because I use to be one for photographer Ron Harris in 1981. I would drive up and down Melrose Avenue as a starry-eyed production assistant, passing the sacred sites where Franklin Jones and Yogi Bhajan were creating their empires using staged spiritual theater. 

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Adi Da was engaged in industrial level output of his art products at the time of his relatively early passing at the age of 69 years.  Photography was one of the first mediums that I worked in when I was young.  I feel like I am having a professional relationship with Da. He makes me want to work hard and be productive with visual images. 

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Andy Warhol spent the final years of his life producing as much art and making as money as possible. Robert Mapplethorpe did the same thing when he knew that he was going to die, he cranked out as many photographs as possible and made as much money as he could.  

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New Religion

Could Adi Da or someone like him start a new religion in a bookstore again? Probably not. The next new religion will probably be created online.  The religion that got me into religion was called the Church of Religious Science and it no longer exists as such. Now it is called, the Center for Spiritual Living.

Flat On His Back

Studying gurus, cult leaders and serial killers is my obsession. I usually have a true crime investigation playing on cable with the audio muted when I write these blogs. This is what I do to engage my world on a Sunday afternoon, write this spontaneous three hundred and fifty word blog post about Franklin Jones as Adi Da, the Melrose Avenue bookstore guru who made the big time. It was easy because all of these photographs were already saved on my hard drive. 

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