This is part of the reason I was having a tough day. A few weeks after I had reconnected with him after the many years since our finishing school in Dayton, Ohio, a dear friend (one that I had not seen in over 12 years) passed away. His name was Adam Cline and he was truly one of a kind.

Adam Cline on a very good day

Here he said:

My body continues to change- I continue to define my identity. Wheelchair or no wheelchair. I now have new piercings, more ink, a branding and more to come. . . . Everybody asks ‘Why.’ Do I hate my body enough to mutilate it? Or do I love it enough to celebrate and decorate it? I can’t give a clear answer.

My disability more or less forces me to be conscious of my identity. Therefore, my disability has become a large contributor to who I am. My lack of muscle control, my speech impediment, my physical breakdown have shaped my identity. My mental capacities largely exist in what forms they may because of my physical capacities. I think as a man on the outskirts of society because the handicapped will never be incorporated into the mainstream. Therefore, I have reclaimed my body through physical adornment because, for me, this act coincides with my mentality. I have pierced and tattooed myself, my body, to complement my disability. Body art gives me a new way of looking at myself. Anyway, I figure if people are gonna stare because of the chair – I might as well give them something interesting to look at. A chair by itself is pretty boring.

Tattooing and piercing provide me with an unspoken language in which to define myself. Because of my speech problems, along with my disability, people assume that I am mentally retarded. The body art, however, is a way to show people that I can think for myself. I mean, let’s face it, no parent in their right mind would tattoo their child. My body art provides me with a clear voice I may otherwise not have. I can now clearly show the world who (or what) I am.

Adam Cline as I knew him even though I was not there

Adam was confined physically in many ways and mentally in none. He was an absolute inspiration even as I was hatching up plans to head overseas (before I really knew what that meant). He was confined to a wheelchair, but read poetry aloud on countless occasions, listened intently, pierced and tattooed himself on numerous occasions and was just perfect. The man even met Allen Ginsberg, his idol.

I will let him speak for himself.

Because of my dependence on others to provide me with aid in bathing, dressing, almost all actions largely taken for granted by the abled; I feel my body is no longer my own. I need help in almost every physical aspect of my life. People can, a lot of times, choose my bedtime, choose my clothing, among other things- I feel very limited. But with piercing and tattooing I make the choice of what happens to my body. This way I reclaim my body as my own. Also, my disability is caused by a degenerative muscle disease, Muscular Dystrophy, that causes my current physical condition to be temporary, ever changing. My body art is permanent; it will always be there. My tattooing and piercing provide a sense of stability in their permanence. Taken from here.

I have my own personal story. Adam and I were in a class together at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Young, silly, in love with writing and poetry. A small class of 12. One joker attempting to write the great post-modern Vampire novel starts describing it in grave detail, in the middle of a lecture of a really respected professor whom we both adored. Adam, with limited constraint, flings his head at me and says rather audibly “what the fuck is this joker talking about?”. He pretended to whisper, but like everything Adam Cline, he was heard.

With love, I miss you and will see you on the other side. God bless and good luck.
Read more here.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

2 thoughts on “We lost a good friend: Adam Cline”
  1. Michael,
    Today I got an email from the Community Foundation of Delaware County, where Adam Cline’s scholarship is operated. It inspired me to google “Adam Cline” and I found this post. I had never seen it before. It was a good read on this dreary Friday afternoon. Thank you for sharing.

    I still miss that kid/joker/king/Buddha… daily. I love the story at the end of the post. It completely illustrates one of the many things that I loved about Adam. He was gloriously profane at all the right times. He had the biggest heart, and passed a bit of it to all of us.

    Have a good weekend, my friend.

    1. Hello there, Bruce. Great to hear from you and for bringing a pleasant memory to mind. Adam was something else and a true original. I had just been reflecting the other day about how his honestly and vitality gave us all permission to feel the same, to not feel ‘bad’ abut his condition, but rather appreciate the spirit that was within. I have never met someone like him and judging by the outpouring of affection from friends and family after his passing, I am guessing many feel the same. Do take care as well, Bruce, and again a real pleasure to hear from you. All my best.

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