I opened my e-mail to read this piece of sad news from Jim Carroll‘s assistant, Cassie Carter:
I am very sad to let you know that Jim Carroll died on September 11, 2009.
He was at his desk working when he passed away.
Plans for memorial services, etc., are still in progress.
I will keep you posted as I learn more.
I am so sorry to share this news. We will all miss Jim terribly.
Like many others, I first came across Jim’s work through the movie that depicted his life, “The Basketball Diaries,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio (this was prior to Leo exploding into the mega super star that he became and when not too many people knew about him). I remember as a teenager sneaking into the movie theater to watch it (it was rated R). Afterwards, I went out and bought the copy of the book and read it in like less than a week. When the movie came out, I bought the VHS (which I still have) and showed it to all my friends. It was a film about economic struggles, vices, redemption, growing up, and poetry. I clearly remember how I wanted to be like him: the rebel boy that would find redemption in art. His works inspired me in many ways to write poetry and to explore literature. His artistic image shaped a lot of the personality that I now possess as an adult. He made writing cool for me because he came from the tough slums, from the working class; not from some elitist stuffy sheltered world. He was a symbol to me, a symbol of resilience, fighting spirit, and triumph, amid a life filled with pitfalls, demons, and tragedy.
I always fantasized about meeting Jim Carroll in person. I always hoped that he would come out to Los Angeles so I could meet him, because as a teenager and later on as a young adult I could never dream of having the money to travel to New York. Back then, I was barely making it through, trying to earn some money so I could finish college. I waited and waited but his tour trip to L.A. never came (and if it did come, I never heard about it). In fact, I got so frustrated by that, that I stopped following his appearances as closely as I had in the past. I just gave up and thought “what’s the point, he’s never going to come to L.A.!” I eventually did make it out to New York (last year, actually), but the thought of trying to catch him on some appearance never crossed my mind because my trip was just too short (basically a weekend). Just shaking his hand would have been gigantic for me … but hey, who knows? Maybe I’ll get to meet him in some other dimension should I be so lucky.
To find out more about Jim’s amazing work, click on his pic below to go to his official website:
Rest in peace Jim Carroll. May the angels be with you. You changed people’s lives; you certainly changed mine…