Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jim Carroll

Just learned that Jim Carroll died this week at the age of 60. Carroll was the prototypical NYC punk rocker - the man who made the model that generations of people strived to emulate. He was the poet laureate of CBGB, leader of the last great punk band, and the writer of the life changing memoir Basketball Diaries about his double life as a young basketball star prostituting himself to support a heroin habit. As a teenager in upstate New York in the 1980's, I bonded with like-minded kids over our awe and fear of Carroll's dangerous, self-destructive and gritty aura, and his achingly intelligent and volatile art. There are just no other contemporary cultural heroes who so perfectly embody the Rimbaud-like ideal of a provocative intelligence coupled with a restless spirit. His departure shines a glaring light on how much we've lost with the passing of our punk pioneers, and how much we should miss it.

This is the final stanza from a poem Carroll wrote on the death of Kurt Cobain. Full poem here.

8 Fragments For Kurt Cobain

If only you hadn't swallowed yourself into a coma in Roma...
You could have gone to Florence
And looked into the eyes of Bellinni or Rafael's Portraits

Perhaps inside them
You could have found a threshold back to beauty's arms
Where it all began...

No matter that you felt betrayed by her

That is always the cost
As Frank said,
Of a young artist's remorseless passion

Which starts out as a kiss
And follows like a curse

Great photo of Carroll with Patti Smith via If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger.

1 comment:

Paul Pauper said...

Dude. A tragic loss. I am absolutely genuine when I say Jim Carroll is my favorite poet ever. I have this Cobain poem in Void Of Course, along with some of his other books, Living At The Movies. Etc. Sad but a fact. I bet he never thought he'd see 60 for sure.