Jim Carroll died on Friday. I was lucky enough, years and years ago, to see him at Lounge Axe. I remember walking in and being shocked. The place was empty! There were maybe ten or fifteen people there. Sure, it was five on a Wednesday or something, but shit, this was Jim Carroll!
I remember being so excited to see him. When I was a janitor I had his Praying Mantis on cassette and I’d listen to it over and over while I did my rounds at three or four in the morning. When I was in college, after Bukowski, Carroll was the only poet I could think of who was worth a damn. He made the short list I kept in my head of Writers (capital W).
And there he was, the only guy sitting at the bar. I recognized him immediately. He looked just like he did on the cover of my well worn copy of The Basketball Diaries. I didn’t have the guts to go up to him and say hello, something I’ve always regretted.
After awhile he took the stage and because there were so few people there he had us all gather round up close and he just told stories and did some of his poetry. I seem to remember he sang something a cappella too? One of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, I was completely mesmerized for the hour and half or so he did his thing.