Jim Carroll Has Died, Died

In 1999, I twice found myself writing about The Basketball Diaries, a Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle best known for a scene in which the hero fantasizes about shooting his classmates. The movie popped up in one of the articles because it had been blamed in a lawsuit for inspiring the murder of three girls in Kentucky, in the other because it had been blamed in the media for inspiring the Columbine massacre. It hadn't been a particularly popular picture, and it may have earned more attention as a scapegoat than it did as a film.

I had trouble thinking of it as a movie too, but for a different reason. Before it was a motion picture, The Basketball Diaries was a gritty memoir; and that's how I had first encountered the story in my teens. The author of that book -- the punk-rock musician and neo-beatnik writer Jim Carroll -- has just passed away at age 60. His most famous song is called "People Who Died," and I'm going to bow to the inevitable and mark his death by playing it:

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  • Nipplemancer||

    "Jim Carroll has Died, Died" awesome

  • SIV||

    Good book for teenage boys to read.I enjoyed it imensely back in the day.Never saw the movie,saw Jim Carroll perform as a musician once(not poetry or "spoken word"). RIP

  • SIV||


    John Kincaid will likely play Jim Carroll stuff on his radio show Personality Crisis on WREK FM tonight from 10-12:00 EDT.

  • Inwood resident||

    The woods are still as cool as they were when Carroll wrote about them 40 years ago.


  • ||

    Good book.
    Bad movie - completely missed the essence of the book.
    No good song.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    In a small piece of evidence that Carroll followed the DIY code until the end, neither his website nor his Facebook/Livre du Visage page has been updated From Beyond.

  • Hacha Cha||

    Tim, that website wasn't his own personal site, its someone elses.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Oh. Then revise the above to read "In a small piece of evidence of the laziness of Carroll's fans..."

  • ||

    Great tune. I think Keith Richards played on the original; he certainly played on that LP (remember LPs?).

    Hard life, keen mind, sharp eye, tough sumbitch with a strong center.
    His life took its toll.
    We should all live half as hard and half so well.

  • ||

    And he just turned 60 on Sept. 11. Gotta be doubly hard for his hometown buds.

  • ||

    Error. Too late. Must not drink & type.
    Birthdate 8/1/50.
    Exit date 9/11/09.

  • ||

    same here, guess we must all be around the same age.

    I remember reading TBD in study hall in high school but not wanting my girlfriend at the time reading it because it simply revealed too much of how we guys think (remember the beach scene...?).

    TBD was a defining moment for me and it helped, along with reading Kerouac and listening to The Doors, to get poetry into my life.

  • ||

    very sad news as jim was one of my heros. he will be greatly missed.

    i was fortunate enough to see him do two reading in baltimore back in the late 80's over two bottles of wine. a fond and memorable night i'll not forget.

    love you jim and blessings to his wife rosemary. r.i.p.

    [i]"they don't know to them the dark don't whisper nothin'
    and they're all gonna try and rip the wind from your soul

  • JB||

    Has anyone seen Heathers (1988)?

    A black trench-coat wearing outsider and there is even a plan to blow up a bomb in the school (just like Columbine).

    Michael Moore is a big fat diseased fuckbag for making a movie blaming guns when it was fucking obvious that Heathers was much more to blame.

  • JB||

    Jesse, thanks for mentioning Heathers in that original 1999 article. That was the first mention I have ever seen and I followed the Columbine news a bit.

    'Blame guns' was MUCH more prevalent than 'blame media'. Which is crazy since the media covering school shootings is the main driving force behind them being more widespread in recent history.

    They are attention-seeking acts and giving them loads of attention only encourages more. There is a reason sports broadcasters don't show people who disrupt games: they don't want to encourage more of the behavior.

  • ||

    and he had a trusted rhythm of his own when he read. He was always pulling back on the beat, not like in his singing. You figured he'd picked up a lot from St Marks, learning how to hold the idea or image in the phrases of the sentence.
    And he felt right.

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  • ||

    I like anonymity bot much more than spambot. At least anonymity bot puts care into what he posts. :(

    JB -- How about neither Heathers nor Basketball Diaries is to blame? Or that there's not a single movie out there to blame. I mean, really.

  • Billy!||

    I never bothered to listen to him because i always figured it'd be annoying Patti Smith type arty crap. But that was reasonably rockin'.

  • ||

    As a lifetime mediocre athlete, I never had patience for people who had real talent and pissed it away. Carrol was a very good basketball player as a kid in New York. He chose to take his talent and piss it away in a herion addiction. I could never quite forgive him for that and thus never took his books seriously.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I have always loved how Jim Carroll was able to recognize his real talents and take a path other than the one that the less imaginative might have expected of him.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Great tune. I think Keith Richards played on the original; he certainly played on that LP (remember LPs?).

    Not to my knowledge.
    I think Richards was involved in getting the record made (He "discovered" the band), but he is not credited with playing on the record.

  • JB||

    Andrew S, they are much more to blame than the existence of guns. And CNN is even more to blame.

    Obviously the idiot killers are to blame, but ideas do have consequences (just ask the victims of communism).

    I'm not saying anything should be banned (well, except stupidity), but I wouldn't mind seeing better coverage of school shootings. Say, '2 losers shot up their school. Here is all sorts of information on their victims. We aren't going to talk about the shooters at all.'

  • ||

    Speaking of Jim Carroll, another great book featuring him is Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.

    If even half the things Iggy Pop supposedly did were true than...i dunno.

    but it should be required reading for any 15 year old mall punk wearing a rehashed Ramones shirt, so that they can understand how many of their New York heroes (including Carroll) were quite literally sucking dick for smack..

  • Chris R||

    I don't know that I will miss Jim Carrol. He wasn't part of my everyday life. But I do very much admire him for what he has done.

    He made me laugh and cry and think.


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  • George||

    this article was really interesting. I hope you write more like it in the future. I'll definitely show this to my friends.


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