Friday, June 29, 2012

Jim Carroll: Magic Stick, Detroit, February 21, 1998

Jim Carroll was great: sharp, funny, dark and usually late for his performances, at least the ones I saw. Man, that first one at The Pier in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1981 when he fronted The Jim Carroll Band seems like yesterday, exhilarating and permanent. He and the rest of the band had come down from New York City in a van and been pulled over by police in Virginia. "I thought they'd make me squeal like a pig," he quipped in that strange cracked voice of his, referencing the horrors of Deliverance. It's funny now, too, that tickets were only $5.00 apiece if memory serves. Woo-hoo, minimum wage had just gone up to $3.35 per hour that January!

1981 must have been the year my mind hit the open seas, as it were, because it keeps popping up as a top subject tag. That show at The Pier was The Jim Carroll Band's "First U.S. Summer Tour," so we all lucked out with that one.

And so it was again that when Jim Carroll came to Detroit as part of his 1998 Spoken Word Tour, I jumped at the opportunity to turn out one more time for the poet-singer. I'd only been living in Detroit since the summer of 1997, come to think of it. In any case, the tickets cost $12.50. 

On the night of February 21, 1998, it was cold and the street grates were spewing steam along the edges of Woodward Aveue. At some point, I found myself waiting, huddled in the Magic Stick, drink in hand, until he arrived, with three other folks in my party. 

The Magic Stick, part of the Majestic Theatre complex built in 1915, holds about 550 people max, so any good act is worth seeing there (as is the main Majestic space, with a capacity of 1,000).

Once Jim Carroll showed up, he launched into reading and recitation, clowning and gravelly voice impressions of William S. Burroughs and others. The dude was cool and, dare I say, transcendent of time and place. 

Eventually, Jim Carroll (1949-2009) inspired me to get around to contributing to "Essays on Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries," for Nonfiction Classics for Students (Cengage Gale), Vol. 5,  2003. Among other things. Thank you, Jim -- you rock! 

Man, 1981, 1998, 2012 -- it's all in here somewhere, really . . .

Today's Rune: Signals.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like I need to hit up You tube for some visuals on this dude. I don't know anything about him.