And so it is also the 10th Anniversary of Jim Carroll's death today. I loved Jim Carroll, and more specifically The Basketball Diaries, from which this quote is taken from. I was once invited to write about this love, and did so for TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog, in a piece I later titled "The Thing Before The Thing" when I revisited it for inclusion in Be Cool. Please do hit it and feel free to enjoy some excerpt below.
"I am hunkered down at a long table at The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village. I am in my early twenties and I am waiting patiently for it to happen.
"What is it?
"I will tell you in a minute, because this part is about the thing before the thing.
"The thing before the thing is that as I sit there milking my watery Gin & Tonic, tracing the sweaty trickles of condensation with my finger as it slides down the side of my glass, and as I try to be patient, or at least not a stalkerish freak, I feel someone place their hands on my shoulders and then lean over me to get a better look at the still empty stage.
"I look up to see who it is, not that I expect I will know.
"And yet as it turns out, I do know who it is. Not personally, but I do know, and how couldn’t I, with his clunky glass, beard, crazy Jew hair, and bemused grin.
"It’s Allen Ginsberg, yes that Allen Ginsberg.
"He smiles at me and then he walks away.
"Why is this important?
"For one, because I am terrible starfucker and Allen fucking Ginsberg has just touched me, then smiled.
"But that’s not the most important thing.
"No, what’s important is that Allen Ginsberg is at The Bottom Line to read that night and I had no idea that was the case.
"How couldn’t I know that?
"Because I am there to see Jim Carroll, he is the thing before the thing, and I had no idea, because no writer is more important to me than Jim Carroll.
"I love him.
"I love him like women my age love John Cusack. And why is that, because he speaks to them, and yes, Jim Carroll speaks to me in much the same way John Cusack speaks to them.
"They don’t know John Cusack, but through watching him in Say Anything, certainly, The Sure Thing, possibly, and Serendipity, maybe, fuck, Christ, John Cusack inhabits something, an ideal of some kind, funny, passionate, tall, and crazed about the women he loves, and everyone wants crazed, until they get it anyway.
"Like them, I don’t know Jim Carroll, technically I now know Allen Ginsberg better than Jim Carroll, but Jim Carroll wrote The Basketball Diaries, and nothing before The Basketball Diaries ever spoke to me like The Basketball Diaries did."