Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll died yesterday. Heart attack. He was 59.

If you’ve never read The Basketball Diaries, do yourself a favor and put it on your list. “Ugh,” you might think, “not another drug-addiction story.” Yeah, I get that. But while journalists, novelists, reality-TV producers, etc., have surely beaten this topic to death, The Baskeball Diaries was one of the first views mainstream America got into heroin addiction. It came out in 1977, a memoir culled together from the diary entries Carroll kept as a boy in New York from ages 12 to 16 — from the moment he first experimented with heroin, through the teen years that followed when he struggled with hardcore addiction. When I first read this book, my eyes were cartoon-character-wide the entire time.

Here’s a clip from the movie version, which came out in 1995. Be warned: this scene is waaay melodramatic, and Lorraine Bracco absolutely mails it in (look for the stamp on her forehead). But DiCaprio is so believable it’s freaky. Keep in mind, if some version of this scene really happened, the real-life Carroll would've only been about 15 at the time. Wow.

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