Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let’s Talk About the Death of Jimmy Callaway


I met Jimmy during my first year of college (if you can call it that – it was a community college, so let’s say, my first year of half college, keep it up, champ).  I’ve always been the impatient type, so my first year of college began the summer of my high school graduation.  So, I think I graduated in 2006, so let’s say I met him somewhere along the summer of ’06.

Christ, that means I’ve known him for six years?  Something has to be wrong with my fucking math.  Don’t take any of this for fact, gents.

So, I met him in the hypothetical summer of ’06.  I was in an introduction to creative writing class.  C’mon, get off my back.  Everyone told me it was a pre-requisite to take the Masters of [INSERT LITERARY GENRE HERE] courses where I really belonged.  Turns out it was all a bluff and I probably coulda done whatever I wanted.  He came in, on behest of the instructor of the class, I imagine, and told us how to make our characters talk.

To this day, the first thing I remember when I think of Jimmy Callaway is him telling me that people can’t hiss a sentence – literally.  “Try it yourself,” he said.  “You’ll just sound stupid.”  Or something like that.  And it’s true.  People can’t hiss a sentence unless it’s made up entirely of “hi-“ and “-ss” sounds. 

He gave a short lecture, and when he left, our instructor told us he wanted to be a teacher.  Knowing him as I do now, I don’t think that was really true.  I mean, he was an English tutor at the school there, and he knows a bunch of stuff about some things, but I can’t imagine him having that special spark that teachers have, that patience, that utter lack of faith in the degeneracy of human beings. 

Still, what he taught us that day made more sense to me than anything I learned that entire summer.  Hell, it made more sense to me than anything I’d learned my entire time in college.  Later on, maybe the next semester, maybe the semester after that, he and I wound up – entirely by chance, I wasn’t stalking him or anything – taking a fiction-writing workshop together.  Our friendship was planted in the soil of a poorly written zombie yarn by yours truly.
Jimmy's private affair.
To win his affection, I remember I bought him a second-hand copy of Stephen King’s “Cell.”  Really, I thought, as a fan of the whole zombie thing, he’d appreciate it.  From there, we’d talk about comic books, why his band always played in bars (y’see, at the time, I hadn’t broken twenty-one yet and couldn’t legally go into those establishments), and he was a frequent consultant to my own writing.  But now I’m rambling.

I’d go on to briefly emulate Jimmy’s don’t-give-a-fuck overtly informal prose and shotgun crime fiction style.  I wasn’t as cool as him, so it didn’t work out well and I turned, instead, to cutting out words from everything I’d write and calling it poetry.  After his college graduation and my dropping-out, Jimmy would go on to become a figurehead in a small school of internet-based writers all sharing that same flare for crime – writers that you probably haven’t heard of yet, but most definitely will at some point in the future.  Writers like Keith Rawson, Cameron Ashley, Matthew Funk, and Josh Converse.  Seriously, if you want to read some good shit, google any number of those guys.

Jimmy’s first assault on the internet centered on machine-gun submissions to various online crime magazines – Flash FictionOffensive, Plots With Guns, and A Twist of Noir, to name a few.  Not to say I read them all, but I read many of them.  Nearly every one of them was better than the next.  It’s around this time that I read Jimmy Callaway’s novel, the name of which I forgot, and fucking loved it.  I then read a novella he penned called His Father’s Instruction.  Both very publishable, very marketable, very easy to read, enticing, et cetera, yet, for reasons unknown, Jimmy made little effort to get them published (from what he told me, anyhow). 

At that point, I decided it was my destiny to somehow be linked to Jimmy’s name.  So I did what any logical-minded individual would do: I adapted his novella to a screen play and shortened the title to Instruction.  It went equally distant into the plains of nowhere, so if anyone out there is looking to make a movie, shoot me an email and we’ll get it on track.
Original art by Callaway, I would assume.
Jimmy then shifted his focus to a number of online critic forums.  He’d long been maintaining  his personal blog about his one true love: comics.  The blog, Attention Children:Sequential Art was a monthly staple in my reading regimen.  A deep and thoughtful contribution to the discussions on the funny books in the stark language only Jimmy could provide helped pull things into focus around the industry and served as an invaluable tool to decide which comics were worth focusing on.

Then, he took it one step further and started yet another blog called Let’s Kill Everybody!. an examination of the slasher genre and its social implications.  It grew into as critical an analysis as there is out there for the genre and spawned the spin-offs Let’s Fight Everybody!, Let’s Fuck Everybody!, and Let’s DrinkEverybody!.  I mean it when I say this blog really took on a life of its own, as it grew and morphed into something bigger than a blog, with new writers coming in to help Jimmy out.  That was the beginning of Jimmy Callaway: Editor-in-Chief. 
Your one-stop shop for all things criminal.
Having a taste of editorial blood, I suppose Jimmy decided to keep on pushing, trying to get into the sweet tight-pants of the internet machine with the sole purpose of penetrating our eyeballs.  I don’t know the exact story behind the Criminal Complex or how Jimmy became attached to it, but it happened, and he did, and if you want to know more about it, then cruise over there. 

What I’m trying to say is that Jimmy Callaway is one of the most influential and daring writers you’ll never read.  Of course, now that you’ve read this, you’ll surely look up anything Callaway’s ever touched and read it for yourself.

No one knows for sure when Jimmy was born, but we all know that it happened sometime in the past.  Of course, he died doing what he loved the most: reading comics and being a smart-ass.  It was the ghost of Lee Marvin who finally did Jimmy in.  He didn’t appreciate his cameo in the aforementioned novella and came back for a bit of payback.
Life.  It imitates art, y'know?
Jimmy loved two things: crime and comic books.  And the Big Lebowski.  And I think he said he had a sister, so maybe he loved her, too.  As far as I know, he wasn’t married, so we don’t have to worry about accidentally cuckolding him in the grave.  And although I saw a guy who looked a lot like him once, this guy was old and ugly enough to be Jimmy’s brother, so it probably wasn’t his son.  So, no orphans, I hope.  I’ll always remember what you taught me: you can’t hiss a sentence.   Jimmy, old boy, you’ll be missed.

Happy Birthday, Calloway.  

6 comments:

I never met him, but his legend is a big part of my life. Actually I think I met him once. But since he is a legend, I was forced to disregard the memory to complete the mythos.

Aw, how did you know I always wanted a sincerely touching yet libelous obituary about me with my name misspelled at the end? Have you been reading my wish book again?

You can thank Office 2010's autocorrect feature for misspelling your name. I was drunk, but not that drunk. I thought I'd caught all of them. I'm leaving it like that for the sake of novelty and confusion.

And don't be a damn fool, you know I'm the best stalker you got. Hope your birthday was a blast, Jimmy.

I knew him well. But, after that monsterous night at the Ken Club, I can't admit it. There are men, bad men, looking for that information.

Folks misspell my last name all the time too, and somehow, unlike you, Mr Callous-way (if that's your real name), I have managed to survive the trauma. Tom B thinks HE'S a stalker, huh? Well, Jimmy, you better break it to him, that he's met his match in:
ray n
you know who I am, James. You can't hide.
And Toby wants to know why you never the fuck drop by anymore. Was it something he said/meowed? Seriously, you know where we hide the key. So just break in, have your way with him. Again.
Just so you know, though,I regularly mark the levels on my liquor bottles with a felt pen, so bring your own, buster.

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