I did not know Jimi Scribner, not in any meaningful way at least. Sure, I knew him; I'd seen him working sound at House of Bricks, or making food in that same venue's kitchen. I'd talked to him a few times over a beer at Lefty's or seen him at a live show here and there. And every time our paths crossed, he always called me by name, shook my hand, and had a smile ready. He was like that with everyone, so far as I knew.
Jimi passed away this morning, ending a difficult fight with cancer, which is the biggest of assholes. Far too many people have been taken far too early by the various forms of that blighted curse, and Jimi is just the latest to join those sad ranks. And for that, Des Moines is not better off.
That Jimi loved music and was a particularly ardent supporter of our local musicians was of secondary importance to the way in which he expressed that love and support. Most of his friends--and all of his closest ones--came from time spent at various music venues, most usually House of Bricks, where he worked for years. Friendships forged in the companionship that comes from countless nights in the same dive, being moved by the sounds exploding from the stage. And virtually all of them have a story they can share about a time that Jimi offered them a place to stay, or a meal, or a way home. Jimi would give of himself faster and more completely than many of us could dream of. And when you came into the room, regardless of how often you'd been there, the man had a smile for you.
While there certainly must have been people that Jimi didn't like, I can't say that I ever met one. He treated everyone with a joy and welcome respect that made Jimi himself almost universally respected and loved in turn. The people that he touched in a myriad of meaningful ways over the years could fill an arena. For much of the past week, as Jimi's condition worsened and the grim end became less and less a worse case scenario and more and more a harsh inevitability, Jimi's Facebook page has become a living memorial as friends have poured in, wishing the man well, sending him love, recounting stories of his life and the shared moments that touched people. Caravans were organized to make the trip down to his hospice and visit him one last time. Photos were taken--most featuring a defiant middle finger--and tears were most certainly shed.
I will not try to properly eulogize a man whose warmth and generosity were largely unknown to me. I will not try to aggrandize my role in his life, or pretend that any platitudes I write here can properly relate to you the importance of Jimi's life to those who knew him best. The genuine mourning for his passing is better done by people who knew him more intimately, and who are, even now, gathering around one another to share stories and laugh over memories of the friend they've lost. But there is something even in the superficiality of my relationship with Jimi that I think says a lot about the man's character and soul.
I did not know Jimi Scribner, not in any meaningful way. And every time I saw him, it clearly did not matter.
Godspeed, sir. Peace awaits, but Des Moines is a worse place without you.