I'm not much one for heroes, but when I was a young man Jim Carroll seemed to me the epitome of decadent cool, the embodiment of a synthesis of brooding dark intellect and street credibility that made me want to be him. I was far from alone in this aspiration, there were seemingly hordes of us back then, clad in tight jeans and black leather jackets, who saw in Jim Carroll the perfection of imperfection, and who carefully nurtured our own inner Jims.
I blew off my last ever class at Boston University when a good friend pulled me out of the classroom to inform me that Jim Carroll was giving a reading down the block. Without hesitation, I left the last gasp of my formal education behind to join a sweaty crowd packed into a small room listening to Jim Carroll read from his latest collection of prose poems. I couldn't have picked a better way to end my undergraduate studies; it beat the hell out of sitting through one last session of "Alternative Methods of Telecommunications".
I suppose it's true that we don't actually mourn for the dead, but for the piece of ourselves that dies with them.