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06/26/2007

Goodbye Jimmy Marks

Today, June 27th 2007, I honour the life of Jimmy Marks. He was a man who had the courage to sing with meaning.

Jimmy had been struggling this year with heart problems and diabetes. And he spent at least a decade of his life locked in a very long struggle against the government of his hometown, Spokane, Washington. It was a battle that some people felt was a symbol of Roma standing up against a prejudiced system. He also knew that many people disagreed with his claims, his methods and his madness. He knew that he was a complicated character in a complicated situation fighting a controversial battle. 
         I spent a long time with Jimmy Marks during the making of my feature documentary AMERICAN GYPSY, in which he featured. If he had his choice, I think he would like to be remembered for the moments when he said he felt like David fighting Goliath.

Last week Jimmy went to have dental surgery. He suffered a cardiac arrest at the dental office. Jimmy never regained consciousness and died this morning. 

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oLt7-3XpSE

--
post script:
When I came back to my office after traveling, I found that Jimmy had left me a voicemail shortly before his death. He began by saying, "21 years yesterday. 21 long years." He was referring of course to the day when police raided his family home in June 1986. The raid and ensuing legal battles had consumed Jimmy's life since then. His moods swung up and down - like an elevator, he said. The last words on his phone message were, "I'm down again. The elevator is down. Down to the carpet."

My thoughts and love go out to his family and all that he loved and lived for.

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