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Jim “Shoota” Magruder

You know the funny thing Shoota, I never got the chance to tell you about this blog. But per usual Rif came through with the vital knowledge, relaying the ‘informaish’ and preventing me from regretting my own poor marketing skills. The voicemail you left for me that Thursday night was priceless. Made me laugh out loud at your wit and my ‘suchness’. After you told me not to call you for “at least a few hours”, because you’d be “busy bloggin it, postin comments”, I of course immediately called you back.

I missed you, but as was often the case, tried to picture which aspect of domestic life was consuming you at that particular moment. Maybe Abbey was hungry, and thus a ‘lil heated’. Maybe you were busy trying to embed “ballgames points” into her frame of reference and anxious vocabulary. Either way that ended up being the last time I called you.

This has, for me, become a severe point of confliction. Honestly, I knew you’d call me back. Obviously. But it was also the voice mail. Throughout that weekend, during which I went to Boston to see my family, I repeatedly listened to it, as opposed to skipping it before my new messages. What had begun initially as an outright laughing fit had transitioned into a familiar chuckle with each listen.

In the week subsequent to your accident I must have heard and laughed at that message five or six times. Never occurred to me to get immediately back to you, because I knew what your life was like, and knew that you always made time in it for me, so it really wasn’t a big deal. The part of me that regrets not calling is that we in New York would at least have known about your accident and forecast. Would have had time to try and comprehend this ridiculous scenario; try to act accordingly.

But I didn’t call and we didn’t get the word until you were already gone. There’s a part of me that is destroyed by that. But, I think, there’s a bigger part of me that cherishes the fact that I was given the opportunity, one last time, to celebrate your life in a singular way. With our lives on different tracks in different places I had already accepted the fact that mementos would be a common fashion through which to play out each other’s endeavors. This time was no different. And now, in hindsight, I realize that for one whole week, when 99% of the people in your life were bracing themselves for the imminent, I was ignorantly, goofily, blissfully chillin. With another unique memento from you, I was content and chillin.

I have taken measures to ensure that that message, your last message to me, will never be misplaced, never go too long without a listen and a gag. I finally had Rif, Cotter and Ty give it a whirl right before we got on the plane out of New Orleans. Thought it would be a fitting way to leave your land.

Now I know that Louisiana was your land, your home. But you know that NY became your ‘spizz’. I know it was tough when you first got here, living uptown on your own, a sophomore in college feeding off New York pizza and the super stations. But there was that one “glorious” day when you saw a kid with an LSU shirt, got talking to him bout the Tigers, and the homeland. You asked him if there was anyone good to know at Fordham, and he immediately told you there was a kid from Boston that he was certain as steel would be a good fit for you.

That first fall day that you showed up with Glazer at my room was a Tuesday. And Tuesdays in 14M were “Jack Bauer night”. So it became a Tuesday faded-24 “steez”. The crew was always the same: Nate and Koshy, with Chrissy meandering in and out of the room, and us. Cotter and Rif would show up too, but ‘cared’ about 24 and enjoyed conversatin’ through it. Nate and I would have none of that. Season 2 of 24 demanded silence, and you didn’t seem to mind.

So it went, through the new year of 2003. Tuesdays were Jim-from-Louisiana day. Then things started getting more serious. Our inaugural intramural basketball team–Adog, Ace $$, Keith, Roger, Toine and Dre, myself–was floundering. With expectations of ‘rollin’ over fools’ en route to the glory of Fordham’s famed wall of sports, it was an understatement to assert that we were underachieving. We pretty much stunk. Then you offered your services.

I know you were a star off-guard in high school; loved the perimeter and the jays. But on this squad of slender, quick guards, your 6-1, hulky-frame was exactly what we needed in the middle. So you abandoned your game. Abandoned it so Ace “mini AI” could slash; so Roger “dub dub” could dish; so Adrian “jump-shot camp” Arias could eye up that nylon like a sharpshooter; so I could chill in the corner, waitin’ for that dish and trizzle.

And guess what? We started winning. We started finally having fun. Started hoppin’ on and off that godforsaken Ram Van with a shit eatin’ swagger instead of a collective punch in the gut. We would come to the Bronx from “that actors campus” with a mission, execute that mission, and be the hell out. That first season ended admirably, as I’d say we were right around a .500 team.

What I know for certain is that season two would be the one to remember. We beat ‘Yao’ (a 6-5 Chinese kid that could’ve dropped double digits for the D1 Fordham team). We beat my arch nemesis so I didn’t have to fight him. We just kept winning. And then we’d bring the party back to Lincoln Center, where the squad would ravage Koshy’s plentiful yet typically guarded stash of hamburger patties and quesadillas.

The only game we lost that season was the last one. And since it was right before spring break we obviously ‘cared’. You were off to Franklinton, me to Paree. We had the number one seed and a first round bye locked up for the playoffs. I’m pretty sure Adog played all by his lonesome that last game. Wasn’t too fair, but you know it was all good because he was most likely content with his ‘word stat line son’.

When we got back from spring break and realized that my nemesis’ squad had won its quarterfinal game and was going to be playing us for the right to go to the championship I was giddy. I had done him so dirty in that regular season game (and obviously ‘repped verbally’ throughout it all) that I was ready to laugh him back to wherever it was that he got that ridiculous earring. I must have played the worst game of my life that day. Couldn’t buy a shot. With Ace struggling to find his game as well, we were down by a mortifying 24-13 or something at halftime. What you did in the second half of that game I’ve always told myself I would never forget. Well now you need not worry kind sir.

You hadn’t seen the light outside of the paint in two seasons and somehow you knew that with our season hanging in the balance, the three-point line was beckoning. You hoisted up treys like they were coconuts. If that basketball had been a coconut then each one of those five three pointers you hit would have knocked each one of those opposing teammates right onto their behinds. But instead of literarily taking them out you did that through the grace and accuracy of your jump shot, methodically and deliberately firing calculated shots at the egos and confidence of that entire team, one by one.

When it was all said and done what had started as a dismal, season and character- threatening disaster had turned into the greatest game I’d ever been party to. And I had sucked. But I laughed. Because of you I was able to fulfill that which I needed at that moment: to be able to laugh in the face of that asshole and thank him for alllllllllll the memories. I obviously did that. He retorted by reaffirming how poorly I played. And through the jubilation I managed to shift into a quick snicker of concurrence, and returned, “Ya but not my boy!!!”

So there it is Shoota. The game I will never forget. We ended up losing the championship game by three points. But then again my nemesis had apparently mobilized the entire Rose Hill basketball community considering the squad that trotted out for the championship against us looked like they had either just come from the open Knicks tryout or had just finished filming an “And One Mix Tape”. But as usual, we refused to let the odds stand in our way. As usual we did battle. That particular game we battled and we lost.

I’ve been watching Gladiator and the Jason Bourne movies on consistent loops whenever I’m at my place. Guess I just got used to one of those ‘flicks’ always on in your room senior year. Gladiator is one of my favorite movies of all time, while the Bourne series is surely one of the most entertaining, so I loved the fact that I could always count on one being the featured ‘presentaish’ in 17D2.

But, as senior year progressed, I slowly came to realize that these two characters strongly embodied both the goodness of your being, and the essence of your struggles. Maximus had to fight in the name of his family. Bourne had to fight to discover his true identity. Once you and Meghan were married, and Abbey was on the way, your fight began. You knew you were in search of your true identity; that in New York, at Fordham, the path would lead to that ultimate recognition.

But with Meg and Abbey a world away you also had that carnal desire to be with your loved ones. Thus created an intersection of two glorious entities: your own pursuit of self-understanding, and your family. However combined, these two most cherished aspects of your life created hardship. But you fought. And you succeeded. In respect to Bourne, you fought to locate and walk the path of self, and you found the end of that path on May 26th, 2005. And like Maximus, you fought for your family, even if Meg was only there via telephone, and Abbey in spirit.

It may have been trying, difficult, even downright angering at times, but there is no doubt that in one year you accomplished more than I have in my entire lifetime. You made it work, Shoota. I’m just glad we were a part of it.

J’imagine que tu comprends tous maintenant, donc je vais prendre l’opportunite a dire quelques mots en francais, le langue que j’adore et le langue que tu a aime bien. Je suis trop content que tu etais able de voir Paris, de voyager en Europe. Croyez-moi, c’est approprie que tu a vu la terre ou il y aura encore plus des gens qui va pleurer quand ils entendent de ton dernier histoire. Je vais saisir a ton memoire comme rien jamais, en deux langues, pour toi, et pour ta famille. Donc t’inquiete pas.

So Shoota, from Boston to Brook-non, gee-Paree to sunny Cal-ly; from McMahon to Hillcrest and beyond, I bid you adieu. Don’t worry though. I will see you again. But not yet. Not yet…

Yekshemesh mon frere.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matt Chaprales #

    No more registering needed.

    October 28, 2006
  2. Matt Chaprales #

    It is no longer required to register to post comments.

    October 28, 2006
  3. ty #

    my guitar gently weeps magruder… you left nothing but memories for me to smirk and laugh at. the fact that we only chilled for one year, senior year, is a testament to the big heart and impact that you have on people’s lives. i cannot and will not ever forget you. abbey road is the travels to louisiana that we will all undoubtly take in your memory. i have never felt so much sorrow, so much pain as i feel these days. you would be flushed with embarrassment if you could see me now…in tears, crying like a little girl. but you’d cheer me up, tell me “ty, it’s gonna be alright…we’ll start that sneaker store, ‘ty-ing shoes’. i just can’t fathom you gone, its all still a blur to me even though you were so obviously with us through our trip in louisiana. the eagle 98.1, the eagle in the golf cart, the shooting stars for ballgame. we made you proud, we did it right…the changing at the storage place, the camp fire…that was all for you, you were with us. rest in peace jim, my heart goes out to you and your family forever. we’ve seen how you’ve lived, where you grew up and it amazes me that your big heart, your open mind opened up to us…the lebanese, the italian from SI, the unbelieaveble greek kid, the filipino and even the chinese kid out of nowhere. what you’ve meant to me, to all of us, can never be fulfilled with words. we all lost a piece of our heart, our lives, where only our memories remain of you. i will not forget you jim. whenever i am down, whenever shit turns for the worst, i know i can think of only you and be able to smile. that is the sort of impact you have made on our lives. it is everlasting…

    “Boy, youre going to carry that weight, Carry that weight a long time…”

    October 28, 2006
  4. andrea #

    I am awash in tears, my heart is breaking, I marvel at the beauty of your relationship and your ablility to capture it for all time. I regret I didn’t get to know him but your tribute speaks loudly and clearly. You and your friends are blessed to have had the honor of his friendship which you treasured during his life and will treaure for the duration of yours. I love you.

    October 28, 2006
  5. Nate #

    Reading Ballgame’s piece just brought back a huge wave of memories and good times. Like BG I remember the first time you stopped by the spot, and I remember thinking I never seen a kid who rocked a beard so well. You were funny but soft spoken, not too sure what to make of the “such” crew that was 14M. It didn’t take long for you to open up, and once you did we all loved you like a brother.

    I have such great memories of just laughing with you about all sorts of funny shit: Cotter and his girlfriend gettin in a fight and then an hour long speech from Cotter about relationships; Oisin gettin punk rock drunk and goin crazy; late night trips to Chicken and Rice; gettin drunk at LP and then stealing stuff from the bodega; Koshy rockin the Reggae music at his computer so loud you could hear it perfectly even though he had headphones on; everything about Chris; messin with Lamb’s shit when he was gone for the weekend; Ballgame and his laughter whenever “the D” was mentioned; and, of course, gettin Carlo Rossi drunk and throwin eggs out the window.

    Jim, it hurts writin this. We lost touch and I lost one of the kindest most honest souls I had known. It hurts me greatly that I never picked up the phone and called. I’m sorry.

    I have no great ending to this rambling post. No words to tie it all together and make sense of a senseless thing. I just know the facts. We are never going to hear your voice or see you smile, and that is a tragedy. This world was too dim for a bright light like yours. Nothin but love Jim, nothin but love.

    October 28, 2006
  6. rif #

    hey magroo. thanks for calling me at least once every few weeks man, to discuss whatever crazy stuff you had in mind. it didnt matter really, it was all just an excuse to talk crap. what i know is that you never forgot me, so i will never forget you.
    i think senior year was when you and I became true good friends. I never thought that I could become friends with a white boy from Louisianna who repped W and all that republican flavor. But that was you man, and you never let that cloud your impressions of me or anyone else. We were boys through and through. There were days when we did nothing but hang out and those were good times. Going to central park, playing some football wit the beege, eatin those crepes with chocolate and bananas.
    It was never boring. Chilling back in your room watchin a movie or whatever sporting event ballgame had in mind was always word.
    I will never forget the 7 games (4 of them straight sober) of the ALCS. They were all peeped in your little room and it meant so much that you adopted the sox for us, as we adopted the tigers.
    then you were there with me when the red sox won the world series in that 4th game.
    when i heard the news, my mind turned off. i was in a haze. theres a void in my heart now where u used to be, waiting to laugh it up wit me or talk about some new country music sensation you discovered. im gona fill that void with thoughts of you though, and i know you’ll hook me up wit great memories. thoughts of rum and coke nights, blizzards, deathfromabove, afternoons in my room straight chilling, playin monkey baseball, ncaafootball and baseball (the zephyrs!). theres more i ought to say, but i cant conjure it all up right now. i love you man, geaux tigers, and fuck that governor who wanted to get rid of the saints.
    i still cant believe you bought that notwist cd on my recommendation. yea its good, but a german indie-rock synth band? man u did change while in ny i guess. all for the better my friend.
    roll me something, ill be there someday (put in a good word).

    October 29, 2006
  7. Oisin #

    James Magruder,

    Thank you for all that you shared with us, albeit for too brief a time. You always were the southern gentleman that you aspired to be; a man about whom there is no question.
    Honest and loyal, with a sense of humour that never failed to shine through. Although you are gone you will always be missed and and your memory cherished.

    May you rest in peace, God bless your soul.

    October 30, 2006
  8. Pinke #

    Hey Jim, I wrote a poem, and theres more I need to say but I don’t know how yet. Stay tuned.

    JIM VILLANELLE

    The crash in the night is wild
    Near bayous hungover and still,
    Again there is mother and child.

    An engine roars on like a fire
    As damp southern air breaks a chill
    The crash in the night is wild.

    With a grin on his face like a liar
    Holding sonogram pictures that thrill—
    Again there is mother and child.

    He finds cold in his hands, though its mild
    For her eyes tears are starting to fill,
    The crash in the night is wild.

    Scenic birth, he would say, he would smile
    For his eyes tears are starting to fill,
    Again there is mother and child.

    His warm southern heart I’ll admire
    As silence falls calloused and shrill,
    The crash in the night is wild
    Again there is mother and child.

    October 30, 2006
  9. eddyt #

    To Jim,

    We only met a handful of times, and it was never for as long as I would have liked– an afternoon or late night stolen during one of my whirlwind tours of McMahon Hall. And yet your good nature always loomed large. One of the first things I learned about you was that you had a hell of an arm. Another notorious night I roared with laughter as we talked Shaquille O’Neal’s contributions to Tigers football. Then one day I was visiting while you were out of town and Matt and I watched a movie in your room—The Bourne Supremacy, it was my first time— and I saw a picture of your beautiful family and I admired you.
    Reading what your friends have written to you I am reminded that my admiration stemmed from the loves I always knew we had in common—games, music, friendships. I am reminded to cherish every day and its characters, because our grip on this life is so unfairly tenuous. And I am reminded that I am blessed to have known a man of such integrity. For all these things I’m grateful to you, who I only met a handful of times. Rest in peace; you will not be forgotten.

    October 31, 2006
  10. Meghan #

    This is so great what you guys are doing. I cannot express with words how much this means to us. Although Jim had led such seperate lives between Louisiana and New York City, He found a way to bring everyone together. You are great friends, and Jim loves every single one of you very dearly. He might have had a different way of telling each and everybody that he loved us; maybe it was making fun of us or just wanting to make us laugh. But sometimes he just came out and said it. He had told me that. That he loves you guys and that he doesn’t know if he could have made it in the big city without you all. So thank you for making such an impact on Jim’s life. Ya know, one day Jim came to visit me and Abbey and he was telling me what a hard time he was having with the issue that our lives weren’t the same and that we didn’t have the same “freedoms” that our friends had anymore. We couldn’t “go out” as much and hang out with friends. He said he envied those people that could live a carefree life. But later he wrote a letter to me and it stated. “Although once we envied people with freedoms and those who didn’t have many responsibilities, our lives have been blessed. We have something that people wish their whole lives to have. We have that family structure and stability. We should be envied. Not us envying others. What the hell were we thinking!” That just helps me to know that he was content with his life. He had lived in every way possible. He got to have his carefree days. He also had his family days. He wouldn’t have found that contentment without you guys. You being so great about the whole marriage deal and that he was going to be a daddy helped him become okay with the fact that his life was going to be soo different after he got off that plane in New Orleans from New York the last time. So I just want to extend my thanks to everyone who had a part in that.

    November 8, 2006
  11. Cotter #

    What’s up Jim. The belly’s not going anywhere bro!!!!!! It just keeps getting bigger bro!!!!!!!!!…..ha. I’ve been trying to think of what to write you for a while, I guess trying to think of something really profound to say. And as usual I have nothing. You are my friend, not just any friend, one of my best friends. The time we all spent together at school fostered a unique friendship. It’s rare to find a group of friends that spend more time with one another than alone. I was thinking about friends and what that means and once again I don’t really know how to say exactly what I’m feeling and thinking. All I know is that a friend is someone you pass the time with because when you’re just hanging out with that person you’re having a good time no matter what you’re doing. Over the course of that time each person begins to rub off on the other and eventually your personalities become a mix of those of your friends. I mean I barely speak English half the time now from hanging out with Ballgame because I obviously rep his made-up language steez far too often to people who don’t understand. But I like it that way. I guess all I’m trying to say is that I’m a different person because of you, and the time we spent together chilling out plays a huge part in shaping the person that I am today. You will always be a part of the person that I am. Visiting your home meant a lot to me. It really showed me a great guy you really are. You lived so much in so little and left such a beautiful little girl. Even in your passing you’ve changed my outlook on so many things. It’s sad that it took a tragedy to put our friendship in perspective for me, it was something I took for granted. I can’t express in words how greatful I am that you came to NY to see us [and spent 500 dollars and 1 whole day getting a car just to ride King da ka…]. We meet so many people in life but so few become genuine friends. I guess, man, all I’m really trying to say is thanks for being my friend, and such a good one. I just want to tell you one time straight up: you will loved, missed, and remembered forever by me and the rest of the NY guys.

    Cotter

    November 9, 2006
  12. Cotter #

    What’s up Jim. The belly’s not going anywhere bro!!!!!! It just keeps getting bigger bro!!!!!!!!!…..ha. I’ve been trying to think of what to write you for a while, I guess trying to think of something really profound to say. And as usual I have nothing. You are my friend, not just any friend, one of my best friends. The time we all spent together at school fostered a unique friendship. It’s rare to find a group of friends that spend more time with one another than alone. I was thinking about friends and what that means and once again I don’t really know how to say exactly what I’m feeling and thinking. All I know is that a friend is someone you pass the time with because when you’re just hanging out with that person you’re having a good time no matter what you’re doing. Over the course of that time each person begins to rub off on the other and eventually your personalities become a mix of those of your friends. I mean I barely speak English half the time now from hanging out with Ballgame because I obviously rep his made-up language steez far too often to people who don’t understand. But I like it that way. I guess all I’m trying to say is that I’m a different person because of you, and the time we spent together chilling out plays a huge part in shaping the person that I am today. You will always be a part of the person that I am. Visiting your home meant a lot to me. It really showed me a great guy you really are. You lived so much in so little and left such a beautiful little girl. Even in your passing you’ve changed my outlook on so many things. It’s sad that it took a tragedy to put our friendship in perspective for me, it was something I took for granted. I can’t express in words how greatful I am that you came to NY to see us [and spent 500 dollars and 1 whole day getting a car just to ride King da ka…]. We meet so many people in life but so few become genuine friends. I guess, man, all I’m really trying to say is thanks for being my friend, and such a good one. I just want to tell you one time straight up: you will loved, missed, and remembered forever by me and the rest of the NY guys.

    Cotter

    November 9, 2006
  13. Anonymous #

    Well he stormed with his feet
    And he clapped with his hands
    He summoned all of his joy when he laughed
    It suffered all of his joy when he cried

    And sometimes when he got into talking
    Man he could rattle all day long
    He was a good man and now he’s gone

    Well in war he was a tiger
    When it was over like a dove
    He summoned all of his strength in the climb
    It suffered all of his strength in the fall

    And sometimes when he got into fighting
    Man he could fight with you all day long
    He was a good man and now he’s gone

    He put his trust in a higher power
    He held his power like a holy grail
    He summoned all of his faith in the lifting
    It suffered all of his faith in the fall

    His heart was stronger than a heavy metal bullet
    And that’s why I dedicate this song
    He was a good man and now he’s gone

    November 10, 2006
  14. Matt Chaprales #

    Each Saturday when I wake
    that one call from Cotter doesn’t come.

    I don’t write that email to work
    informing them I must leave the state.

    I don’t start booking plane tickets
    of which price could never equal sum.

    Yet Saturdays when I sleep
    10/21s cease to dissipate.

    November 26, 2006
  15. Anonymous #

    I never really dreamed of heaven much
    Until we put him in the ground

    December 8, 2006
  16. Anonymous #

    LBJ, was a pretty corny nickname, thank goodness you meet us fools shoota.

    December 16, 2006
  17. Matt Chaprales #

    I woke up with chills this morning, which of course made me think of you. Whenever that happens I start doing math. Months, days, hours. Today I didn’t need to do much math. I looked at the date and saw a 21. 21s, Saturdays, Octobers; all never going to change back to what they were.

    On a positive note those moments help me think and remember with a clarity that I’ve come to cherish, so I’ll take the chills.

    It’s been four months, Shoota. And five 21s too many.

    February 22, 2007

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