They found Jimmy James dead in his van on Rose Ave in Venice, CA about 10:30am today. Ibrahim said he first noticed something was wrong when he saw the van got a parking ticket on Monday. He said that wasn't like Jimmy to fail to move the van and allow himself to be ticketed like that. He became more concerned when he saw the ticket still on the van on Tuesday.
This morning he got Jimmy's friends Johnny and Joann and they went to investigate. They found Jimmy's body in the van and judging by the smell, he had probably been dead for some time. The last time anyone remembers seeing him was on Sunday night. They looked around for his cell phone so they could call a relative. Johnny said he use to call his mother every day. Then they called 911.
|Jimmy's van in it's usual stop on Rose||Coroner's van takes Jimmy away|
Here's a link to the YoVenice story.
|Ibrahim noticed the parking ticket||Johnny & Joann who found Jimmy dead|
Jimmy was 58 years old and we know that he was on medication for a heart condition. He was a sign painter who had painted many of the signs around Venice. Other than that, I can tell you little about him. Venice Neighborhood Council member Ivonne Guzman has just talked to well known Venice photographer Dave Healey who is sure he has pictures of Jimmy and will get them to me this evening when he returns to Venice. When I get them, I will post them here. Indigenous people use to believe the camera could steal your soul, I believe it can preserve your soul in the sense of presenting you after you've passed. I want you to see the man that died.
Ibrahim is preparing a Memorial, Venice Style, for Jimmy on the beach using a big white drum that Jimmy gave him as the centerpiece as I write this.
I never knew Jimmy very well, but his van regularly parked on Rose Ave just across from the Digital Domain studio a couple of blocks from my apartment. He parked along their fence because they didn't complain. Sometimes I would see him as I was walking down Rose, sitting in his van with the side door open. We would always greet each other and a few times actually said a few words but I don't believe I ever even got his name.
It is much too early for a coroner's report and we don't have a clue as to the cause of death, but because of the LAPD sweeps to arrest anyone caught living in their vehicles, Jimmy couldn't sit in there with the door open anymore. He had to stay couped up in that dark and airless van the way they found him. I can't help but wonder if that, together with the growing police harassment he was being subjected to, didn't contribute to his death.
Another Venice friend, Eden, found out about Jimmy's death a harder way. She saw the tow truck towing Jimmy's van. She assumed it was simply a part of the campaign to rid Venice of the homeless [see yesterday's diary] and was first relieved when the tow truck driver told her that Jimmy hadn't been arrested. Did he know his van was being towed? He won't be needing his van, the tow truck driver told her. Oh. no she responded. Jimmy definitely needs his van. He won't be needing it, the tow truck driver said, because he's dead. When the women burst into tears, the driver then tried to comfort her.
Jimmy James with painting done by a local artist of his niece who died in a car accident. Photo by David Healey July 2010
Jimmy James lived in Venice for seventeen years. Rest in Peace Jimmy James
UPDATE: Memorial for Jimmy James at Dudley and Ocean Walk, Venice, CA Dec. 4, 2010
UPDATE: We now know his legal name was James Hunter. See also this L.A. Times story.