1986 - 2005
In the more than five years that I have known James I became very close to him, despite the fact that we never met. We talked about meeting up so often over the years it became a standing joke. He berated me only two months ago for being in New York and not making the effort to come down and visit. I really wish I had. With him being so young I always figured there would be plenty of time.
When I first met James it was in the Bowienet chat room and he was so bitchy and witty I just HAD to go into private chat with him. So assured and cocky with his lot in life was he that it was some months before I realised he was only 15.
During the next five years or so I grew to rely on the chats and messages and the way he made a real effort to involve me in his life. Certainly, James would be the first to agree that not all the times in his life were good ones. None the less, he used each experience positively and grew a little more with each one. The way the death of Matthew Shephard affected him for such a long time (as can be seen in the many paintings and sketches he produced) demonstrates more than anything else, the depth of his compassion.
But more than that, James loved life. Despite periods of sadness and self doubt, I believe that in the last few months he was as happy as he had ever been. He constantly harranged me about updating his website and went on and on about his band and how happy he was with the way things were going for him. You could in no way doubt his commitment to the things he believed in, nor his desire to see them go forward.
I remember once how sad he was that a version of Cactus he posted on Bowienet was slagged off as a cheap copy and how it upset him. I equally remember how pleased he was when it ended up on a dodgy downoad site as a popular download because he forgot to change the name sufficiently to stop it being downloaded by hundreds of Bowie fans. He got a real kick out of that. It was a damn good version as well!
I spent the last few weeks not chatting to James because work got in the way. Rain wind or shine you could usually count on James being online. Because of that it was easy to take it for granted that he would always be there. Somehow, even seeing Jax on AIM was enough. It meant there was an unspoken connection. Except of course now he is gone and I won't see that again.
When I did the first draft of James' site he was so pleased. I felt honoured to provide it for him and it certainly made thinking of Christmas presents so much easier since for the last two of those all I had to do was renew the site. The first Christmas I knew him I mailed him stuff including a 1973 Bowie Fan Club magazine which I tucked into the lining of the package as a surprise along with the usual bootlegs and singles and stuff. He was so pleased with the music stuff he threw away the packaging and it was only a few days later when I asked him why he had not mentioned the best part of the present that he said "Oh shit. I never saw it". He then spent the best part of an hour going through communal trash getting it back.
I had a really good conversation with James the last time we talked. It was late November. He had started chatting again in his trademark orange text on lime green background (I always hated that and he loved that I hated it). He sent me pictures of him dressed as Andy Warhol with his friends and he looked fabulous. He also took the unusual step of going into Bowiechat for the first time in ages. THAT was a lot of fun. Almost like the early days when we used to do our chat routine.
When I found out he had died and that he was still only 19 years old I almost did not believe it. It always seemed like he was so much older. In the back of my mind I did know he was still starting out in life but it never seemed like that to talk to him. Unlike most people his age he had already lived and experienced so much. It was like he jumped from 14 to 30 in a heartbeat.
People have commented on his art and how they respected it and don't own any. I don't either. Now I never will. All I have is a collection of pictures of his art that he sent me for the website. I've looked at it all again this evening and it is stunning. I used to moan about the quality of his photographs. To me they seemed at odds with the quality of the rest of his work. Looking again at it all I think I finally realised: If you want to see the talent and creativity of James Franco then you need to look at the Sketches, Paintings and Sculpture but if you want to see the unique and individual way James looked at life on a day to day basis you look at his photography. I finally realised that.
I could sit here writing about the loss of a life and loss of potential. I am doing that. But I am also looking at this site and what he had already achieved in such a short time. I never even mentioned the acting. Damn, if that man wasn't talented.
My heart goes out to all those who knew him better. I wish I could pay my respects personally to his friends and family but I can't. All I can do is ask you all to click.
James, you were my friend and I love you. All I can say in finishing is I would have written all this in an orange text on a green background but I just can't seem to find the right buttons! Live with it! That, and you still owe me that cd, you fucker!
All items contained within this site are Copyright James Franco 1999-2005