December 01, 2005

RIP Jim MacLean

Posted by DaveSmith

Jim MacLean took his own life Monday or Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend. His dad, Tom came up from Concord to check on Jim and found him. Jim's got a mom and dad, Ismini and Tom; a younger brother, Hal; countless cousins and Heidi.

There will be a memorial service at his house in Sacramento (6151 2nd Ave). The service starts at 1pm on Sunday, December 4th.

There will be another service for Jim in Portland (Jim's other adopted hometown), a week later. Club 21. 2035 NE Glisan (on 21st & Burnside). Saturday December 10 at 3pm.

If you'd like to send me pictures, I can post them. Jim's cousins are doing a photo site, that I don't know the URL yet. I'll post that here when I get it. Please share a story.

Jim, I don't know what to say. I can't say it wasn't unexpected, but everyone hoped it wasn't going to happen.

Jim was in Death Culture, Lazy Boy, The OtterPops, Laughing Jesus, Well Hung Monks, and The New Vulgarians. He's best known for Sewer Trout (songwriting, singing and his super catchy bass) and Elmer (songwriting, singing and guitar). Mostly punk rock bands from the 80s through the 90s. Elmer was a country punk band, but it was like Sewer Trout evolving.

Here's a link to a couple Sewer Trout songs.

I posted I'm a Hypocrite for the words:

But he stilled screamed - someone help me
Is someone there - does no one care?
But his cries just echoed through
The empty streets

I'm a Hypocrite
Que Sera

Kerry Loewen, Jim & Hal's cousin Amber's husband, posted up the pictures he scanned for Jim's wake. Please take a look while you have some Sewer Trout or Elmer playing in the background.

Sewer Trout played many an early Gilman Street show. Tales of Terror ruled the early 80s of Sac, but Sewer Trout (from Concord!) was the high point of Sacto late 80s punk. Concord and The East Bay just wasn't good enough when Jim and Hal had Cal State Sacramento sitting here waiting.

Jim went to grad school in Corvallis and mastered in Geology. I've looked up to him since the 80s, but I don't think he ever knew that.

Jim was a great roommate (and a great cook, too). We drove around Sacramento looking for a place. We went down every street in the grid just to say we went down every street in the grid. The Grid, by the way, is the section of town cut off by 2 rivers (Sacramento, American) and 2 highways (I-80, Highway 50). My sister left her apartment on 19th Street so we took it over. I've lived here since and once in a while Jim stops by to visit. It's a good porch for drinking cheap beers and staring at the scenery.

It should be pretty fuckin' obvious that I have no idea what to write about Jim. He had something special about him. Even now when I think I should be pissed off at him, I'm not.

Through Jim I met a great girl named Kristy Jo from Corvallis in another story that I've just now written and deleted. The story was about what I can remember about Jim and Sonja. The story talked about how long and hard I thought about going to grad school, marrying Kristy Jo and teaching Anthropology using Jim's troubles with Sonja as the centerpiece. Jim's girl troubles and divorce was much different than my girl troubles -- I've never been married for real. Which is to say, I don't know how to compare it with Jim in a way that would mean shit. I don't know if me choosing life as a slacker was a good thing, but you wouldn't be reading this otherwise. But anyway, the real life ending of the Jim, Sonja, Kristy Jo story was "punching a retarded calf in the head". It's hard to delete a story with that as a punchline.

I keep typing stories about Jim and delete them. What the hell do I say about the guy?

I think one of my favorite Jim stories was when I was on tour with Los Huevos back in 1995, I think. We picked up Jim in Oregon and he rode with us for a few days. Outside of a show in Olympia, Washington, Jim and I were being normal punk rock roadies: drinking beers and making fun of Larry Livermore. Larry was Potentate of Lookout Records and was hunting for boy toys using his band The Potatomen to lure them into his net.

Becky, a wayward mess of a trainwreck of a girl, came up and started hollering at Jim for "wrecking the scene" by drinking a Pabst out in the parking lot. I don't think she heard the pedophile jokes, but I'm pretty sure jokes of any kind were on the list of things Riot Grrls didn't think were funny way back then.

I wasn't allowed in Becky's house that night, and Jim hitched a ride elsewheres after the show (I hope mainly to get away from her). I don't think Jim and I even went inside to see the bands that night (what wonderful roadies we were).

No Kill I's first and last shows were with a Jim band. I'll miss the guy.


Sewer Trout
I'm a Hypocrite

Late last night I heard a scream
It woke me from my pleasant dreams
I looked out the window and what did I see
A shaggy old bum down on the street

Screaming please - someone help me
It's so damn cold - I got nothing to eat
I just don't want to die in these
Unfriendly streets

I thought that I should let him in
But then I thought he might be dangerous
I gave myself a good excuse
Just another crazy person on the loose

But he stilled screamed - someone help me
Is someone there - does no one care?
But his cries just echoed through
The empty streets

I closed my eyes - went back to sleep
I closed my heart to a human being
I closed my mind to the fatal lie
I closed my soul and something in my died

All that I say - all that I do
It don't mean shit
I felt like a cold and heartless

Photo taken by Jim's parents. Scanned by Michelle Barnhardt.

Photo taken by Murray and provided by David Hayes. This is the Gilman show when the band was running for president.

Photo by Icki in Florida, March 1998.

Jim, Dan (from The Flies) and Hal.

More pictures from David Hayes. These images will enlarge if you click them.

Pictures from Mooch and Barbara.

Hal, Ground Chuck and Jim

Craig Ums put in a picture of Jim with Tasha and Roan Ninja (I think) in the background.

Kerry Loewen took a picture of Jim's geetar at the wake. Amber MacLean sent it my way.

Posted by DaveSmith at December 1, 2005 02:17 AM | TrackBack

I just told the other guys in the Knockoffs on Tuesday night my favorite Sewer Trout story. I saw them in Stockton, and Jim was setting his stuff up. He couldn't get his bass rig to work, so he threw his bass against the brick wall behind the stage splintering it and asked another band if he could borrow their bass. He plugged it in, and it turns out the problem was with the cord.
Man, I don't know what to say.
I've very very sorry.....

Posted by: Tom at December 1, 2005 04:02 PM

For whatever reason, the first thing that popped into my head when I heard about this yesterday afternoon was that Sewer Trout was the first graffiti I saw in Sacto when I moved here in 1985. Or at least the first graffiti that actually registered at the time. I remember thinking, "hmm, I need to find out about this "Sewer Trout".

Posted by: Lurch at December 1, 2005 04:41 PM

I'm very sorry to hear about this sad news. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jim's family and friends; especially his brother Hal, who has been a major influence on me as a drummer.

Thank you for doing this tribute page, Dave.
I'll tip a Pabst tonight for Jim.

Posted by: Danny at December 1, 2005 04:41 PM

When I found out about it yesterday I was in still in the "phone call" mindset and actually Lurch made the calls because I can't when it comes to these things and it hadn't really sunk in until I opened my dresser drawer and the first thing on the top was my Elmer shirt.

Since I'm drinking right now and trying not to be redundant with what I already wrote on my blog I have a kind of dumb story (non-music related).

A day or so after I got my braces a few years ago we ended up at a party in someones back yard. I was trying to talk to Jim but since the braces undid several years worth of speech therapy until I eventually got used to them everything I said was just coming out all garbled and mushy. Lurch was probably making fun of me and if I remember right Barbara H was trying to translate as best she could and I was feeling really stupid and Jim said something like "It's okay". And I felt better.

Posted by: DeeAnn at December 1, 2005 05:12 PM

I didnt know Jim very well, but he was a great guy. My favorite memory was at a show at the Golden Bull in Oakland when Dave Chavez was playing with Creepy. Jim was looking at Dave and said "who does that guy think he is..." Dude, that's the bassist from Code Of Honor. Ohhhhhh... :)

Love to Hal and the rest of the family from Kate and I.

Posted by: Mikhail at December 1, 2005 05:19 PM

Hey there--
Jim was great guy and an influence to me and my first band The Horny Mormons..Mike R Mike even sang the "listening to sewer trout"in the song discombobulated.Also Being a rock nerd(geology)i admired Jim even more.He was always friendly and easy going..I`ll miss that..I wish they had pabst beer in japan but they have keystone.So i`ll tip a glass for jim later on..Gambette jay san

Posted by: jay at December 1, 2005 06:31 PM

I got soooooooooo many memories and stories aboot him....
It's crazy, I looked up to him my entire life.
Soooo sad. I hope he's at peace.
I love him forever.
Thanks for the love.
It means a lot.
Keep the stories coming.

Posted by: Hal at December 1, 2005 07:17 PM

Rotten news on a shitty cold night.

Good night, Jim. Stay dry.

Posted by: charliebarnes at December 1, 2005 08:14 PM

I used to live upstairs from Jim & Dave (now Mike & Heather's apt). I lived in the house before they ever moved in, so the "Jim & Dave Experience" was quite a wild one - definitely shattered the peace & quiet. I think Jim immediately realized that the best way to combat getting hassled by your neighbors for the noise was to invite em to the party - which he did. The "party" in question was actually Dave & Shinobu's wedding on the front porch. His invitation was actually twofold - he was being nice to me by including me in the fun, but also to see if I had any candles or other decorations to dress up the porch for the wedding. He wanted to make sure that he could make the wedding as special as possible - even one that was officiated by a man in an adult diaper!

He will always remain in my heart as the generous, brilliant, funny, caring man that he was.

I miss the days of sitting on the porch drinking beers with Jim...he didn't deserve the hand he was dealt.

Posted by: Charlene at December 1, 2005 08:17 PM

I didn't really know Jim very well, but for all the times I had actually personally spoken with him, he was always a great guy. I only heard second hand about the problems he had been having, so I could really only feel sad to hear it.

Mike Kellogg and I had just been playing some bluegrass music with him and some other guys just a few weeks ago, and he still remembered me well and was just as nice as he had ever been. It was totally unreal hearing the news from Mike R Mike last night, even though I wasn't the friend to Jim as a lot of other people were. But I had only just seen him, talked with him, joked around, played music together.

I only just knew him enough to know that, now that I can't, I wish I had could have gotten to know him better.

Posted by: Olsen at December 1, 2005 08:53 PM

I can hardly explain the shock I felt when Jim's wife called me yesterday. It was like someone punched me really hard in the stomach. I couldn't breathe, and I just stared straight ahead in a daze for about 10 minutes.

Jim always had a knack for making me feel like I was important. I truly believed that he felt that way. He brought so much to my life - music, friendship, and knowledge. He never judged me, and was always there when I needed him. As a matter of fact, he bailed me out in tough situations quite a few times.

Knowing Jim for as long as I had, and living with him during one of the worst depressions I have seen any human ever go through, I couldn't imagine the torment Jim had been dealing with for so many years. The saddest part to me is that he probably felt so alone at the end. I encourage all people who know Jim MacLean to watch for the signs in your friends and loved ones. I would hate for anyone to go through what we, Hal, and Jim's parents have gone through.

I loved Jim like a brother. He and I could always pick up where we left off when we saw each other. Recently, when I saw him, he was in one of those manic states that I had never seen before. It seemed the furthest thing from depression, but I have no idea, because I have never been able to step into his shoes and view life the way he did.

Yesterday, many people who loved Jim got together in Portland. We did our best to sort it out. It was a weird way to get people together who hadn't seen each other in some time. We talked about how we felt, but mainly remembered how important Jim was to us. We talked about his consistent and aiming path to become an old man before his time. He had sayings like, "I tell you what...", and, "works for jerks, schools for fools." We also told our favorite Jim stories. It was rough emotionally, and it had it's happy moments. We all ended up getting cut off at Club 21. We were drunk by 4 PM. Jim would have liked the setting, and would have loved to see each person that was there. I wish he was there.

Yesterday, I also said to my wife Shirley, that I needed to call Jimmy. I went to the gym and was inclined to listen to Elmer (I know, pretty vain considering I played on the full length). I think that was un-fucking-canny. If I believed in premenitions or telepathic mumbo jumbo, I would think that maybe he was sending me a message.

In the fourteen or so years that I have known Jim he was one of my closest friends for at least half of that. I missed him when he went back to the bay area, and I will miss him greatly now as well. My greatest sympathy and best wishes to Hal, Ismini, and Tom. I can't imagine how you feel. Please remember, Jim was dearly loved by many people as well as by you. This makes his life celebrated every day by people who will never forget him.

Posted by: Scott Kellogg at December 1, 2005 09:44 PM

I've signed on and erased my comments half a dozen times's just fucking heartbreaking.
The first time I met Jim, Elmer and No Kill I (with Hal on drums) played in my backyard on 33rd st. for my friend's 25th birthday. Really, the party was about standing around and drinking some beers and getting drunk in the middle of the afternoon...typical Sacto Saturday afternoon. After the bands finished and there was no more beer to be had, Jim tried to get some of our deadbeat friends to buy some Elmer stuff. When it wasn't going to happen, Jim threw some shit around and cussed out a bunch of people blahblahblah. My brother's obnoxious jerky friend...whatever. Years later when they moved into my old apartment, I was still kinda scared of Jim. (And yet, Hal never bugged me?!?! go figure)It took a 12 pack of Pabst and the front porch for me to realize how great he was.

Jim and his hat will be missed.

Posted by: cary at December 1, 2005 09:58 PM

I remember years ago getting a call from HAL at about 3 or 4 a.m., Jim was stuck out near the Sacramento airport (this must have been around '89 or '90 I think), Hal asked if I would go out with him to pick him up. We got out there, and Jim wanted to know what I wanted for waking up in the middle of the night and helping him, and I just told him to buy me a beer sometime. The very next evening, he stopped by LIZARDS practice and handed me a six-pack!

Jim was good at that, giving a little extra, like when he scrambled around at the wedding for me and Shinobu on Dave Smith's porch, trying to make it look romantic with rows of lit candles (some one mentioned this earlier, but it's my story dammit). No one asked him to do it, he just thought it would be a good idea. Turns out it was.

Seeing Jim in Sewer Trout and Elmer was quite an inspiration. It was always a fun time watching him play. I still "write" songs that I find later are once again "ripping off Sewer Trout".

RIP, Jim.

Posted by: Dave Downey at December 2, 2005 07:47 AM

I hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes here by posting twice...

I DO have one Jim story. There was a party at a house where Dave Smith lived along with a few other folks. I don't know whether or not Ed Hunter was living there or just couch surfing on an extended program. Ed had a few too many, I suppose, and had passed out. A few people started joking around by removing his pants and whatnot. Although I had nothing to do with this drunken prank session, I was standing nearby and having quite a good time. Jim walked over with the most pissed look I've seen on anyone's face and told everyone to knock it the fuck off. For a brief millisecond he made eye contact with me. I think I whizzed my pants a tad. I knew he was no one to be fucked with and he could have easily mopped the floor with my balls.

On a slighty different note, I was driving Jaz Brown home last night and we were talking about Jim MacLean as well as a host of other Downtown Sacramento Music Characters. We were both thinking how something needs to be said to you...whether you want to hear it or not:

I got a late start on the local music scene at 20 years of age back in 1990/91. My first exposure to punk rock came from seeing bands like the Horny Mormons and The Sea Pigs. I don't know whether it will piss you off or bring a smile to your face to hear this, but those of you in the "mid-80's to early-90's" Sacramento Punk Scene need to know how important you are to bands like The Secretions and The Helper Monkeys. In all of your PBR drunken glory, you were OUR Ramones/Clash/Sex Pistols. Whether it was at The Loft, The Guild, Old Ironsides, or a house party; you guys showed us that WE COULD DO IT. Rock n Roll wasn't about seeing U2 at The Cow Palace. I would see you guys play and say to myself, "I've got an amp and a guitar at home...I can do this!"

Hearing how much you guys all mean to bands like mine may bring the taste of bile to your mouth, but I am forever grateful for the world I discovered because of your music and your attitude.

When 15 year old kids in Ramones shirts tell me how important The Secretions are, it makes me feel good at first...but then I feel like shit because I never really took the time to let the bands and people that influenced me know how much they meant.

I hope this was an appropriate time and place to say THANK YOU to all of you.


Posted by: Danny...again at December 2, 2005 10:01 AM

Jim wrote the most amazingly melodic bass lines. I was a fan of Sewer Trout before I knew anyone in Sacramento. I heard "President of the Anarchist Club" on MRR radio and I was hooked. I actually thought the band was from the Bay Area because the address on the record was in Concord. Little did I know I'd be so fortunate to eventually get to know Jim (and Hal). Jim had this way of making you feel like an old friend even when you were just getting to know him. I've always admired Jim and I will miss him.

Posted by: lisa ninja at December 2, 2005 10:07 AM

I didn't know Jim super well either but you just couldn't help loving when he was around. He was a really genuine guy. He rode with Nar for part of that Los Huevos/Nar NW trip & whenever I think of that trip, I think of Jim. I can't even remember anything that specific - just that this was a guy who's music defined the drinking on the porch Sacramento sound & I was really happy to finally get to talk to him. He's a huge influence on Mike R Mike's songwriting & for all I know, there never would've been a Bananas without him. Early on, we even learned Wally & Beaver Go To Nicaragua & I remember thinking "who's the bastard who wrote this song?!?!". It had more twists & turns than every other Bananas song combined! And there's Lisa - maybe 2-3 months in to learning to play bass - trying to play that bassline. I don't really have any Jim stories. I just wanted to let Hal & the rest of Jim's family & friends know that one more person is thinking of them & Jim. He was such a nice, no b.s guy. Even Ed Carroll liked him.

Posted by: scott miller at December 2, 2005 10:46 AM

We always argued. Trying to piss each other off. It was a game. It was one of the many ways we communicated. I think we all took as much from Jim as possible. He was a star, onstage or off. Cooler than Jimmy Dean. He wrote some of the best songs ever. Those of us who knew him are liable to hate him for leaving us. This is selfish, but there really isn't any other way to react. It is tough to remember that Jim was not in the habit of living for other people. It was his life to take. I suppose we should respect his decision, but I am still really mad at him. For me, the loss is so huge. He threatened to steal one of my songs. I thought that was a good sign. Now I know that it fueled the disorder called "hope."I really believe that, for me, the concept of "closure" is not only false, but obscene.

He had a lot of little brothers. You could tell that most people who met him looked up to him. The old saw goes, "women loved him and men wanted to be him." Sounds corny, but he really was that cool. With Jim, there were no "best" times. He didn't show us his pain, so we all thought he was stronger than he really was. I loved getting heckled by him in Indiana and getting kicked and "gobbed" by him in Sacramento. Who else could make abusive behavior so funny?

So, yeah, he gave us some great songs and moments of sickening hilarity. I am surprised that I didn't lose control of my bladder. What a funny, funny, FUN fucker. He was the best. I mean it. No pretension at all.

I love his style. I loved the way he would tweak people. "I'll be outside if any of you pussies want to fight."

Sewer Trout was brilliant. The stuff holds up really well. Elmer was completely tough, ragged, ballsy rock. I keep thinking about Fistfight, which makes me giggle. Then the line from Snake Handler, "...we don't care if we die." pops into my head. Yeah, I think the only thing Jim was afraid of was having to live with himself. It seems as if he was telling us to let him live and die on his own terms. The fact that he did what he did was a way for him to tell us that it was always his party. I am still trying to contemplate a world with no Jim. I know it was his choice, but I am still a selfish baby about this. The bright side is that he is no longer suffering.

Jim will always be an inspiration.

Posted by: ed at December 2, 2005 10:51 AM

I never got a chance to see Sewertrout or meet Jim, but I have been a huge fan for many years. When I was 13 or so and just getting into punk rock someone gave me a mixed tape that included President of the Anarchist Club and it was instantly ingrained in my head. The sound of a record needle dropping down onto a scratchy 7" and that amazing bass line starting in. They were one of those punk bands that I thought should have been huge, but I always felt like they were my secret.

Posted by: Liam at December 2, 2005 11:18 AM

creepy...i just listened to my elmer cd this week, twice, for the first time in over a year...or maybe two years. love is with you.

Posted by: fern at December 2, 2005 11:48 AM

Jim is one of the first people I met when I started visiting/living in Sacramento. He was living with Dave at the time and always seemed to make me feel welcome whenever I was over there. Even without talking, his quiet presence, smoking, just watching tv or on the computer, his calm...brought comfort to me. Did he have this calm on the inside? Did we bring comfort to him? I hope so.
I remember him smiling at his dog, Chico. He always had Chico stories to tell. I remember playing croquet in his backyard. Small stuff, but good.
I haven't seen Jim much in the past few years, but whenever our paths crossed, I was glad to see was such a rare occassion, that it felt as if the party were complete when he showed up. No party will be complete without you, Jim. You will be missed.

Posted by: Ann at December 2, 2005 11:58 AM

jim met keith, dave, and i the morning we got to portland after dave's pink hair got us cut off at the weinhard's brewery. jim took us to the bar down the street from his place where we all had dollar pints of pabst or schaefer. we knocked off a couple there and we went back to his house and then drove to some thrift stores. we needed more beer, so we went to another guys house and bought some 12 packs of black label and black label ice. then jim decided to take us to another bar that had a pool table, dollar pints, and some pretty nasty looking strippers with an wonderful way of bending over to pick up their money off the stage while showing off their goods. at some point someone decided that karaoke was in order so we drove across town, narrowly dodging a semi that came out of nowhere. jim and the other guy rode in the bed of the truck and helped me dispose of some old nails by throwing them at the windshields of parked cars we drove by. the people in the karaoke bar didn't seem to like our drunken yelling and cursing until jim started singing a horse with no name. everyone in the bar sang along with him. when we left, dave decided that a shop window needed a rock through it and with everyone in the truck we were back on our way to jim's. after a stop for some tall cans, we ran around the apartment building, out on to the fire escape and around back in through another window. i think there was a frisbee too. jim was the first guy i knew that could say his record was in the juke box at his local bar. the first person i've seen with a belt buckle with the name of his band on it, elmer.

Posted by: sex creepy at December 2, 2005 12:04 PM

"I'll be outside if any of you pussies want to fight."
Thanks, Ed. I just read through all of these comments and felt uneasy all the way through, but laughed out loud for that one. That line IS Jim.

When he was up here in Portland for Rolls wedding, there was a strange air about him, he kept trying to give people the boots he got married in, the boots the clerk at the mexican market chastised him for walking in before he bought them. They would in no way fit me, but he continued to try to give them to me. This was way out of character, and I could tell he had problems developing that I could not comprehend, and this alienated me. A strange call for help alienated me when it should have made me want to spend more time with him, and help him work this shit out. I tried to contact him about 2 weeks ago, but never heard back...

I've been through a few deaths in my time, and I believe we should somehow learn to get emotional and remember what we best like about people WHILE THEY ARE STILL WITH US. Throw a big surprise party for someone you love, just for the hell of it...

I'll be online if any of you pussies want to fight, -DH

Posted by: David Hayes at December 2, 2005 12:06 PM

Jim was always a friend to me. He was someone who would listen to what you had to say without judging you for what came out of your mouth. Jim was one of my favorite people to talk about books with. He would read any book I told him to read....even if it was horrible. He loved doing crossword puzzles and reading issues of The New Yorker magazine. I can still picture him sitting there in the black chair on his back porch. He'd have a cigarette in one hand, a book in the other and a can of Negro Modelo within reach. I will always remember him this way. He was a very intelligent, patient and kind human being. I will miss him very much.

Posted by: Spider at December 2, 2005 12:36 PM

A few weeks ago Jim and I built a gazebo from
a box-kit I got at Target. We spent the whole
day poring over the microscopic, translated
from the Mandarin instructions drinking Mexican
beer. He patiently, logically, systematically
got us through every confusing turn. The gazebo
sits out in the backyard today and some of Jim
does too.

One of the bittersweet aspects of seeing a fair
amount of him in the last few months is that he
was feeling a renewed sense of wanting to make
music. He dusted off his guitar in October for
the first time he said in several years and played
for my roommate Lori and myself until his fingers
couldn't take anymore. Possibly his
last musical effort was accompanying some friends
playing acoustic instruments in my living room,
Jim on the spoons and using his steel toed boots
for percussion. He told me on his way home that
night once more that he really felt like playing again.

He and Edi worked up a riff that begs for
a dozen verses or more. The chorus went:

Drain it off and drink it
Drain it off and drink it
Drain it off and drink it
You know its mighty good

I can only imagine what kind of a black fog
overcame him the other day.

Here's to you, Concord Cowboy

Posted by: JohnnyGun at December 2, 2005 03:10 PM

Oh jeez... what to say, what to say. What can I say. I've known Jim for about 9 years but haven't seen him in almost 4. The last conversation we had was him telling me, "the next time I see you, I want my Ray Condo record back or I'll kick your ass. I'm serious."

I hope you are at peace, Jim. I never told you how much I loved Elmer... how I've spent hour upon hour singing along to the full length... or how much I enjoyed sharing countless beers with you when our bands played together... or just how talented I thought you were. Your lyrics were incredible, you music unfathomable.

Though we've not seen each other these many years, you've crossed my mind when I listen to you and Elmer and I've wondered how you are and what you were up to. I'm sorry you left this way; you had more creativity in your little toe than I had in my entire body.

To those who knew you best: your family, your brother Hal, your friends... I am truely sorry for your loss. May you each find your own peace, in your own way.

Take care...


Posted by: Lyle - Liable at December 2, 2005 08:42 PM

My first exposure to real punk rockers was at the Bird House on 19th and I downtown Sacto. I was fourteen and this was back in like '88 and '89. All the people that lived there influenced me in a way that still affects me today. It was hella cool to be able to watch Sewer Trout practice upstairs in one of the bedrooms. The one Jim story that really sticks out in my mind is when I went with Jim and Hal and their girlfriend's to a show at the Gilman. On the way back the girls were up front driving and the rest of us were asleep in the back of the car. The girls were fooling around changing lanes and shit cause noone was on the highway. It woke Jim up and he got hella pissed off. So he reached up front and grabbed the steering wheel and just started to yank on it back and forth nearly killing all of us. I nearly shit my fucking pants! But when I think about it now for some reason it just cracks me up. He wrote awesome songs. His lyrics always had me rolling, but always reminded me at the same time what it was all about. I hope he's in a better place now.

Posted by: Jimbo at December 2, 2005 09:38 PM

One day I got a tape in the mail from my friend Var at No Idea. It said "Elmer - 22 songs" along with a note, "Hey Jason, you'll probably like this." I was blown away. I loved it so much (and still do), I ended up getting to do half the back cover for the record. After that, I had the chance to see Elmer about 6 or 7 times as they toured the East coast. It was amazing each time seeing them play. In retrospect, I acted like a fucking idiot when they played, but I couldn't help it. David Hayes gave me the lowdown on other Jim projects and I dutifully collected it all.

Shortly after that tour, I flew out to Portland to try out playing drums for Elmer. I hung out for about a week at Jim and Scotty's place and Jim took me to a buncha cool places and basically showed me the city. As the week progressed, he slept later and later into the day. I realized something must be wrong and I kinda got worried about him. But, I went back to Pennsylvania and never moved to Portland.

Now I wish I had.

"Don't ask me how I feel,
Cause I feel fine.
Don't ask me what I think about,
It's just a waste of precious time.
Don't ask why I'm always feeling
down and out and blue.
I don't know,
I just do..."

I'll always remember you Jim. Hope you're feeling better now. ~Jason

Posted by: Jason Armadillo at December 2, 2005 09:56 PM

Jim- good memories- love from two of yer friends here in spokane... Brian Young and Jon Swanstrom ---

Posted by: jon at December 3, 2005 01:55 AM

Jim Dan and Hal

Posted by: the flies at December 3, 2005 01:58 AM

My son, John Merrill, just called me to tell me about Jim. My thoughts as a mother are with Jim's father. To find your son like that... I couldn't even imagine if it happpened to me. I am very grateful to have known Jim thru my son. Who could forget the glasses and cowboy hat! Heaven has a special place for thoes with a humor.

Posted by: Evonne Merrill at December 3, 2005 09:37 AM

Unfortunately I didn’t meet Jim until after the legendary hey-days of Sewer Trout and Elmer. I was lucky enough to be treated as part of the MacLean family for a relatively short time, and during that time I thought of Jim as my own brother. I still do. I can’t contribute any stories or anecdotes. Right now, I can’t think about anything specific. Rather, for me, there are specific images etched into my mind of Jim. Jim sitting on his chair, in the enclosed porch, smoking a cigarette and reading the newspaper. Jim, in his tan jacket, tan pants, cowboy boots and hat, taking a smoke break in his parents’ backyard while hanging out with the dogs. And Jim’s face lighting up, his animated expressions, and I can even hear his laugh, as he would tell a story about Chico.

I bought a greeting yesterday that said something about how people come and go through our lives, and some of those people change us for the better by just knowing them. I know – extremely corny – but also true. Jim was one of these people. I will always think of him, and love him, as part of my family and will miss him forever.

Posted by: Michelle Barnhardt at December 3, 2005 09:51 AM

Fuggg... I'm sorry to hear this...

I looooovvve Sewer Trout!

I was so ashamed when I recently met their drummer and I was drinking COORS!!!


Posted by: Justin at December 3, 2005 10:59 AM

Like Miller I gotta say that my friendship with Jim was pretty surface level but I very much know how important he was to Sacto punk and more so to a whole lot of you. Also like Miller & Dave Smith, my one big memory is that Los Huevos/Nar tour where he helped up with a faulty van, introduced us to a great brewery (opening hour ten am) and tried to destroy the Olympia punk scene. I'm a fucking hermit so I wont be seeing you all today but my wishes go out to you. It always sucks when a good person goes, whatever the circumstance. More Trout songs at the link atatched.

Posted by: Scott S at December 3, 2005 11:09 AM

Beautiful Jim,
I remember the first time I saw were performing with Elmer in Cary's back yard off 33rd Steet on a great sunny summer day years ago.
After a rip-roaring performance, a wrestling match began and you and others were rolling around on the grass/dirt. You were the coolest guy I had ever laid eyes on and I asked Keri M. who you were because I didn't remember meeting you before and she said "thats Hal's brother, Jim."" And yes I am glad I confessed to you on one drunken occasion how I had always had a huge crush on you. Each time I hung out with you I always felt I was in the presence of a very special person who I was proud to be friends with. Now you're gone and I am so sad that I will never be able to drink beers and listen to music with you again. I feel at peace only when I think that you are now happy and free to climb the rocks!!! I love you forever. BH

Posted by: Barbara Hart at December 3, 2005 12:25 PM

I'll alway remember the last time in saw on the patio at the Old Tavern. Dressed to the to the hillbilly 9s, calm, cool, sucking on a cigartte, trading sacrastic remarks with Ed and I. Your presence will be missed.

Posted by: Alex at December 3, 2005 02:35 PM

I remember when I first hung out with you was at Keri's house years ago and Hal introduced us. We drove to the gas station to buy cigarettes and I remember thinking that you were a such a great person. Like Barbara and countless other's have said, you truely were a special person. Although we didn't hang out all of the time, the times we did were great. This summer you showed up at the house unannounced on a few different occasions and it brought a smile to both Bill and I. It was great to sit in the pool drinking Pabst, smoking cigarettes and catching up. After you would leave Bill and I would talk about how much we enjoyed the unnexpected visits and would look forward to the next. I can't begin to explain the sadness that comes over me when I think of how there will be no more visits. You will truely be missed!

Posted by: Karen at December 3, 2005 02:48 PM

I am going to play pretty much nothing but Sewer Trout, Elmer & whatever Jim MacLean stuff I can scrape up on my radio show this Tuesday (12/6). You are definately welcome and encouraged to call in and tell a Jim story, give your thoughts, whatever you want. The show airs 11 pm - midnight PST. You can listen on 90.3 FM or on the web at The phone is 530-752-2777. Please call in if you feel comfortable doing so.

Posted by: Scott S at December 3, 2005 03:10 PM

Whatever he was searching for...I hope he found.

Posted by: Cliff at December 3, 2005 09:33 PM

Hello again all, I have updated my myspace page with 4 downloadable Jim gems. "Igneous Petrological Dependency" recorded drunk live solo and acoustic to a boombox, "Rock & Ice" by the New Vulgarians, "Bang Ole Lulu" by the Horny Dullard Trio and "I've Got Stripes" from the never released Elmer Live at Folsom Prison 7" -dh

Posted by: David Hayes at December 3, 2005 09:46 PM

Jim McLean was definitely one of a kind. Although I didn't know him well, from the first time we met I always looked up to him. As many others have mentioned here, he had a special, intangible air about him, and it was always a pleasure to see him. To this day he is probably the only friend I've ever met through the music scene with whom I could have a decent conversation about geology. I think that Jim and I also shared something of a common appreciation for solitude, and while he was living in Portland we would occasionally bump into each other in a random place as we were each separately doing the same thing - aimlessly walking around the city, just thinking about life. One of the coolest memories I have of Jim was from a show at EJ's in Portland, circa 1997 or 1998. The Automatics had recently released an album that included a cover of "Pure and Beautiful Love" by Sewer Trout. They invited Jim - apparently spontaneously - to do the vocals, and after pretending as if he might not be able to remember the words, he jumped on stage and totally nailed it. I also remember one funny story about Jim that I heard second-hand. I mentioned to him one time that I was a big fan of Alice Donut, and he told me that he had once seen them play and ended up tackling the singer on stage during their set, because he was convinced at the moment that they were destroying everything sacred about punk rock. According to the story, this was after a few forties of Cool Colt, some kind of hideous menthol-flavored malt liquor (double blaxploitation anyone?) which never made it past the test market phase. I wish I had more stories to tell, but alas Jim was someone I drew inspiration from more than I shared experiences with. He was one of many amazing, creative, charismatic older guys who I can collectively credit with showing me the ropes and setting me on the right path when I was a clueless, 21 year old small town kid. At their zenith in the late 90's, Elmer was in my opinion THE best band in Portland, hands down. But my favorite of all Jim's songs was "Goin' to the Store", an older Elmer number that I never heard them play live. If I'm not mistaken, that one was written about aimlessly walking around the little town of Corvallis, just thinking about life.

Posted by: Nid at December 4, 2005 01:55 AM

I met Jim while Elmer was on tour in 97, or 98, when I lived with David Hayes in Vegas. Jim and I had similar visual artistic tendencies, and I tried to collaborate with him on an Elmer picture disc. 7" that never came to fruition. Before I even moved to Portland Jim always let me stay at his apartment when I came through town, and he was one of a hand full of people I knew when I moved up here.

I did a couple of Jim's tattoos, most recently the one of Chico posing as the virgin of Guadalupe. That was great. My Buddy London Bellman also did the Elmer tattoo on Jim's shoulder years ago. The last time I talked to him, he had big plans of getting a bunch of new things, mostly his own drawings, but one completely mine. I wish I could have done that. The last time I saw Jim was at my wedding. We danced up a storm. Jim is the second person who came to our wedding that we've lost to suicide in the last two months. It's terrible.

I had an immediate connection with him from the start, his wonderfully original sense of irony and ability to poke fun at one's self were brilliant. I sure as hell will miss him. He is, was, and forever will be one heck of a guy. They broke the mold when they made Jim. My heart goes out to his family and closest friends.

Posted by: Roll Hardy at December 4, 2005 02:03 AM

I didn't know Jim personally, but, like others here, Sewer Trout was a big influence as far as me realizing that normal local punk kids could have their own band. My musical output since 1988 has gone in a completely different direction than what Sewer Trout (or the brilliant Well Hung Monks) did, but i consider those people to be an influence nonetheless. My thoughts to all Jim's family and friends.

Posted by: scott t. at December 4, 2005 10:07 AM

I got to play bass in Elmer for about a year, before Geof joined them. One story: We were going from Spokane to Wenatchee when the van broke down in the middle of nowhere. Jim started throwing all this trash (food bags and wrappers, beer cans, cigarettes packs) out of the van onto the side of the road. I'm stunned saying "Jim, what the hell are you doing?" Job just started laughing, knowing what was coming, and Jim says something like "Look around you, this is all trash. This van, your house, the road were driving on. None of that crap was here naturally." Jim introduced me to the fact that society is just organized litter.

I hadn't seen Jim in probably five years, but from everything I heard, it sounded like he was doing well, being back in Sacramento, getting married,... and I'm glad that from reading these stories that it sounds like he was at least in a place recently where he was able to be among his friends and family.

A couple days later on that same trip we were still in Wenatchee, van is still busted. I'm cranky and have to get back to Portland for work or whatever other stupid reason I had. We were talking about what to do and I said "well, let's not just sit around here and drink all day." I was wrong, Jim, you were right, and I wish I could take it back. I should have stayed and drank all day. I didn't know our chances were so limited.

Posted by: Robb at December 4, 2005 11:13 AM

I never knew Jim, but have always held Sewer Trout in the absolute highest regard - My sincere condolences to Hal and all in Jim's family. Mojo and beers coming to you from South Carolina...

Posted by: ALKIHAWKS at December 4, 2005 04:53 PM

It doesn't matter what I want
It doesn't matter what I need
It doesn't matter if I cry
Don't matter if I bleed
You been on a road
Don't know where it goes or where it leads
It doesn't matter what I want
It doesn't matter what I need
If you've made up your mind to go
I won't beg you to stay
You've been in a cage
threw you to the wind to fly away
It doesn't matter what I want
It doesn't matter what I need
It doesn't matter if I cry
Don't matter if I bleed
Feel the sting of tears
falling on the space you left for years...

Lyrics from "It Doesn't Matter" by Alison Krauss

Jim and I made a fine and crazy pair for awhile in 1997...he broke my heart then and he is breaking my heart all over again...I love you Hal and Heidi...I have only a storytellers idea of what you must be going through. Jim affected my life more than most people and for that I am truly grateful and know he will always be with me because I will never be the same for knowing him.

"She's the one, the only one, Xena!"

Posted by: Nicolle at December 4, 2005 06:57 PM

Jim stayed at my house when Elmer came through Detroit. We shared Easter that year, drank everything I had, ate White Castle hamburgers and had some serious laughs. I remember Jim said that after a few weeks of being on tour that his armpits started to smell like a vagina. So I asked him to sleep in my room. I laugh about that often. The songs of Sewer Trout and Elmer are some of my favorites and although I would have liked to know him better, I will miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with Hal and his family.

Posted by: Dave SickNtired at December 4, 2005 07:13 PM

Jim was my wife Amber's cousin so I suppose I was his cuz-in-law. I'll miss him.

Here is a link to all of the photos that were at the memorial today. They are not my photos (except one), I just did the scanning.

Posted by: Kerry Loewen at December 4, 2005 09:45 PM

PS: to get the link to open up in new window, click on my name or copy the address to a new window.


Posted by: Kerry Loewen at December 4, 2005 09:49 PM

I love you James Maclean, wherever you are

My personal shield is made of the sum total of my experiences and influences. It is more about people than places or things.

The times I had with Jim are part of that shield:

Jim kicked the rear window out of my friend, Paul's, truck (which I was borrowing)..I think he was on acid or something. Its OK because we were able to put the windshield back in. That was the first night I met Jodi.

Jim came up with the name Well Hung Priests. I changed "priests" to "monks".

Jim was always a sucker for a kiss on the cheek.

Jim allowed me to make beer with him even though I kept repeating the mistake of setting a carboy of hot wurt into a bathtub full of cold water, which invariably caused the carboy to crack, thus spoiling the batch. I did this to Hal's beer as well. I'm an idiot, but not a savante. Oh, I'm also an engineer. Did I mention that?

Jim got me hungover drunk one night, showed up at my house hungover drunk himself early the next morning, and took me climbing when I was new to the Sacto scene.

Jim took me climbing even though I was just a dilettante "boulderer" and even let me lead a couple of climbs.

Jim and Hal stuck with and started a band with me even though I was a petulant prima donna. I whined about the equipment Jim and Keith were using in Sewer Trout and blundered my way into the punk scene while people viewed me askance as a poser and a geek.

Jim and Hal allowed me to do unheard of crap like play fiddle tunes and rearrange Bach Concertos to fit the punk motif, and play my guitar too high, and generally, blithely dive head on into punkdom.

Jim, Hal and a retinue of others supported me and attended my gig at the CSUS campus cafe while I played strange, obscure music, and taped sound-collages of my own making, which few understood. I passed around paper towels to collect comments, view points, ideas, etc. I will keep those paper towels all my life. Hal took pictures. They are a part of my personal shield.

Jim and Hal saved me from a boring and forgettable college experience. My last chance to live the free life of a youngster was not squandered. I will never forget the times I had in Sacramento and will forever be much obliged to Jim for contributing in such a big way to those memories. Streetside beatings, nefarious murderess neighbors, unruly, voyeuristic mobs in the streets, crack dealers, prostitutes, hobos. Its all good because I share these experiences with people I love and respect. I laugh and they laugh with me. Life is an absurdly beautiful thing.

Jim and Hal, Ground Chuck, Ken Beasley, Sophie, and I played hide and seek on "I" street. I fell off of the roof of 1901 "I" St. onto the top of a fence, on my ass. I had a scar on my ass for about a year after that. Jodi was there hiding with and laughing at me.

Jim had an amazing party at 1901 "I" St., otherwise known as the "Bert" house. It was a sweltering summer night in Sacramento when, as the bands blazed away, there was a cloudburst of buckets of rain. Everyone just stood in the rain being quenched and rejoicing in being alive. It was a fantastic experience I will never forget.

Jim and Hal never harassed or bothered me about turning my back on the Sacto punk scene to pursue my engineering career and be with my Main Squeeze in Washington. They have stayed my friends all of these years and have even visited me in this rainy, wet, dark-green-gray, frozen, bumpkin-hillbilly-logger, grunge-ass corner of the world.

Jim went with me on a backpacking trip to the Sycan River, on a lark and a rumor about Southern Oregon being "nice" during Easter. He brought nothing with him but a bag full of Pemmican and Power Bars. We roamed the high dessert of Oregon. We froze our asses off after it snowed on us and we had to waterproof our boots with hot wax from some candles I brought with us. Finally I remembered to build a sweat lodge and we were able to restore our core body temperatures. We dove into the frozen Sycan River. On our way out, I got my truck stuck in the mud and we had to bushwack our way out of the countryside to get help. Truly one of the grand times of my life. I will never forget it and some pictures of Jim from this trip are in my personal shield.

When Jim and Jodi broke up, Jim started his Flabbergasted thing. He was doing just fine. It was the summer of 1991 and I got laid off and was kind of lost, just looking for a job and hanging around the house doing stuff. I was kind of lonely because I hadn't been up here that long and I had been working mostly, not making many new acquaintances to speak of. I would hang out in the workshop in back of my house building and fixing furniture. Jim sent me a tape of his stuff and I would play it day after day, again and again. It was great to hear his voice, it took the edge off my boredom

Jim was living in Portland a few years later when, after being laid off for the 2nd time in my fledgling engineering career, having a kid, and fumbling through life, I took a job in Tigard, OR to work at Rogers Machinery as a designer. I would commute 2-1/2 hours to work and I stayed at Jim's apartment a couple of times a week. I brought Sully there as a toddler when Sue (my wife) went on business trips. Jim was an anchor for me at a difficult time in my life.

I had always hoped that Jim would move up here. I invited him up here a bajillion times. I think that we could have done some really cool shit, musically. I don't think I had much allure. I was pretty vocal with my opinions on brilliance, fame, and the crap shoot of making it big. I'm kind of an a-hole, too.

I took music theory and harmony when I was young, thinking that a music career would be my path. But I found I couldn't be a musician whose sole job was to make music for pay. The process of making money from music would ruin my experience. I take music too seriously. I have a deep and abiding love of music. I still play a bevy of instruments with a paucity of talent. But that's alright - music saved my soul.

It has always been helpful to me, during my dark times, to know that Jim was somewhere on the planet, sharing the experiences of the sensible world. I have always drawn strength from the times I had with Jim. Knowing him has been a rare privilege. The camaraderie we shared helped to lighten the darkness of winter for me. It will be hard now to remember those times without also thinking of Jim's pain and suffering. My memories are like dear friends to me. I will have to remember them differently now. I will have a harder time playing Jim's songs on my banjo that I so love to play. I will most likely weep when I play them.

Jim, I've stopped wondering why you did what you did. I think I understand that, in a brief moment of clarity and focus, you did what you thought was best for all of us who love you. We will never know how you suffered, we will never know your despair. It is too hard for us to understand that you saw this as the best possible solution to a worsening problem. You did what you thought best. You left no note. You made no excuses. You blamed no one.

I'll spend the rest of my days wishing I could have changed your mind.

I hope that its alright that I'm keeping bits and pieces of you alive inside my head.

They are images of a brilliant creative thinker, a talented musician, a crazy-ass M___r F___r, and the object of my perpetual admiration.

You are, after all, part of my personal shield.

I love you,


Posted by: Erik Hung Monk at December 4, 2005 11:04 PM

Reading these comments makes me laugh!

I am Jim's oldest cousin. We grew up together and were born 8 days apart. For a long time we always celebrated our birthdays together. During the years when Jim was at Sac State I was at UC Davis and I would bring him crazy birthday cakes that I had made up. He really liked pumpkin pie so one time I made him Army Men Pumpkin Pie-- I got a pumpkin pie and a bunch of green plastic army men and mushed them around in the pumpkin like they were covered in mud. He really cracked up and mentioned the Army Men Pumpkin Pie for years afterwards. He even mentioned it the last time I visited in Sacramento-- only a few weeks ago. I would like to see people everywhere make this recipe a part of the holiday tradition in honor of Jim MacLean.

Somewhere earlier someone said something about his Elmer beltbuckle. The beltbuckle actually came before the band. I was living in NYC after college and he came to visit. We were walking down Canal Street Chinatown and we found this box of beltbuckle outside one of those shops that has everythiing in cardboard boxes on the sidewalk. The box was full of beltbuckles with unpopular names (cheap and on sale) and Jim found the Elmer beltbuckle and took it home.

Jim and I were in elementary school together and because we had the same last name we were always seated alphabetically with him seated in front of me. He was a great reader and I remember when we had to do book reports there were teachers that didn't believe he could really read the books he did.

I am still in shock over all of this and can't believe this has happened. I knew Jim well enough to know the nature of his torments. I feel really saddened to think how isolated he must have felt in the end. Thanks for all of these postings and stay in touch with his parents, Tom and Ismini. I am sure they'd be grateful for your friendship because of your friendship with Jim. Hal, you're the greatest!

Posted by: Cuzzin Robin at December 4, 2005 11:47 PM

i met jim thru heidi, some years ago now. my experiences with jim were few but sweet. i remember him as being very articulate and thoughtful, even in disagreances.

i stayed with jim & heidi most of november, 2003. it had been at least a year since i had seen them last. i was on my way somewhere else and didn't know when i'd see them again. so i stayed for a bit.

uhm.. gosh, these things are always so diffult to put to words.. these "emotion" things. i just got home from the memorial (a 5 hour drive which should rightfully be 3) and had a lot of time to think about this.. and yet, for once in my life, i'm speechless.

the most stand-out memory i have of jim is when i was staying with him & heidi. she and i went out and had some drinks (okay, a bit more than some). when we got back to the house, we jumped on the bed to wake jim up and for some reason i put his boots on. it sounds cheesy, and maybe i'm just remembering it cheesy, but it seems that we were all laughing and goofin' around. certainly there was a pillowfight (ha).

the next morning i woke up crooked on the couch covered with a blanket and with my feet over the armrest with his boots still on. i can't say it was my best night's sleep, but it was a good laugh when i woke up.

my feelings for jim are autonomous and sincere. we had many beautiful conversations ranging from anthropology and social structure to hookers with an unfortunate eye for style. i'll miss his sense of humor and his articulate nature - a combination which is found, but sparingly.

goodbye, charlie. the memorial was beautiful; wish you coulda been there.


(hehe.. not too bad for speechless, ay?)

Posted by: Keri Marion at December 5, 2005 02:38 AM

I remember providing transportation to Jim and Hal for a Sewer Trout show at Gilman while we were still in school. I picked them up at the Bert house, Jim was pretty hung over. I think we drove exactly one half block south on 19th street and we had to stop so Jim could puke. We went to Keiths place a the night before the show and drank and went to the Planetarium in SF to see the Grateful Dead laser show. We paid 8 bux to get in...and then I passed out. 8 bux for a freakin nap, but what could I say, the chairs were comfy. The show went well the next day, and we headed home for school. We were in my old Nissan, ankle deep in beer cans, Jim and Hal passed out. Jim woke up and said he needed to pee. So I pulled over in West Sac near some motel. Jim snuck off into the bushes to pee. Hal woke up......."Where's Jim?" he asked. I told him peeing. Hal thought it was a good idea, so he went to pee. Jim came back and asked where is Hal? We looked around and there was Hal pissing on the front door of the motel. A cop materialized out of no where, christmas tree a blazing. We thought Hal was off to the drunk tank for sure. Me and Hal were both underage then, I prayed the cop would stay away from my beer can laden car. The cop made Hal clean up his mess with some paper towels from the front desk clerk and he let us go. Whew. Good times were always there to be had.

It is indeed a colder day in Canada now that Jim is gone.


Posted by: King Valiant Geek (Jeff) at December 5, 2005 06:35 AM

When I was growing up in Concord, like 86 or 87, I scored a copy of Sewer Trouts demo tape from James E dikshuns brother John who went to High school with Hal. We were shocked because #1 the band sounded nothing like Discharge, the accused, or Fear and #2 the band was from Concord. Though-Sewer Trout probably hated being from Concord I always used them when some dumb berkeley kid would challenge me to provide a redeeming quality of my poop hole home-town.
I followed sewer trout and elmer's music ever since and was so stoked to be able to meet Jim when Elmer played at Old iron side a couple of years ago. Not suprisingly, we talked about Concord and he congradulated me for moving away from there.
My deepest sympathy to Hal and family.

Posted by: mickmucusmickmucusmmmmmmickmucus at December 5, 2005 08:54 AM

Thanks Dave and everyone for all the postings. It really helps...

Jim and Hal grew up 3 blocks from our family so they're like the big brothers I never had. (their dad is my dad's only brother) Being the youngest of all the MacLean cousins, I was always in awe of everything Jim got involved in. During the family visits, I loved listening and soaking up all the dialog between the cousins--whether it was goofing off or a serious rant about politics.

Jim and Robin brought me to my first all ages punk thing when I was 15---some really good ska band in SAC in about '82. We had so much fun. If it wasn't for him and Hal enlightening me with London Calling, I'd l still be listening to Journey--imagine that.

Jimmy always "got" my funny drawings and encouraged me by sending me his own hilarious drawings and giving me books about cartoonists we both admired. That gave me the confidence to keep on drawing and pursue it in my own way.

Even into our adult years, Jimmy always greeted me at family gatherings with my childhood nickname. I liked the way he smiled and his voice cracked when he'd say, "Hey Hambone!"

Thanks to everyone for the memorial on Sunday. Even if I was too comatose to speak to you all, it was just really good to be in the presence of all the people that have cared for Jim over the years.

See you in Portland,


Posted by: Cuzzin Amber at December 5, 2005 09:50 AM

"Don't ask me how I feel,
Cause I feel fine.
Don't ask me what I think about,
It's just a waste of precious time.
Don't ask why I'm always feeling
down and out and blue.
I don't know,
I just do..."

Thank you for posting the above lyric. It is both heart-breaking and eloquent. It goes a long way towards showing how self-aware our hero was for many years. He was aware of the questions yet knew that he lacked answers.

Those words will haunt me forever.

I am exhausted and I don't want to grieve any more, but the sadness continues. I want to turn this bitter feeling into something Jim would get a kick out of.

I hope this is my last post on this heavy topic.
There were so many wonderful people at the gathering. Our friend left us with a fortune.

He left us with each other.

Posted by: ed at December 5, 2005 01:25 PM

In Weird coincindence, Denise- a huge Sewer Trout Fan- was stunned to find Sewer Trout named Dropped-not once-but Twice- in a recent Rolling Stone ( some article on Green Day) only a few days before we heard about this..... I only Met Jim a few times, Via David Hayes, Elmer, Hal and the extended family of Sacto Punks. You could instantly tell Jim was Brillant, a smart and quite funny guy, like the fun Sacto Punk vibe but gone onto to next level Graduate studies. Quite Sad, and Denise and I's thoughts are with his family and greater family of friends.

Posted by: Ken Sanderson at December 5, 2005 02:38 PM

The first two punk records I ever owned were the "Sewer Trout" single and the "Flawless" lp (thanks to Hal), and, no doubt about it, they blew me away. So when Elmer came to town in '96, I got to hang out with them and meet them. I got introduced to Jim, but I already knew who he was. This was the guy who wrote the Trout songs and drew the cover of the 7"! After we met, he said he dug my art, which was one of those great compliments in life you never forget. So everytime Elmer played a show in town, I always tried to do a poster for it and give one to Jim.

I didn't know you too well Jim, but you will be missed and I hope you know that there is a lot of people that love you and care about you.

Posted by: Matt K. at December 5, 2005 03:12 PM

I had the opportunity to meet Jim through my ex-husband, Johnny, who briefly played bass for Elmer. I have not seen Jim in years, yet I have recently shared stories of his escapades with numerous people.
A Camping trip this past summer invoked stories of a weekend spent on Government Island with about a dozen Portlanders- native and transported alike. The US Dept of Agriculture grazes cattle there, and Jim decided that it must be possible to "break" the brahma's... much like one would break a wild horse. The liquid courage enabled Jim to mount one of the brahma's, yet he was promptly thrown into berry briars. Bloodied and bruised- we decided to make our way back to the tents. On the trek back to our campsite, Jim was suddenly no longer partaking in the conversation. Upon further review of the situation, Jim was found to have fallen into a hole that was left behind from the root ball of a very large, uprooted tree. We peered down at him, the hole being just over his head, and all of us collapsed in hysterics. Jim, always being able to see the humor in any situation, even if it was at his expense, was patient enough for us to regain composure and formulate a plan to rescue him. Once safely on firm ground, we found our way to the campsite, stoked the fire and partook in a redneck sing along, many songs created on the spot to chronicle the days adventures.
Halloween also brought back memories- of Jims makeshift costume of 10 years ago- a pair of chaps and a red man-thong! He rightfully earned the nickname "Jimmy Longbottom".
Jim's kindness to my disabled father will never be forgotten- he painted the interior of his home in exchange for an old accordian!
Jim will always be remembered by my oldest daughter, as he was one of the first well wishers to the hospital following her birth- a photo of Marilyn, a few hours old, being cradled in Jim's arms, is in her baby book. Elmer was scheduled to play EJ's the night I went into labor. Johnny was sure that he would still have plenty of time to play as he had read the first time labors tend to take hours. I was adamently opposed. Knowing that despite the hijinks and shennagins, Jim was always very sensible, all it took was a call to him, and the show was cancelled! Thank you, Jim, for ensuring that my dear ex was there to endure hell with me!
Jim, you will be remembered with smiles always. Your ability to have an intelligent conversation on any topic imaginable was always refreshing. Your cynical optimism was inspiring. Your music was, is, and always will be, real and energy infusing. I am a better person for having known you.

You never know the worth of water until the well is dry.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 5, 2005 06:05 PM

If it weren't for Jim and Hal, I probably would have never learned to play the guitar; as it is, I don't think I really ever have. I still don't understand why they decided I'd be a good addition to what became Sewer Trout. Hal and I had been friends for some time already, hanging out and participating in the volatile/dynamic/burgeoning (so influential it almost makes people forget that Dave Brubeck is fron Concord) punk scene that made Concord, CA the center of the musical universe. Missing Link, a legendary Concord punk institution, with Hal on vocals, Cliff Woolard on guitar, John Woolard on bass, and Chris Fuller drumming, recorded a song, "economic indicators." This was my first exposure to Jim's songwriting, as I've been told Jim wrote the song; I never confirmed this. It has always been my favorite Missing Link song. Later, after Missing Link asked me to engineer the recording of their most famous hits for a one-time only performance that I managed to record without the vocal track, Hal and Jim decided I would be the perfect addition to their new project. I had just bought a guitar, amp, etc., and was ready to go. Hal and I got together and made noise a few times (lucky for me his drums were loud enough to drown out my 'playing'), and then suddenly I was drafted into the Sewer Trout. I remember Jim saying to me he'd rather have a friend in the band than a real musician. Meanwhile, I think he was humoring Hal, who recruited me for the job. That was vintage Jim - sarcastic and harsh, insulting me gently (or so I like to think) while letting everyone else catch up with him, trusting his brother and his choice. I honestly did not know how to play any song on the guitar at this point, only how to make feedback, break strings and use a screwdriver to alter the pickup pattern/output for maximum annoyance. Jim was, I was astonished to learn, thrilled with the prospect of teaching me how to play. Meanwhile, I faithfully learned the 10 or so songs he'd written to that point for the band. We played all of them at our first public performance not long after. At the end of the set, the crowd was shouting names of the usual party cover tunes, and Jim said, "Sorry, that's all the songs Keith knows how to play." He looked over at me and smiled. I was afraid he'd be mortified; it was just what he wanted. Later, I worked hard to learn all the new songs he came up with, one after the other, the next one better than the last. The man was, is, and will be (not necessarily in that order) a genius. I remember, when the 'Turn it Around' compilation record folks asked us for a new song (two, actally: Sex Trout, my favorite ST song of Jim's was the one that should have made it on this compilation), Jim told me it was time I wrote something, and he wouldn't let up. It was brutal. He told me he was burned out, and would never write again. I have to confess that I thought the sly smile he gave me at that point was just gas. Still, I made up the basic structure of "Wally and the Beav go to Nicaragua." He loved it. It should be no surprise because I used every trick I learned from him. Then he asked me, "what's the bass line?" I hadn't thought of that. He'd always written those. He refused to cooperate. So I made what I thought was a generic Jim bass line. I played it for him, and he repeated it, thankfully with a sense of musicianship I totally lacked. Later, he came back with a vocal line, melody and lyrics far more developed than what we'd initially conceived. He took an idea for a song that he basically had to wring out of me and told me I had countless more ready to go. I never wrote anything else for the Sewer Trout, only coming up with cover songs of dubious taste and questionable pedigree. I left the writing of real music, legitimate songs and an intuitive sense of how to put it all together to Jim. Then I moved to New York. Okay, Brooklyn. I missed the whole scene there on the west coast, and one of the first visitors to my new home (after Dave (Slave) Mierzwick and Mira from Hannover, was Jim. He showed up and began making fun of my living situation right away. Lucky for me, I was house sitting, and he was quick to realize I was not resposible for the decorative decisions of the home, only their maintenance. Suddenly, he became the maven of the mop, the vixen of the vacuum and the diva of the dishes. While he was here he wrote a few poems as well. The idea was that we'd trade verses/stanzas/poems typed on the old manual unit there. A couple examples follow:

inky dinky

dinkity do: i got a

big rock waitin feryou

it's a dumb guy thing

you wouldn't understand

its a thing its a rock its a

one man band its not what you

think its not what you want

but its all there

so tough luck homey.

j. maclean, 1992

Actually, this will be it for now. After the (delayed) redeye to NY, I'm tired. Hal, I love you.


Posted by: Keith at December 5, 2005 06:12 PM

Although I'm a hermit these days, my far-between Jim sightings always made me smile. My heart and love go out to all of you.

Posted by: Amy at December 5, 2005 07:18 PM

4 2 Pudding stands as the best compilation ever released, and Holiday In Romania is THE standout among standouts. I always know I've found a kindred spirit when I sing "Vacation spot...." and then someone picks up "The heat was hot." I learned very quickly that Jim had the perfect delivery when espousing his rhetoric and I followed it thusly. I've never drank a Coors, ever, just on account of Coors For Contra. Hey, wait, didn't they do an alternate release of their demo but they changed all the lyrics to be about rock climbing? That's brilliant. Jim was brilliant.

My last memory of Jim was us huffing helium at Lydia's birthday party and then trying to say the toughest thing we could think of. Pretty sure he called me a pussy but I was laughing too hard to discern.

My greatest sympathies to Hal and Heidi.

Ums, Jester for the Anarchy Club

Posted by: craigums at December 5, 2005 10:36 PM

I only really knew Jim when he was a child. His family welcomed mine for many celebrations and holidays. As he grew older, I only knew him through the pride, love and devotion of his parents, who are still dear friends of mine. When I read the first two sentences of this webpage, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I found them tactless and tasteless. I hope you can revise them before Jim's parents see them. I know this page has been recommended to his mother.

Posted by: Donita at December 6, 2005 02:16 PM

I love that Jim was way into rock climbing and rerecorded a bunch of Sewer Trout songs with words about rock climbing and sent a tape to some big glossy rock mag -- I think it was called Rock and Ice. The magazine seemed so thrilled to have somebody singing about their subculture that they gave the tape a long glowing reviews. I loved that when Jim shared the review with me he was perfectly able to walk the line between genuine enthusiasm and a sort of bemused detachment. It is this combination of giddiness and cynicism that comes to mind when I think of Jim.

Hal, I am also holding you in my thoughts.

Take care
Craig Usher

Posted by: Craig at December 6, 2005 04:14 PM

Sheesh. Not sure where to begin. I'm so glad Dave provided this space for people to share rememberences. Like a lot of other people, apparently, I also looked up to Jim. I first met Jim in Corvallis, where I moved to, for a variety of reasons, when I was 18. I had started a band there with Jordie and Derek ( who didn't really like each other) and we were looking for a bass player. Derek tells me the singer/bass player for Sewer Trout was interested in checking us out. Derek, god bless him, was a compulsive liar, so I was sceptical about this until Jim actually showed up in the basement. What the hell was this guy doing in Corvallis of all places? Oh right, OSU. Anyway, Jordie the drummer, was a no show, but Jim, as well as Cammille, who was our potential singer did show. Derick decided to fill in on drums while I played guitar. Problem was, Derick wasn't really a drummer and our little exhibition was a disaster. Cammille wasn't interested, for good reason, but Jim liked it and offered to play bass. It was incredibly flattering that Jim liked my songs enough that he was willing to devote several hours a week to learning, practicing, and performing them. It wasn't until at least a month into knowing Jim that he mentioned that he had another band, HIS band, Elmer. Not only that, but when they played their first show, they were fucking amazing. He became an instant rock star in our little college town. It made me wonder why the hell he would waste his time on my band, but I never asked. Jim was mysterious to me. He seemed so together most of the time, and then would randomly do some wild and crazy thing like, without warning, jumping out a second story window to land in the tree outside. I loved that kind of spontanaity, and yet it kind of frightened my too, making me wonder just what made him tick. If you could engage him, you could pretty much talk to Jim about anything. He was very intelligent, and seemed to have a lot of insight into the human condition, but perhaps not enough about his own. I don't know. I hadn't talked to him in years. We grew apart in the last few months of Lazyboy, and then somehow ended up in the only fist fight of my adult life (did ya know Jim was also a good wrestler?) Ironically, "Let's get in a Fistfight" was perhaps my favorite Elmer song. Eventually, apologies were made and we were civil, if not friendly to each other, but things never felt completely resolved, and that makes me sad. The whole thing stung really bad because of the fact that I had, in my wide-eyed youth, put Jim on a pedestal, not realizing that we all have major flaws that rise to the surface at one point or another. I wish we could have had the chance to sit down and laugh about that whole thing over a pint. A belated thanks to ya, Jim, for giving me a little extra confidence in my songs, introducing me to some great people (like Hal and Dave), and some great music (like Mr. Johnny Cash), and for leaving us with some amazing songs of your own.

Posted by: pete at December 6, 2005 04:26 PM

I figured out how to record Scott Soriano's KDVS Tribute show, and will replay it in Portland Wednesday night at 11, on KBOO, 90.7fm.
I'm so sorry Hal.

Posted by: Erin at December 6, 2005 09:21 PM

My dad just reminded me of his favorite Jim story...One Christmas a few years ago, all the cousins were sitting around with all the parents, and my aunt made the comment about how all the cousins were over 30 and there were still no marriages. There was an uncomfortable silence, then Jim, in his great straight man/ perfect timing, gave my aunt this incredulous, concerned look and said, "Maybe there's a MacLean stench."

Posted by: Am at December 6, 2005 10:44 PM

If you listened to my radio show last night, thanks! I had a lot of calls but people just wanted to talk off the air and that is cool. So the show is mostly music. As Erin wrote she is gonna rebroadcast it on KBOO. If you missed the show or are out of the Sacto/Portland area you can still listen to it on the computer. Log on to - go to the schedule page and find my name at tuesday 11 pm. click on it and you will be able to download the show or listen to it in real time. There are a lot of Trout & Elmer songs you have probably heard, but thanks to David Hayes there is stuff you might not have. David sent me some pretty touching accoustic stuff that Jim recorded for Hal as well as a New Vulgarians cut (Rock & Ice). Thanks David! And whoever called and listened.

Posted by: Scott S at December 7, 2005 10:12 AM

I have a very heavy heart when i think about Jim giving up the good fight,He,Sewer trout and the BERT house crew were an intregal part of my adolescence. I have so many sweet and hilarious memories of crazy parties there, and of all the lovely friends who made me who I am , who have sustained me, and of those whom have sadly somehow fallen to the wayside I hadn't seen Jim in God knows how long,maybe 13+ years but he was definately never forgotten by me and I heard how he was doing from time to time through the grapevine, I had run into Hal a few years back. one of my favorite BERT House memories is being in Jim's room,dancing around to ABBA with with Hal,paula, maybe Jody,Sophie and Kenny
.Another time we were in Davis for a free show in the park(i think the adolescents played) and sewer trout played too, I think . Jim got out of the van to pee and did it on the side of a church . An old man came out and yelled at him and we hoofed it back to the van cracking up. From what I have read here, I guess Jim had a thing for peeing on buildings.
I remember seeing Jim and Hal in their styrofoam election style politician hats when the were doing the Sewer Trout for President campaign and screaming along with Paula to all of their Lyrics at Gilman, in Davis, and at the BERT house. I think I even recall them playing on the steps of the capital and wildly thrashing around on the giant state seal logo near the steps. Good times!
Jim was punk fucking rock,funny and smart. I remember Jim doing a cover of "Praise the Lord and Pass the ammunition" at one of the BERT house parties ( an old Impatient Youth song, I think) I remember drinking, no, more like pounding Schaeffers with Jim along "Drinks-to drink" made by Nick Slerb. perhaps they are together now reminiscing the old days.I hope so. Its not so much specific words that he said or actions he did that I remember, it is the overall sweet , frenetic and charismatic energy that he had and that was so damn contagious.That alone was unforgettable. I am so sad to get this news. What an unfortunate way to hear about old friends. Hal, my thoughts and sympathy are with you and your family. I was truly influenced and downright delighted by Jim.

Posted by: Sarah Bennett at December 7, 2005 11:54 AM

David Hayes emailed me that he couldnt download the radio show. The direct link to it is
Upper left corner is the download options. If you get something other than me mumbling about Jim or some Sewer Trout, then they havent archived the show yet and you will need to check back.

Posted by: Scott S at December 7, 2005 12:12 PM

I really don't know that he is gone yet...The first time I met Jim was when he lived in NW Portland and I was floored by him being such a handsome, funny, cowboy-nerd. I "semi" stalked him by bringing him bagels and pastries from a bakery I was working at...he seemed mighty appreciative. (That was the same guy on the "Thing that Ate Flloyd" album?)
I then met him again by being an EJ's regular and knowing Scotty K. (the social glue for so many of us Spokane/Cali/Tri-city/Portlanders) I became an instant fan of Elmer and was lucky enough to end their tour with them around the West Coast summer of 97(?)

I will always remember that summer as being one of my favorites on earth.

I keep thinking about his distinctive, so JIM. He was the best of both worlds: smart, funny, punk, and incredibly kind and generous. I think a lot of us knew Jimmy was a troubled person...we just didn't know how badly. Jim left a huge imprint on so many of our lives and will be missed beyond words.
"I love you more than you could ever know...:"

My heart goes to Hal, Ismini, and Tom.

Posted by: Polly at December 7, 2005 01:33 PM

I am sitting here wearing an Elmer shirt in a hotel room on the other side of the planet, having a bit of a cry. In doing so have decided it is time to stop beating myself up about this, quit wishing I had reached out, kept in better touch, Had the right thing to say, to change the outcome… These things are selfish, Jim’s life was his own. We were all just lucky to have gotten to share some of it.
Jim opened my ears to a whole lot of stuff I never heard before, changed the way I write songs, Had a way about him like no one I have ever met. He changed the way I brush my teeth “ don’t buy into this new fangled up and down fad, he once said, just keep brushing back and forth the way the good lord intended it”…
I am proud to have known him, lived with him, (well more like squatted at His and Scotty’s place.) played in a band and traveled around the country with him.
Jim,,, I miss you, Would not trade to experience of getting to be yer friend and playing in Elmer for anything, Thanks
My heart goes out to Heidi, Hal and his Folks…

Posted by: Geof at December 7, 2005 03:45 PM

The other night I got a phone call from Job, and he told me the terrible news. I was lucky enough to have shared the stage and a great friend ship with Jim. I joined Elmer when I was 19 or 20 and Jim took me under his wings, gave me a roof over my head, a pall mall filterless, and his last PBR tall boy. It didnt matter that I didnt play bass too well and didn't have any gear. He was a true friend. He was always there for me to talk to him at a young age. I marvelled at his back in the day stories. I wish I never lost contact with him over the last couple years. I wish I could have reminded him what a great person he was. I wish Hal and the rest of the MacLean family all the best at such a sad time. RIP Jimmy you taught me so much.

Posted by: Johnny Rioux at December 7, 2005 06:10 PM

Quite often I'll catch myself singing an Elmer tune out of nowhere and it will always bring a good feeling. Jim was the kindest person anyone could meet and one of the best musicians I've ever seen. Live shows blew me away everytime with all the energy and heart put into it.
Jim left alot of great music and will always be remembered by many.

Posted by: Greg Telles at December 7, 2005 11:14 PM

Well, upon Erins invitation I went down to KBOO tonight, armed only with 2 cdrs of Jims stuff, and a sixer of PBR tallpersons. She replayed Scotts KDVS tribute hour, and then we faked another hour with the gems I done brought. Our friend Jimmy, he could write some songs now, couldnt he? "She left a legacy of swelled up body parts" from the song about Betty Page, "Dont daudle, Let's Model Volcanic Terrain" from Igneous Petrological Dependency, "She's not as swell, but what the hell... GABRIELLE!" from Xena.

What's done is done. It's time we celebrate this wonderful human being. Let's laugh, cry and puke like angels... "Angel punks, and drunks, and angel puke... but heaven aint what I was told, no pearly gates, no hearts of gold. Turns out, it's alot like here... and hell is right next door."

I'm putting together a full 80 minute cdr of mostly unreleased tunes by James Werner Maclean. I dont think i'll have it properly ready by saturday, so just send me your mailing address and i'll throw one in the mail when it's done. You will, however owe me 1 Beer, on demand when you least expect it.

So let's have a celebration in the spring. Central Oregon dirt road camping. I know just the spot. We can gather and celebrate LIFE. NO FUCKING SANDALS. (I had to throw that in, consider it self projected hippy repellant, since I started typing as a hippy might) Yeah, that's it. April '06. Camping. for fun. No cats neither. Dysfunctional Family Reunion. I'm serious...

I'll leave you with "Loose Fiction" by the NEW VULGARIANS (Herschel Sausage, Cliff Hanger, Bud Wiser & Ace Bailer) circa 19 years ago:
(to the tune of "President Of The Anarchist Club)
got to tell you about this climb
hella rad man i aint lying
starts in this hellacious groove
5.13 for every move
then i reached up for a fraud
hooked my toe on a mirage
stemmed on past a slimy myth
chimneyed up a wet hypothesis
then things started getting real hard
worse than what we did on coonyard
dynoed to a sloping fib
clipped a loose embellishment
fiction climbing's not so hard
you don't need strength or dedication
don't need style or preparation
just work on your imagination
you should try it's not so bad
just lieback off that bogus sham
protect it with a fallacy
i forget - a two or three?
pendulum across to the fixed illusion
to avoid the overhanging delusion
all the climbs you'll never do
just a couple of lies will make it true
manteled that hallucination
aided past an exaggeration
on the fifteenth pitch we roped up
should have seen us we were coked up
that's what happens when these get mixed:
ego and incompetence
save your breath for reader's digest
maybe national enquirer with buy it.

Posted by: David Hayes at December 8, 2005 03:59 AM

4 in the damn morning and I made it all the way until the last line...
NOT with by it, "WILL buy it."

Posted by: David Hayes at December 8, 2005 04:05 AM

well, there's so much to say...i hadn't seen jim for years, but the memories keep on coming back. i knew him in corvallis and there are many party legends regarding jim. i'd like to believe they're all true.

i was there for the alice donut show and it's a very funny tale. after jim jumped on stage and blathered nonsense he threw the mic stand and hit the security guard with it; needless to say he was escorted outside. later in the bar, who comes in grumbling but jim. "we thought you got kicked out" we said. "i promised to be good so they let me back in" he snarled "fuckin punk is fuckin dead!" he then proceeded to take out his pocket knife and carve LUPO SUCKS on the counter. (a dig at grant's band)...on the way home, so i hear, he passed out in job's van so they let him sleep. while they were inside after-partying jim storms in slamming the door and says accusingly "i fuckin puked in your fuckin van!"

he was a classic, one of a kind. he set the standard. i'm so glad i knew him...i hope he knew how much he meant to everybody.

thanks for the music jim.

Posted by: camille at December 8, 2005 01:54 PM

It is hard to say goodbye. I simply cannot judge him for the path he chose. Even tho it has been years since we were close, I still consider him my best friend. He was funny, curious, sarcastic, genuine, random, caring, and sometimes simultaneously engaged and detached. Of course, so many cared for Jim, far more than he could have imagined.
I met Jim at band camp in seventh grade in 1976. We got into a fight over which bunk was ours, but within days we were good friends. I thought he was the most interesting person I had ever met: no TV at home, neat Greek relatives, a grandpa who spoke German around the house, and an irreverence for nearly everything. That was just the surface. As everyone has already pointed out, Jim is brilliant, funny, and good.
One day I noticed a scar on his hand, on the knuckle. He explained that a kid in elementary school had been bugging him, and in a sort of moment of random violence, he had hit the kid in the mouth. One of the kid’s front teeth came out imbedded in his knuckle. Jim could not remember what the fight was about. A couple of years later I was at a scout camp and met John from Navato. John had a crowned front tooth. When I asked, he explained when he used to live in Concord and in elementary school this kid hit him and his front tooth was imbedded in the kid’s knuckle. Small world. John could not remember why the fight occurred. Later, Jim felt it was weird this even happened.
Jim’s talents are legendary, among them at the time was the ability to fart and burp, on demand, simultaneously. Simply amazing. And when you’re 13 about the funniest thing imaginable. I think that Jim thought I was interesting because I was way into jazz, mostly because my parents completely sheltered me from rock until those adolescent days. Jim and I spent many evenings in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall at jazz shows. We would try to go backstage and meet the musicians, only to find them drinking vodka from a pitcher.
Going into Jim’s room always surprised; you never knew what you were going to hear. At that time he was a fan of early Yes, a big fan of Rush, and of the Clash. Over time punk became predominate. Monty Python was big and Jim could do a great rendition of “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK.”
In the summer of 1980 we found rock climbing which seemed to define the remainder of our high school days, and beyond. We visited many sights of alternative climbing in the Bay Area. We climbed the freeway overpasses, mainly because the cracks really hurt our fingers, and I suppose we thought that meant it was hard and worthy of effort. We often climbed a local Safeway store. One evening (ie midnight) we were climbing at Safeway and two cops came up behind. At first, they were incredulous at our explanation of what we were doing. They were sure we were either robbing or vandalizing the place. Jim showed them what we were doing and then challenged the cops to try. Of course, they couldn’t do it, and left simply asking us to climb towards the back so that passers by would not call in.
Jim got arrested for climbing the big smokestack in Concord. I had bought the hooks, but when I wanted to wait and climb it in a couple of weeks, Jim just went and did it. I was pisseed. My gear also got confiscated.
Jim and I always thought people were taking climbing too seriously. Jim made a t-shirt with an evil looking skull, surrounded by the phrase: “Climb Hard or Die.” We thought is was hilarious. Jim sold many of these shirts to climbers in Yosemite, many of whom thought it was describing their life’s philosophy. Jim also thought it was funny when so many people sent him money for a New Vulgarians tape. He wrote: “Anyway, the “Hard Music for Hard Climbers” tape is proving to be a popular item. We have over 100 order so far, and they/re still coming in! Quite amazing, I think considering what a huge joke it is.”
Randomness was an integral part of climbing. While neither of us liked hair bands, we spent an entire day climbing at Lovers Leap and singing, loudly, Ratt’s “Round and Round.” To this day and I haven’t a clue why we were doing that, but it seemed funny at the time. Jim’s individuality is what kept things fresh. We once climbed the Royal Arches in Yosemite in three hours and came down very sweaty and dirty. First, we walked through the Ahwahnee Hotel just to see what the patrons thought, and when we stepped outside to Jim’s yellow VW bug, Jim yanked out a spray paint can and started writing all sorts of stuff on his car. By the shocked looks of everyone around, especially an entire bus load of Asian tourists, they just could not understand what was happening.
That same week we were a couple of hundred feet up a route right next to the road when one of the topless tourist buses stopped directly below us, and the operator directed the tourists attentions to us. I guess the operator just did not expect that they would all be looking at Jim’s bare butt. I could see it coming from a mile.
We spent seven weeks in July/August/September in 1984 climbing in Yosemite and Tuolumne Meadows. Those were great days, arising with sun every morning and simply going climbing. We ate top ramen every meal, showered once a week, swam in lakes every day, simply sleeping under the stars – the whole trip cost less the $100. Jim and I stayed in the park for free (leave no trace = hide) all those weeks. These were great days, carefree. In the evenings we would just hang out, talk, and Jim would list all the many ways that Ronald Reagan sucked. Jim also hated the commercialism of Yosemite, hence the New Vulgarians tune “Nuke the Curry Company.” He called the valley “The Trench.”
On a trip I wasn’t on Jim and Steve Kerr got busted the first day. From Jim’s letter:
“Well, here we are in Tuolumne. Me and Steve have just been busted by Officer Friendly for “out of bounds” camping. I guess we blew it by bringing Steve’s double manteled lantern out to the spot we planned to sleep. Due to some error in judgment, we provided quite an adequate beacon for the authorities to apprehend us. We got off light, though. Office Smiley took our names and told us to be gone by morning.”
The best day of rock climbing we had didn’t even involve rock climbing. We had been at Joshua Tree for a couple of weeks and decided to take a rest day. We hiked with no real destination, but near sunset we climbed up on a nearby formation and watched the sunset. A combination of dust in the wind and pollution from LA turned the sky a hundred shades of red, pink, and orange. No picture could duplicate it and you had to be there to appreciate the silence. Ultimately the sun set, and since it was January, the temperatures plummeted. We continued to just sit until Jim started to laugh because it was so cold. We stumbled back to camp through the dark, laughing the whole way.
Jim was the best climbing partner. He always wanted to go and so did I. He had a great head for scary stuff and could always keep his cool. I know he thought I was sometimes a “pussy” but he only called that occasionally, and usually only to goad me into trying harder. Jim really found pleasure in climbing.
We often wrote. I lived in Germany for a couple of years and Jim wrote in German, and for a time took German courses at Sac state. I moved to Utah and Jim moved to Oregon. His letters were hilarious and now I’m really glad I kept them. We barely kept in touch through the years, but every time we did get together, I could tell underneath it all he was the same Jim, a good friend.
Reading through letters which included copies of lyrics Jim had written included these lines from “Hope”:
“Its my life and I’ll do what I want
Its my life and I’ll act how I want
Its my life and I’ll die how I want.”
I guess he did. I will miss him greatly.
Sorry to go on so long, but Hal asked for stories.
Hal, Ismini, and Tom, know we love you and are thinking of you.

Dave Mortensen

Posted by: Dave at December 9, 2005 11:41 AM

Jim was the calculating master of smart ass remarks and super catchy punk hits. I already missed Sewer Trout and Elmer and it dosent feel good to have to say I miss Jim. He was a funny guy. Makes me remember that if you have a lot of fun its always a good idea to give some of that fun to a friend who needs it(or at least try). Thanks for the tunes Jim. Im going to listen to some now. Jason

Posted by: Jason Paulucci at December 10, 2005 10:37 AM

I can't decide whether my favorite Jim MacLean moment was Elmer playing at the Woodsman Tavern in the tiny little logging town of Philomath, OR, Elmer at the Corvallis Armory with him playing on top of the old hearse that they used to carry equipment around in, or the time he very nearly jumped headfirst out of the second story window in Tripp's room at the Blood House and someone with really amazing hand/eye coordination for that point in the night caught his ankle to keep him inside... we closed the window and asked him to please not do it again! (That really impressed me b/c I've done a lot of window jumping but never built up the nerve to do a second story window!!)
RIP, Jim- you were an impressive geologist, but you were also a very well loved musician!! ELMER ROCKS!! I'm going home to drink a PBR.

Posted by: Dug Ahter at December 10, 2005 02:23 PM

i met jim while i was working in a coffee shop in corvallis where the punks hung out. (the geologists ended up there too because we were close to their department on campus.) elmer was one of the bands that got me into punk rock, until then i had terrible taste in music and didn't know a thing about partying. that didn't seem to matter to jim, i always felt welcome wherever he was playing. once i booked elmer to play a frisbee party (i made the frisbee players pay them really well. later jim told me they used the money for recording. i'm glad i did that. ) the frisbee players were ignoring the band until they drove an old volvo into the building and proceeded to play from the top of the car. jim really knew how to have fun and he knew how to treat people. i lost another friend awhile ago, and somebody said something about how you can tell the quality of a person's life by the response of those they leave behind. it seems like that fits jim, it's obvious that he was cherished by his family and friends. we will all be the poorer for his loss, but i'm so thankful that i go to know him while he was here.

Posted by: alex at December 11, 2005 11:41 AM

I met Jim about 19 or 20 years ago when I was hanging out with Hal. I always felt like such an ignorant dork around him cuz he was so intellectually knowledgeable about so many things. One of the early days in the Bert House when we were drinking a lot of beer, (ok, one of the many days), he turns to me and says "You don't think I like you, do you?" So either I am transparent or he is psychic. Probably both. But, YAY! He said he did like me. One time when Hal and I got into a fight and I cried, Jim said to Hal: What did you DO to her!!!! Like it was his fault. How kind of him toward me. I sure respect him and look up to him! He always did and said and lived the things he thought were important. A really great guy.

Posted by: Annemarie at December 16, 2005 01:29 PM

I only just heard about this. So terrible. I didn't know Jim at all but memories of seeing Sewer Trout doing 'Back in Black' with Paula singing are burned into my brain. That was high school. We were too young for the bert house then..we were in awe of those creative drunk crazy people.
Seems like after hearing this some part of my vision of Sac has died. Very very sad. Rest In Peace.

Posted by: Joe Colley at December 21, 2005 08:55 AM

I just updated my myspace site with 4 other downloadable unreleased tunes, "Vested Interests," "Hope," "Xena" & "Rockabilly Redneck Guy." I am still working on the cdr of unreleased stuff, and it will be ready sometime in January, as I want to do a proper 80's handwritten late night kinkos booklet. It is free for the asking... -David.

Posted by: David Hayes at December 21, 2005 11:52 PM

Thank you David Hayes for the cd's and dvd's...Scott, Shirley, and all of my cousin generous and kind friends who hosted us at the Portland memorial.

Posted by: Amber at December 22, 2005 03:44 PM

Jim was a rare one. Being the social person that I am I've gotten to know many people in my life and Jim is among the most admired. I 1st met Jim when he moved to Corvallis when he was around 28/29 and I was 16/17. I instantly liked Jim. Despite my impressionable, hyper-active nature and him being the opposite we became fast friends. I loved his quick,dry sense of humor. The beauty of Jim was his consideration. A lot of the smart, funny people I've known tend to be egocentric but Jim's cracks were rarely at the expense of someone else (within hearing range). He had me near puking from laughter on many occasions with his observations. It didn't matter to Jim what anyone else thought of someone if you were his friend he'd defend you to the death.He wasn't afraid to call an asshole an asshole mind you but you had to be 98% pure son of bitch for him to say so. He didn't seem to be affected by all the stupid personal drama that ran rampent in the "scene" and you could always count on Jim to be Jim.I remember some stupid incident had me really down in the dumps one time and Jim sensed how bummed I was over it so he showed up at my work one day as I was getting off with a long-stem rose and took me to dinner in attempts to cheer me up. How many people have we known like that in our lives? Jim was also a great listener he would give you his undivided attention and I knew I could talk to him about anything without him being judgmental or critical and could count on him spinning some fuuny light on most situations. I left for Austin when I was 20 and stayed in touch with Jim reguraly for the next couple of years. Once while back visiting the folks I took a trip up to Portland to visit Jim after he'd moved up there and we had quite a night on the town. We started at one of his favorite bars and ended up at some techno dance club doing a pathetic attempt of dancing somewhere between breakdancing and Pee Wees biker bartop tequilla shuffle. At some point Jim had dissapeared and when I finally found him he was cornered at the bar inbetween some middleaged swinging looking couple looking very uncomforatble. When I pulled him away he explained "I think those people wanted to have sex with me". I spent the night back on the floor at his studio apt and he went to breakfast the next day. I didn't see Jim again for a couple of years until Elmer came through Austin on tour. They were amazing and everyone I had dragged along to see them left die-hard Elmer fans.I ran into him a couple years later when my band at the time was on tour in SF. We had played the night before and still had 2 more shows in town. We had spent the day sight seeing around town when we came to the house we were staying at and low and behold who was hanging out in the living room was Jim and Hal. Awesome, unexpected reunion that was. The last time I saw Jim was 2 years ago at his place in Sac. I stopped by on the way back from LA and stayed the night and woke up on my 29th birthday. While having coffee someone knocked on the door and asked who was driving my truck because they had just backed into it,,Happy Birthday man. Jim said something to the effect of "29,it's all down hill from here Derek" in his matter of fact, palm-down manner.I spoke with Jim during the summer and despite just losing his dog he was the funny Jim I always knew and will always remember. This is hitting me really hard and can only imagine the loss his family is expierencing. My heart goes out to Hal and his folks. I love you Jim. I'll miss you dearly.

Posted by: Derek at December 29, 2005 10:04 PM

In an art class in high school (class of 90 bro) a pal of mine made a t-shirt screen for me of the yin & yang trouts. I still wear the shirt. When I wear it I feel like I’m in a secret club.

Posted by: paul at December 30, 2005 05:35 PM

I didn't know Jim very well. Keith, Hal and I went to Pine Hollow and CV together. I remember meeting Jim in Chris Fuller's backyard around the time of Concord Live Aid II in July of '87. I was immediately struck by his kinetic bass lines and caustic but funny lyrics. That and he was a dead ringer for Buddy Holly. I still have my Sewer Trout records and even a cassette tape that has the Trout on one side and New Vulgarians on the other. The songs are the same and the lyrics are different. F***ing brilliant!

Posted by: Jim Diaz at January 5, 2006 04:41 PM

My heart goes out to all Jim's family and close friends... This is very sad.
Peace be with you all.


Posted by: Joey Schaaf at January 10, 2006 06:38 AM

Hi, I'm going to have to close this for comments because the spammers are hitting it pretty hard. If anyone else would like to comment, please email it to me and I'll put it up.



Posted by: Dave Smith at January 21, 2006 03:27 PM

Hi All, today would be Jimmy's birthday — his 42nd, I believe. Please have a moment and toast him — where ever you are all tonight.


Posted by: Cuzzin Amber at January 26, 2006 06:07 PM

I just got the news about Jim and am stunned.

Jim was one of the best students I ever had and certainly the best
field mapper to work with me. He was hugely creative in his thinking
and wrote a fantastic master's thesis. Someday I'll publish it, with
him as author... how tragic that he can't.

He called last Fall for a letter of recommendation. He sounded wound
very tight. I should have kidnapped him and taken him into the desert
to think some new thoughts. He was a great desert rat. He once wrote
a funny ballad to an igneous petrologist. He and Martin Streck and
Jenda Johnson and I were working out in eastern Oregon at the same
time and it was as creative and fun a bunch of people as you can
hope to work.

I often wondered where Jim might be and what he was up to. Ah Jim,
you son of a bitch,. I'll never know that mysterious something that
made you say that if I knew, I wouldn't like you... I sure as hell
don't like this. You should have tried me, chickenheart.

Condolences to you and all of Jim's buddies. In the end we all walk

I would be grateful if you could give me contact info for his parents.


Posted by: Anita Grunder at April 26, 2006 12:10 AM