September 13, 2013 in Features

An Isamu Jordan retrospective

Spokesman-Review colleagues, past and present, remember their favorites of Jordan’s work
Compiled by Alison Boggs
 
FILE/The Spokesman-Review photo

Isamu Jordan
(Full-size photo)

In the wake of the death of our friend and colleague, Isamu “Som” Jordan, Spokesman-Review staffers, past and present, spent time remembering their favorites among Jordan’s long list of stories, columns and videos.

They included works both personal and professional, ranging from memories of trips to Larry’s Barbershop to videos of the local music scene to Jordan’s excitement at interviewing hip-hop star Rakim.

Many of the memories were personal, so we included some thoughts from those colleagues and what they most appreciated about Jordan’s approach to his work and the impact he had on the community.

In tribute and remembrance, we offer that collection here:

Aug. 16, 1996: “A Cut Above: As A Hub For Spokane’s Black Community, Larry’s Barber Shop Goes Far Beyond Haircuts”

Sept. 14, 1999: “Food for thought: Feeding live critters to other live critters can be an unsettling experience” (With this remembrance from staff writer Jim Camden: “The column … is one that I think shows off the young, college student Som’s writing skills. He writes about house sitting in a large house (mine), and it includes his dilemma about feeding live critters to other live critters.”)

July 1, 2005: “Singing national anthem at area bars triggers more than political discussion”

Former 7 Editor Nancy Malone selected columns that showed Jordan’s personal side but also those that showed the impact he had in shaping the community through the Sommy Awards, Acoustic Explosion, Lights Out or the P.A. System podcasts.

“He was incredibly prolific,” Malone said. “Each 7 issue, he’d turn in close to a half-dozen stories or other elements and before the issue was edited, he’d be writing the next story. He poured every hour into the arts community and into us. His creative juices certainly led our dynamic out-of-office brainstorming sessions.”

June 4, 2004 “Yo! Get some crunk lingo if you want your props”

May 20, 2005 “Readers offer tips to help potty anxiety”

June 24, 2005 “Mix Tape Society lets music geeks unite”

Sept. 15, 2005 “Turning on the night life: Bands, businesses, individuals form Lights Out Coalition to turn up area’s vibrance”

Feb. 16, 2007: “Second-born’s first clip hardly a hair-raising experience”

March 16, 2007 “Players make P.A. System happen”

June 29, 2007: “Transformers can’t pull guns on Team Jordan”

Oct. 27, 2006: “Pet psychic confirms family kitties’ attitudes” (A favorite of staff writer Lisa Leinberger, a cat-lover, with this comment: “Som was once trying to figure out why his cat Ozzie was a jerk.”)

Jan 31, 2008: Video rounding up the 2008 Sommy winners

Nov. 21, 2008: His finale for the original 7 entertainment section.

Former Features Editor Ken Paulman noted two videos among his favorites — on The Tambourine Man and the Juggalos — and said “Som was not only a vigorous booster of Spokane’s music scene, he democratized it, these pieces in particular show the care, respect and attention he paid to subjects who might otherwise be … marginalized by lesser reporters. I still share these frequently with other journalists as examples of effective uses of video as a medium.”

June 26, 2009 Video on the Tambourine Man

March 27, 2008 Video on the Juggalos

Oct. 31, 2008: “Changing times close unfinished chapter” (Final Soundwave column)

Current Features Editor Carolyn Lamberson noted the column and Q&A Jordan did with hip-hop star Rakim (Feb. 22, 2013 “Follow the Leader: Rakim laid lyrical groundwork for today’s rappers”) with this remembrance: “I remember how excited he was to not only interview one of his idols, but because the (Flying) Spiders’ (Jordan’s band) got to open, he actually got to perform on the same stage.”

On Facebook before and after his interview with Rakim, Jordan posted:

February 19 near Spokane: Am I really about to say this?: I just got off the phone with Rakim.

And after the show:

February 28 near Spokane: Still reeling from the surreal experience of opening the Rakim show. Flying Spiders maxed out with 15 different artists on stage for a nonstop two hour set to a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at the Red Room. Epic shout out to Poncho Paul Flores for sitting in on sax and keys. We had a surprise appearance by Colorado percussionist Tony Saccomanno, an ultra-rare and raw appearance by Jaeda Glasgow, the ever-ready Jason Corcoran, mic master C-Flow courtesy of Aimee Jones, Andrew Walters’ mustache, and a room full of sexy intelligence. So much Spokane love. Saw so many old-school friends I hadn’t seen in a minute. Then I got to watch Rakim rip the mic to smithereens, standing on the same stage I just stepped off… And for once in a very long time I wasn’t the oldest emcee in the house,” Jordan wrote, ending with:

“What an honor and privilege to be a part of such magic.”

Som, it was an honor and a privilege to be part of your magic for the past 20 years. We’ll miss you.

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