For those of you who could not be at the event, here are the text versions of the speeches by Scott Schumacher and Jim Lippucci:
By Jim Lippucci:
I first encountered the juggernaut known as Jim Konya a little over 30 years ago
in the hallowed halls of Normandy High School. I remember being somewhat
amused by his then awkward, gangly build, his oversized glasses, loping stride
and burgeoning mullet. Who was this loudmouth freshman in a Krokus tee
cracking wise and doing his best to vex the powers that be? With a wit beyond
his years and a burning passion for music, it didn’t take long for Jim to ingratiate
himself with our elite core of metal upperclassmen, and he was welcomed into
our metal coven. Always ready with a wisecrack or a prank, he was effective, but
never cruel or malicious. Even back then he knew how to push people’s buttons,
often coming close to thrusting you over the edge and then drawing you back
with his larger than life Cheshire cat grin. As time went on, making and listening
to music became our horde’s greatest commonality as we ran amok in Parma,
from Doc’s Shake Shoppe to Parmatown mall, Santino’s to Angie’s to the cold
bleakness of Center Park woods.
Jim’s talent, determination and creativity would take him far, as he began
traveling the globe, making music and carrying the torch for Northeast Ohio Metal
and Punk. It seems we were there with him, since Jim was prone to regale new
friends with exuberant tales from his home, stories about the bands he loved, the
colorful characters he knew, the woods and delicious pizza. The full extent of his
influence became evident to me in 2006. My band had traveled to Springfield, VA
to play a support spot on a bill with a couple of much bigger, better known bands.
It was an amazing night, everything went smoothly and we played well… I
imagine. After finishing their set, the guys from VA came over to us and
introduced themselves and we began to chit chat over some beers. Suddenly,
one of them looked at me accusingly and said “On stage you told the crowd you
were from Cleveland. Why did you lie?”
I gave him a puzzled look and said “What are you talking about?” He answered:
“We know Jim Konya. You have the same accent. You guys are from Parma.”
I really couldn’t believe it and wonder to this day if they knew who we were and
was just pulling my leg.
For Jim, tours were almost as much about spreading the word of our local music
scene as they were about promoting the band he was with. As a trip would
approach he would eagerly gather up anything he could get his hands on: CD’s
stickers, records, patches, fliers, whatever… then carefully plot out who got what
and why they deserved it with tactical precision. Jim was the consummate giver.
Be it a ride to a person in need, a record, a Tee shirt, or a hard time. This spirit
would extend even further as he would use his money, experience, and
connections to help the bands he loved make things like fliers, merchandise,
records…to book shows and record music that otherwise would never happen.
For Jim, the idea of taking a concept from a thought to the tangible was the
greatest, noblest thing a person could do, especially if it was metal or there were
antlers involved. He was able to recognize talent, even in those that often didn’t
necessarily see it in themselves and was always quick with encouragement,
when warranted. He was an anachronism who really didn’t dig technology, social
media, etc. yet managed to touch more lives than the most connected people. He
was big – larger than life, boisterous and bombastic; on the verge of intimidating,
yet ultimately was a peace maker, the first one to diffuse a fight or pacify a
belligerent drunk. He called himself “Sadist” but passing dogs were “Mr.
Huxtable” and kitty cats were called Pooh Pooh.
It’s no wonder we miss him so much and are so angry, sad and confused. It
seems reckless the way the Fates choose to trim the threads of our existence. All
we can really do is carry on and hope to keep a bit of that fire within us, to share
it and maybe learn to see it in others. I’m grateful and honored that Mayor
Degeeter was so open and willing to honor our friend, for seeing and
appreciating this man who took our town around the world with him and was, at
home, a model denizen, beloved neighbor and ultimately, eternal icon.
By Scott Schumacher:
From the first time i met Jim, back in 1991, right outside Roy Rogers restaurant
at Parmatown mall, i knew he was a different kind of human. His hair flowing, his
half faded sunglasses on, wearing brown corduroys, red Converse shoes and a
Danzig t-shirt. He was bigger than life, and had such an intensity, purpose and
presence that totally blew me away then, and still does today.. He shook my
hand, said my full name, and asked me, IN GERMAN, if I spoke german, which i
thought was really cool.. I knew right away that this guy would be a constant in
my life, and he was.. Every show i went to he was there, always positive and like
he did with many of you, he was always handing me cd’s records, shirts and
expanding my musical knowledge, always talking about jamming and wanting to
know how I was doing.
Jim was not only a motivating and innovative leader, but one of the most
creative, inspiring and caring people i have ever had the chance to meet and
know for so long.. Jim was a true friend and meant so much to MANY MANY
people and I feel very fortunate to be one of those friends.
For the past 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure of being Jim Konyas friend. And for
the last 10+ years I have had the pleasure and occasional displeasure of being in
a band with him.. When i first joined Schnauzer, i really didn’t have a grasp on
the musicianship, professionalism, creativity and intensity Jim brought not only to
his music but to every aspect of his life, and i soon found out just how passionate
he was about writing and recording.. During practice, we would have
disagreements about riffs and song ideas, or how i interpreted his ideas – – “no
no no, its not dun dun dun DUN, dah dah dah DUN.. its DUN dun dun dun dun,
DUN dun dun dun dun..” then once it was a complete song, we would record it,
and listen to it on his boom box and i would laugh as he would “act” the song
out, screaming crazy lyrics he made up. He was truly a passionate artist and
Jim would often come over and “art direct” me when we would design items
for his many bands. Flyers, posters, album art, t-shirts, stickers, you name it.
Flyers never had enough demons or skulls or spider webs, and fonts had to be
easy to read, and you had to use the bands LOGO not just the name of the band
typed out in a crappy font! And the one time I suggested we make a sticker that
said SCHNAUZER “CLEVELAND”, and he told me there was no way that would
make sense, since the band is from Parma.
And that is what we are celebrating tonight, Jim’s love for the City of PARMA.
Jim was truly proud of the city of Parma, and he let everyone know it. He loved
this city and made it known to everyone around the world during his many
musical journeys. In fact, the few times I traveled with him, he would introduce
himself as “Jim Konya, Parma Ohio”.. no mention of Cleveland…
His Parma pride even made it in to several songs. – including a song called
“Southside Story”, a song that detailed the lives of the members in the band, who
all lived in Parma at the time. Steve Sandley, Tony Daprano, Ron Merk,
and Jim …. and at the end of the song the final lyric is spelling out the word,
P – A – R – M – A!
Jim, you’ve given so much to so many people, and have made so many lives
better because of your short time on this earth.. You will continue to inspire us,
and live on in all of our hearts and minds. You left one huge hole in our lives and
one huge legacy for us to hold on to.
We love you Jim, Rest in power and peace.