My friend Isamu “Som” Jordan was a gifted writer and musician; a tireless promoter of Spokane and its artists; a generous, loyal friend; a sweet, sensitive soul; a joyful father.
Som grew up in southeast Spokane with his grandmother Carrie Jordan and graduated from Lewis and Clark in 1993 before going to Washington State University. He began working for the Spokesman-Review, on the Our Generation page, as a teenager. As Som wrote in one of my favorite of his early stories, “I was born in Spokane but raised in Larry’s Barber Shop in the East Central neighborhood.”
Som was Spokane to his core and many of his raps and poems were about the city. He wrote searing social commentary and sweet nostalgia served up with equal parts love and rhyme. He was crazy for his band Flying Spiders and he loved their fans, peppering them with the refrain “sexy, intelligent people.” Som showed that, as an artist, you could burst with pride over being from Spokane and still push it to be better. He had an infectious smile and a profound sense of play and wonder. If you met Som (probably in his Flash sweatshirt, maybe buying comic books, or speaking at some community event) you never forgot him.
I know I never will.
Som, his wife Rachel, and his sons Caleb and Osiah are like family to my wife Anne and me, and to our three kids. We miss him dearly. But we take real inspiration from the way he lived, from his art and from his energy, and that’s what I hope his friends and fans and bandmates and all of us will do now. Take care of one another. Don’t let anyone think they’re alone. Be proud to be from here. And keep singing and writing and painting and playing and making a great place better.
A public service and celebration of Som’s life will be held Sunday, Sept. 15, at 1 pm at the Bing Crosby Theater. In lieu of flowers, an education fund for Rachel and Som’s sons has been established at Washington Trust Bank, accessed through fundrazr.com.