Spokane’s Gypsy Curse

I was telling friends yesterday about the small but intensely concentrated pockets of creativity that exist in Spokane, the city where I grew up, and I found it hard to describe the kind of unselfconscious weirdness that you find in Spokane. There are just some very unusual people there, that’s all.

A recent Onion Radio News item reminded me of one of them – Jimmy Marks, a used car dealer, colorful character, gypsy leader, and civil rights advocate who died just last year

Marks put a gypsy curse on the city of Spokane after his home was searched by Spokane police (about whom the less said the better) in 1986 – a search that was conducted without a warrant and included family members not suspected of any crime. They found more than a million dollars on the premises. Marks sued for unlawful search and seizure, and the city settled out of court. Marks put a curse on the city in retaliation, and frequently visited city council meetings to remind them that the curse was still in effect.

When asked if he would ever remove the curse, Marks claimed to be planning a ceremony for the purpose, which he described as “a double chicken ceremony – one extra crispy and one regular”.

At the funeral of his father, gypsy leader Grover Marks, in 1997, Jimmy Marks halted the funeral procession in front of city hall, opened the door of the hearse, and invited his father’s ghost to haunt the building for all eternity.

According to the Spokesman-Review, at Jimmy Marks’ own funeral in June of last year:

City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin … said she wanted to apologize for events that happened two decades ago.

“The apology is accepted,” said Michael “Duke” Marks, of Wichita, Kan., who less than an hour earlier had delivered Jimmy’s eulogy at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church. “The curse, I think, is off Spokane. We appreciated everything that has been done, all of the cards and sympathy.”

But after family members scrambled back into their waiting vehicles and the hearse and the limo drove down Spokane Falls Boulevard en route to the cemetery, another relative rolled down a window of a black Mercedes and issued a warning:

“Beware, City Hall.”

It’s easy to imagine that Spokane is a cursed city. The economy has been depressed for years, the city government has been plagued by infighting and scandal, the inhabitants have a fearful, haunted quality. But it seems like Spokane was always like that.

Images from the Spokesman-Review.


~ by lolarusa on July 23, 2008.

12 Responses to “Spokane’s Gypsy Curse”

  1. Spokane is indeed a strange town whose inhabitants, as you so very well put it, “have a fearful, haunted quality”. I am a native Spokanite, though I have come and gone many times over 51 years. It is sad to say but my primary goal in life is to leave again.

    Thank you for using a link to my blog, Spokane Police Abuses, in your post above on Jimmy Marks. Another interesting blog on what is happening here is that of the Center for Justice. Take care.

  2. The real Spokane Curse is that no matter how many times you leave, you always wind up back here. lol


  4. I would find it to be a great honor to meet a few of the Gypsies of Spokane. I’ve lived here in Spokane off and on since I was 18, and I’ll be 28 this month.

  5. Spokane is awesome. I can name a hundred worse cities. Seems like someone has aand small view of the world

  6. there are indeed many, many worse cities. I hope I haven’t given any impression that I feel otherwise.

  7. You couldn’t pay me to move back to that disgusting shithole.

  8. I was able to meet and socialize with the younger generation of this family 10+ years ago. Nice, interesting people. We would see them here and there in town. As far as Spokane goes, I think its been cursed with walking, real life Zombies (Meth Heads) gang members that claim seniority for their made up, hard luck, life on the lame streets of Spokane, and really lame night life and culture variety. I believe that the only influence on fashion is what they find on cable t.v. shows. Glad to be outta there!!!!!!

  9. The weirdness of Spokane is most beautifully described in the foreword of Son by Jack Olsen, about the South Hill Rapist.

  10. Hi Cory, Sorry for deleting your comment, but your language was too strong for this blog. I try to keep it pretty gentle on here. Please feel free to repost in a less incendiary tone.

  11. My daughter Morgan is the niece of Jimmy Marks. Jimmy’s brother John Marks of Toronto is Morgan’s Father. The more research I do I am actually wondering if Grover is Morgan’s Uncle My daughter Morgan just wants to know her blood and she wants to know where her brother Coco is

  12. The only curse I see is Spokane Drivers. They are the worse drivers I have ever seen. I doubt this curse will ever be lifted because that is just the way Spokane Drivers roll. lol

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