Sunday, November 12, 2006

A death goes unnoticed

I've always prided myself in finding new, under-reported and often, obscure material, via the web, but before that, it came from scouring the underground press, free papers and other cultural detritus.

Of late, my time has been much tighter than it has been in some months, so having the luxury and even allowing myself some extra time to dig deeper has been lacking. Today, despite spending several hours getting done some essential work for a new RiverVision release that is slated for the spring, I had some time to peruse other small press operations, such as Akashic Books, a unique literary arts organization in Berkeley, California, Small Press Distribution, among others and finally to the site.

It was there that I encountered the following item that's been virtually buried, receiving little or no national dispersion from a media that seems to fixate on the trivial, mundane, or the painfully obvious.

Malachi Ritscher R.I.P.
by anne elizabeth moore 11/09/2006 in obituaries

On Friday morning, Nov. 3rd, During rush hour in Chicago, local activist and sound engineer Malachi Ritscher doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire, by the millennium flame near the Ohio St. exit off the Kennedy expressway. He set up a sign that read: "thou shalt not kill" and also set up a video camera on a tripod and recorded the whole thing. (The videotape is with the police).

Longtime supporter and participant of the Chicago experimental music scene for many years, Malachi Ritscher was behind many live recordings for musicians in town and throughout the world. He kept up his page, a useful and comprehensive list of creative music events in Chicago. Perhaps more importantly, Malachi was an activist and vocal protester of political and social ills that stem from, but are not limited to, the Bush administration.

Readers were directed to several other links pertaining to Ritscher's music, politics and life, including this one, which takes readers to the site of the alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader, which has a brief article, followed by a number of comments from people who knew Ritscher and were touched in some way by his life.

Lending credit, where credit is due, Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Richard Roeper, had a pertinent piece about suicide, mentioning Ritscher's final act, which included the following:

"It makes no sense to pretend suicide is a rare and scandalous thing. The sad truth is that every 18 minutes in this country, somebody makes the unfathomable (to the rest of us) decision to leave this life forever. "

Here is Ritscher's self-penned obituary.

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