On the Day After Victory, More Depressing Obituaries

Neither of these are breaking news, but that’s not what matters anyway. I thought I’d write a post to acknowledge two terrible, self-inflicted deaths by two interesting artists – both of which, while gigantic bummers, may be somehow something to learn from.

Jason DiEmilio of the Azusa Plane recently took his life, apparently spurred by recent health problems. Though I wasn’t really familiar with the Azusa Plane while Jason was more active, they were definitely a name both easily recognizable and widely respected. It really sucks that his death is spurring me to finally stop being lazy and check out his music, and I certainly mean no disrespect in that sense. I wish I could’ve gotten it together sooner, but more importantly I wish that Jason — who I think I met once, not really sure — had been able to live free of pain.

A different sort of pain, but nonetheless a very, very real pain, caused Malachi Ritscher to take his own life in Chicago this past weekend. I can’t say I knew Malachi, really, but I used to see him at pretty much every good show I went to in Chicago from 1998 to 2002, and while I was puzzled at first by “that guy with the DAT machine and the mics,” his presence came to be one I enjoyed, and I admired him from a distance. I also admired a number of his recordings from those shows. Reading his self-penned obituary (linked above), it’s clear that he was a brilliant person, and I’m not sure — though I respect his choice — that the world is a better place without him. In fact, I think — despite the Democrats’ win yesterday and today’s resignation of Donald Rumsfeld — that we are definitely worse off without him.

One of the musicians he recorded, Dave Rempis of the Vandermark Five, posted information about a memorial gathering this weekend in Chicago on the chi-improv mailing list:

Elastic will be hosting a memorial gathering for Malachi Ritscher this
Sunday, November 12th, from 5-8 pm. For those of you knew Malachi, and
perhaps those of you who didn’t, please feel free to come and share some
memories, and trade some thoughts on his life and death.

Elastic is at:

2830 N. Milwaukee Ave.
2nd floor

If you have anything that you’d like to bring (photos, etc.) that has some
relevance to Malachi’s life, please do. We’d like to display some of these
items for everyone to share in.

I do hope that Jason and Malachi are at peace, wherever they may be now. Or even if they’re nowhere, that’s fine too. Their final actions in no way obscure what they gave us while they were alive.

Malachi Ritscher

UPDATE: Some really good follow-up pieces on Malachi Ritscher have run in the Milwaukee Sentinal-Journal and in Pitchfork.

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