(flyer art by Malachi Ritscher, taken from Savage Sound.com)

Though I’ve already noted elsewhere the recent suicide by self-immolation of Chicago free jazz archivist / musician Malachi Ritscher (properly covered by the Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak), James Cardis calls our attention to a memorial gathering for Ritscher, planned for tomorrow evening.

Ever the sentimentalist, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper describes Ritscher’s protest thusly,

If he thought setting himself on fire and ending his life in Chicago would change anyone’s mind about the war in Iraq, his last gesture on this planet was his saddest and his most futile.

I’ll not argue that Ritscher’s desperate act was that of a deeply troubled person. But while I think his life was entirely too high a price to pay, there’s nothing futile in his reminding other taxpayers they’ve got blood on their hands. I’d like to think that task could’ve been accomplished without his death, but as extreme, dramatic statements go, it was certainly more provocative than anything I’ve read in the Sun-Times.

Ritscher (whom I did not have the pleasure of knowing) was by some accounts, a troubled individual. But if you’re not troubled by what this country is doing in Iraq, I humbly suggest that you’ve got a problem, too.