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About That Suicide (&c.)...


Heard from a friend on the other side of the globe about the musician in Bend, Oregon, who committed suicide at an open mike; reportedly, the guy introduced a song entitled “Sorry for the Mess,” and at the end, stabbed himself to death. He was 19… I was asked whether one should say anything. I’m not sure one can. Without knowing more—specifically, why it happened—any comment I could offer would be pure speculation. I think I’d like to hear the song. It might offer some clues. I am perennially curious what makes people tick (or in this case, stop ticking).

Thought about it myself? Hey, I even wrote about it—“Angel in Chains,” the country death metal anthem, is about a suicide. And because I wrote about it, I don’t have to do it. Music for me has always been an outlet: if as a consequence I am a quieter, less assuming person, I am also a less bloody one.

My “Irish period” is not over yet, I guess. The Irish songs I’ve been exposed to, whether they be jigs, reels or hornpipes, all seem to have ridiculous titles, like “Dance of the Honeybee” and “The Dusty Windowsill”—prompting the idea of writing an Irish-style instrumental with a thoroughly outrageous title. “What Seamus McMenamin Did to the Sheep the Night He Died,” say. And en route home from playing music at the Rainbow Lotus, a “sheepish” melody did occur to me—compelling enough so I will have to do something about it to get it out of my head. Unfortunately, it’s also growing words…

It will still be performable in public, because I will deliberately avoid saying what it was Seamus actually did to the sheep; instead, as it’s turning out, the song describes the revenge the other barnyard animals wreak upon Seamus. So yes, it could even be a kid’s song. With a moral, of course.

Deathgrass is in for the Rocktoberfest (like last year, it’ll be in mid-September, when the weather’s presumably better); first commitment of Concert Season—and it’s a paying one (though it doesn’t pay much). I was asked to be on the committee reviewing the bands this year; they currently have seven bands booked, and want 12. They want to keep it local to the extent possible (one band from Portland has already asked to be in)—there’s plenty of talent in this area that’s just being ignored. Deathgrass isn’t rock ‘n’ roll exactly—I’m not sure what we are, really—but we will deliberately be doing our “rockier” numbers for this concert.

And exciting news: “Rock Candy,” the all-girl rock band in Cincinnati Polly Hager sings (and plays bass) with, is interested in performing a couple of my songs—“Pole Dancing with Jesus” and “I Want a Man for Christmas.” I’d love to hear that recorded, if they ever have the chance. Performance, of course, is the key to exposure, not recording, but I’m unlikely to make it back to Cincinnati to hear them play any time soon. There is just not the money.

The play’s over now, and now I can start making up all the stuff I haven’t done while I was being the local equivalent of a Broadway star. I think I get to play music four times this coming week—Thursday with The Impromptus, Friday in Garibaldi, Saturday at the library, and Sunday at the Rainbow Lotus. Stuff to record, stuff to film, stuff to write for the paper, and jobs to apply for—and I want to hear Noam Chomsky speak in Portland Wednesday (and pick up Alice’s computer part while I’m in the Big City). There is also sunshine predicted, and I have a bunch of things to do outside—humming the “Seamus” tune the while, I expect.


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Sounds like a fabulous story, Joe.

Can you help me track its source?

Quick Googlage revealed reports by your good self and nothing else.

Please don't let this be labelled urban myth.

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Oh my goodness gracious.

Seems like the victim/perpetrator was one Kipp Rusty Walker, and the incident took place at the Strictly Organic Coffee Company before an audience of 15 people.

There is either more or less to this than meets the eye.

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And sadly all, I found, quite factual.

Coverage on-line at the Oregonian allows 'comments' to be made.

These are Greek chorus to the tragedy.

Poignant and utterly pointless.

Signs from alien life-forms.

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