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Malachi Ritscher
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    (January 13, 1954-November 3, 2006)
    Born in Dickinson, North Dakota
    Birth name was Mark David Ritscher
    Musician and recording engineer for the Chicago avant garde music scene
    Died at age 52 on an expressway off-ramp in an act of self-immolation to protest the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq
    He dropped out of high school age 17, married and had a child.
    He was estranged from his family, including his son and grandkids.
    He was a recovering alcoholic who suffered from bouts of depression.
    He had many acquaintances in the music business, but few really knew him personally.
    He paid $25 to become an ordained minister with the Missionaries of the New Truth.
    He wrote that in 2002 he had the chance to slit the throat of Donald Rumsfeld, but chickened out.
    He wrote his own obituary and videotaped his death.
    It took medical examiners five days to identify his charred-beyond-recognition remains.
    His act of protesting the war in Iraq went virtually unnoticed by the media.
    Chicago newspaper columnist Richard Roeper wrote, 'With all great respect, 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.'
    Upon learning of his death, his son said, 'He was different people at different instances and so, so erratic. I loved him no doubt, but he was a very lonely and tragic man. The idea of being a martyr I’m sure was attractive. He could literally go out in a blaze of glory.'
    He was a popular free spirit in Chicago's experimental music community.
    He would often record musician's gigs at local venues, then offer the high end recordings to the artists at little or no cost.
    Though estranged, he changed his name to that of his son to honor him.
    He was a Mensa member who could recite Pi to more than 1,000 decimal places.
    He collected snare drums, fossils, light bulbs and glass eyes.
    He died for something he felt strongly about, much the same way as Thich Quang Duc.
    His younger brother wrote, 'He believed in his actions, however extreme they were. He believed they could help to open eyes, ears and hearts and to show everyone that a single man’s actions, by taking such extreme personal responsibility, can perhaps affect change in the world.'
    'Malachi Richter's Liquor's Quicker' (last name spelled incorrectly purposely) was a song released by ska-punk band Less Than Jake as a tribute to him, his cause and his death.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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