// Malachi Ritscher //

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“Malachi” poster by David Lester from the Inspired Agitators poster series

FREE poster

Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an anti-war activist who made high quality recordings of musicians – often free jazz and experimental – performing live in Chicago. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest was self-immolation.

It was Malachi’s intention for the video he made of his protest, his death, to reach people through mainstream media, to jar them from complacency, to have them raise their voices to end the war. But that wasn’t what happened. The video was not released in that way. When we added our song – and the poster – to our performances and classroom events, we regarded them as extensions of Malachi’s intention. We had created documents about the documentarian whose final statement on war was not heard. We created art and music because Malachi’s voice was not heard.

“Malachi”  7″ on K Records, 2011. Jean Smith lyrics and vocals, David Lester on guitar. Video by Jean Smith.

“Malachi” (acoustic), released on November 3, 2013, the seventh anniversary of Malachi Ritscher’s war protestation in Chicago. Produced and mixed by KRAMER. Jean Smith vocals, David Lester acoustic guitar, KRAMER on bass and keys. Video by Jean Smith.

“Malachi” (acoustic) is a stand-alone track from the “Empathy for the Evil” sessions produced and mixed by KRAMER, November, 2012 in Miami Beach with Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room.

The album “Empathy for the Evil” will be released on M’lady’s Records in April, 2014. KRAMER plays bass on all songs with keys and organ throughout.

Malachi by Jean Smith

And camera goes click and you press record
and you hand the document to the jazz musician
after they perform

And you talk and you listen
and you protest this war

And there is pain and it instigates change
And there is frustration that your voice is not heard
when you protest the war —
with a sign above your head — in words

And your camera goes click as you press record
and the can of gasoline is there
for this final document — your protest against the war
and some of us understood
you know the history

And your camera goes click as you press record
and you pour the gasoline
and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final statement
and some of us heard your final words

and Malachi you light the match
that ends your life
in this final document — your protest against this war
and some of us understood
and some of us heard

your final word

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Mecca Normal 7″ cover art by Jean Smith “Discovering Utopia

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Mecca Normal “Malachi” 7″ available through K Records

ARTFORUM Magazine, Best of 2011 by Tobi Vail

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1. Mecca Normal, Malachi Seven Inch (K Records)
Vancouver’s punk-protest duo have been changing the world with art and music since 1984. “Malachi” the A side of their latest single tells the story of Malachi Ritscher, a Chicago man who in 2006 immolated himself on the freeway during morning rush hour to protest the war in Iraq. By recording this song and performing it to audiences across the globe, Mecca Normal participates in the longstanding folk tradition of spreading political dissent through music.

Photo of Mecca Normal by Jack DeGuiseppi

Mecca Normal Newsletter

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Photo of Mecca Normal by Malachi Ritscher, November 11, 2002 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago.

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2002 newspaper ad for How Art and Music Can Change the World our week long event at the Bottle Top (upstairs at the Empty Bottle) in Chicago. Malachi Ritscher recorded our set downstairs at the Empty Bottle (and took our photo) on November 11, 2002.

May 3, 2013 Olympia

In 2008, Jean Smith did a series of “Malachi” paintings for two art auctions to benefit Books for Prisoners.
“This was the same tour as the show that Calvin Johnson (K Records) first heard Mecca Normal’s song “Malachi” and said it was the best song we’ve ever written. One of the art auction performances was Mecca Normal playing INSIDE the $1 clothing bin at Dumpster Values in Olympia. We pushed the clothing aside — or out — and heaved the amp in, turning it into a stage. The other event was at Slim Moon’s (Kill Rock Stars Records) house in Battle Ground, Washington where we played outside. The bass player of the Gang of Four was there (Dave Allen) and he said he liked what we did, which was a thrill and thank god I didn’t know he was there until after we played. Anyway, we conducted the art auction there too. I think Slim bought one of my “Malachi” paintings and David later used Malachi #6 on a CD cover for the band he and his wife have – Horde of Two.” – Jean Smith

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