Memorial Events in Detroit this Year

Faruq Z. Bey on Sax at a memorial for Ron Allen

This has been a rough and sad year for the Detroit Arts Community.  In the past, we’ve lost such people as Jacques Karamanoukian and Matt Blake.  Just one such loss can leave holes which are difficult or impossible to fill.  They can really shake things up. 

In 2010, we’ve had far too many.  The three I knew best, Mick Vranich, Ron Allen and Mary Laredo Herbeck, I’ve already written about them, here in this blog.

But I wanted to talk about the memorial events.  Last April, there was  a memorial for Mick Vranich at the Trumbullplex on Easter Sunday.  I missed most of the ceremony but did get by there.  They’d had some speakers and a procession.  There are photos from that here at the “tribes” site:

We heard that Ron Allen was going to die, so there was a gathering in Detroit at the time of his death.  I missed that one.  He was in a coma and they were turning off the respirator on August 10.

There were at least four memorial events for Ron.  On August 20th at the Trumbullplex, they turned an already-planned event into a memorial reading.

On Sunday August 22, Broadside Press sponsored a memorial event for Ron at Hart Plaza.  It was part of the African World Festival.  There were some good readings and memories of Ron.  I read a new piece I’d written about him.

The next day was his funeral.  My ride fell though and I had to bus it,  so I missed the first half of it.  It was very moving and there were a lot of people there.

On Sunday afternoon, September 26, there was a memorial at Cass Cafe (pictured above).  This was also quite memorable and included song and music.

Then there was one final memorial on Tuesday, September 28 at the Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple on Trumbull, in Detroit.  I got there late again (due to work and busses).  I was glad I got by.  Ron was a Buddhist priest or monk.  There were some lively remembrances and stories.

Then, October 1, Mary Laredo Herbeck died.  On October 7, there was a memorial event at historic Ste. Anne de Detroit church.  This was on a Thursday evening.  There was quite a crowd there.  It was a mixture of friends and family along with various portions of the Detroit arts community.

Sad events like this often remind us of how much we are a community.  It makes me reflect on the complexity and vibrancy of our “scene.”

It was very moving.  There was a mariachi band, singers and various memories shared.  Yes, you could really feel her presence there, at that memorial.

All of the old Zeitgeist crew (except Karl) sat together in a row.  Vito and Mary were both a big part of what we did at the Zeitgeist.

Afterword, many of the people went to the church hall for food and conversation.  There was also a slide program of photos of Mary’s life and films of her dancing.

The Metro Times reported the deaths of Don Thibodeaux Sr. and Ameen Howrani, along with Mary.   I didn’t know Don Thibodeaux Sr. and Ameen Howrani very well.  Yet I knew who they were.  It was always good to see them and/or their work.

There’ve been other wonderful people lost this year as well.  I always liked Marty Quiroz.  The last time I saw him is when my Space Band was doing a performance in Southwest Detroit.  He died in June.

I didn’t know Woody Miller as well, but had met him.  He sent me an email saying that he really liked what I was doing in my blogs.  He died in July, at age 65.

I’m sure that this will be remembered as an especially rough year for the Detroit arts scene.  To those of us in our workrooms and studios, or those merely “in the trenches” well let’s try to stay sane and healthy and keep working.   As the time goes by, there’ll be other bad years, hopefully not too many.

Poet Kenneth Patchen wrote about the duty of the artist/poet to stay alive!  That is, to make an effort to stay strong, to keep creating and to persevere.  So take care, “watch your back”, work and communicate.   Let’s to make our community more of a community while we’re at it.  Ah Detroit, what a city and yes what people!

Metro Times coverage:

Mick Vranich:

Ron Allen:

Mary Laredo Herbeck, Don Thibodeaux Sr. and Ameen Howrani:

My earlier blog posts:

Marty Quiroz:

Woody Miller:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: