Category Archives: forward into the past

Violence takes iconic Tuba Man

i knew tuba man, although i knew him as ed, the guy who talked like john wayne… he and i were in the seattle youth symphony together, and we attended pacific northwest music camp for several years before it became the marrowstone music festival. my favourite recollection of ed was one year at the SYSO auditions, ed had gone to the other end of the building and was warming up in the stairway, and the people giving auditions had to ask him to shut up because he was playing loud enough that you could hear him all over the building. this is a sad, sad day for seattle. 8(

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Ed McMichaels aka Tuba ManViolence takes iconic Tuba Man
November 4, 2008
By ROBERT L. JAMIESON JR.

OLD-TIMERS who have seen it all say this is the worst year for Seattle sports.

The Mariners finished in the cellar. The Huskies, winless on the gridiron, exemplify college football futility. The Seahawks are in a tailspin. And the Sonics split, leaving a hole where the heart of Seattle pro basketball once beat.

To this list I pass along another loss, perhaps the saddest: Seattle’s most visible, beloved and melodic sports fan — Tuba Man — is dead.

Seattle knew Edward McMichael by sight or sound, the bespectacled guy with the wispy beard and floppy Uncle Sam and Dr. Seuss hats. For decades he breathed life into his shiny brass instrument, outside city sports venues.

On Oct. 25, police say, McMichael, 53, was near a bus stop in the 500 block of Mercer Street when thugs attacked, beating and robbing him after midnight. He was taken to the hospital for head wounds and was home recovering. But he died sometime Sunday or early Monday.

“We believe his death was directly connected to the assault,” Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb told me Monday night. Gang and homicide detectives were handling the case.

Two juvenile suspects were in custody, and detectives are looking for three other people. “This is tragic,” Whitcomb said. Police are seeking the public’s help.

“Ed passed away overnight,” Ronny Chesvick said Monday. Chesvick works at the Vermont Inn, where McMichael lived. “Ed was a great guy. Funny. Friendly. Easygoing. We all loved him.”

When the Mariners made a storied postseason run in 1995, McMichael played “Happy Days Are Here Again,” outside the Kingdome. After the Sonics collapsed in the NBA playoffs against the Denver Nuggets in ’94, he played a dirge to match the shock that fans — rumpled and morose — felt as they staggered away from Seattle Center.

When the Seahawks surprised the world by rumbling to the 2006 Super Bowl, Tuba Man filled the air outside Qwest Field with musical ecstasy. Sports Illustrated called him a “super fan.”

Hundreds of thousands of Seattleites have walked by McMichael outside sporting events — and local stages. He loved to play outside the opera and theater houses. To play the tuba, he told me, was to be alive.

A native of the Seattle area, McMichael graduated in the early 1970s from King’s Garden High School. He was in the band at North Seattle Community College. He later brought his talents to one local ensemble or another, from Seattle Youth Symphony to Bellevue Philharmonic to Cascade Symphony.

He could have made a living in a band but chose to play for tips outdoors. Even in the rain, he would set a bucket at his feet for tip money, right next to jugs of his favorite drink, either V8 or Sunny Delight. Then he would purse his lips to his contrabass tuba — “My baby,” he called it — and create low, noble sounds.

McMichael appreciated when people would stop and listen, or leave a buck or two. But for him just meeting folks was the biggest reward. “That’s what I value most,” he said when I caught up with him last year. “People.”

In recent days, people wondered where he had gone. They hadn’t seen him outside McCaw Hall — his usual spot on opera nights. He wasn’t outside the Seahawks game Sunday.

Police said the five toughs who set their sights on McMichael also robbed and attacked two teens around the same time, asking for $5 and to use their cell phone. When the teens said the battery was dead, the attackers jumped.

The thugs also seized McMichael, who was “on the ground in a fetal position trying to protect himself as the group was kicking and punching him on the ground,” wrote a police officer who pulled up to the scene and saw the attack.

Two of the lowlifes, both about 15 years old, were caught. Three fled.

A police report said a ring snatched from McMichael’s finger during the sickening, ruthless violence was recovered. I wondered if it was his beloved 1979 Sonics championship ring, which he wore on his left hand.

McMichael was admitted to the hospital for a couple of days. A brother flew in from Florida.

Neighbors last saw him Saturday at his apartment. He had a warm twinkle in his eye but was very groggy from pain medication.

On Monday morning, his brother went to the apartment to take him to a doctor’s appointment, but he wasn’t in the lobby. So a manager went to McMichael’s room. She opened the door and found him lying peacefully on his bed, surrounded by sports clippings and memorabilia.

He was gone.

“Ed touched so many people,” said Meuy Saelee, the manager at the Vermont Inn, who — like sports fans, friends and strangers, young and old — will never forget him.

This quirky artist, talented as he was memorable, brought sweet music to big-city life.

Our Tuba Man.

grumph… 8/

interlake class reunion

i received this in email this morning. my 30th high school reunion means that i am OLD

but, the thing is, i don’t want to go to my high school reunion! when i was in high school, i only had 4 friends (and one of them was my girlfriend, who was in a different class than i was) out of the entire school, which was probably 1,000 students at the time, most of the other people either didn’t know me or actively hated me for one (usually lame) reason or another, i actually spent most of my junior and senior years attending music workshops in a different city, and, to top it all off, they want $100 a person to gain entrance to the reunion…

i can think of several reasons why i should spend $100 on something other than going to my high school reunion… 8/

ip

when i was about in 5th grade or so, my trombone teacher had me work from Remington Warm Up Studies for Trombone, which was a soft-cover book that couldn’t have been more than 24 pages or so, and cost $2.95. i went through two or three of them by the time i graduated from high school, because they were so flimsy.

so i’m wondering why amazon dot com wants $86.50 for the book now… and if i want to buy it from amazon in germany, i could pay as much as $305.95 for it…

why is this so expensive?!? also, why can’t i just download it as a PDF and print my own copy?

… oh, that’s right, stupid copyright laws… 8b

dream

map

i was sick yesterday, and spent all day sleeping and watching teevee because i didn’t have the energy to do anything else. i feel a lot better, although not back to 100% yet, today. my ears and sinuses are still plugged up. nevertheless, i had a very bizarre and very vivid dream last night, which was another one where it was so strange that i actually woke up, thought about how strange it was, and then went back to sleep and continued in the same dream, which is very rare indeed.

front elevation

i was walking in downtown seattle, looking for an apartment. it was as though i was walking downhill, towards northlake, and i ended up at the level of lake union, but as it is in most of my dreams, things weren’t exactly like they are in reality. i saw a building in which i remembered renting an apartment many years ago (1984-1985?) that had a for rent sign in the window, so i decided to check it out. i went into the ground floor office, which had been some sort of office associated with a railroad, years ago, but the railroad, and most of the buildings surrounding it, had gone out of business years ago, and the other buildings had been knocked down, so there was an enormous vacant lot surrounding the buidling. the whole place had been a combination railroad/shipping waystation, or something like that years ago. in the ground floor office of the building, there was a strange machine that had strips of perforated tickets hanging out of it, that was built into the ceiling, an old, worn, wooden desk, and a free standing sink which was incorporated into the stairway to the second floor, which i didn’t remember seeing when i had lived there previously.

bottom floor

the whole dream was permeated with that familiar feeling that i knew exactly where i was, and had known exactly where i was for a long time. i climbed up the staircase, over the sink, and continued over several wooden boxes that had been stacked on top of the sink, to the second floor, where the apartments were. i wondered about how they could get away with making the staircase in such an unstable fashion, which was definitely not “up to code” – the staircase went up to the level of the sink, then there were narrow wooden boxes stacked on top of the sink, which weren’t secured or anything, and i almost sent the whole stack of boxes tumbling down before i got to the top of the staircase.

top floor

when i had lived there previously, there were two other guys that lived in the other apartments, ludwig and olympia. i noticed that ludwig’s name was still on one of the doors. the bulk of the weird machine was on this floor. it was very old and dusty, and had huge wads of different kinds of perforated tickets crammed into it. i went into the apartment that i had lived in previously, which was the one that was for rent, remembered what it had been like to live there previously, and figured it would be a good place to live again. then ludwig (who bore an uncanny resemblance to someone i know from bellingham, reinholdt lockinvar) showed up, and remembered me immediately. he had been a piano player when i knew him previously, and he was currently working as a pianist and organist. he asked me if it would disturb me if he practiced, and i said no, so he left and soon i could hear him practicing some organ piece on the grand piano that i knew he had in his apartment. i was looking around and came across a bunch of artwork that had apparently been left by the previous tenant, who was apparently a graphic designer. looking through the artwork, i discovered that some of it was actually art that i had done – business cards and logos and suchlike – and i also found a toque almost exactly like the one i have now, except that it was darker colours and had different buttons on it, which i remembered from when i had lived there previously.

i was really interested in what had happened to the neighbourhood since i had lived there previously, which i figured was fifteen to twenty years ago, and i talked with ludwig (reinholdt) and olympia for a long time, going downstairs (over the boxes again) and back up several times. it was also a really strange building, because although ludwig’s apartment was in the front, and my apartment was in the back, there were windows in my apartment that looked out on both the front and the back of the building. also i’m not sure if there were two or three doors in the hallway outside the apartments, because it kept changing, although it didn’t seem to affect me that much when it was happening.