Michael Dahlquist

Michael Dahlquist, 39, of Chicago, was killed on Thursday, July 14, 2005.

While stopped at a traffic signal, his car was struck intentionally by another car traveling at a very high speed. Also killed were his good friends and fellow musicians Douglas Meis and John Glick.

Michael was born on Dec. 22, 1965, in Seattle. He spent his childhood in Bothell and many vacations were spent at his grandmother’s ranch in Livingston, Mont. His childhood was filled with creative endeavors: writing (a lasting passion), juggling, puppetry, and tree-climbing, with a little skateboarding thrown in for good measure.

As the last of the “Dahlquist boys” to wend his way through the halls of Inglemoor High School in Bothell, Michael graduated in 1984.

With a tremendous mane of thick, wavy hair, he was oft-mistaken for a woman in France, subsequently shaved his head in Spain, and slept on park benches in San Francisco, Calif.

Olympia, Wash. was his adopted home base, however, as he more or less attended Evergreen State College.

In Olympia, he found some kindred spirits within its population, and he continued to develop in particular his interests in writing and performance. To the former, he studied literature, mythology and mysticism, including a pivotal summer program at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colo. where he studied with poets Allen Ginsberg and Philip Whalen. During this time period, while living in a student squat called “The House of Phlegm,” Michael had his first nascent experiences as a rock drummer, playing a distinctive two-drum kit with the bands Flowers for Funerals and Dungpump.

In January 1990, Michael began a personal and semi-professional relationship that would, for better or worse, shape much of his adult life.

He met the members of Silkworm, three young men recently transplanted from Montana, who were looking to replace their rather aloof drum machine.

After a shambolic audition that included speeding up, slowing down, knocking over all two drums in his kit, and never playing at a volume level below fortissimo, Michael was welcomed into the Silkworm fraternity, to which he belonged for the rest of his life — 15 years. He doubled the size of his kit to four drums immediately, and he began a disciplined process of continual refinement that resulted in his becoming one of the heaviest and most expressive rock drummers of his generation.

What free time Michael had during this time was marked by his drive to be active, and an intense curiosity. He became an avid mountaineer and scaled Mts. Adams, Hood, Baker and Shuksan. He indulged his abiding interest in snowboarding. He became a very good swing dancer, and he found time to make delicate music with a local gamelan ensemble.

In late 1996, Silkworm began curtailing their somewhat debilitating tour schedule, and Michael cast his eye on the burgeoning high-tech industry in the Seattle area. As with so much in his life, he decided he wanted to be involved in it and therefore became involved. Knowing, at this point, rather little about computers, he talked his way into a job as office grunt at Lizardtech, a local producer of imaging software.

In October 2001, Michael moved from Seattle to Chicago. His bandmates had already made this move, individually, but the band had continued to prosper as a long-distance concern.

His move was motivated by a desire to be closer to his good friends but also to broaden his horizons, which he acted to do almost compulsively throughout his life.

It was perhaps in Chicago, Ill., that his horizon-broadening efforts bore the most fruit. Always an active person, Michael did what he could to swallow the city whole. He was gainfully employed at Shure Inc. as a technical writer, and he continued to spend a great deal of time on Silkworm and related pursuits.

However, he also started a Web design business and resumed his college studies, as he pursued a degree in visual anthropology from DePaul University.

Every step he took forward was on a foundation of self-taught ability.

Music, computers, writing (his hilariously honest tour journals at www.silkworm.net are perhaps his finest work), photography — he took his interests and ran with them, not in a distracted sprint but as a marathon. Between late 2001 and mid-2005, he took on the job of editing 145 hours of digital video into a 90-minute documentary film titled “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?,” an outsider perspective on the Christian rock music scene.

Michael carried within him an almost pathological desire for human contact. His engagement with people he met even casually was full and immediate, and woven into his crazy quilt of work — and music-related activities were more close friends than most people have acquaintances. He inspired his family and peers with his generosity and free spirit. He possessed an intense and lifelong dedication to “other people,” whether they were known to him at a particular instant or not. And once he knew of them, he made it clear he was interested.

Michael died while still growing. He died as a person already fully formed who was still somehow in the process of becoming, blossoming into his middle adulthood. He was a critical member of his family and various circles of friends, who are drawn together permanently not just by their grief and Michael’s absence, but also by their precious memory of him and the example that he set.

Survivors include his mother and stepfather Sydney and Mike Hoffman, Sr. of Langley; his father Paul Dahlquist of Portland, Ore.; his brothers Stuart of Los Angeles, Calif. and Adam of Seattle; his stepbrothers Mike Hoffman, Jr. of St. Louis, Mo. and George Hoffman of Seattle; and his “brothers” and “sisters” in music and life Andrew Cohen, Tim Midgett and Victoria Hunter of Chicago, Matthew Kadane of Boston, Mass., and Joel Phelps of Vancouver, B.C.

His death is mourned and his life is celebrated by literally hundreds of people around the world.

Michael’s family is inviting friends to celebrate Michael’s life at a memorial potluck from 3-8 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at the Hoffmans’ home, 4843 Salish Way, Langley.

Donations in Michael’s name will be accepted by Jane Addams Hull House, www.hullhouse.org, and the Nature Conservancy, www.nature.org. Please contact these organizations for details.

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