Sunday, October 9, 1983
The Michigan Daily
Madcat mania at the Ark
By Joe Kraus
Has Joe Cocker gone harmonica and
No, it was harmonica virtuoso and
one-man band Peter "Madeat" Ruth
playing blues, jazz and a little bit of
everything else at the Ark.
Madcat played numbers by such ar-
tists as Lowell George, Jimi Hendrix,
himself and in particular Robert John-
son, whom he described as, ". .. this
Madcat managed to show off his
musical abilities without ever losing
touch with his audience. He seemed to
enjoy himself performing as he was
able to work in a variety of gestures,
facial expressions and witticisms.
Moving beyond standard orchestration,
he even utilized an assortment of
noisemakers on a few numbers and
something called an African finger
Madcat is no stranger to Ann Arbor.
He first came here in 1970 when he
helped to form the band Sky King. Since
then he has toured both as a solo act and
with various groups. In particular, he
has appeared with Dave Brubeck and
helped out on three of his albums.
Displaying his spontaneity offstage
as well as on, Madcat said, "I never
play the same thing twice. I just put
together what I feel like that night." He
said this, appropriately, during inter-
mission as he was writing the set list for
the second half of the show.
Among the numerous instruments
that Madcat plays proficiently are the,
guitar, pennywhistle, jaw harp and,
above all, the harmonica. He claims
also to dabble with the flute, manodolin
and autoharp, although we didn't get to
see any of these.
The preservation hall-like setting of
the Ark was a definite plus. With spec-
tators literally at his feet, Madcat was
able to put on an intimate performance
while still maintaining a professional
demeanor. It was a testimony to the
quality of his performance that not a
single member of the audience left his
seat when he finished his final set. True
to form, he obliged with an encore.
When asked what his plans were,
Madcat said, "Music. Probably for the
next 80 years." He paused and con-.
tinued, "but that would make me 114, so,
maybe only for the next 75."
Ann Arbors harmonize with musical wiz Madcat Ruth at the Ark Friday night.
(Continued from Page 1)
cessful or they wouldn't be here. From
the polo and soccer teams to the poker
and bridge clubs, "everyone is striving
for excellence," says one housewife.
That striving, that emphasis on suc-
cess makes it "tough for the com-
mimity to understand why we have
nome unhappy kids," says Johnnie
Spies, guidance counselor at Plano
Senior High School. "We have many
more happy ones than unhappy ones,."
Six kids were unhappy or they'd be
BRUCE CARRIO was guilt-stricken
over the death of a friend in a drag-
racing accident. Glenn Currey, 18, was
feeling the pressure of school and a
time-consuming romance. Henri
Dariot, 14, was upset over Bruce's
Steven John Gundlah and Marty
Bridget Jacobs, both 17, were
depressed because their parents had
asked them to stop seeing so much of
each other. Scott Difiglia, 17, was
distraught over breaking up with his
Why? Why were they upset enough to
choose death? Why Plano?
THE PEOPLE of Plano are sear-
ching for answers. They have con-
sidered their success, their growth,
their lifestyle, their competitive spirit,
their sheltered children, and their
mobility - half the people in town have
been here for less than five years.
"I know it's unusual. But I cannot
point tor any one thing that went
wrong," said Ted Dickey, community
leader, funeral director, and former
justice of the peace.
The townspeople are examining
themselves. Parents dre meeting for-
mally to talk about adolescent
problems. Classes on stress are being
offered to ninth and 10th graders. Three
dozen parents are being trained to help
with a 24-hour phone crisis line that
opens in Plano Dec. 1; 15 volunteered
after the August suicides.
"It makes you want to really listen to
your children, and help them find a
place in the communtity," says Ann
Stokes, mother of two teen-agers and a
crisis line volunteer. She moved here
two years ago from Tulsa, Okla., when
her husband was transferred.
PLANO RESEMBLES any of a dozen
suburban communities in America,
molded by young executives tran-
sferred to high-salaried jobs in large
nearby cities. Central Expressway,
Piano's four-lane lifeline to downtown
Dallas, 20 miles south, is backed up hours
each day with commuters.
New families arrived every day. Half
the new houses in town were built within
the past two years, and the senior high
school has 140 new students from 35
states and eight foreign countries.
Many know what it means to be
"A kid goes home at 4 o'clock in
Syracuse and the old man says, "Pack
your grip, son, we're going to the end of
the world - Plano, Texas.' He ends up
in our community grieving," Dickey
But this is hardly the end of the world.
In many ways, Plano is the Sun Belt's
SHOPPING MALLS beckon from a
dozen street corners. The crime rate is
lower than that of any Texas town half
its size. Hundreds of new $160,000 homes
- with wet bars, game rooms, and
solariums - line up neatly in neigh-
borhoods enclosed by 6-foot-tall brick
s town asks why after six teen suicides
... Couldn't handle the pressure
AS LARGE AS it is becoming, Plano
remains a family place. The average
household has one child more than the
national average. New schools have
opened in eight of the past 10 years.
Next year three ribbons will be cut at
more new buildings.
The senior high school, sitting on 100
acres, has an indoor swimming pool, a
greenhouse, and a community day care
center run by students. Of its 2,300
-students, all juniors and seniors, 96
percent are white. The school boasts
the biggest graduating class in the
Onthe gridiron, the Plano Wildcats
are conquerors. They lost only one
game last year and won the district
football title for the sixth time in seven
years. The school has its own 16,000-
seat stadium, on artificial turf with an
electronic scoreboard. Most games are
Plano's "Standard of Excellence," a
motto written in red on the cover of the
1983 yearbook, is evident in the
classroom and the school's 60 clubs.
Seventy percent of the graduates go to
college. There were 15 National Merit
Scholarship finalists among last year's
THE KIDS play with their home
computers, park their pickups and ex-
pensive sports cars on the outskirts of
town and drink beer, drive to clubs in
Dallas, or while away free afternoons
at Nickelodeon or Texas Time Out,
shopping mall video arcades where the
cacophony of Pac-Man and Turbo com-
petes with piped-in country music.
The engineers, accountants, and
sales managers of Piano's adult
population often gather to watch their
kids play soccer or baseball, then retire
to their backyards for a swim and char-
Indeed, backyard barbecues, the per-
formance of the school's football team,
and weekend tennis games used to be
the most popular community topics.
One Saturday night in February, that
Bruce Carrio, a curly haired blond,
... dies to end the pain
was racing his 1972 Buick Skylark
against another friend's 1973 Chevy
Corvette. Bill Ramsey, Bruce's best
friend, was the signalman. They were
"just some kids out messing around,"
police Sgt. J.C. Randall said later. But
the Corvette spun out of control and
BRUCE AND his parents cried
together over Ramsey's death. A day
after the funeral, Lucy Carrio returned
home to find her son lying on the back
seat of his car, a crucifix in his hand.
The motor was on and the garage
door was down.The last song played on
the car's cassette player was "Goodbye
Cruel World," by Pink Floyd.
"In two days' time," says Bruce's
father, Louis, "he went from a happy
child to a dead child. We knew Bruce
was upset, but the possibility of
suicide? It never entered our minds."
Perhaps the combination, grief and
guilt, was too much. Being a teen-ager,
"he couldn't know it would get better
that the pain he was feeling would
ease," Carrio says.
"He hadn't gotten sophisticated yet.
He had just started dating. He was still
into games. He had his own Apple com-
puter and he spent hours and hours
writing programs and playing games
THE CARRIOS came to Plano two
years ago from Minnesota, where
they'd spent 10 months after five years
in New Jersey. They don't blame Plano.
"I's just an area like any suburb,"
Carrio's mother said. "As a parent, you
just pick a neighborhood that's nice,
that's near churches, with good schools,
and then you watch your kids like
crazy. That's true anywhere."
Handsome, sandy-haired Glenn
Currey didn't know Bruce Carrio. But
had heard about the suicide. Everyone
"When one child does it," Glenn's
father, Bob, said later, "it sparks an
idea in another." On March 1, Pat
Currey found her son in the front seat of
his blue 1966 Mustang parked in the
family garage. The radio was blaring.
The air was thick with exhaust.
GLENN HAD been taking advanced
classes at Plano Senior High School,
was a member of the commercial art
club, and had a job and a girlfriend. But
as graduation approached, he decided
to break up with the girl.
"You could really tell he was in love
with her. But he knew he had a respon-
sibility do do well in school, had to keep
his job, and I think he felt that
something had to go," Currey says.
"He put a lot of pressure on himself to
make things to the right way. I think he
just felt this was a way out."
AFTER GLENN'S death, Janet Van
Beek, a friend of Glenn's, and two other
girls at school formed a group called
BIONIC, Believe It Or Not I Care.
"It was a fairly cold atmosphere and
we wanted to reach out to people,"
Janet said later.
But on April 18, it happened again.
Henri Dariot, a 9th-grader at another
Plano school, shot himself in the head
with a .22-caliber Winchester.
Newspaper clippings about the
deaths of Ramsey and Carrio were
found pinned to Henri's bulletin board.
They had been his friends. There was
also a pencil drawing, a stick figure
with the handwirtten legend: "The
Ghost of Death."
THE SIX COUNSELORS at Plano
Senior High saw a hundred kids after
the suicides, says Spies, the head
guidance counselor. Some were upset
about Ramsey's death; others about
"At that point, no one discussed the
possibility that we would have more
suicides," she said.
But in August, more teen-agers died.
Again, there were three.
The night of Aug. 16, Steven John
Gundlah and Mary Bridget Jacobs
drove to the highest point of Homestead
II, a new housing development. They
pulled their car into the garage of an
unfinished tan brick house, shut the
door, and took out a notebook.
TO HIS PARENTS, Steven wrote:
"We both love you very much. I
couldn't go on living without Bridget so
we're both leaving together so we'll
always be happy. Love, Steven."
To her parents, Bridget wrote: "I
love you and this is what I wanted, to
die with Steven. Sorry I disappointed
you. Love always, Bridget."
They would have been seniors this
year. Instead, they chose to die of car-
bon monoxide poisoning a week before'
Donald Gundlah, who moved his
family here from New York state three
years ago, says he and his wife had
recently told Steven that they thought
he and Bridget were getting "too deeply
involved. We were trying to slow it
down, not stop it."
"Anything that bothered him, he held
it in," Gundlah says. "You couldn't
detect what was wrong with him. I wish
he would have come out with it."
A WEEK LATER, Scott Difiglia, a
May high school graduate, called his
ex-girlfriend. Their romance had
broken up several months earlier, and
she had recently begun dating someone
Scott said he was going to kill himself
and leave a gift for her. She rushed to
the house but arrived too late, finding
him in a pool of blood in the bedroom, a
.22-caliber rifle at his side.
In his truck was an envelope con-
taining $200 and a note to his girlfriend,
saying it wasn't her fault. To his paren-
ts, he wrote: "I can't go on living with
Kaycee Cannon, a 1983 Plano
graduate, learned of Scott Difiglia's
death her first day at-college. Remem-
bering her crush on him in eighth,
grade, she cried.
Then she sat down to write her paren-
ts a note, thanking them for "bringing
me up in the way I would bring up my
own children." But mindful of the
uneasy atmosphere of Plano, she
began: "This is NOT a suicide note."
PLANO IS NOT the first community
to discover the contagious nature of
teen-age suicide. In North Salem, N.Y.,
a small town in New York's West-
chester County, two youngsters killed
themselves this spring. And in the Ket-
tle Moraine school district, in a lower
middle-class suburb of Milwaukee,
there were three suicides last year.
"One of the most important things in
adolescence is joining, and whenever
there is a series of suicides it's almost
as if they figure they can join the way
out," says Glenn Weimer, a family
therapist in Plano.
Some people think the kids in Plano
simply aren't accustomed to dealing
with pain, be it the end of a romance or
the death of a friend.
"ALMOST VERY suddenly, at age 14
or 15 or 16, kids become exposed to
significant trauma, and they don't have
the experience to recognize that the
pain is only temporary," says Dickey,
the funeral director. Dickey is teaching
a daily class at one school to help 9th
and 10th graders cope with the stress
every adolescent eventually faces,
whether it's the death of a relative,
girlfriend-boyfriend troubles or just
being the new kid on the block.
The Rev. Don Smith, a Methodist
church youth director, is worried about
the 7th and 8th graders. "They are so
impressionable and have such a need to
be popular. If suicide is seen as
something everybody in trouble is
doing, I worry about them," he says.
JANA DILLON ended up seeing a,
professional counselor for four months
after her family arrived from Hun-
tsville, Ala., two years ago. This year,
she's the first female drum major at
one of the town's three high schools,
which are for 9th and 10th graders.
"I had trouble getting to know the
people at first," says Jana, 15. "They
had little cliques, and it was hard to get
Scott Difiglia's funeral mirrored
what Plano is and wants to be. His
favorite cap, the one with the logo
"Skyline Graphite," was placed on his
oak casket. One friend put a tin of snuff
beside the cap.
The funeral procession, led by the
ministers in a white Mercedes, wound
through North Dallas, past the signs of
success, the signs of a jewel on the
prairie, the signs of a reason to live:
construction sites, shopping malls, glit-
tering office buildings, and sprawling
one-story corporate parks.
It went over and around the wide
open highways, past police officers
holding their hats over their hearts, and
stopped on a flat patch of Texas land
dotted with saplings.
"We are puzled," the Rev. Leon
Duesman had told the mourners.
"Let us continue to look at sunsets
and all those other beautiful things in
the world and be glad we're alive," he
"Let us be people who don't give up."'
In Plano, six kids already have.
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