I had been looking for Dr. John for the last couple of months down at his usual spot down at the beach near Windward, and hadn't seen him at all. I wanted to do a story about him for Blogtown, as he's another of those Venice characters that you know has good things to say just by looking at him. His flowing white hair and beard on top of his super tall frame and colorful outfits let you see him coming a mile away, pulling his cart of signs, pamphlets, petitions ... and protest, always.
I got an email yesterday breaking the sad news that he passed away on Saturday, after being ill for some time. I never knew his whole story, just snippets here and there. I never knew if he was actually homeless, but I positively knew that he fought tirelessly on their behalf. He had terrible vision, but the moment he recognized you, his face lit up, and he always had something kind and interesting to say. When we had Jam Nights at Abbot's Habit, he was always the first one to get up and start the dancing, and that is how I will remember him.
It breaks my heart to see another crucial part of the fabric of Venice torn out, but more than that, it pains me that the World as a whole has lost one of its most truly righteous and selfless citizens. I won't ever get to share his real story with you now, which tells us once again to appreciate and honor those we care about while we have them. So here's a little reminder of one of the great Freedom Fighters we just lost:
Rest in Peace, Dr. John Michel ... there will never be another like you.