The issue of Weekly Alibi you are holding in your hands this very minute shares the date of its availability—May 23—with the anniversary of the untimely death of long-time Alibi music critic and editor Michael Henningsen. It’s also the anniversary of the death of my beloved doggo Rosie, a dog well-known to Henningsen—a canine the dude once saved with an efficiency and stoic dignity that still evokes gratitude when I recall it.
But back to that in a moment. Henningsen left this veil of tears four years ago; for Rosie the number is six, by the way. In Henningsen’s case I’m reminded of a colleague who not only taught me how to suffer the slings and arrows that come with this position, but how to do so whilst still having fun and providing a positive, progressive outlook that the Albuquerque community can read about regularly.
Viz.: I recently received a letter wherein the writer first told me I was an “unbelievable fucking idiot” but then evolved a bit on that premise, later declaring via email that I am, unfortunately, “a fucking liar.” They would later intimate that I am being kept on in my current position “because of the relationships I’ve nurtured over the years.” I admit I sent one witty response then gave up forever on this correspondent, mostly because of values I inherited from Henningsen. Keep them guessing. Stay above the fray. Take the high road. Well, I’ve certainly followed that last bit of advice. Thanks, Henny.
Though Michael may certainly and keenly be remembered for his love of music of all sorts—especially the flava known as rocanrol—his involvement in the community as a mentor, advocate and role model for our city’s youth cannot go unmentioned. While many of us at the Golden City, otherwise known as Eldorado High School were busy partying our tenure there away, Michael was involved in improving the community by working at the Mountainside YMCA and later at Echo Hill Ranch in Texas.
Notably, Henningsen was also worked closely as a volunteer for MOMS Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, a nationwide organization dedicated to establishing common-sense gun reform.
After Henningsen shuffled off this mortal coil, his wife Danette Townsend established a memorial fund and scholarship for her husband. The Michael Henningsen Youth Fund is maintained at the Albuquerque Community Foundation. According to the organization, “this fund is managed by a board of young adults that grew up with Michael and believe that every young person deserves the opportunity to have someone like Michael in their lives.”
Having someone like Henningsen in one’s life does have its benefits. I should know. A long, long time ago, I took my doggo Rosie to the office. She was sick and anxious; her ear had suddenly become bright red. Subsequently she didn’t want anyone near her, not even me. But Michael coaxed her into his office, calmed her and then retrieved a first aid kit containing a long pair of tweezers. In seconds he had removed a large thistle from deep in Rosie’s ear. She bounded off gratefully. Thanks dude.
If you are like some of the post-structuralists who basically believe that text is necessarily a transcendent thing, then it’s easy for you to suppose that the spirit of Henningsen can be reached through this writ. To believe that there is some possibility, even if not mystically presupposed, that recent improvements to this dusty, military outpost in the desert may be known about and even supported by that airy soul give some gravitas to our steps forward as citizens and a city. Things that we’re certain Henny would no doubt approve of include:
• A progressive mayor with musical inclinations who is invested in making Albuquerque a desirable, sustainable and forward-thinking place to live, work and raise a family.
• A city police force committed to re-establishing and maintaining community policing while working overtime to undo the damage done by previous and reckless administrations.
• An Animal Services Division that is accountable, humane and realistic. Though this bit of our culture remains a thing that is in the works, it should be noted that efforts are being made to improve a formerly unsteady, conflicted city division.
• A local music scene that is vibrant and whose diversity reflects a city striving to create authentic, awesome aural adventures for every stripe of Burqueño and Burqueña.
I guess I’d like to remind Michael that not everything went according to plan. Somehow you slid away from all of this and left the rest of us to make and maintain the most bitchin’ city with greatest newspaper in the history of mankind—without you. That’s damn hard work, Michael, but I know for a fact that some of us still here do it for you, for what you stood for.
Oh, and that collection of indie rock masterpieces and KISS albums that you have deployed against eternity? Throw them out, bro; I’ve got this thing by Kendrick Lamar called To Pimp a Butterfly that you absolutely must listen to. Serio.