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Winter's way of fighting back against a culture under fire? Create more culture.
As recently as 2000, Culture Under Fire events centered on a forum/workshop/music showcase called "Break the Blackout." Its inspiration? In what felt like something out of Footloose, KCMO authorities had decided to harass the all-ages, nonalcoholic after-hours dance parties on weekends at what was then El Torreon.
At the time, Winter told The Pitch that the Coalition Against Censorship had been talking to young people around town to see what they were interested in and how to get them involved. "The subjects of our workshops are the things that the kids said they wanted to know about," she said.
On the schedule for that day: Tech N9ne and Flavor Pak's Jeremy McConnell talking about "Why Hip-Hop Takes a Bad Rap"; DJ Just & Joc Maxx leading a "Turntables 101" DJ demo; activist Mike McCormack hosting a session called "So You Want to Change the World: How to Grassroot." And, yeah, lots of rock.
At Winter's funeral, Rostenberg remembered that the coalition had put on Culture Under Fire for 12 years — "until we all got old." He looked out into the overflowing chapel and said, "Maybe there's someone in this room who would be willing to take up the torch."
The city is still packed with people making music and art and poetry and films. We write about them every week in our Night + Day and Music sections — hell, we write about them every day on our blogs. That's one big change since Culture Under Fire's heyday: With new technology, it's easier for people to speak up. Just ask the Iranians who tweeted their near revolution earlier this year. And now we can download music digitally, without interference from Washington biddies — or even record labels.
But in many ways, the battle is harder. Health care, war, the environment: The issues are life-and-death, and too much of the public discussion is hostile, twisted and profit-motivated.
Trying to do something about these issues can too often feel hopeless. It's tempting to believe that carrying such a burden ultimately caused Anne Winter to give up.
But her husband, Kurt von Schlemmer, knows it was something else entirely.
He sends The Pitch this statement: "The kids and I have been moved and a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion since Anne's death. I know that many of you might be having a hard time understanding what happened. I hope to shed some light and then turn my attention to the future.
"Bipolar disorder and the mixture of alcohol with medications, brought years and years of stress, pain and trauma to our lives — Anne's, mine and the kids. Anne had been adjusting her medications without consulting her doctor, which finally resulted in her taking her own life.