An unfortunate trilogy of deaths hit Deep Ellum when three well known regulars died, all within the same week.
Punk-rock musician and music lover Brian Alguire died on Wednesday in his Deep Ellum loft; he was 37. Brian was a staple at all concerts and local events, easily identified by his trademark Mohawk.
Scott Lastowski, a 39-year-old veteran bartender who worked at La Grange, Meridien Room and The Foundry, also died on Wednesday in his East Dallas apartment. His friend David Rell, 51, a longtime music fan who worked at Blockbuster Distribution, died on June 2 of natural causes.
Alguire and Lastowski both took their own lives, the drama of which played out on their respective Facebook pages, with hundreds of friends sharing sorrowful comments.
An hour before he died, Lastowski posted a goodbye note on Facebook:
My friends. My heart hurts. It has hurt for soooooo long. For so fucking long. Right now, it just seems to hurt a little bit more than I am capable of handling. I am so sorry. And, no, it wasn't because of you.
In response, his family members asked neighbors to intervene, but it was too late. An Oklahoma native, he'd had been despondent over personal problems, said a friend who asked to remain anonymous. Days before he took his life, Lastowski posted a photo of himself with Rell, shortly after Rell's death.
Lastowski's mother Sharon Lastowski Nebgen said that he would be buried next to his brother in Oklahoma.
Alguire had a regular day job as an IT manager for a medical center in Irving, but he lived for music, according to his friend Breonny Lee. "He was the quintessential Deep Ellum person," she said. "We met at a concert in Deep Ellum when I was photographing a band. He was friendly, outgoing and everybody adored him."
Lee, who found his body, said that "things had been hard for him" in the past few months, but that he'd recently gotten into motorcycles and enjoyed fixing them up. He also played bass in the Crazy Ivans, a band fronted by singer Kristen Lueken.
"We became good friends while I got pregnant with my first son five years ago and he was getting sober at the time," Lueken said. "So we bonded over being outsiders from the drinking crowd. The thing about Brian is that he wasn't just one of those people who only liked to play. He was at every show, seeing, and listening and dancing. Music was a big deal to him. And it was well known that, despite the Mohawk and leather, he was a big old softie inside."
Brian revealed his soft side via photos on Facebook of his cat Sheena, who will be adopted by his sister.
Paula Harris, of Kettle Gallery, said that Deep Ellum remained a community, one she saw emerge after the 2011 suicides of Frankie Campagna and Adam Carter, both members of the band Specter 45. Campagna was the son of artist and Kettle Gallery owner Frank Campagna.
"There's such a community of family and friends here," she said. "It's not a judgmental community like in the suburbs, where everyone has to be Ozzie and Harriet. Deep Ellum is full of artists and musicians who live life on the edge. Making art is uncomfortable – you don't expect to be feeling good all the time."
Rell, a resident of Rowlett, is survived by his wife Renee. A memorial service will be held 11 am Saturday, June 7, at Rest Haven Funeral Home-Rowlett Chapel at 3701 Rowlett Rd. in Rowlett.
Alguire's services are tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 8, in the afternoon, according to his brother Tim, who said he was still searching for an appropriate venue near Deep Ellum.
Memorial services for Lastowski will take place on Sunday, June 8, from 1-5 pm, at Sparkman Funeral Home, 1029 S. Greenville Ave, Richardson; a fund-raising site has been set up by his mother to help with funeral costs.