Sunday, April 30, 2006

King of the Goulais

I’ll never forget the times I shared with Mark on the Goulais River. From eighth grade and through college I was fortunate enough to make 6 or 7 trips up to the cabin. To give you an idea of how much those trips meant to me, I once made the 10 hour drive by myself, driving through the night after a week of work and summer classes, just to spend two days at the cabin! While Mark was at Capital, I was nearby at OSU. We didn’t see each other a lot during college; however, we did manage to coordinate several trips together to do the things that Mark loved most back in those days. Outside of the summer trips to Canada, we made a couple trips on winter break in his Chevy Blazer to the ski slopes of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

I have so many fond memories and experiences from those trips to the cabin. For now, I’ll share the one that is most vivid in my mind. It was the summer of ’89 and our last trip to the cabin before heading off to college so we decided we needed two full weeks rather than just one week which had been customary up to that point. Craig, who was a friend of ours from Ashtabula, accompanied us for the whole two weeks whil Bruce and Claudia were there for half the trip. How they slept at night with three teenagers having full reign of their cabin for one week is beyond me, but Mark and I knew the stakes and knew we had a good thing, we weren’t about to screw it up.

It was cold up there that summer; colder than any of the past trips so we were looking for activities that could hold the attention of eighteen year olds, aside from the normal pounding on water skis and kneeboards behind the boat and fishing trips out in the Goulais Bay. Aaron, I don’t know where you and Mark were fishing, but in the seven trips that I made up there I think we collectively caught two fish. They were big ones but that is another story perhaps I’ll tell later. Glynn, a local on the river and friend of the Greenwood family, was challenged by our plight and felt he had the perfect solution. When he started telling us how beautiful the river was many miles north, we soon spent the next few hours in the cabin in front of the fire, plotting a canoe trip that would be fit for a Mark Twain novel.

We would get an early start; I am guessing about 0700 we left the cabin. The three amigos would start off in Mark’s Blazer with one canoe while Bruce and Claudia followed in the van with the other. We drove for about an hour, mostly on back roads where we may have past one or two cars. I mean we are in the middle of nowhere. We reached the point where Glynn suggested we park the Blazer along with our camping gear, complete with the utensils we would need to clean and cook the fish for dinner that Glynn had promised we would catch. At this point the scenery and river was not much different than when we left the cabin. We transferred the canoe from the Blazer to the van and continued upstream for about eight miles, which took about another 40 minutes traveling north on the narrow dirt road. From the road the river was completely out of sight.

Now two hours into the trip, we finally reached the point where we would launch our canoes and embark on our infamous journey. The landscape had changed dramatically. The river was ice cold and crystal clear. The land was completely uninhibited as if no man had ever stepped foot on it. The winding riverside perfectly lined with trees. We were anxious to get our canoes in the water, send Bruce and Claudia back to the safe haven of the cabin, and start our excursion downstream. We immediately started snapping pictures of the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately I only have a couple pictures left in my possession; the others must have been lost along the many relocations throughout the years. I will ask Aaron to post a picture taken by Claudia of the three of us proudly and confidently standing among the vessels that would take us along the eight-mile ride.

Finally, we were in our canoes and off on an adventure that Tom Sawyer would have been envious of. I’m telling you that during the first two miles of that trip we had a bonding experience with nature shared amongst friends that I have not come close to since. I don’t know how many other eighteen-year-old boys, then or now, would cherish that experience like we did, but drifting down the river on that beautiful summer day we were caught up in the moment and loving every minute of it. The first chance we got we had our lines dropped into the water. As I mentioned before, Mark and I never had much luck catching fish on the Goulais. Glynn had promised that we would catch more fish than we would know what do with. Mark had bought into it while I was much more cynical, not thinking that we would catch a thing. It didn’t really matter much to me one way or the other.

Within minutes we pulled our first fish into the canoe. Not sure who caught the first one but we all eventually got our share. I vividly recall the first one that I caught. It was a speckled trout; the first one I had ever seen and the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. We pulled them out of the river one after the other. I bet each of us caught at least five fish within the first thirty minutes. None of them were small. One fish each would have easily satisfied our appetites for the evening after an eight-mile canoe trip. Although we had the Styrofoam cooler readily available, we let them all go with anticipation that we would catch plenty more as we made our way to the campsite. At this point everything was going as we mapped out with Glynn the night before. We were on cloud nine and all probably thought to ourselves that this was too good to be true.

About one hour and two miles into trip the adventure would meet its ultimate turning point. The river had suddenly all but dried up. We had reached a point where it was no longer possible to paddle down the river. I remember Mark saying “boys we going to have to portage the canoes”. I’m like, what the hell does that mean? I will always remember Mark for his broad vocabulary. Well, I soon found out what it meant as I found myself carrying a canoe over my shoulder along the path of what was just minutes ago, a flourishing river. Mark was always the optimist. This was just a minor setback and we would soon be back on the river picking up where we left off, not letting one more trout get away. It didn’t happen. For approximately the next six miles and eight hours we struggled “portaging” our canoes along the dried up river. Recognizing the excruciatingly slow pace that we were on, it didn’t take long for our imaginations to wander. Would we reach camp before dark? Would we ever reach it? Were we lost out in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from any form of civilization?

I think it was about 8:00 PM by the time we finally found camp. By the time we got there we were diminished to three worn out thrill seekers and canoes with razor thin linings that had been scraped away by the rocks that lined the river floor. We had made many futile attempts to try to start canoeing down the river again. Our spirit had been broken and we were in no mood to set up camp. Besides, we had nothing to cook for dinner. I’m don’t remember how we did it (must have been with one of the first cell phones ever made), but we were able to contact Bruce and Claudia and have them come pick us up that night. It was probably midnight by the time we got back to the cabin. We had been on an adventure and we were spent.

Prior to Mark’s passing I often reflected on this memory and wondered if it would have as much meaning had it turned out differently. The fact that it turned out the way that it did gave us something special to share on the rare occasions we saw each other over the last 10 years. Since we graduated from college, regretfully I could probably count on one hand the number of times we got together. At this point in time our lives had gone down two different paths, but when we did get together we never got bored with recanting these stories. Mark was a very influential person in my life as a child and teenager. He gave me the gift of adventure, always wanting to try something new and test the limits. Although I am not a musician, I thoroughly enjoyed being around him and his close friends that were very talented artists, listening to them talk shop and jam. I will always remember that wherever Mark was, he was constantly beating on something with his two index fingers as if they were drum sticks, always in perfect rhythm. Mark turned me on to both water skiing and snow skiing, which to this day is one of my favorite pastimes; I just took my six-year-old son for the first time this past winter. He was always head and shoulders better than me at most things we did together, but always made me feel comfortable. He always waited for me for several minutes down at the bottom of the slope. I think it took him five years to teach me how to slalom on a water ski.

Mark, I love you brother. May you rest in peace.

A Poem from Claudia (Mark's Mom)

Thank you, Aaron, for providing the forum for storytelling. Humanity prevails because of the connections created through such sharing.

The following is from my collection of poems titled "A Healing Place: Poems of the Goulais."

Hidden Treasure

Time is a river.
Life is…
When it seems as if change
is the only constant,
step into the middle,
look deep
beneath the surface reflection
of what is merely present.
Stand silent,
in the rich bottom silt
where the stories are,
layer upon layer,
decade by decade.
Stories to curl toes around.
Stories to nourish
to sustain
to connect
to pass on.
For time is a river.
Life is…
exquisitely storied.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Autumn in Canada

Once Mark and I went up to his family's cabin in Canada at the very end of autumn. We knew it would be too cold for skiing so we were basically planning on doing some fishing.

The day we arrived it was pretty much cold and rainy and we watched a couple fishing shows on TV for insipration. After that, however, we got a couple of those rare days where you know it should be getting colder and creeping ever closer to winter but it unexpectedly turns perfect. It was right at the point where the color of every leaf had changed but few had fallen (I can say that with confidence since these pictures are b&w). In the morning we got in the boat and made our way to the middle of the bay which was unusually calm.

Now, except for what appears from the distance to be a relatively small opening out into Lake Superior, the rest of the bay is enclosed by gorgeous hills and trees then plastered with the richest fall colors I can remember seeing. Have you ever listened to one of those relaxation tapes and they tell you to "imagine yourself in a beautiful, peaceful place" but you can't really think of one? Well, this was one of those places. It made me think "why do I ever go anywhere else?" I wouldn't be surprised if there has not been a day quite like that up there since. I'm also not a bit surprised that Mark would want his ashes spread there if there's even the slightest chance his spirit will follow.

Something I bet I'll never experience again was the fog that rolled in while we were out in the boat trying to decide if we should try for some fish in another spot. It was like we were in the middle of a cloud and we literally could not see five feet in front of us. If it had not lifted we would not have been able to find our way back. But, in just a few minutes it was completely gone like it had never even been there. I wish I could have talked about that with Mark one more time because there's no way I can describe it to my satisfaction.

Eventually we found a great spot to catch some Pike but they would only bite very early in the morning when you couldn't see them. During the day we could see them because the water was so calm and clear - but they were not hungry. There were some HUGE fish in there. Some easily 3 - 4 times the size of the one Mark was holding in the picture. They would just sit and stare at our lures (they liked the bright red ones) like kids watching TV.

Growing up, I went fishing many times on Lake Erie with my grandfather. I never could relate to how much of a fanatic he was about it. He and his fishing buddies getting up WAY too early and never tiring of trying a new spot when nothing was biting. Always debating about whether to try their old spots and what tackle the fish might like that particular minute.

This trip with Mark, however, made me understand. There's nothing like two friends out planning and speculating and experimenting trying to find those damned fish and the thrill when we really found them. Don't get me started on catching them! We could barely fit just one of them in the little cooler we brought never really thinking we'd catch anything (the tip of the tail was actually sticking out). A couple of those fish could have jumped out of the boat cooler and all if we hadn't been sitting on it to hold them in.

We spent most of that day out on the bay with a local friend of Mark's family, Glynn, who is also pictured. Fortunately he was around to help us clean the fish or it would have been a big mess.

I could go on more and more about this trip but I won't. These are some memories that are weighing more heavily on me now that Mark's not here to hold up his end. They're just mine now.

What will happen to them when I'm gone?

My Favorite...

Mark, how I will miss that sound. Tight, in the pocket, and always dancing. It was so easy to play with that going on. The best, however, was after. Your insight, you humor, your intelligence. I will miss you!

Tony Z

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mark Greenwood Memorial Concert

As you may (or may not) know, Steve Perakis and Rob Maccabee have been working to create a memorial concert to celebrate Mark's life. The following is the latest information about the concert:

Friends and colleagues,

Rob Maccabee has booked a date for the Memorial concert and get
together for Mark Greenwood.
It is to be on Sunday May 21, at the Columbus Music Hall, starting around 3 PM.
Of course, we understand some of you are out of town or might
otherwise be unavailable to participate.
We plan to share stories, songs, photos, poetry
and food ( since the Music Hall has a full kitchen ).
Rob suggested the New Basics Brass Band and Honk Wail & Moan
to play
some tunes, and we plan to have a couple small groups play
a few of Mark's jazz and pop tunes as well.

A big thanks in advance to all of you!


Rob tells me that all are invited to contribute - not just the musicians. Sharing stories, poems, thoughts, etc. - anything that would help to celebrate Mark's life. I'm going to put together a photo collage-type video to be shown at the concert, so if anyone has photos that I could scan & use in the video, I'd appreciate your help. Please email me at if you'd like to get me any stuff you'd like to see included in the video.

It sure would be great so see everyone there. Please pass this info along to anyone who'd be interested.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The answer is not to wish away the truth.
The answer is inside the truth.
Trying to find a way to hear the truth and for it not to hurt so bad.
The truth is not that Mark died. It is not the truth for me!
The truth is that Mark lives forever. In my heart. In my ears. In my life. In the Spring blossoms. On the river. Behind the drums. In the stories and memories of each of us who know him.
This is what Mark and I did together. We always tried to figure it out. When I would hear "ex-act-ly" I knew I was on the right track and that Mark was with me! I will continue to search for the truth- he expects no less of me. It may be easier now...his voice coming from within. I have learned to trust that voice and to act. One thing we did figure out perfectly is love. Maybe you already know the truth about love, if you don't, here it is-
Love is real.
Love lasts.
Love needs nothing more than to be.

And now as my face wants to cry, my heart shouts out - but look! Love lives on!
I hear love's voice, I see the tulips starting life all over again!

In a way no other can, Mark gently pushes each of us blessed by knowing him to be a more creative human being. All the while convincing us that we can do it. All the while reassuring us that we are pretty amazing just as we are. All the while entertaining us in so many ways- making the journey an awesome road trip!
The wildly happy days of easy life in Columbus were a gift. Mark knew it. He appreciated the time, the place and the people who filled his life there. Life with Mark was also a gift. Given for a short time, all pain hidden and only light and hope shining like the stars above the cabin on the Goulais.

Through Mark's life and with Mark's passing those of us still watching those stars are wiser. We have realized the preciousness of friendship, the miracle of love, the gift of time and the wonder of it all. Mark will be with us forever. His life has eternally changed ours. His spirit lightens our load of sorrow. His accepting laughter echoes in our ears. The purity of his love holds us and holds us together. We will not wonder what might have been. We will stand amazed at what was and forever will be.

I love you, Brother!

Sometimes it Snows in April

Sometimes it snows in april
Sometimes I feel so bad
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending
But all good things, they say, never last
All good things they say never last

And love, it isn't love until it's past

Ah Homey,

I am so shocked, and sad to hear that you died. You had so much power and light -- I just never expected this. I am sorry we never had a chance to resolve things. Or maybe only I had issues that were unresolved? If there's one thing I learned through knowing you, it's not to make assumptions.

Sorry about the Prince lyric. I only included it because I know you would think that it's totally cheezy. I didn't include the part about going up to heaven and finding another friend, because that's not exactly the way I picture it. I can't define the imprint you've left behind, I can only ponder the meaning your life had in mine. Hey, are you channeling a song lyric to me? Can I credit you with inspiring me to get musical again?


* * *

This is a post I drafted for my own blog right after I heard the news about Mark. Thanks, Aaron, for starting this blog and giving me a more appropriate place to publish my thoughts and share with others. It helps to fill in some of the missing pieces . . .

I also met Mark back in 1989 at Capital University. Mark was a true "guy friend." We hung out together, and since he'd dated my room mate, that seemed to clear the way for us to be "just friends."

But at times, there were some tensions. We were in the same degree program and shared many classes. We were both a little competitive. Mark was so good at everything he tried, he brought out lots of peoples' insecurities, including mine.

Back then, I didn't have the most constructive way of dealing with those insecurities. [Flashback to certain incidents involving toilet paper (which, for the record, was entirely Beth Stewart's idea!), whipped cream and a pan full of dirty dish water.] Mark was a good sport.

When I first heard the news about Mark, I went to the Internet and tried to Google him, and got dozens of hits (who knew there were so many Mark Greenwoods?) I realized that I was desperately searching for more than just information, but for a way to contact Mark - as if he'd still be able to check his e-mail. Then, I gave in to one of my personal pet peeves and drafted this totally corny letter to him . . . worse than anything I've read in any of those on-line funeral home guest books . . . But, I guess it all goes back to feeling "unresolved."

So, what would make me feel more resolved about Mark? To know that he reached a point in his life where he was happy, satisfied--a point where he'd achieved what he wanted to do. Some of what I see and read here answers that question very well. And yet, so many questions will remain unanswered.

As for our friend, Mark Greenwood, there was only one.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I first saw Mark in 1989 when he came to school at Capital. I was in my junior year and had made many other friends by this point but you couldn't help but notice Mark whenever he was around. I suppose I must have seen him first in Wind Symphony. I don't recall our first meeting but I eventually I made many friends with the incoming freshman and Mark became one of them. It is funny to think back on little memories that I had forgotten until now. I guess the earliest memory I have is of the two of us going to Kroger's to pick up some groceries. We were walking down the coffee aisle and I made a comment about how wonderful coffee smelled but, at the time, did not drink it. In the course of this conversation, Mark eventually convinced me to eat a coffee bean. He laughed and I was spitting bits of coffee bean out the rest of the night. He always knew he could pull one over on me. So many good memories. I'll share more later.

"Here's to my Friend"

To begin, I'd like to thank Mr. Molnar for spear-heading this initiative, inviting me to participate, and more importantly, summarizing a few things that have been reeling through my mind as of late (Thanks, Aaron).

My relationship with Mark began as a peripheral one; friend of a friend (or rather, roommate of my main drinking buddy at the time). Our initial interactions primarily consisted of Mark desparately trying to kick my inebriated posterior out of his house so he could get some much deserved peace & quiet. He was way too cool to be hanging out with the likes of me. But, I eventually began to grow on Mark (much like a fungus), and we soon became good friends.

Seems like Mark was almost always hanging out at the Eastmoorland pad, back in the day. It was there that we delved into video production; the "Johnny is Easy to Kill" series, "The Letter", "Discount Psychics", and other camera fun to pass the time. Mark would always find ways to recruit and incorporate all our friends. He was ever the producer, director, camerman, script-writer, etc... Mark would always refer to me as "the talent", even though I was never really deserving of the title.

Mark was already a seasoned performing musician when I was "still in my musical diapers". He was always ahead of the curve like that. Performing with NBBB and HWM with Mark in the drum seat was always a pleasure. He was such a natural musician, with a flow and vibe that was effortlessly cool.

Mark's generosity was overwhelming. How many times did he go out of his way to lend me a hand? Too many to count.

I'd lost track of him over the past few years, but Mark was frequently on my mind. I wish I had made more of an effort to get in touch with him. Always thought we'd have more time.....

This is my favorite picture of Mark.

Miss ya, bruh.

Monday, April 24, 2006

From Mark's Mom (Claudia)

Claudia asked me to post a few things here for her. First, a poem she wrote for Mark at one of his gigs. Based on the date and the location she mentioned, I think it was probably with the Jeff Ludwig Quartet - but I guess that's not so important. Also, she requested that I include a link to the American Porphyria Foundation - which I have done in the blog sidebar to the right.

" I would also like you to post the name of the website for the American Porphyria Foundation as a source of information to people who have for so long known that Mark has been ill, but who--like most doctors we encountered--know nothing of the condition or its devastating effects. Among the types of porphyria, his was identified as acute intermittent. It certainly explains the "attacks" which forced him to spend far too many days in bed. Unbelievably, the medication that he was prescribed and which he took faithfully for 'irritable bowel disorder for five years "

She also sent a couple pictures. The first picture was taken at Christmas 2004 near their home at the Prescott zoo. The second is Mark and Claudia in Skull Valley, AZ in the spring of 2005. It's great to see these more recent pictures of him. It's also hard because he seems so close... just one year ago.

Distant Drummer

Where do you go
when you close your eyes
as you play?
Do you spiral deep
into a centering place?

I want so desperately
to accompany you,
to ride on the pulsating
rhythms and sounds
that explode beneath
your fingers,
beckoning me.

I watch you closely
but find no clue in your pursed lips
which guard the secret.
I am left,
quite alone,
outside the circle,
the center inaccessible
to me.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mark in Grand Cayman

This is a picture I took of Mark in Grand Cayman on a small boat taking us and a group of cruise passengers to go swim with the stingrays when we were on a cruise ship excursion. We were playing in the band for the Cunard Crown Dynasty and signed up as the official staff member "guides" for the trip - which just meant that if there was an emergency or something we would be expected to go out of our way to notify someone on the ship. That was the price you paid for getting to go on the trip.

I remember the sound of the boat engine and the smell of the salt water as it occured to me to take out my camera. I wish I had done that more often.

note: the photo I put in right hand column of this blog is also from that boat ride.

More on the cruise ship experiences later...

And one more thing, I'm working on setting up a shared photo album where we can all put our Mark Greenwood photos and captions. I'll post instructions here when that's ready.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Good-Bye Mark

Our Friend, Mark Greenwood, left us on Saturday April 8, 2006 - one week after his 35th birthday. Below is the notice sent by email from his mother, Claudia...
This is a most difficult note to write, but necessary. Our son, Mark, 35, died this past Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those who knew him knew his dream. There were also shadows. He struggled for years to keep them at bay. Much too soon the dream faded and the shadows claimed his gentle spirit. We will remember his as gifted and clever, kind and loving. He brought great joy to our lives and many others through his music. He is survived by his best friend, a German shepherd. Isabel, who has been staying with us this past year.
We plan no services, but will take his remains to Goulais River, Ontario, this summer, returning him to his favorite fishing hole.

I hadn't seen Mark much in the last five years or so and, as it seemed, he was always on the move and doing his own thing, there was no reason to believe I would see him anytime in the near future. Still, I am now painfully aware of just how many times in the back of my mind I think "I'll have to tell Mark about that someday" or "Mark would really like that" or "I wonder if Mark has heard this album". Mark was always around in one way or another whether he knew it or not.

I know most everyone reading this must be experiencing something similar to what I have been feeling over the last couple of weeks. The flood of memories that were temporarily buried by the distractions of everyday life. The recall of conversations and experiences shared with Mark that nobody else remembers or even knows about. And the new burden of carrying on alone in our minds inside jokes that now nobody else gets. It's a very lonely and anxious feeling. What if I forget? Who will someday call and say "hey, remember that one time when...?"

Well, I hope this blog will help by giving us all a place to clarify and deposit our memories. In my experience, Mark often liked to carry on very separate friendships and was constantly looking for ways to define who he was by seeking out new expereiences independently. In this regard, I suspect this blog will help fill in the gaps for many of us as we find out what was going on with Mark in the parts of his life that we weren't a part of.

Let me start by telling how I know Mark for those who don't know me. We met when we were both about 17 - I think in 1988. We were both playing with a community big band (The Western Reserve Big Band) that rehearsed in Kirtland, Ohio. He pretty much kept to himself until I helped him carry out his drums one time. I think that's when our friendship started. We eventually learned that we were both heading for Capital University in the fall which, thinking back, is much more of coincidence that I realized at the time. We agreed that we should try to room together and we did for 2 years until he decided to move out of the dorms.

Of course, we had many, many experiences together after that but, for now, I'll just leave it at that. I'll create another post immediately with a photo and a short description of what was going on to further set this thing in motion.

I miss you Mark!