Monday, May 15, 2006

The one armed man

After reading everybody's posts and telling myself "I gotta do that!" for too long, I'm finally writing about Mark. I guess I've been avoiding it since it seems so final. Looking at the dates at the top of the page still tears my heart out. Too young.

Mark was always one of my favorite drummers to play with. I don't even remember what groups we played in at Cap, a few anyway. We always had fun playing together and I knew that I could try anything and even if/when I screwed it up he'd be right there keeping the groove together and laughing at/with me. It always just felt good playing with Mark.

Somehow we ended up playing in the band for a "musical' called Me, Myself, & I that went to schools and performed a variety of show/pop tunes that were supposed to help the little ones learn about life. It was pretty wierd getting up early and trying to figure out where some elementary school was so we could go and play in the gym for 8 year olds. Naturally, Mark was one of the few things that made that gig tolerable. That was true a lot, I don't think I ever turned down a gig if I knew that Mark was playing.

Then there was the jewish band, MazelTov Orchestra. It was a pretty big challenge for us corn-fed midwest boys to understand what to do at an orthodox jewish wedding. Part circus, part rock band, and all culture-shocking ethnic extravaganza! Six hour gigs, hour long dance sets, and NO stopping between songs! As Wiester used to say (and probably still says) "the whole thing's a drum solo!" Mark was the first drummer that came in to sub that gig who "got it" right from the start. Since I kinda knew the routine I was in charge of helping Mark out with a never ending stream of shouts, looks, winks, twitches, and "bass conducting" so that he would catch the hits, stops, breaks, tempo changes, style changes, and all around madness. We would spend the whole gig staring at each other, me hoping that Mark would understand my "directions" and Mark laughing out loud when he didn't. But he never dropped a beat and he was such a great musician that no matter how bizzare things would get, he always nailed it the second time.

My favorite Mark story. Carpooling to a MazelTov gig in Cincinnati in Mark's tan "Jimmy" we had a blowout on the highway. We stopped and tried to put on the spare but it wouldn't fit because it's the wrong size wheel and/or tire! After messing with it for a little while we walked about half a mile to the next exit and went into a gas station to try to get help. There was one guy working there who says that the mechanics just left for the day. Mark asked him if we could bring both wheels and tires in to get a new tire or try to swap them, ANYTHING to get it fixed so we could get to the gig. The guy say's he'd love to help us out but he can't use the tire changing machine because he's only got one arm. We walked back to the car dumbfounded. What are the chances that we get a flat on the way to a gig and the only gas station for miles has everything we need to get back on the road but the guy working there can't help us because he only has one arm. We somehow pounded the wheel onto Mark's truck and it would drive but the tire rubbed the wheel well every time we turned left. We were late to the gig and spent the rest of the night inventing other scenarios where one bizzare coincidence could ruin everything for us on the way home.

After another MazelTov gig in Detroit we were all hanging out in the motel parking lot waiting for the bandleader to get our room keys. The "other Mark Greenwood" (trombone player) was also on the gig and was telling Mark what a great job he did playing this difficult gig as a sub. We were all joking about how it must be the name when the "other Mark" explained that obviously anyone with that name was pretty damn cool and the rest of the world just needed to deal with it. The "other Mark" eventually proclaimed with great fanfare:

"Mark Greenwood.
You know me,
you love me,
or F*ck You!"
I don't think I ever saw Mark laugh harder. That was a running joke between us for the rest of the time that he lived in Columbus, and it still cracks me up. Granted, that's a little "salty" but I think it's true. Everybody who knew Mark loved him, and anybody who couldn't enjoy being around him obviously had their own problems.


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