Friday, September 14, 2007

Missing Mark Loesch

Wednesday night, my good friend Mark was attacked while riding his single-speed bike through a rough neighborhood on his way to pay a surprise visit to a friend. Unfortunately, the friend didn't know he was coming, and his wife had gone to bed, so nobody was expecting Mark... until the morning came and he was nowhere to be found.

When he was found at 7am Thursday in a yard, he was still alive, but he didn't last long enough to the arrival of the paramedics. We're haunted by the thought of him gravely injured, lying alone for hours. (UPDATE: Turns out this was misreported to us all: He was in fact dead in the morning, and probably had expired shortly after his attack.)

We've been spending a lot of time over with the family - he has four kids aged 15 to 3, and a wonderful wife. We're all in shock over this. Some have questioned what he was doing in that neighborhood... the fact is he rode through there a few times a week on his way to his friend's house... rarely calling before showing up for a late night laugh, or even a ride for a few miles to a favorite pub. He was doing something he had done dozens of times before, but this time somebody was waiting for him.

So I've been thinking about Mark a lot these past days. And I want to tell people about him.

Mark was one of the funniest people I've ever met, and with my gang of comedians, that is saying something. His wit was razor sharp, but he had a true gift for physical comedy: His robot impersonations were legendary: Every move made with a servo or pneumatic sound, with mechanical gestures to match. His "old prospector" persona could appear at any time, with him whistling his esses through his teeth... (actually sounding maybe more like the gopher in Winnie the Pooh...)

Walking toward him in a hall was always an adventure: If he didn't run right into you, he'd take a sudden detour down a row of cubes, and come back up behind you... or duck under a desk to hide... he was unafraid to pull any gag in the office, unafraid of what it might make people think.

I used to speak German with him... with full, rich accents... which would devolve into us speaking English with German accents, at full volume, right in the middle of the cube farm.

I met him 12 years ago at an insurance company; I was a contractor, he was an employee. A manager casually mentioned to me that "this guy Mark really likes music, like you. You should go say hi". So I dropped by, and we hit it off immediately: the awesome production skills of Trevor Horn was our first conversation.

We were work pals for a while, but worked on very different projects, and then he went off to something new. A few months later, he called me up with a fascinating new opportunity: He was part of a team moving a Prescription Benefits company from Detroit to the Twin Cities, and they needed to build a team FAST: Did I want to help?

So I joined him, and we worked very closely, at which point he invited me over for a party... so Pamela and I showed up. One week early! But he invited us in, and we had a great time for hours... maybe more fun than the "real party"... at least I remember our pre-party more. We carpooled for a year, and grew very close. He notoriously mixed me the "killer" eighth martini at my 30th birthday bash. I of course blamed it on him making it with Gin... not the obvious issue of it being the EIGHTH.

In 1998, when we bought our first house, Mark and Samantha were the first people we had over to warm the place up. At that crazy evening, Mark introduced us to "Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer", a National Lampoon radio skit with Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest that still makes my sides hurt with laughter. Not long after, we had our first "Wig Night" - for his benefit: It was a surprise party for him, and 8 of us were to meet him at a restaurant. We decided to take it one further: We all bought wigs and fake moustaches, and strange new outfits... and were in disguise at the table. He walked right past us... and when Samantha turned him around to see us, he was just slack jawed with amazement. We had a few more wig night outings in the years that followed.

Around 1999, things started to go south at the Prescriptions company: We were bought out by another company filled with horrible horrible people. Everybody bailed out for different places. I started up a consulting company focusing on data warehousing. Mark went to a Lutheran-focused life insurance company. We stayed in touch... but admittedly we drifted a bit in the early 2000s.

Finally last year I was able to bring him in to work with me at the big Hospital - and for the last 5 months of that project, we sat next to eachother. It was just a wonderful thing to be back together with him, and we had laughs every day. I got caught back up in his life and he with mine. After I left for my new Cardiology gig, we stayed in touch, chatting almost daily, keeping the friendship going. I had only just had a 10 minute message chat with him earlier on Wednesday.

There are so many things in life that were running gags with Mark, that will choke me up to even think about them (and forgive me, but these probably won't be funny out of context, but they mean something to me).

- Taking a restaruant name like "La Casita" and saying "You may not know this, but 'La Casita' is actually Mexican for 'The Casita'"

- Seeing a mattress by the side of the freeway and asking the driver to stop so you can pick it up "there's a perfectly good mattress back there". This got to the point where we would actually call eachother to report perfectly good mattresses.

- When describing the ingredients of any drink or dish, adding at the very end "and with just a HINT of urine". (or Goat urine, or Yak urine).

- Long detailed discussion of men's room urinal etiquette.

- The following two jokes told in sequence:
- Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?
- Pete and 'smash me in the face with a broken beer bottle' were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

- When offered something, making a big show of saying "Oh no I couldn't", but before even finishing the word "couldn't" switching over to eagerly lunging forward saying "Well OK if you insist". Sort of like a light switch change.

- When getting a tour of someone's home, patting on the master bedroom bed and saying "aha, the old workbench, eh?"

Mark's passing leaves a huge hole in my heart, and I will miss him. He was a great father to his 4 kids, and a good friend to so many of us. Thanks for letting me share a little about my friend.

21 comments:

Michelle said...

Jim - I didn't know Mark as well as you, but he had a huge influence on my life. I was in Michigan working for the PBM you speak of when Mark and others came to transition our duties to Minnesota - although I could have resented the intrusion, Mark smoothed over a lot of tensions with his silly banter and his Nerf-gun battles - but he also treated all of us with respect and included us in the plans and decisions. He played a large part in my choosing to move to Minnesota and be part of the team he was building. Marks enthusiasm and creativity were contagious and he helped me consider possibilities I wouldn't have before. I too bailed when the "horrible people" showed up and hadn't seen Mark in several years, but I ran into him downtown last year and he was the same old cheerful guy - excited about his projects and proud of his home and family. I was both boosted by his energy and saddened thinking of the good old days, which have never been matched since. I had hoped to cross paths with him again and I can't quite describe how I felt today when I found out he was taken too soon. I am so sorry for your loss of a great friend and for the deep loss that his wife and children will bear. It is such a senseless tragedy - I wish I could provide more comfort - I can only agree, the hole left is large indeed.

Michael La Rocca said...

Jim,

I didn't know Mark, just as I don't know you; I hope you won't view it as an invasion of privacy while you mourn your friend that some stranger read your memories of him that you have written here. Instead, I hope you will be happy to know that if your goal was to honor Mark's memory by telling others what a great and special guy he was, then you have acheived that with at least one random person. This incident has really moved and effected me, especially since I live not far from where it happened in south Minneapolis. I attended the memorial walk for Mark last night, and am now hungry for some news that whoever did this has been found, or at least that there are some leads. So, thanks to Google, in looking for such news, I found your blog. Reading it has, for me, added impact both to the tremendous humanitarian loss this crime has caused as well to the need for Mark's community to stand up in his honor and refuse to accept such horrible acts.

Thanks for sharing your stories, and thanks for allowing me to know Mark just a little bit.

My best wishes for your healing during this difficult time,

Michael La Rocca
Minneapolis
roakie72@yahoo.com

Jimmy said...

Thanks for posting your thoughts - this is a public Blog, and friends and strangers are equally welcome to read and comment.

I'm glad my ramblings have helped give a picture of Mark's life.

Anonymous said...

Thx for the sharing these great words, Mark was the stuff great people are made of. He was not afraid to express himself & loved to get to know people.
His HHS buddy, John E

Anonymous said...

Jim-

Perhaps you remember me from your consulting days at LUSA. I still have one of the (many) Jim B. Altoids tins. As do a few others who are still around from those days. I remember when you and Steve (Sumner?) first appeared.
Never was work a funner and funnier place to be than when Mark, You, and Molly were there. Mark and I clicked from the get-go. Years before either of us knew what IT even was. We had the same warped sense of humor and constantly cracked each other up- to the dismay of much of the management staff and co-workers who just didn't get it!
Yet we managed to get lots of work done, too. Go figure......
I remember when Mark xeroxed his face and pasted it onto the back of a Bay City Rollers album, right over the drummer's photo, and put it on display for all to see.
From that time on, I knew I was gonna enjoy being around Mark.
I clearly remember Mark's robot impression, complete with the "servo motor noise"; and his german accent vas spot on- his way of saying "Ve haf vays", whenever someone was in trouble with the man. Often accompanied by his goose stepping finger gestures.
After you guys took off for the Rx, (taking waaaaayy too much humor with you), Mark and I still stayed in touch. We visited his family a few times after he and Sam moved into the new place, and we had his family over to our home a few times. Last time we saw each other, he came to the office and we had lunch together. We picked up right where we'd left off- laughing over some MAD magazine we each had read long before we even knew each other.
That was several years ago. I didn't realize till just now how much he was into physical fitness and bicycling. Such a shame, as I also enjoy biking and it would have been great to have ridden with him.
I stumbled onto your blog quite by accident, but I'm so glad I did.
I'll never forget Mark. He gave me his Java Jack's Coffe Shack mug when he left LUSA, something I've kept and will continue to treasure.

Dave Gratz

Jimmy said...

Oh my goodness, Dave - of course I remember you! Your deep knowledge of Fast Times at Ridgemont High was legendary, and I have told and retold your anecdote about the dusty, eternally relabeled bottle of root beer schnapps that was the "card'em" trigger at the liquor store you worked.

Thanks for dropping by and leaving some reminiscences. I'll always remember you and Mark's banter at LUSA as a true highlight of my working career.

Joe said...

Jim - Joe R here. Thanks for your great post about Mark. I have been crying a lot this morning but your recaps of Mark's various running jokes had me crying with laughter instead! I can just hear him doing all of those gags.

Anyone who knew Mark loved him and I was so glad at his funeral to see the huge masses of people who showed up. I knew that he had touched a lot of lives but didn't realize just how many until I saw all of those mourners.

He was absolutely one of a kind!

Jane said...

Just wanted to send you love, light, peace and healing through this journey. Thank you so much for sharing your friend's life with all of us, it is truly a blessing. May love and light be with you and Mark's family and all who knew and loved him.

Untrainable said...

Jim -- I hate being the :ten minute behind 'guy'" but I wanted to say that although I've moved to St. Louis (still working for the horrible horrible people alas) I had always hoped to see Mark "one more time" he was such a funny guy and I cannot imagine how much Samantha, his children, and of course, all of you who were lucky enough to stay in touch with him will miss him.

It's incredibly cruel that such a wonderful person was taken from us much, much, much too soon. The world is worse off without him.

Anonymous said...

The murder's myspace page:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=186860169

Thugged out gangsta!

Anonymous said...

Whoops. Here is the link:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=186860169

Looks like a real great contributor to society.

Sorry for your loss.

Jimmy said...

Ugh... With all this news today, I feel like I'm going through all of this anew. The news media has been maddeningly inconsistent... hopefully by tomorrow the story will be straight.

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted that the media can't just let his family be and let everyone grieve over this loss without these accusations. The whole point of this terrible tragedy is that a mans life was taken. Period.
R.I.P Mark. You are deeply missed!

Anonymous said...

This is an absolute example of how some 'people' are NEVER going to assimilate into civilized society.

After 40 years of social programs supposedly to give the minority a 'leg up'... you have trash like this tearing apart a family and friends.

thanks to whomever dug up the myspace post from the thug that is implicated in mark's murder.

I cut and pasted the text from this trashperson. woe is me, looks like he's bred two offspring and one is on the way... he's only 23!

here's what he wrote... see if you can decipher:

First let me give a shout out to my kids Darius, Tishaura, and my unBorn son who will B here in DecemBer daddy loves yall SoooWooo. To let everybody know, i'm da nigga wit da Red Rag around my neck throwin up OB. I aint OB nomore, itz RTB to da fullest, But u niggaz and Bitchez know wut it iz when u B me in da streetz. Wutz Brackin to all da real ni*gaz and females up on here, this that nigga Deezy from SouthSide 30z BLOOD SoooWooo. Itz RTB to da fullest But im still a mothafuckin Outlaw. I aint Bout all that Bangin ova da myspace so if u got somethin u wanna get off your chest, holla at me in da streetz. Thatz a message to any of u offBrand ass niggaz, SoooWooo to that BLOOD. To let yall know a lil' Bit Bout me i'm 5'9, 160lBs, light Brown skinned, Brown eyes, and got Braids, also in da streetz doin wut I do. Im Bout dat money. I got a page on Blackplanet for those of u who wanna check that out it'z DonDeezyOutlawBlood. I'm a southside rida. Born and raised in da 30'z, yall know who Be ova there DA BLOODZ. If u any type of offBrand ass nigga from 10'z, 20'z, Bootisez, Family Markz, and da CKraBz or any other Bitch ass gang that dont fuck wit Da BLOODZ, don't Bum to my page talkin sum gang shit smuz I will find out who u iz. Fuck all u Bitch ass niggaz. Da BLOODZ iz in this Bitch til da end. For all da females, I aint really lookin for a relationship right now smuz im involved wit someone right now. I got a son on da way, he'z due in DecemBer, we can B friendz though so get at a real BLOOD nigga. Before I go, let me say wutz Brackin wit my QueenzBlock niggaz SoooWooo, and wutz Brackin wit my STO niggaz ova on da NorthSide of da Murderapolis. Niggaz know wut it iz when itz time to get down in these streetz. They hoez, im out here gettin money in da 30z everyday of da week while thses soft ass wanna B gang Bangerz act tough when they know they soft. Fuck yall niggaz. SouthSide 30z RTB in this Bitch. Fuck u offBrand ass niggaz from da other side. Yall niggaz iz Bitchez. Niggaz Better quit playin and get that money. Alwayz paper chase, never skirt chase. Stay on da grind. SOOOWOOO to that BLOOD.

-- That is some crazybabble people.

50 years ago, justice would have been swifter, I believe. Justice was not always perfect, mind you. But civilized society would have made certain to show this crazy fucker the door... as an example to his kinfolk and associates on how NOT to act.

Too many inner city youths have made a concious decision to step outside of civilized society and we are paying the price.

It hurts to admit that. Its better to not really talk about the problem...

US cities, and I live in violent Saint Louis, are festering reminders of the past sins of slavery. I get that. But thug niggaz need to realize that being a victim, acting like urban ass clowns, cutting down beautiful people like Mark is pure evil. They don't care about that at all.

Do you?

jamookie0@lycos.com

Jimmy said...

I know people are hurting right now and rightfully angry, but I just want to alert that outside of that quote posting, let's keep the generalizations and n-words to a minimum.

There are broken people of all stripes and colors across the country - meth heads, abusers and abusees, gangsters and no hopers... And it's painful and tragic to get in their path.

But lets keep remembering the family, the people left behind, and send them love and support.

Anonymous said...

We should be OUTRAGED! The Minneapolis Police are trying to paint this as a 'botched' robbery/drug deal to make us sleep better or prevent 'white flight', when it is an obvious hate crime. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that Mark's killer, this 'blood gangsta', who obviously knows the system, will escape proper sentencing because of how it's being portrayed. 2nd degree murder, my ass. He needs to be put away for life.

TK said...

Saddness. : (

Anonymous said...

I was completely shocked when I saw Mark on the news...I remember saying "Hey, I know that guy" then it turned to "OMG!! This can't be true"
I knew Mark when we were about 13 years old, I lived a few blocks away from him. We used to hang out at the park across the street from his childhood home. We were kinda wild in those days but Mark always had his shit together - he knew right from wrong even at 13!
You broght back some memories for me that made me laugh. I know he used that "Pete and Repeat" joke on me, way back then..needless to say, he said it probably 3 times before I "got it". (Young and dumb with a little blonde helped him a lot with those silly jokes) I was probably his favorite target because of that. You are right, his physical comedy was the best, just wish I could have seen it when he was older and had it tuned in!
So sorry for the loss, hope his family is o.k.! I would like to give them a little hope..the pain they are feeling does subside. True - it will not go away but you will be able to remember "MARK" and not the "INCIDENT". The horrible way he was taken will fade as time goes by.
I know this because my brother commited suicide. I didn't think I was going to survive, I actually thought I should go be with him, so he wouldn't be alone. He gave me a gift that I won't go into, but now I know he is o.k., and he is not alone and he is watching over me and everyone he cared for.
Please know that Mark is not gone, he just can't be seen. He will always be with you. And if I know Mark, he will still play jokes on you and mess with your head. You just have to be creative on how to "pay him back" You can do it...trust me!
Julie

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking more lately about the good times I had when I worked with Mark (and Jim) a number of years ago. Mark was able to deliver the funniest lines with a totally straight face.
We worked in a building at the time that had a HORRIBLE cafeteria, run by a very crabby crotchety woman with absolutely no sense of humor.
Once and a while this cafeteria would feature fish as the special.
Fish. In a 2nd rate cafeteria.
Thank goodness it was only a few time per year.
The lobby of the building just reeked, it was that bad. One of the days they had this fish, we held our breath and entered the cafeteria.
Mark looked right at crabby lady, and asked- "Is the fish safe today."
That one had me laughing all afternoon. I don't think the crabby cafeteria lady got it, though.

On this recent news, hopefully justice will be served.

Dave Gratz

syntaxjunkie said...

Hi Jim,
If I'm not mistaken, you and I crossed over for a year or two at Mac, circa 1987. I wanted to thank you for posting such heartfelt words for Mark. I didn't know him, but I live in his neighborhood and was shocked by what happened.
I'm working on a silent auction fund-raising event for the memorial fund to be held at One On One Bike Studio on Washington Ave. in early June. I would love to capture some of your comments, and/or link to your blog on the event web site. Please post back if you're OK with this, or if you'd like to know more.
charles youel [syntaxjunkie at hotmail dot com]

IzzyMcLaughlin said...

Hi. Wow, I'm kinda late on this.
Okay, I'm really really late.
I'm a good friend of Mark's daughter, Chloe. I never met Mark, and haven't known about what happened to him for too long, but I know that so many people miss him, and wish I could've met him.
I'm glad to have stumbled across this blog. I didn't ever know much about him, but I'm glad I do now. Even if it is only a little bit.