Markus "Fur" Cook
San Francisco, 25.Aug.1960 ­ 3.Jan.1996

Markus "Fur" Cook

To My Little Brother

This wasn't supposed to happen. Your life was not meant to end this way, this soon. This was not your destiny. There are too many things you still have to do. Write and play more music. Join the choir at Glide and sing at Sunday Service. See the CMW Championships in San Francisco. Go back to Colombia. Go on an exotic vacation with Carla. Marry Carla and raise a family. Be Marcelo's Tio Mark and watch him grow up. Stay clean and become a drug rehabilitation counselor ­ or not. Or start your own messenger company, or become a famous musician and tour the world, or become an environmental activist, or a teacher, or a journalist or any other damn thing you decided you wanted to be. After you stayed clean for a while.

But you didn't. And I'll never understand why. Re-playing the last few days of your life, I can see a thousand other ways that January 3, 1996 could have ended ­ all of them with you still alive. Death at 35 by a self-inflicted overdose of poison was not your fate. It was just the result of one horrible mistake too many. And the price you paid ­ that we are all now paying ­ is just too high and too final.

­ Kim Camille Cook

From the first time I met Markus, I was affected. "Wuuauoah," I wish there were a way to put that voice onto paper. Initially it was his hair and his voice that reached out and grabbed me, it took only a f mornings of toast and coffee chat to realize how special Markus was all around. Face it, the whole messenger scene can be intimidating, especially to a rookie, who after living through high school vowed to avoid such situations. For five months I minded my own business and became very close with my bicycle. I avoided the wall and the CW Saloon, not out of dislike, just because in the eyes of a newcomer, those are the places for the coolest folks on wheels. Then, zoom, into my life rolled Markus. "You've been on the road for five months, why don't I ever see you?" I didn't tell him I stood by in the empty urine-drenched alleys. Markus was like a proud Papa. He spoke of the messenger community as his family. Not in the hokey California crystal way, but like a member of a hard working Italian American family in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. Markus realized there were the crotchety uncles and mouthy youngsters, but they were his family just the same.

Markus quickly became a big brother for me. He gave me advice, support, and life a model brother pushed me to stomp on my fears. The week I met Markus was the week of Mercury Rising's female messenger photo shoot. Markus pulled me out of my hiding and brought me to Dolores Park on that sunny Sunday. Unlike the big brothers I was born with, Markus did not ignore me when he was surrounded by fifty women. Markus' authentic enthusiasm was contagious.

Without a doubt Markus changed my life. Drastically. Markus went across the Atlantic and found me a fellow. A long distance telephone call, coast to coast, Markus was for CMWC in Toronto, he said "Okay, I'll see you in a few days in Toronto" ... confused I answered, "What are you talking about, Markus. I'm not going to Toronto..." He replied with a quick, "I'll see you there." Hit with a wave of Markus spirit, I rode to see my boss and demanded the next week off; I had people to see in Toronto.

Much of my present situation can be traced back to Markus influence. I am no crystal ball seer, but I can guarantee Markus will be with me in the future. Both the tragedy of his premature death and the wonderful memories of his full life. When I'm feeling unsure or confused, I am looking forward to the voice of reason coming in loud, clear, and deep.

­ Therese Joy Madden

Markus Cook was born Mark Wesley Cook in Cheyenne Wyoming on August 25, 1960. He attended high school in Phoenix Arizona, where he was vice-president of the student body at Camelback High School, from which he graduated in 1978. After graduation he traveled and worked throughout the U.S. for several months. Shortly after he returned to Phoenix, he took up the guitar, and later the bass. He formed several rock bands that played in various clubs in Phoenix.

In 1984 he moved to San Francisco with his sister Kim and immediately began working as a bicycle messenger. What started as a job quickly became an integral part of his life and he rapidly became a pivotal member of the San Francisco messenger community. In 1990 he graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Geography. He continued playing and composing music as well as messengering throughout college. After graduation he went back to being a messenger and dispatcher full-time.

He considered himself an "urban geographer." He co-founded "Mercury Rising," a magazine by and about the bike messenger community. He wrote for it under the name "Fur." He toured Europe with his band "L.Sid," playing to adoring crowds at the 1st Cycle Messenger World Championship in Berlin in 1992.

Markus was a driving force behind bringing the Cycle Messenger World Championships to San Francisco in 1996. He continued to work in the courier business practically until his death of a heroin overdose on January 3, 1996.

 - Kim Camille Cook

The rain, the blur,
The world stands still
As I careen uncontrolled
On down the hill --
Don't wanna die,
Ain't ready to go,
Just another dent
In some yuppie's Volvo
- Markus Cook

The International Federation of Bike Messengers (IFBMA) established the Markus Cook Award for services to the international messenger community in 1998:

“The MCA for services to the International Messenger Community is not a prize for winning a race. At the time the Award was conceived, CMWC was beginning to be more about the racing than the happening. I [ Buffalo Bill] wanted to re-establish the spirit of the championships, to restate the reason that we all come to this event every year.

The MCA is a reflection of the axiom that everyone who comes to a CMWC is a winner, whether they race or not.

Markus himself was very much in love with the CMWC, and in many ways he was the unlikeliest bike racer imaginable. He was several other things, of course. Editor of Mercury Rising messenger zine, unofficial spokesperson of the SFBMA, leader of L Sid, and a friend to all. The enthusiasm of Markus brought CMWC and the international messenger community toSan Francisco, and it saddens many people to this day that he did not live to see it.

This award is for people that inspire and empower the wider messenger community, that put all of us before themselves.”

Markus Cook page on tapewrecks

Markus Cook Award on facebook

Mercury Falling from SF Weekly 

Letter replies to Mercury Falling