Tuesday, June 8, 2010


This Saturday, we had the fourth annual "Atwood Fest;" a party remembering the remarkable life of my friend Mark "Atwood" Evans, who was shot to death in a robbery four years ago.

We pointedly make it about the way he lived, not the way he died. The guy who killed him was locked up last summer for a long, long time-- 70 years without the possibility of parole. He's 24 years old.

I wrote about Mark more in my old blog, which I started partially as therapy in dealing with my beloved friend's death. Sometime in the near future, I'll write more about what made him such an interesting and unique guy, to the point that a bunch of people have a party every year celebrating his life, which ended when he was 42.

It was, funnily enough, a very happy night, in part because there was a reunion for me and for a bunch of other people. We had lost touch with Jamie, a college friend of ours (here he's pictured the night of my college graduation party with Mark nearly 25 years ago. The picture at the top of the post is Jamie and I taken on Saturday night.

We shared tales of Mark-- times Mark bailed our asses out of a jam (I stayed with him twice during periods of problems with both Tammy and Cynthia, wives #1 and #2). I recounted the tale of our friend Chico getting a phone call from the police after our friend Jimmy drunkenly stepped out of a moving cab on the way home from one of Mark's birthday parties. Jimmy lived, happily. And no longer drinks.

We also got some gossip. I had managed to track Chico down and he showed up to Atwood Fest 1-- with his religious fundamentalist wife. He'd stopped years ago in a small town in Arizona on the way to California, when his car broke down, and stayed, building up a successful car customizing business, and taking on a wife. We all talked the night away with Chico-- it had been over 20 years since most of had seen him-- not realizing that his wife was a holy roller, We laughed about the night he accidentally put his hand through a window and sewed his own arm up with needle and thread, and other hijinks.

I think that it occurred to her that night that she really didn't know him. She left him at the party, and he had to walk ten miles to the motel they were staying. Apparently this was the beginning of the end. I found out Saturday that they've since divorced.

Mostly, though, it was good news; Mike is back to work after nearly a year of unemployment. Davo and Deanna are still a happy couple. Eric is still semi-employed and still living with his mother. Here are some shots of the night; there was a lot of joy there, the kind of joy that people who still love seeing one another after 25 years of friendship have. And people were particularly thrilled to see Jamie.

In the four years since we lost Mark, my life has changed a bunch-- I've trained for a new career, raised a couple of kids (a few more years on that one), established a scholarship in Mark's name and processed a lot of grief. There was a time, right after Mark was killed, that I really wondered if I would ever feel good again. Over time, I've come to realize that he would have insisted that I and we, the rest of us, move forward. He would be the first to tell us: Living well is the best revenge.


mi said...

beautiful tribute to your friend.

i'm sorry for your loss, but happy he touched so many wonderful lives.

Erik Donald France said...

Fantastic, man -- sounds like a good time, an important time. Cheers'

rosemary said...

What a great tribute...the gathering and the scholarship.

Churlita said...

Very cool. I'm sure your friend would feel so honored that you guys do that for him.

Pat Tillett said...

That's a great story. Also a great tribute to your good friend.
Nice photos as well...
have a good weekend!

Kambria said...

Hey Johnny. I don't get invited to these parties anymore, but Mark is still my co pilot. I would love to send an email sometime and have someone to talk to about him. I still think about him every single day.