Good: Skydiver, Scuba, Snow skier, Author.
Bad: Cadaver allograft ACL, Slacker.
Quote: "Enjoy us loudly with your friends."
Bass and Vocals
Good: Inline Skater, Solved F9, Invented Millicent.
Bad: Has MS, Factors large prime numbers.
Quote: "When you add all of this up, I think that the evidence is overwhelming:
Severe Tire Damage is one of the most successful viral meme infections of all time,
preying upon the susceptible nature of the credulous and incautious. We are not larger than the hype; we *are* the hype.
Our message is transmitted insidiously by the airwaves, coax, fibre, printing press, laser, and acoustic channels;
when we coopt the weak and strong forces that hold atoms together, we will be universal."
Good: Private Pilot, Taught woodshop at summer camp.
Bad: Two knee meniscotomies and counting.
Quote: "Now I know why I became a Computer Scientist."
Mark is generally regarded as the Father of Ubiquitous Computing. Here's
an interview with Mark and others on ABC's "Nightline" 17 November 1997.
Mark the Jazz Drummer
Mark was learning to play jazz. Here's a recording during a typical
rehearsal. Mark started playing a pattern, the rest of the band decided
it must be "The Girl From Ipanema." The band always had difficulty scheduling
weekly rehearsals and eventually became the "Not This Tuesday Night" band.
This recording features Ethan Robertson on saxophone, Robert Kennedy on
keys, and Severe Tire Damage's Russ Haines on bass. Mike Perkins, the usual bassist, missed
Mark the Rock Drummer
For eight years Mark was the drummer for Severe Tire Damage. During that time the band
produced two CDs, opened for the Rolling Stones, and drank a lot of Guinness.
He was so dedicated to the band, that when he started 24-hour continuous drip
chemotherapy he had the doctors install an aortal tap directly in his chest
under general anesthesia rather than in his arm so he could continue playing
drums. That's dedication. Here's the last song Mark recorded with Severe Tire Damage:
Mark our Friend
Above all, however, Mark was a good friend. Below is a collection
of words and pictures. As time goes on this section is likely to become
irreverant, so watch your step.
"Mark having fun." photo by Steve Rubin
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 11:43:57 PST
From: Mark Weiser
Subject: Re: Usenix script
Here is my memory, easily flawed, corrections welcome.
I first found out about the band by talking to Manasse at the October
1991 SOSP conference in Monterey. I started practicing, Russ yelled at me
a lot, and two months later, that December, I played in a Severe Tire Damage gig for Xmas? New Years?
at Anita Borg's house in Menlo Park. Mark and I came back the next day to
help her sweep the floors. Then I was out for a time -- you all experimented
with another drummer, and then fall 1992 I was back in, and have been since.
Subject: Mark and Severe Tire Damage, the early years
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 10:14:50 -0700
From: Mark S. Manasse
OK, so I'm rooting through my mail files from Mark, dating back to November
'91. Our web site captures lots of things starting with the Stone's gig, so I'll limit
myself to things that predate that, at least in this digest.
Our first real exchange of messages, after the proposal that he audition
for Severe Tire Damage, was about his work on automatic Tetris playing (and his derogation of my idea that
it ought to be done a larogomatic). Here's the text from his title slide:
Tetris as a model for life as a manager
. arbitrary things drop from the sky and must be handled immediately
. no known algorithm
. much folklore
. does no real work
Recall that we pressed Mark into service for a New Year's gig at Anita's
six weeks later, after a very limited number of rehearsals with us.
The following summer, I sent Mark notice of a party at Anna's, prompting
the first of many replies I received from Mark in this vein:
Oh, sigh, I am in japan.
But let's have a practice sometime!
We'll close off this walk through the distant past with the full message
Mark forwarded that yielded our favorite comment on Mark.
Richard Wolkomir. "The chips are coming, the chips are coming..."
Smithsonian. September 1994, pp. 82-93. (Illustrations by John Huehnergarth).
First few sentences of paragraph beginning bottom of page 84, continuing
top of page 86: "PARC employs anthropologists to study the workplace, making
the think tank something of a high-tech oddball. So is Mark Weiser.
Besides his day job as a Silicon Valley savant, he moonlights drumming for a rock band
called Severe Tire Damage. Probably he is rock's smartest drummer.
He is ebullient about Severe Tire Damage. He is ebullient about computers.
In fact, he is generally ebullient. And so when PARC anthropologists told him
that a major flaw of current computers is that they are divorced from their surroundings,
he caught the idea's rhythm..." [end of drumming metaphor and mentions
of Severe Tire Damage. The rest is just technology stuff, comparing me to a teddy bear, and
"One is fuzzier. One is Weiser." photo from the S.F. Chronicle
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 15:22:16 PST
From: Mark Weiser
Subject: new york times report
I just spent an hour on the phone with the rock editor of the New York
Times. I asked about the mbone, did we resent other bands claiming to be first
when we were first, etc. He asked what kind of music we played: I called
us "dancable punk rock".
He is only on AOL, not the real internet, but I gave him our home page
address anyway and he will try to put it into the article.
I told him we got lots of positive responses from around the net, and
He was at the Thinking Pictures facilities in New Jersey watching.
("Thinking Pictures" is the company that organized the Stone on the mbone). So
I asked him if the folks there minded our pirating. He said, no, they thought
it was great! He said they enjoyed us more than the Stones!
(He saw us on the mbone (both before and after), and set out trying
to find us. He finally searched the giant online news database "Nexus" for all
articles containting "severe", "tire", "damage", and "computer", and found only
one match: the Smithsonian article about me. Then he started calling
Mark Weiser's in the 415 and 408 area codes, and voila. He let out a shriek
of happiness when I answered the phone and said yes, I do work at Xerox PARC.).
His article will appear tuesday.
Mark started purposely doing silly things just
because they're fun. Russ and Mike, guitar and bass for NTTN, took Mark
skydiving. He had so much fun he went back with his daughter Corinne. Mark's
sister, who was fighting a long battle with cancer went with skydiving
with Mark, Russ, and Mike. Most of her family jumped out of an airplane
that day, too.
Subject: RE: skydiving
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 20:45:04 PST
From: Mark Weiser
Well, it was a wonderful day for jumping. Corinne and I got there about
11am, the first plane had just returned. We jumped around 1:30pm. She really
loved it! Almost was begging me to do it again that day! It was
#3 for me, pretty uneventful except for leaving the plane doing a flip (Josh on
my back), which was uneventful as it was more like things whooshing by,
no sense of control or what the hell was happening. Pete somebody, with
preplanning, flew over and held my hands, that was cool. Shouldn't
I have had a helmet for that? Anyway, clear day, high light clouds, warm,
Didn't see you guys.
"Still not enough fog yet, Lance. And since when does Mark play guitar?"
photo by Peter Menzel
Almost exactly one year before he was diagnosed with cancer,
Mark got to play with a toy he later decided was worth blowing a lot of money on just because.
In his own words, here's Mark.
Last September BMW invited me to participate in an engineering offsite
about the car of the future. Germanically, they divided us into
competing teams, with the winning team getting BMW cars of their
choice ... for a week. The chairman of the board was the judge.
Not knowing anything about cars, I was having a lark at the whole offsite, so
my team selected me to present for us because of my irreverent style.
I had the chairman in stitches with my team's suggestions that they fire
half their mechanical engineers and replace them with software engineers ... from France.
We also suggested they close their giant R&D
facility in Munich, stop all new design for 3 months and send the engineers into
the field, give stock options to all their key suppliers, and a few other
things I don't remember now. Anyway, my team won, and this week I had my car.
I selected a Z3 with the 2.8 (larger) engine. (Some people know this
as the "James Bond car"). The one they gave me is deep wine purple,
with a convertible top, a little two-seater toy. And what a toy! I am not
a car person—I drive a Mazda van most of the time (good for hauling drums
around). I had not expected that a car could just be plain fun.
Now I know it can.
It is just plain fun to turn corners, to pass people, to drive on
the expressway. When it is time to lane change, with a press of the
accelerator, I can make it appear that everyone else has come to
a halt. Everything seems safer, solider, in my control. I have
not been able to get enough time in the car this week, in spite of taking
a couple of afternoons off to drive in the hills.
So, Thursday night I headed for Nevada. After spending the night
at a Days Inn in Reno, at 7am Friday morning I started across the state
on Route 50, called (by perverse pride of Nevada PR) "the loneliest
road in America". It has been a dream of mine to drive this road. The desert
seems to call to me at times. Its apparent simplicity, its starkness,
its unhumanness. Its empty spaces suck me in like the Titanic sucked
in the ocean. There are only two towns in 350 miles, and otherwise just
lots of desert. So why was this nice? Well...
I've been skydiving, once. I had a 100 MPH wind in my face for 1
minute, until the chute opened. It was incredible. But yesterday with the
top down I had a 110 MPH wind in my face for an hour. My hair stuck straight
out in all directions. And I could play Jimi Hendrix at top volume
(although I couldn't hear anything, it was the principle that mattered.
I filled in the actual sounds from memory).
Most of the time I had the top up, however. For one thing, it is
cold in the desert this time of year. For another, at 120 MPH the wind was
too much! At 120 MPH, this car feels like my van at 60. I spent about
an hour total, in different stretches, at 120. On this road I can see
ten miles ahead, it is only a two lane road but there is relatively little
traffic on a weekday (which is why I did not wait until the weekend).
It was really fun and exciting. Whenever I stopped (for gas, or the
view, or to read a historical marker) I was breathing hard. From the rush.
The last number on the speedometer is 140. (Interpolating it goes to
150). I decided to try to reach 140, if only for a moment.
The owner's manual says top speed is electronically limited to 128MPH.
That must have been turned off on my car since I easily crossed that number.
However, at 135 it began to feel a little unstable. There may
have been a slight cross-wind. I decided to not go further, and settled back
I reached Ely, near Utah, in about 3 hours, had lunch and turned back.
Halfway back I stopped at the top of a small mountain to call into a
PARC meeting on my cellphone. After an hour I continued on, now into
scattered thundershowers. I don't know if you have seen storms in the
desert, but they are incredibly beautiful. You can see the rain falling
like gray veils from high individual clouds. Many of the veils don't
touch the earth because the air is so dry, and when you drive under them
you just get a mist. Others do touch, and then the rain is very hard,
for a moment, and then it is gone. I decided that 90MPH was my hard rain
speed, and 105 my mist speed.
The car told me what speeds to go. I mean it communicated to my body,
my hands, my feet, my stomach. We were a unity, the car and I. I knew 105
in the mist was right, because the car felt right. I knew 120MPH was ok,
because the car felt ok. But that puts it wrong. WE felt ok.
Not the car, but the unity that was it and me.
On the way home in the dark through the Sierra's there was a gradual
re-entering of the normal universe. First the long lines of cars going
the other way, up to their skiing weekends, kept shining their lights in
my eyes. It was hard to see my way back unless I slowed down.
Then, just outside Sacramento on a ten-lane expressway surrounded by
Jack-in-the-Boxes, I got a speeding ticket for going 75mph in a 65mph
zone. I was almost grateful; like an experienced pilot landing an
airplane after a long flight, the ticket was the gentle bump of the
universe snapping back in place. Within ten minutes (including the
cop admiring my car, asking about the engine and so on), I was on my way
again. Minutes later a friend in tears called on the cellphone, needing
to talk. Someone she loved was dying. I pulled off the road and talked
with her for an hour. I felt good. I had entered another universe for
awhile, and connected.
When I got off the phone, I looked up. Where was I? Where had I been?
I was in front of a Jack-in-the-Box. It was 9pm. The world of person-car
communion was gone. Wherever I had been, I was now back. I had a
sourdough jack, curly fries, and a large diet coke. Then back on
the road. The car was again just a means to an end, I the inattentive
master, mind on other things. I cruised at 69MPH, driving with one hand,
the hour-and-a-half back to Palo Alto.
14 Mar 1998
"And just what are you looking at that's so funny?" photo by Brad Horak
Subject: RE: NTTN: yes, er, probaby not an 'ummer
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 17:11:20 PST
From: Mark Weiser
I am sitting in my living room looking at a very juicy picture of something
labeled, in a Dr's scrawl (not mine) "ulcerous mass on lower esophagus". The picture was
taken earlier today by a camera in my stomach.
My throat hurts and so does my side, and front.
While I could bring the picture to dinner, or even bring the ulcerous
mass (I hear they are good with a little butter, on the half shell), actually I am doubtful
for dinner and playing. Well, I might make it for a little while, but don't wait.
> Sad, but just as well it's over it seems.
> To add some inappropriate but needed levity, it's one
> of his better excuses for missing rehearsal last night.
I don't know about that. He didn't die until 8:31pm.
He could've made the first half of rehearsal.
Severe Tire Damage loves talking with almost anyone about almost anything.
If you've got a technical, musical, or ethical question, you've come to the right place.
Although we may not have the right answer, it'll seem right,
and that's what really counts, isn't it?