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The Markus Cook Memorial Award for Services to the International Messenger Community
16.10.05 by Buffalo Bill

Marcus Cook Award Trophy - E Blanchet

The MCA was conceived as a way for the international messenger community to thank it’s most tireless workers. Nominations are sought from the messenger community for those individuals who have done most for us, for those who have consistently put the rest of us before themselves. The principle means of nomination is the IFBMA electronic mailing list, aka the messengers list. The decision is taken by committee of former recipients, and the award is now presented on Messenger Appreciation Day, which is October 9th.

The MCA was inaugurated in 1998 to honour the memory of Markus Cook, aka Fur, a key figure in the San Francisco messenger scene, and one of the leaders of the international messenger community. His great dream was to bring the Cycle Messenger World Championships to SF in 1996, but never lived to see his dream realised. He died Jan 3 1996, aged 35, of an accidental heroin overdose.

He can be seen as a powerful symbol of the messenger scene, charismatic, creative, energetic, playful, but flawed and to a certain extent trapped by its own failure to love itself enough to give itself a chance to live, and fulfil its potential.
To most who knew him however, Markus was just a great guy who was struggling with a few problems, but whom we expected to work it out. He was the leader of the San Francisco messenger band, Lsid, a founder of the San Francisco Bicycle Messenger Association, the informal nature of which has inspired the world-wide Messenger Association movement, the erratic editor of Mercury Rising fanzine and a friend to all, always at the centre of anything that was going on.

pic: Elisabeth Blanchet

Previous recipients are:

  • Joe Hendry
  • Rebecca ‘Lambchop’ Reilly
  • John Kenda & the Philadelphia B.M.A. (jointly)
  • Joel Metz
  • Derek Chadbourne
  • Wayne Scott
  • ‘Buffalo’ Bill Chidley

In the last 12 months 5 working London bicycle messengers have received financial assistance from the Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund. Many more messengers across Europe and North America have received help from the BMEF. The BMEF is a not-for-profit organisation, based in Florida, set up by Jean Andre Vallery in 2001. It exists to provide messengers who have been injured and are unable to work, with financial assistance, namely a unconditional grant of $300. As you may know, the recent London messenger event Speed, Skill & Sausages II donated all its surplus (around £150) to the fund.

I was recently rereading Mercury Rising #10, published August 1994, and wanted to share some of it with you.

Page 4 Spokes by Fur written by Marcus Cook:

As I lay drugged and listless in my bed at General the day after a shoulder surgery, my roommate came in and told me he had just seen a group of Western Messengers on their way to visit a fallen sister, Andrea, who had her pelvis broken by a car. Damn, we keep those hospitals busy. This got me thinking about what SFBMA is and what it could be. We spend thousands every week at the same few bars. If a couple hundred people siphoned off a mere 5 bucks a month and dumped it into some kind of emergency fund thing, that would be $12 000 a year, to help people and invest and keep the fund going. Or maybe you could buy a t-shirt and get a membership card. This kind of thing has been discussed before over the years. Might work, I dunno… could strengthen the messenger community in a variety of ways.

JAV, centre, receives the MCA trophy

In a job which a Harvard report determined to be the most hazardous occupation in North America, nothing is more important than making sure that an injured messenger has enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. For this reason, Jean Andre Vallery is this year’s recipient of the Markus Cook Memorial Award for Services to the International Messenger Community. 10-9 JAV! Maximum respect!

Nominations for next year’s award will open in September 2006.

Support the Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund: come along to Rollapaluza IV

Read how JAV’s local paper, the Sarasota Herald Tribune, reported the MCA here, thanks as always to Joe Hendry’s Messmedia site for archiving it all.

Rebecca Reilly: Nerves of Steel, Heart of Gold
London bicycle messenger Papillon receives 2011 Markus Cook Award for services to the messenger community
Nadir Olivet awarded the Markus Cook Memorial Award
London Courier Appreciation Day, Weds 27th October 2010
Papillon nominated for Marcus Cook Award
London courier appreciation day, Thursday 26th November
Luk awarded Markus Cook Award for services to international messenger community
London's couriers mark the street
5 years since Seb was killed

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