Thursday, February 02, 2006


Greg Pagel was one of those "fringe" people for me. We seemd to have some similarities. But ultimately our vast differences kept us from ever becoming friends - even though we have had some mutual friends.

You couldn't miss Greg. He generally had the Buddy Holly glasses look. He was always amiable, and had an intelligent sense of humor.

According to Meff, the 5th grade behemoth known as Ms. Hynek apparently gave him a bad grade in something one day. Greg allegedly had some sort of breakdown about it, and got into a shouting match with her. I would have loved to see that.

I really don't have any memories of Greg from Clarke. However I believe that he was involved in band. Greg was a master on the piano.

In freshman year, I used to walk home with Meff everyday. One day Greg joined us. Now Meff and I had a twisted way of looking at life. And I of course was nuts. Somehow the subject drifted towards pee. Greg had been silent for awhile, and was no doubt shocked at whatever it was we were talking about. Anyway, as I casually mentioned that I had once tasted my own pee (NOTE - I do NOT recommend this. The saltiness is overwhelming and sickening. How the people into "watersports" deal with it is an absolute mystery of the cosmos) Greg collapsed to the ground in a state of panic. He composed himself before rejoining us and walking to his own home.

Apparently Greg either called Meff, or spoke with him the next day. And Greg gave him the usual riot act I often was the subject of. "Who the hell is that guy? Why do you hang around with him? Is he insane?" Ah, such was me. If I had a nickel for everytime my friends heard lines like that...

In our senior year, I had Greg in Mrs. Kluczinski's class. Previously she was known as Ms. Wisnicky. Anyway, Greg used a term that I still use to this day. In fact, I think I used it in my post on Ben Franco. The term is "black T-shirt crowd." It's used to describe the headbangers in society. Thank you Greg.

After high school, I believe Greg went on to Lawrence University to presumably study music. My friend Dave used to say that the reason Greg was so good on the piano was because he had pudgy fingers.

I ran into Greg a few times at the video store. We exchanged a few words, but never said much. I do regret one thing though. He came in once, looking for the Disney film, "One Magic Christmas." I looked in the back, and had to inform him that we didn't carry it. So Greg looked around for awhile, eventually coming up with the box for the film. I was perplexed. I looked again - still nothing. Later on I found out that my boss had filed the film in the M's - for "Magic." Greg, it was not my fault.

Today I believe that Greg is married with two kids, one son and one daughter. He lives in Manitowoc, teaching piano out of his home. He also plays various gigs with a jazz band. If you want to see what Greg looks like today, here's a link to his personal website: GREG PAGEL

UPDATE - 2/10/06 - Greg has provided a family photo. Look down. You can't miss it. Click it for a larger, clearer version.

UPDATE - 7/20/06 - Greg recently wrote and performed in a local Manitowoc musical entitled "Honkytonk Angels." On July 15th, Kevin and I stopped in to see him. The results are below.

UPDATE - 8/28/06 - Greg and his wife went to Madison yesterday and met up with fellow graduate Jenny Malley, and her husband. The four of them hung out all day, and listened to some live blues music in a park. The two pictures are below.

UPDATE - 9/8/06 - Greg has started another job. He's teaching a music course at my alma mater, UWGB. His first class was on Tuesday, 9/5/06. The day was filled with a comedy of errors. Perhaps he'll tell you about them. Needless to say, day 2 went much smoother.

UPDATE - 10/9/06 - On Saturday October 7th, 2006, Greg and his band performed at The Sands in Green Bay. Fellow classmates Lisa Pauze and Brandon Podhola also showed up to hear him. You can see the pictures below.

UPDATE - 11/22/06 - Here is some video from that July 15th visit. It's preceded by some footage of me picking up Kevin that day. Greg's was the first house we visited. "Our first victim!"

On Friday, April 13th, my family and I drove all the way up to Depere to see Greg Pagel play at some fancy restaurant where the waiter places the napkin in your lap. I had a really good burger. Anyway, it was sort of dark. And I didn't actually tape more than a 30-second hello from Greg. But, you can see it below.

UPDATE - 6/18/07 - Greg and his brother Andy played at Manitowoc's Metro Jam on June 15th. Here are two pictures from that show.


At Thu Feb 02, 11:29:00 AM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Crissakes, Burt. "One Magic Christmas?" Yes, I remember that day. My mom wanted to see it. Really. God, when T&R Video did inventory, did you have to use a clipboard, or did you just keep everything on file IN YOUR BRAIN???

Anyway, your info is pretty much accurate. I lived in Boston MA for about 4 years working as a freelance musician, then my wife & I looked at each other and said, "Well, this sucks," and moved home.

We currently live in Manitowoc. I get most of my income from teaching privately, but I did start performing again after about a five-year hiatus. I have a CD you you can hear clips from on my website.

You're right Burt -- we were never intimate friends. We probably could have been, but fear of Richard forced me to keep my distance.

At Thu Feb 02, 11:39:00 AM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

LOL - I've been told that I have a pretty good memory.

At Thu Feb 02, 12:25:00 PM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

My memories of Greg are all fond memories. Greg became my partner in crime (figuratively speaking, of course) in Sapa's creative writing class.

I'd like to think that I have a creative side, but truth be told, I totally emulated Greg's style of writing. Of course, my musings hardly compared to Greg's, but man what a time I had in that class. It was probably one of my favorite classes for any and all reasons other than academical.

Greg and I even went on a double date once...how did it end? With me driving over a possum. True story...maybe Greg has more on this, but that's about all I can recall.

Greg was the most gifted musician I had and have ever encountered. I enjoyed being friends with him immensely.

At Thu Feb 02, 08:51:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Thanks Brad. I had a lot of fun hanging around with you. You made me laugh a lot. I also remember having several conversations of considerable depth. My band often plays in Green Bay -- that's where you live, right? We should reconnect.

I remember that double date. That sucked. I went with Sheila Zach, and I think you went with Kim Kohls. We saw "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." None of us liked the movie, you ran over an animal, and Sheila made it clear that there'd be no follow-up date. I guess the gods just decided to screw with us that night.

But the good news is that about a month later, I met the girl who is now my wife of -- holy crap -- nearly 12 years!!

Sheila is -- you guessed it -- divorced.

At Sat Feb 04, 06:24:00 AM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

seems like there r lots of divorces. glad i waited til 35. greg - congrats on yr 12!! i hear yr bro took over tuppy's job - sweet! my rents have nice things to say about him (Frank is the choir dir at Ronch - with what's that kid's ame? ...played trumpet - a frosh when we were srs. whatever)

ok - y'all forced me to do it. i pulled out my purp and gold raiders folders. in which i have anote from miss neveau excusing me from my next class after we were bs'ing. it says "Jen - to homeroom today (she's lost as always)."

I'm looking at Menagerie - the book of writing from that year with Miss Z. My stuff sucked - bad. Cute snowman poem, Brad.

found a poem by him that appears to be about keeping company with himself. i didn't get it back then. duh. also found a quote of Richard "I don't believe in sex because it smells" 1436 hours 1-22-88."

ok - so in one of my essays, the title was "HOW TO START" and I added "CHAOS". Number 4 was:
"Mention N _ _ _ S _ _ _ _ _ _ to Brad and/or Greg."
What's that?

At Sat Feb 04, 10:11:00 AM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

One of the few memories that are crystal clear was just quoted by Jen, attributed to Richard...the sex smells comment. I remember that like it was yesterday. Sapa replied, "Yes, I suppose it does smell." Or something very similar to that...the class actually went silent for a few moments after that one...

Jen, it was ask about Neil Sitenga...I still am shocked to learn Neil didn't really exist.

At Sun Feb 05, 05:02:00 AM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

I had written the quote in my assignment, and Miss S wrote back: "Then there must be a whole list of things he doesn't believe in. Nearly everything 'smells' in 1 one or another."

wonder what she's up to. didn't come of u guys go to her house once? anyway....good stuff.

At Thu Feb 09, 07:56:00 AM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Cymbal,snare,cymbal,snare,cymbal,cymbal,snare,snare,bass,bass,bass,treble, treble,GABE!

Boo Greg, remember me?

At Thu Feb 09, 01:37:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Meka-leka-hi, meka...

HI ERIN! I was hoping you'd stop in eventually. Look like Erin Hynek is next, Burt. You know what to do.

And the party keeps on a-goin'.

At Thu Feb 09, 03:22:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

by the way, it goes:

"cymbal snare cymbal snare
cymbal cymbal snare snare
bass bass bass bass
bell bell
triple triple

God, I wish I didn't remember that.

At Thu Feb 09, 04:15:00 PM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Boy, you guys are weird for remembering all this stuff from so many years ago. HE HE

At Thu Feb 09, 07:43:00 PM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Was trying to fly under the radar Greg...so much for that!

I thought about the bell part but it didn't seem to fit.

So glad to hear you're still involved with music...as Brad alluded to earlier...you were an amazing artist and I always felt privilaged to hear you play and to play your compositions. I haven't had the pleasure of hearing your recent musical contributions but I look forward to looking into it. Your kids are adorable BTW.

My 8yr old daughter is taking piano lessons and plays by ear. Her teacher had to quit playing the songs for her before she taught them :)

You were one of the reasons I liked being a band victim...however I did take alot of grief when the American Pie movies came out. Everyone together now...."One time at band camp...."

At Fri Feb 10, 12:50:00 PM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Greg, the quickest way to get me to write about someone is to have that person show up and comment. Erin is now up.

By the way, I'm having problems with uploading your pic. It might be a blogger.com problem. I'm working on it.

At Tue Feb 14, 10:45:00 AM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

Beautiful family Greg...Good for you.

At Tue Feb 14, 05:39:00 PM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Great picture! Please let me know if there is a place I can check for events or gigs your band might be playing....maybe post here as I'm sure others are interested or email is mearaerin@yahoo.com. when you get a minute.....thanks!

At Tue Feb 14, 07:08:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Well, I guess now is as good a time as any for some shameless self-promotion...

Erin (and whoever else): My email is pagelg@sbcglobal.net

My cheap-ass website is
www.greg-pagel.blinkz.com -- it has some upcoming gig info.

The band I'm in just had a site made. It's under construction, but you can see it at

Finally, you can order my CD at
www.cdbaby.com/pagel ...Feel free to support a struggling former classmate! I think Meff is going to put up some mp3's on this site... although I don't know how...

At Wed Feb 15, 12:12:00 PM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Meff has indeed said he would get the mp3 on the blog. But having him say it and having him actually do it are two vastly different things. Doing it isn't the problem. The problem is lighting a fire under his butt to get him motivated to do it.

At Thu Feb 23, 01:25:00 PM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

greg - how's yr bro (jeff, yes?)? i hear good things abt the baby bro, but wonder abt the rest of the clan? thought my mom might've heard an update recently, but who listens that closely to their moms?

At Thu Feb 23, 01:55:00 PM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Bite your tongue Jen. I listen to your mom everyday. Oh the things she says about you...

At Thu Feb 23, 06:37:00 PM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

ha! i said i don't always listen to her...but that doesn't mean we don't believe the other walks on water....

if u've listened to my mom, u'd know that i'm perfect, sweet, beautiful blah blah blah. oh, and that i'm full o crap. (she's not that blind.)

GREG! how's yr fam?

At Fri Feb 24, 09:16:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

My fam:

Maya, 2, is in rehab.
Collin, 6, will be out of prison next month.

My wife, Melissa, is the president af Algeria.

At Sat Feb 25, 06:34:00 AM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

it's so funny how yr life shifts when u hv kids. i hv not, so my "fam" is still my mom, dad, etc. u hv kids, and yr fam is the peeps in yr household. i actually was asking about yr older brother, of who i hv pleasant memories from band.

and for yr current fam; damn cute kids despite their troubles.

At Sat Feb 25, 09:35:00 AM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Vowels, Jen. You can do it.

Andy is the band director at TRHS. Meanwhile, the moon cracks in hald and the sky starts to bleed. He has a wife and 2 kids.

Older bro Jeff is an engineer. Lives near Madison. Married; bun in the oven.

Mom co-owns a real estate business or something. Dad is retired, Watches Martha Stewart and builds R/C model planes.

That's about it... I'll keep you posted on any developments.

At Sun Feb 26, 12:11:00 PM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

tell jeff Hi. & congrats on the bun. i hear good things of yr baby bro.

sorry - too impatient 4 typing, proofing & vowels. plus i work in an industry of abbreviations & acronyms.

gr8 post 4 beth.

At Mon Feb 27, 07:46:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

thnx jn

tll chrs h

At Mon Feb 27, 10:53:00 PM PST, Blogger the_meff said...

I've put this off long enough.

It is time to tell the tale of Jeff Messerman and Greg Pagel.

It's a sordid, ugly tale, one barely fit for E! Hollywood Insider.

Of all those responsible for "who I am" today, Greg must take almost full blame. I met him in 2nd Grade. And very early on I wanted to be exactly like him. Integrity AND a vicious wit at age 8? Oh yeah.

Greg also cultivated an already innate fascination at a time when it was prudent: STAR WARS. And then, of course, Battlestar Galactica (have ya' seen the remake on Sci-fi??? not bad!). And, most importantly, Battle of the Planets (a poorly repackaged Japanese cartoon to cash in on the Star Wars thingy...part of Channel 11's afterschool Barney's Clubhouse Powwwww lineup).

Either way you added it up, it all boiled down to two dangerously obsessed lunatics turned loose on JF Magee.

We began a focus group devoted to all things sci-fi. Thus, in 1978, the SPACE TEAM was born! (insert wailing John Williams score here)

And what, exactly, did the Space Team do? What was our "mission statement," per se?

I have no idea.

Protect the, um, er, Magee school playground from, um, er, evildoers??? Sure.

Our imaginations ran amock. Playground monkeybars became spaceships. The Fish Slide (how's that for a memory flash?!) became a single engine fighter. Fingers were pointed everywhere, firing phantom laser bolts at equally phantom alien attackers!

We went on a recruitment spree. A girl named Laura Rybacki, Brian Reed, Eric Prizl, Ross Remiker, some kid named Kenny who was a year younger than us and a practicing Buddhist. When Tom Grassman moved to our classroom, he barely had the seat warm before we got our recruitment hooks into him. From a classroom next door to ours (Mrs. Whalen?? God, memory rush!!!), a new kid named Mark Butala.... our numbers increased...

...as did our infighting. (amazing...human nature and sociology will out even on a small town playground!)

Greg hated me because I was a liar and a dirty double crosser (he was right...I WAS!) Kenny sided with Greg. Tom sided with me. Then Greg came back to the fold. And then Tom punched me in the chops for being a dirty double crosser and a liar (which, again, I was...) and then JoAnna Thee gets involved and tells me I'm a turd and I treat Greg like shit and then Laura sticks up for me and tells them all to stop dumping on poor ole' Jeff and then I start hero worshipping Mark Butala and Greg hates his guts and then Greg's brother Jeff gets involved to tell us all that we're idiots and...and...and...

Did any of this actually happen?!

I don't know. It's hazy and weird. But I will say that I never wanted to miss a single day of school back then because it was such an interesting time!

Flash forward: next time I have Greg in a class, 5th Grade, the legendary Miss Hynek.

By then, all our Space Team trials and tribulations were long behind us.

I like to call this phase the "Charles Schultz" phase of our friendship.

He was totally Charlie Brown. I was totally Linus. We thumped around the playground, discussing life and chicks and philosophy (in 5th grade terms, of course). Something I'd never noticed in Greg prior came out that year...he seemed to be really high strung. I sensed tension on the homefront. Oh screw being coy... I think he and his father had a few issues. And it definitely carried over into his day to day life.

Miss Hynek perfected something that can only be described as a torture device...the "incomplete" slip! When one didn't have an assignment done to her satisfaction, this slip would be filled out by her only to have us carry it home in our grubby little claws to personally hand it to our parents, a scarlet letter of shame from a very fat woman.

I believe Greg received one at some point. The death notices were handed out and we were left to stew. As Hynek moved on to the next item on her itinerary, a wail of anguish arose from the back of the room. Greg tearfully pleaded his case to her, attempting an emotional appeal for an "incomplete slip" reprieve. The raw energy and rage behind his pleas was, as I recall, terrifying. Nobody spoke. Hynek attempted to brush him off but I think even SHE was rattled.

Anyway, the PEANUTS phase continued on to 6th grade, LB CLARKE, Joe Stodola's class. In fact, it itensified. Greg, if I recall, was kind of morose during this time. Hell, I think I was too. Clarke was a really intense, bizarre environment. Greg and I continued to thump around the playground, debating life. We begain to pound out comic strips, spoofy, goofy stuff. Titles like The Face Snatcher (a brilliant creation, Greg!), Superperson (my politically correct hero comic), and, a favorite, STAR WRECK II: The Wrath of John, one we collaborated on.

I jealously marvelled at Greg's drawing skills. I did, at best, OK. I could pull off the gags but my pencils were nowhere near as stealth as Greg's. Made me nuts. I recall one night when I raised my drawing hand to the heavens and begged God to grant me just a little of Greg Pagel's rendering abilities.

To this day, my request remains unanswered.

Anyway, I fell in with Richard Wheeler and Drew Konop pretty regularly at that time as well and for whatever reason, they intentionally kinda' turned me against Greg. I guess he didn't pass their "cool-o-meter" or whatever but like a moron, I succumbed to that vile beast known as peer pressure.

(It's comforting to know that the guilty feelings associated with our moronic actions continues years later. I speak from experience as I'm about to puke from guilt right now as I write this.)

Anyway, my brief stint at Washington didn't have a lot of Greg Pagel in it. I was busy letting my freak flag fly and he was busy being a musical genius.

And that should be where the Greg/Jeff story ends...


Flash forward: last August. I'm in the process of co-producing a script I wrote here in my hometown of Cedarburg with some folks from Chicago. Silly little monster flick called Spiderville. Lots of Greg/Jeff historical overtones to the main characters. When it comes time to consider the soundtrack for the film, all I can think of is how cool it would be to have Greg Pagel at the helm.

So I Google the man. And there he is. I email him.

And I'll be damned, we start talking as if no time has passed since our last conversation. It's as if we are just picking up right where we left off twenty years prior.

To call Greg one of the best friends I've ever had in my life would be an understatement.

He was a brother.

I'm a tad pessimistic on the fate of Spiderville. But I got something better than the Oscar with this film.

I got my brother back.

At Tue Feb 28, 05:05:00 AM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Meff, you're a double crosser and a liar.

Kenny was a Jehova's Witness, not a Buddhist.


At Tue Feb 28, 09:57:00 AM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Giggle, ur t fny Grg. Friends are family you pick for yourself....good story Meff. Good luck with your film!

At Wed Mar 01, 03:08:00 PM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

will i ever grow up and not get the giggles when i see the word turd in print? or for that matter, not laugh when someone says 'duty' (and I always hear doody).

i admit it. am officially jealous of meff and greg in grade school. lisa pauze & i were not nearly so creative. post some Superperson stuff!

At Fri Apr 28, 05:24:00 AM PDT, Blogger Brandon P. said...

Greg Pagel, the finest musician I ever had the pleasure to jam. You appear to be well on your way to stardom and I’ll be the guy in the tabloids saying, “I jammed with this cat long before he was popular”. I may still even have tapes to prove it.

Despite a lot of half-assed effort and mastering the three chords of “Louie, Louie”, I never conquered the music scene. I still have my amps stacked up in the basement though. I go down there once and a while and make noise until the wife complains that the pictures on the walls are vibrating and she can’t hear the TV.

I saw some discussion regarding your infamous artwork from high school. Do you remember the “Arms Race” picture that got confiscated in history class that later became a transparency for all to see? It probably would never have been seen by the masses if I wouldn’t have been giggling so much as you were drawing it.

At Thu Jan 03, 06:32:00 PM PST, Blogger swp said...

Hey Greg! Its been a long time since we've talked. It seems like everything is going good for you. I do remember an incident that almost cut your artistic and musical career short.(its hard to do either without a thumb).I think you probably remember it well. So I guess I should explain to everyone what it is...... We were 10 or so and somehow we managed to catch a gopher in a five gallon bucket in my backyard and bring it to Greg's house, and for some reason without regard for life or limb, (or possibly a love for vermin)Greg reaches into the bucket and picks it(gopher)up. I learned two things that day, #1 Don't pick up pissed off gophers , and #2 Greg's voice can reach a pitch higher than what even a dog is capable of hearing when he has a critter clamped on his thumb. I have strictly adhered to #1 thus far. As far as # 2 is concerned, I don't believe it's possible to match(too many variables ambient temp,humidity,alighnment of certain planets ect). So I hope Greg has taught everyone through his bravery and self sacrifice, a valuable lesson. So Greg, I thank you. And by the way, it's a toss up as to who's mom was more scared by us. I hope you remember this(in a humorous way),because I'll never forget it. Take care Greg!


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