The Author...Connie Cook
Cook"n"Mark Our Music Duo
Webmaster Mark Smith
CONNIE COOK SMITH enjoyed international acclaim in 1990 when she was featured on the front page of the September 4th edition of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.The reason? Her well-documented experiences with UFOs - plus the positive philosophy and lovely music that resulted from those contacts.
The WSJ article generated dozens of interviews on radio and television - CNN, CBS's This Morning Show, Unsolved Mysteries, Nightside in Washington D.C. - as well as the onslaught of bags of mail from all over the world. She gleefully notes that soon after her lyrics were used to teach English in the former Soviet Union, "communism crumbled!"
Connie's 1991 self-published booklet, Planet Earth Primer, sold out all 2,000 copies. In October of 1996, Way of the Peaceful Warrior author Dan Millman telephoned Connie to say that he periodically clears out his books, but this is one little item he can never let go of, and he recommended her to his publishers.
Another flurry of media attention occurred in 1994 with the analysis of Connie's songs in Joseph Lanza's book from St. Martin's Press of New York. Despite his whimsical title - Elevator Music, A Surreal History - this serious work was favorably reviewed by the New York Times, Billboard, Publishers' Weekly and other major media, and it has become a research reference in university music departments around the United States.
Prior to global exposure, Connie worked as a newspaper writer and occasional magazine contributor on a variety of social issues such as church/state separation, Native American rights, women's rights, youth drug prevention, and her proposed program to reduce teen pregnancy. Of her celebrity interviews, her personal favorite is a feature she published at age 19 after spending a day with Jim Morrison and The Doors.
In recent years, she has been preoccupied with healing recurrent depression due to a neighbor's years of sexual abuse when she was a child, and with helping her daughter through the teen years. Mainly, she has been overseeing all the details of life with her beloved husband-and-partner. In 1997, Mark suffered a nearly fatal cerebral hemorrhage from a brain tumor, along with complications from brain surgery.
Throughout all these challenges and Mark's difficult, ongoing recovery, her unusual experiences, the music, and mainly - her philosophy - have provided them with not only a sustaining perspective, but an illuminating overall insight into what both of these musician/philosophers feel is the purpose of Life on Earth.
Self-taught writer, speaker, composer, performer who is devoted to focusing on the rich and beautiful nature of every human being -- and to helping create a luminous future for this planet. My extraordinary life-experiences are detailed below in a bio I wrote a few years ago.
AN UNUSUAL LIFE
Born 1:13 p.m. December 9, 1947 - "The Year of the UFO"
Mom has said when I began to talk, I used to say "the oddest things." The only one remembered is my questions about the City of Light in the Sky.
At age 7, I remember spending the night on a friend's grandparents' farm. We talked far into that starlit night, with me doing most of the talking -- about God. The next weekend my friend asked me back "to talk about God again." I don't remember what I was saying that was so exciting to her - just that it wasn't much like what we were learning in church.
<<INVISIBLE FRIENDS & LOST KNOWLEDGE>>
At age 9 - a couple years after I'd gotten away from my sexual abuser and was enjoying my freedom (see Disrespect and Abuse on this website) - I began feeling frequently overjoyed about a friendly and intelligent but unseen presence, which sometimes I would just sit down and talk to on the way home from school. To make this activity seem more acceptable, I called this presence "Irving, my pet clump of air." I also believed sometimes I was walking with Benjamin Franklin, and I enjoyed explaining to him all the scientific advances, as far as I understood them.
When I was 15, I popped awake one Saturday morning, sat up in bed and exclaimed urgently but joyously, "I've GOT to find the Lost Knowledge!" As the day wore on, I had no idea what that meant.
About a year later I had a spontaneous out-of-body experience, something I'd never even heard of in the early '60's. It was a lazy summer afternoon and I'd begun to doze in a big chair. I had glanced at the clock, though, because I had chores to get done. It was 3:27 p.m.
With my eyes closed, suddenly I found myself speeding through a tunnel which I experienced as the entire spectrum of known colors. I was ecstatically alert and astonished at my tremendous speed and all the beauty. This seemed to go on and on forever, until I reached purple, beyond which I knew I mustn't go.
Then the experience seemed to collapse, my eyes popped open and I was afraid my mom would walk in from work and catch me goofing off instead of starting dinner. I thought at least an hour had passed and she was due. But I was flabberghasted to see that the clock said 3:30 - only 3 minutes had gone by. That seemed more impossible than the experience itself!
When I was sure the clock hadn't stopped or something, I sat there for awhile basking in the afterglow of the experience - not understanding it at all, but feeling absolutely wonderful - and getting dinner started on time.
<<FLYING AROUND, BEING ONE WITH ALL>>
Throughout my early teens especially, I had what I thought were extraordinarily vivid dreams of flying all over town at night. It was so real! But instead of fun, it always seemed to be an ordeal. So many times I could barely clear the power lines, and this was of great concern to me. Then I'd find myself in bed, having really worked up a sweat, glad once more it was over.
When I was around 17, maybe 1964 or '65, a conversation on a double-date got very philosophical, and I remember saying/feeling, "I just know I'm one cell in the body of God." I remember this because of how very quiet everyone else became.
But by the time I was 19, I went through a sort of "obligatory atheist" phase. This was really about religion, not about God. My atheism was about what man says about God, not about the wondrous reality I think God truly is. I had a blast around that time, batting around heretical ideas with an atheist college teacher who had once been a minister. It was so much fun to whack away at oppressive ideas, with an authority even!
But of course, I never told him about my "secret" metaphysical life - because then I'd find myself on the receiving end of the sarcasm he's still locally famous for today. In fact, I have experienced that. But to that I say -- and I'm borrowing from the Kung Fu TV series in the 1970's -- "Just because you don't understand me doesn't mean that I'M crazy."
In my 20's, I woke up once in the middle of the night and wondered what on earth was on my nose! I backed up a bit and observed a pattern that looked familiar. Then it dawned on me that the pattern was the tiles on my bedroom ceiling, and it was now just a few inches from my face. The ceiling? As panic surged, I crashed - fell down to my bed so hard that I feared I was hurt - but I was not. Sure was astonished, though.
An especially beautiful flying-experience I had when I was 31 transformed into this you-are-there poem:
copyright 1979 Connie Cook
On billowing moonfloods and scented winds
I ride the living, breathing night.
O Exquisite Flight!
Over dark damp earth and standing stones
and moss-grown altars I sing, soft, alone
and sail through the sensuous night.
Over whispering forests and shuddering graves
past yawning, beckoning, ancient caves...
Then a chorus hums beneath the earth
an explosion of colors, a death, a birth
and winds and suns and stars catch fire
I'm spinning and wheeling and higher and higher and
in warmth and light!
That done, I return to my sensuous night
And the moon and I dance alone.
<<MIRACLE HEALINGS, BLUE LIGHTS, AN UNUSUAL BIRTH>>
Having looked at a few spiritual paths, I learned a monotonal chant from one. (I later found other sources for this chant, such as a 1912 British book about Druids.) Anyway, the calming, simple beauty of the one-syllable chant appealed to me, and I began to use it often.
One night the young woman with whom I shared an apartment began hemorrhaging from an internal birth control device, and I rushed her to the hospital. There she was told she would probably require a hysterectomy in the morning. I sat beside her for a few hours, holding her hand and softly singing this chant. She finally stopped sobbing at the bad news and went to sleep. But in the morning, the OB/GYN was so puzzled by my friend's almost completely reversed condition that the doctor double-checked the chart to make sure she was the same patient. The doctor said this was the closest thing he'd ever seen to "a miracle."
In my late 20's, my then-husband and I had no plans to have children. But one night a child appeared to both of us in a mutual dream, and we instantly changed our minds and conceived our daughter, Erin, at the next ovulation.
A little after 7 months into that pregnancy, I saw such a huge flash of light on the bedroom ceiling that I thought it had to be an explosion nearby, outside, and I tensed up waiting for the blast. But instead, only my body jack-knifed -- so hard that it knocked my husband out of bed. Living in L.A.., he thought it was an earthquake. When we determined that nothing else had happened besides the light I saw and the jack-knife we both felt, we guessed that Erin's powerful soul had entered her fetal body.
When she was born, the pediatrician was very excited because her Apgar reflex tests were "off the charts." And the doctor had never before seen a silver streak of hair on a little baby's blonde head, like Erin had.
Six months after childbirth, I developed a hot, sore lump in the side of my breast, same as my older sister three years before, which in her case was diagnosed as breast cancer. I did a lot of chanting and hadn't gotten to a doctor yet, when one night in a dream, a man gave me a very affectionate hug and turned me over to a woman healer who literally sucked out the problem from the side of my breast. I woke up crying at the hideous mass that had been inside me - but then I checked my breast and smiled through the tears. The hot, sore lump was gone, and it has never returned. (I'm not sure that I had cancer like my sister's. But joyfully, she survived through her courageous choice of a long course of alternative treatments!)
So often, from my 20's onward and before I learned the chant, I have seen very big and very little flashes of a kind of electromagnetic blue light. (The light-blast during pregnancy was different in intensity and duration.)
<<UFOs, MUSIC, AND A MEDICINE MAN>>
When I was 33 and back in the Midwest, I experienced a beauteous white UFO over my neighborhood. Others also observed it, and - I learned later - the police clocked it hovering there for 90 minutes. In the days and months that followed, I kept hearing lovely music in my head, which I wrote in my journal with little dots going up and down, a sort of melody line. A small electronic keyboard was given to me the next year, and I began pecking out the songs I kept hearing.
Many more dreams or experiences of flight then occurred, as in my teenage years - but now instead of barely clearing power lines with my body, I was zipping around in space in neat little high-tech crafts.
A full-blood Native American tribal chief and medicine man then entered my life. I trusted him with the details of my (by now) numerous UFO sightings, and he described his similar experiences to me. (And by the way, because I relate this in my talk-tape, DETAILS OF ET CONTACT, the aforementioned atheist/skeptic ridiculed my account when I quoted my Indian friend exactly: "Me see them, too." The skeptic says this sounds like Tonto, and I therefore made the whole thing up. But everyone who knows the Navajo, Chief Lone Eagle -- knows that he never uses the personal pronoun, "I .")
The summer before my 40th birthday, in 1987, I went public with my music and my experiences. In the process (having been divorced), I now found my soul-mate - your webmaster Mark Smith! I acquired a whole new network of extraordinary friends, and I experienced some phenomena that were simply unbelievable but true:
My car was drenched with sticky stuff from a clear-blue sky, while all other cars and even the highway stayed perfectly dry.
One morning I dreamed of four Beings standing the sky, explaining to me about how our planet is going to advance from third to fourth dimension around the year 2012. A few hours later, Erin's dad stopped by with a painting "that you just have to see." It was of four Beings standing in the sky! (And also UFOs landing and taking off.) (The next morning, I experienced the Beings standing around my bed, "operating" on my hands -- but it was lovely! I have said that I felt like a baby in the care of exceedingly loving parents.)
The painting is on my wall near this computer right now, and it was featured in a photo-story about me and my experiences, in the Peoria Journal Star in May of 1990. (That led to an AP wire-service story, which led to about 75 radio interviews, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to appear on a television show called NIGHTSIDE, a front-page feature in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL on September 4, 1990, a feature on CNN, an interview on CBS' This Morning show, and a day spent with a writer from Unsolved Mysteries. They finally decided not to use my story because "it was too positive." !!!)
Well, I guess so. Subsequent ET messages to me have conveyed: "You humans are doomed - to SUCCEED!" "Things are threatening to clear up!" "Space does not equal emptiness -- you will discover this potential." "Gravity is optional." And of course, time and matter are an illusion - but you are forever!
<<HOWEVER, FROM 1991 UNTIL 1999...>>
I backed off from UFO publicity. Even though my dear daughter had shared one beautiful UFO experience with me, she was now going into adolescence, and some mean-spirited peers brutally teased her about it. Especially when we moved back to my hometown and a better school system for her, I decided to not make waves.
Unfortunately - or, maybe right on schedule - this triggered a state of depression in me. It wasn't really from not doing UFO work, though. It was from finally taking the time to confront the down-side of my personality and the great shame I had always secretly carried from childhood sexual abuse. (See Disrespect and Abuse on this website.) I couldn't find a good therapist during this period, and, with family support, it took every ounce of spiritual strength I could muster to get through the pain and hiding that I went into for these years.
And then - Mark suffered a brain hemorrhage from a cerebellar tumor and nearly died! For what happened that night in 1997, and since then with his arduous recovery that's now still in process, please see THE WEBMASTER...MARK SMITH, his biography.
Well, I guess it's time to conclude this bio - I just saw a big, friendly flash of blue light!
# # # # #
My Day With Jim Morrison and THE DOORS
I spent about 6 hours with them on September 13, 1967. Just before "Light My Fire" hit #1 on the charts, The Doors had signed a contract to do the Community College circuit. Well, guess what - Canton Community College, now known as Spoon River College, was on that circuit. I was a student there, but I also had been hired by the city daily newspaper to do feature articles because of my "sparkling writing." (Whatever.) And so it happened that when The Doors came to Canton, just AFTER "Light My Fire" had hit #1, there was a local bank vice-president and myself as their official welcoming committee, for the entire afternoon. (Most of that was spent on sound-checks.)
As Jim and I sat next to each other at dinner before the concert, I babbled on and on about how Canton was really ready for a new reality - well, at least, I WAS! Jim said to the others, "Hey, guys, Connie says this town is ready for us!" To my chagrin, when Morrison practically lunged off the stage and did rather inappropriate things with his mike stand, people didn't exactly applaud. Actually, their jaws dropped in complete silence, and Morrison glared at me from the stage. I shrugged my shoulders - well, Jim, that's show biz - and that was the end of OUR relationship.
But you might enjoy reading the write-up I submitted to the paper for the next day.
The Webmaster...Mark Smith
I am Connie's husband, and my love for her and her writing inspired me to electronically publish her. As my first website, this has been extremely difficult for me to produce. But the quality of Connie and her writing kept propelling me onward.
Such an exciting adventure this is to me! Designing (webmastering) is both creative and challenging. Not only is operating a computer rich with choices, but designing a website is even richer. For example, using creative choices involving colors, graphics, and sound. - a very free and fun feeling!
To balance out the creativity are the numerous challenges. One time I clicked on a sound sample, the program came up, but there was no sound! I tried a lot of things, but eventually called Compaq's 800 technical support line. To make a long story short, they eventually fixed the problem. I said, "What did you do?" and they said, "I don't know. Just don't touch anything!" This is just one incident out of hundreds. But thankfully I possess a key character trait for webmastering - persistence! I'm sure many of you reading this right now can RELATE!
MY PERSONAL BACKGROUND
I started playing drums when I was about 12 or 13. I took lessons, but the majority of my learning came from myself and my records. I was inspired by a lot of rock groups, especially the Beatles, but soon my tastes turned to the bigger and more spiritual sounds of the Moody Blues, Genesis, and mainly, Yes. Every note of Yes was to me a celebration of music, life, and self. In my opinion, Yes and leader Jon Anderson had it all, succeeding at expressing both head and heart.
That kind of positive and integrated music kept growing in me and teaching me while I continued to play the drums. Then at 17, I got my first professional gig at a place called the Chateau On The Lake, a supper club. Pretty nice place!
Soon I was involved with the local Jazz Society and other bands doing both popular tunes and all-original music. I then found myself fortunate enough to be in a band called Helix that played both original and non-original music. To this day, they are still my friends and are as family to me.
As my music career progressed, I found myself playing on the road, performing quality pop-rock tunes, yet yearning to express the positive, expansive, loving, and spiritual music that was within me.
In 1987, I came off the road and immediately linked up with some other spiritual seekers. Through these people I found out about a UFO seminar given by Connie Cook. Being open minded about the expansiveness of life, both physically and non-physically, I went. I was taken over by Connie, her experiences, her happy message, and her pure voice. I felt as if I had settled into place. (Or in other words, I finally met someone as weird as me!) Her beingness, experiences, and message joyfully confirmed everything I knew and felt. Our first performance together was at the Harmonic Convergence in August of '87. We got married in October of 1990.
Believing in a positive vision for the future and for humanity (including ourselves), our personal and musical partnership continued to blossom. This was the kind of positive, expansive, loving, and spiritual music and living that I was yearning to express within me. Connie's music was now our music. Our duo was appropriately called COOK'N'MARK. And being able to express such beauty in melody and words was the joy of my life!
We played in a multitude of settings and places for a decade, and raised my beautiful step-daughter, Erin. As well as the public performances, Connie and I shared in the experience of recording some of our music. After producing a number of short tapes, we then created albums, the 60-minute "Prairie Dolphins" cassette, and the 90-minute "Cook'n'Mark Live!" These experiences were not without there challenges though, but were ultimately rewarding.
Simultaneously with these activities, I enjoyed a good job at the local YMCA and playing in the fun Dick Benson band.
Then came personal catastrophe in 1997. While driving along the highway on the night of February 9th, I experienced a sudden and massive hemorrhage from what turned out to be a large but benign brain tumor. I certainly would have died if Connie hadn't luckily been with me and rushed me to the nearest hospital, which life-flighted me to a top neurological unit. The staff told Connie that I "should be dead, paralyzed, or in a coma." Miraculously, I was none of these. All I remember before I lost consciousness was affirming, "I'm NOT going to die!"
Even though I was indeed alive - thanks to machines taking over breathing and other vital functions for a few days - the life I had led was gone. The tumor was in my right cerebellum (the cerebellum governs fine motor skills...like what's needed for playing drums!). The surgical removal of it therefore affected my left side. My entire left side became spastic and uncoordinated, and still is. A huge and devastating loss for me!
Although I have regained my essential functions and the ability to walk, my balance is unstable and my endurance is poor. But I know without a doubt that things happen for a good reason! It's not just "bad luck." It's not something that "just happens." And I certainly know it is not punishment for anything!
This circumstance is offering me time to transform some ancient, unprocessed grief. And as in a metamorphosis, the butterfly does eventually emerge from its dark chrysalis and ascends to beauteous flight! Right now, I don't know what new gifts I'll have to give, but whatever it is, it will be beautiful.
Which leads me, currently, to this website. Perhaps my need for creativity and challenge in webmastering is clearer to you now. I hope you find this site as inspiring as I do.
My own Website is: "Holographic Self."
Connie And Mark Together
Connie and Mark are also known as COOK'N'MARK, a duo of musicians with a message of all original music. They are available for 45-minute programs to clubs and other organizations in Central Illinois. The message is about finding Beauty and loving Life, even throughout devastating pain and loss. Mark is a brain-injury survivor who along with Connie, his wife, sees the sunlight behind the storms. For good music and a fun time, let COOK'N'MARK illuminate your next event!
The name COOK'N'MARK comes from students' thank-you letters to the duo some years ago, when (then) Connie Cook and Mark Smith received notes of gratitude for playing at a school in Peoria, Illinois. Quite a few of the letters were headed, "Dear Cook and Mark." Thus, a name as original as their music was born.
Variety is the key word for this all-original music. It is many moods, many times, many places. On their tapes and CD's, one moment you are lullabied with Connie and Mark's sweet vocal harmonies with acoustic guitar. The next, you are soaring to the outer expanses of space via their 200-voice synthesizer and full percussion. Mark's tablas (drums) from India create an exotic Eastern mood, while Connie's lilting voice emerges out of the mists of Ireland.
For the fascinating story of how all this music came about, GO TO the UFOs page!
COOK'N'MARK can be reached at: 250 S. Main/Apt. 516, Canton IL 61520 (309) 647-5930
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© 1999 Connie Cook Smith
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