On March 9th, 2015, I lost an old friend.  Baxter Guilfoyle was someone I’d known since high school and made an impression on everyone he met. Standing over six feet tall, covered with tattoos and topped with orange hair with a personality to match, he was hard to miss.  He was a drummer, stand up comedian, and enjoyed performing magic tricks.

In recent years, he hosted karaoke nights and trivia events. Baxter was a natural performer and was the perfect fit to play our horde leader in Zombie Casserole. Before channeling Malcolm X for the camera, he and I had known each other for many years and have plenty of stories to share. In there interest of brevity, I’m picking a few that represent his personality. Back in the early 90s, I had a friend whose appendix had ruptured.

I was at his house at the time and Al had self-diagnosed the problem and needed a ride to the hospital. He didn’t have health insurance and so an ambulance was not an option.  I didn’t have a car then, but I did have at least one mobile friend. I gave Baxter a call and he came through. I stayed behind to help Al’s wife manage the kids. Later, Al reported that when he thanked Baxter, he said “You’re a friend of John’s. That’s good enough for me.”

He didn’t have a lot of money for gifts, but he did put thought behind the gifts he did give. He knew that I enjoyed cooking and home brewing. One day, when coming over for a party, he gave me a cheese making kit for making your own ricotta or mozzarella. Later that week I’d made the freshest ricotta I’d ever had. Baxter had no filter. He said and did what came to mind despite the often shocked expressions of those around him. Baxter’s back, like the rest of him, was covered with tattoos. His back featured comics he respected, like Sam Kinison, Rodney Dangerfield and others. Whenever he met a famous person he’d take a photo with them and his colorful back.  He asked to come along to an event I was recording that included MC Frontalot. True to form, Baxter talked his ear off and got his back shot despite the looks of surprise from the audience.

In Zombie Casserole, he played Zombie Fred, the civil rights leader of our disaffected zombie horde, er, undead Americans. They’re trying to fit into society and encountering resistance. Zombie Fred’s speech gets them riled up and ready to confront their persecutor.  While we did have scripted lines, we only used them as suggestions and gave him free rein.  Here’s what he did with it.

We filed for and were granted a copyright for the film. The process involves sending physical media to the Library of Congress. Somewhere, there’s a file folder with a copy of Zombie Casserole in it.  In a small way, a part of him will live on. As long as there is a Library of Congress, Baxter will continue to leave a lasting impression that shouts “I was here! I lived!”

Every once in a while, he liked to give a particular toast. This is how you knew he was recognizing you as a peer and a friend. Although inspired by a comedy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s a bit morbid and, knowing him, appropriately inappropriate.

To those like us.
Damn few.
And they’re all dead.

Here’s to you, Bax. We miss you.

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