For most of the time I knew him, Marty never touched heroin. We smoked weed, maybe sniffed a little blow once and again, drank like fish, and chased wimmin. Marty was six-foot-three and maybe a charitable 350 pounds. He was a force of nature, and I miss him. I wrote this rambling sketch in the hours after I'd heard he passed on:
Fugazi @ Tuxedo Junction
let me piss up yr ass @ The Nick
Jonathan Richman is a goddamn carpetbagger @ Zydeco
"Viva Los Santos!" SCOTS @ the Nick
Almost starting a race riot in Montevallo
Destroying Dave's truck
"Friend, let me tell you about Jesus!" in Richard's alley
First let me get the cliches out of the way -- he was larger than life, he lived more in 40 years than most men do in 80, he had a big heart, a big soul, a big presence. I knew Marty for half my life. I never knew anyone like him.
To Marty: you stupid fuck, how dare you check out on your mom like this? She deserves better, and you loved her more than this.
Tattered flannel, overalls, a blown-out cowboy hat and shitkicker boots. A persona deliberately veering into caricature, a plea veiled with a shout. Marty embraced the world and all its weird wonder without fear or flinching because that's what good strong Southern men do -- we stand up and we take it on the chin and we keep swinging, not because it's right and proper and honorable or even smart or advisable but because it's all we can do, it's all we can hope for: our daddies gave us spines and hands and our mommas gave us hearts and minds and its our job to put it all together and shape ourselves and stand for something.
And Marty stood for something -- he was a nexus, a locus, he was a bridge between people. He brought together plumbers and artists, hippies and rednecks, losers, winners, and dreamers.
We all have our demons, and Marty had his share. Like many of us, Marty danced with his demons. We can learn this lesson -- we are not big enough to embrace the whole of the earth. We lack the requisite strength and grace to rise above the snares. But we can learn from his fall -- we can grow, we can change, we can learn from our history and embrace the past by confronting the future.
That doesn't do him justice. I have a story in me about Dave's truck, and that'll be fun to read. I just figured that the least I could do for someone who functioned his whole entire life on Navajo time (that's racist, I know, but I could have said "French time" except I figured the Navajo would be more understanding) would appreciate a eulogy published five months late.