I spent six months researching, writing and illustrating the state of redevelopment in downtown Henderson for Vegas Seven. Now the story can be told.
I originally had a few blog posts planned for this week, full of the usual self-promotional and/or irreverent bullshit I usually sling at you. Then I found out yesterday — as most of us did, through Facebook (this itself a topic to be later addressed) — that Tommy Marth had died early Monday morning, likely by his own hand. At that point, feeling like all the air had been forced out of my gut, I kind of just went offline, aside from dealing with answering other mutual friends’ questions about what happened.
Tommy and I weren’t much more than acquaintances. We’d spent plenty of time in the same rooms, we knew hundreds of the same people (EVERYONE knows Tommy), we’d probably shared a drink or two together; he may have even done sound for my band. Thanks a lot, awesome memory of mine, for not remembering more. But, the thing is, this is the second time a relative peer (Tommy was 33) died this year, but unlike when the dearly missed Doug Frye left this realm just after New Year’s, there was no prepping for this. Doug — like Tommy, a long-time mainstay of the Vegas music scene, both on and behind the stage — had cancer, and even though it accelerated faster than anyone expected, we were all sort-of prepared, you know? But Tommy killing himself? Based on the conversations I’ve had with other acquaintances, it came as a complete and total surprise.
See, Tommy drank in life with a voracity rarely seen. He packed more into 33 years than most people do in twice that time, if ever. I’m not going to repeat his resume here — Mike Prevatt’s solid eulogy on the CityLife website does that more than adequately. But even though he was a few years younger than me, Tommy set an example of how to live one’s life to its fullest, and I admired — and somewhat envied — that. He was well-read, well-traveled, and man, he rocked going prematurely bald like no one else. To think that someone with so much not just behind him but ahead of him would say “fuck it” to it all, well … it’s hard to conceive, and it’s why my initial reaction was “fuck you, Tommy.”
And that’s basically the sentiment echoed by someone who can far better explain why Tommy’s death is such a loss to so many people in general, and to Las Vegas in specific: Joshua Ellis. In a blog post entitled “Dick move,” Josh tells some great stories, gives some personal insight, and does a much better job than I ever could in doing him one proper while telling it like it is. Go read it. Even if you have no idea who Tommy Marth was, go read it.
In the meantime, I do what I can do, and that’s draw a picture. It’s not enough. It won’t bring him back. But it’s all I have.
As I said on Facebook: Tommy, I wish you were alive right now so I could fucking hit you.