Hearne: Smartman’s Demise Foretold by Skynyrd, Tolstoy

Screen shot 2013-08-08 at 2.42.19 AMI wasn’t really sure how to go about writing a final chapter for the smartman

Witty beyond belief at times, shockingly crude and crass at others, the comments section dude whose real name was Marti Dolinar was a piece of work. And as I pointed my Fiat Abarth towards the highway heading to the smartman’s funeral, Lynryd Skynyrd’s Free Bird began to play.

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can’t change.

Bye, bye, its been a sweet love.
Though this feeling I can’t change.
But please don’t take it badly,
‘Cause Lord knows I’m to blame.

Could that have been an accident?

I listened reverently, then drifted off into the many colorful memories Dolinar and smartman left behind. His services were held at the stately brick Catholic church in the ultra quaint hood smartman grew up on Strawberry Hill. Humble beginnings to the 10th power.

However, I couldn’t quite get over wondering what exactly it was that lead to Dolinar’s death at age 52. That he somehow went from “nursing a sore leg to knocking on Death’s door.”

Enter longtime Dolinar pal Jody Paul.

Paul worked with Dolinar over the years as a production and sound and lights staffer at the Uptown and elsewhere and the two remained close right up until the end.

And when smartman checked out two weeks back Paul was at his side.

Here’s how it went down…

“He had a hematoma, which is a fancy name for a bruise,” Paul says. “You know how Marty was, he got mad at his recliner and he slammed down on it and got a bruise on the back of his calf. And he went to see the doctor and they did an MRI and he was supposed to go back on that Wednesday and I called and called him that day, but no answer.

“Finally (his girl) Sherry called me and said his dad was over there and he was on the floor passed out and they took him to St. Lukes. They told us that when he fell and hit his head he had a heart attack and the bruise turned septic and it spread to his heart and infected his bloodstream.

“And it just got to the point where he just really wasn’t there any more. They were keeping him alive. Nothing was working on its own anymore. And so they asked us what to do – Marti’s dad, me and Sherry – and we said, ‘Well, just unhook him.’ ”

death-ivan-ilyich-leo-tolstoy-paperback-cover-artNow the tragic part.

Could it have been avoided?

“Absolutely,” Paul says. “The doctors told me if I had made him come in the Saturday before, none of this would have happened. Marti died at 3:45 p.m. that Wednesday. The infection killed him, but they could have killed the infection if he’d gone in earlier. But you know how Marti was; he was hard headed and he self medicated a lot. I tried to get him to go to the doctor Saturday night, but he wouldn’t do it.”

The smartman’s last words?

“Bud, there was none,” Paul says. “Because when his dad found him he was already unconscious and he wasn’t breathing.”

The smartman’s unexpected and radical exit from life’s stage reminded me of the Tolstoy novella I read in high school, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich

There’s so much more to this amazing tale, but in a nutshell a 45 year-old high court judge slips on a step ladder while hanging drapes and bangs his side against the window frame. Thinking nothing of it, Ilyich goes about his life only see the insignificant injury slowly grow from a slight discomfort into a life or death battle that he eventually loses.

I stumbled onto this comment smartman left for Paul Wilson last May. 

“Nice to see you and Mr. Sutherland classing up the place. It’s like going into the bathroom at the Fying J and having all the graffiti replaced with Kierkegaard quotes.
Taking a whiz while reading “Life can be only understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards” is a big change from ‘harley can’t satisfy me, I’m in the white Nissan Altima in the parking lot’ XOXO”

He will be missed.



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15 Responses to Hearne: Smartman’s Demise Foretold by Skynyrd, Tolstoy

  1. paulwilsonkc says:

    Serendipity. I ran across that comment yesterday. I remember the day he posted it; I read the comment about three times amazed at the construction, meaning, metaphor and true genius that it was.

    He will forever own the Comment Scribe title and was truly missed in the first couple days when his comments no longer appeared.

    I found his comment where I was defending why I thought Derek Trucks was a better slide player than he’s actually ranked; Wilson! Stop with the rationalizations!

    I can’t, however, think of a comment that comes close to the one you posted however in total Smartman literary quality; Flying J truck stop.

    We will miss him and all the personalities that were no doubt trapped in his head and will never again hear the various law firm names where Harley was employed.

    Too bad there’s apparently no wifi in heaven.

  2. bschloz says:

    Good post Hearne. Hard to believe he was 52 ..I figured he was just a little bit older than Glaze. The guy knew more about KC than Calvin Coolidge and Jerry from Continental Siding combined. RIP Smarty

  3. Super Dave says:

    Smartman was one of those people who could just make words come together in a fashion that would sometimes make you cringe as you were laughing till your sides ached all at the same time. He had a style of humor and wit I doubt will ever be seen again by any of us on any local blog in our lifetimes. Marti will be missed by way more people than we will ever know about. But I give thanks I got to witnesses and enjoy the creative writings of the man called smartman aka Marti Dolinar.

  4. Libertarian says:

    Nice eulogy for Smartman, Hearne.

    My condolences on the loss of your friend.

  5. Orphan of the Road says:

    Art has been described as something which arose the emotions, the beauty or not being in the eye of the beholder.

    Smartman was an artist, working in words. And I think HL Mencken wrote a pretty good sketch of what Smartman was as an artist.

    “The special quality which makes an artist…might almost be defined, indeed, as an extraordinary capacity for irritation, a pathological sensitiveness to environmental pricks and stings. He differs from the rest of us mainly because he reacts sharply and in an uncommon manner to phenomena which leave the rest of us unmoved, or, at most, merely annoy us vaguely. He is, in brief, a more delicate fellow than we are, and hence less fitted to prosper and enjoy himself under the conditions of life which he and we must face alike. Therefore, he takes to artistic endeavor, which is at once a criticism of life and an attempt to escape from life.”

  6. Jack Hanrahan says:

    Hearne, like a lot of us, it was shocking to hear of Marti’s passing….too young to go.
    I didn’t know he was “smartman” till you broke the story. Marti and I tangled quite a bit over the years in the 80’s and 90’s when we would both be bidding for the same concert shows for our venues and he would win some and I won some but ultimately we both paid too much for those acts that we bid up against each other, kind of like those people bidding on the “Storage Wars” deals…except these were $15-25K acts. We both learned our lesson about “bidding up” and we built some mutual respect between us. Heck, we even put each other on the Guest Lists on each other’s Shows… that was win/win. It was hard to get to know Marti as he carried that invisible but very detectable “chip on his shoulder” sometimes (don’t know where that came from..) but I fully respected him and his abilities. In fact, I learned how to better negotiate for Artists after hanging with Marti…. Thank you Marti. May you Rest in Peace.

  7. Great. That’s just great. Now I’ll have freakin’ Freebird in my head all damn day long. Couldn’t ya have picked “Highway to Hell” or something a little more upbeat and positive? Jesus.

  8. Tor Kamata says:

    Classic Smartman comment to end your tribute. Well done HC.

    Wow, seeing Jack Hanrahan’s name makes me wonder what happened to Dave McQuitty?

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