Serious moments at Master P’s are few and far between. We are by nature a cynical, sarcastic bunch. (I tell people I have scabs on my soul.) But every now and again, we have to step back from all the frontin’ and deal with life’s true beauty and ugliness. Lately we have been doing a lot of that.
We’ve had to say goodbye to one of our own.
I called him Roscoe on this blog, because he resembled a rode-hard-and-put-away-wet Roscoe Lee Browne. His actual name was Marvin. Marvin was a proud black man, a few months shy of sixty. Up until last year he worked full-time in a steel foundry, and worked graveyard shift at the Nightclub Store on weekends. This had been going on since 2003, seven days a week. He would show up for his daily work lunch, shirtless under a construction vest and hard hat. He devoured The New York Times, The Oregonian and Wall Street Journal daily. His reading material was atypical of someone with that many knife scars on his upper arms.
Yes, Marvin wasn’t always an angel. He did a serious stretch of prison time at age eighteen. (His stories of prison rape have removed any interest in me ever watching the TV show Oz.) When he came out, he was a new man. His work ethic was his drive, and drive he did.
Marvin put up with a lot of nonsense on the graveyard shift, until it was time not to put up with it anymore. Marvin was particularly protective of wine and ice cream. If he caught you stealing, he would tell you to put it back. If you didn’t, he would tell you one more time.
There would be no third time. Marvin would teach you old-school. A punch to the head may not knock any sense into ya, but it might knock that bottle of wine out of your pocket. We had a mugshot on display for the longest time of a fellow with a plum on his forehead for not moving fast enough putting back that pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
Marvin would also chase you. If you did a beer run and the store was empty? Marvin would lock the door and chase you. Boss Whitney finally got him to stop doing this with street logic. “Marvin, if you’re running down the street angrily threatening some scrawny white kid, who you think the cops are gonna shoot?”
Finally, Marvin quit chasing people.
A couple years back, Marvin had a heart attack and quit the foundry. He got all his paperwork together, applied for the pensions, and settled into a comfy retirement. He continued to work the two days a week at Master P’s, but that wasn’t as much fun for him since the radio ban. After 2:30 AM, Marvin was the entertainment.
After moving to the Waterfront, I didn’t see Marvin as much. He’d drop by on occasion to say hello to the boss. Dr T and I would tease him about his life retired, and he would use one of his standard lines, with a Cheshire grin, “You make me laugh.”
Marvin liked to laugh. After a while, when something was funny, Dr T would look at me and say, “You Marvinize me.” After Marvin’s passing, we chose to keep the saying as a tribute.
Marvin has a sister, who is six minutes older and never let him forget it. When she came to collect Marvin’s last paycheck, Master P met with her and her daughter and grandkids within earshot. I heard that Marvin had passed quickly of a heart attack. He would be cremated, which is fitting. Though not widely known, Marvin was partial to the herb and would love the thought of being smoked upon completion of this earthly visit.
As Marvin’s sister left Master P’s Waterfront Store, she came close and gave me a tearful kiss on the cheek. “You take care of yourself. Marvin thought you were the greatest. You made him laugh.”
That may be one of the sweetest things ever said to me.
If there is a rock and roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band, and I’d bet Marvin is working the door. He will let you in if you behave; just be cool with the wine and ice cream. No cover charge, if you can make him laugh.
We miss you, Marvin. RIP.