In Memoriam – Marianne McCarty

by delarue

Marianne McCarty died this past May 28 at a hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts after collapsing at her home there four days previously. She was 48.

While not a performing musician, Marianne was a familiar presence in New York’s Lower East Side rock scene in the 90s and early zeros. Although Marianne’s own work was primarily in the film industry, she was a devotee of the arts, embracing photography, literature, visual art and theatre as well.

With her cool, conspiratorial voice and what seemed to be a bottomless joie de vivre, Marianne had a presemce that could be as comforting as it was electric. When Marianne pulled you aside at Max Fish and whispered into your ear, you were suddenly the most important person in the room. As engaging a raconteur as she typically was, she was an even better listener. That keenly perceptive sensibility underscored her worldview, an esthete and also a streetwise New Yorker to the core..

Things exploded around Marianne – literally. Her energy could be otherworldly, something that people sometimes found hard to deal with. Marianne would swim further out than anyone else, in both the literal and figurative sense of the phrase. And she was generous to a fault, when she could afford it, which wasn’t always.

A tall, lithe, exotic Asian-American beauty with a tart sense of humor, she had many admirers. There was a torrid affair with actor Matt Dillon back in the 90s. A more stable relationship with filmmaker Jim Spring offered hope that she’d found the security that had continually eluded her.

What a lot of people didn’t know about Marianne was that all the partying masked a dark secret. The inner trauma that she was trying to repair ran deep. Transcendence was what she was after, and what she didn’t always get, especially as the years went on. In the early 70s on the Upper East Side where she grew up, child abuse was not a topic of discussion. That Marianne was able to rise above what she’d suffered to the extent that she did was a remarkable achievement by any standard.

So in memory of Marianne, if you see something, say something. And let’s remember her not for the long spiral of her later years but for the joy and surprise that she shared with so many of us.