I’ve posted on the Facebook tribute page for Martin, Twittered about his passing, and appealed to others to not let Martin’s sudden death go unnoticed. This really blindsided me, because only Monday I was having a typically great conversation about Martin – it was the subject of the last blog post here.
Which is why I decided that to really do the man justice, it is necessary to use the format that Martin loved best, and that he was a master of: the blog post.
I met Martin for the first time about a year ago, at a session for the Los Angeles chapter of the Online News Association that I had helped organize.Â I was moderating a panel of speakers talking about online video, explaining how indie web journalists could kick their page views (and careers) up a notch by adding some video to their sites.Â I had just got done explaining how I had recently researched the End-User Licensing Agreements (EULAs) on all the video-sharing sites, to see which ones were OK, and which were abusive, and would claim ownership over the copyrights to video you produced, whether or not you ever decided you wanted to take it down.
“I mean, has anyone here ever really read the EULA on these sites before clicking, the “I Agree” button?” I asked.
Towards the back of the room, a hand shot up in the air. “I have,” Martin said loud & proud. And then, a little softer, “But then, I’m kind of a freak about such things. I read all the licensing fine print before I agree to anything.”
That, right there, was Martin in a nutshell.
He wasn’t afraid to speak up in groups, to add to the conversation. But he was also careful to be self-deprecating – he was never obnoxious, overbearing or insulting, the way so many in the blogosphere are, in their attempts to vie for attention.
But most of all the man put in the work. However you want to say it, Martin sweated the details, because he knew that it was in those details that all the Devils of Corporate America lurked.Â And Martin had a bone-deep indignation at seeing the little guy get fucked over, and he devoted his life to working to balance things out a little.
He came up to me after the meeting was over, a balding, roly-poly guy who frowned and concentrated fiercely on whatever conversation he was having, and then burst into laughter unexpectedly. I got my first taste of Martin’s boundless energy, deep knowledge of online culture, and enthusiasm for all things nerdly.Â He was a bit shy at first to talk to me – he later admitted that he was a little intimidated, saying with his characteristic self-deprecation and honesty, “Man, you looked like everything that I aspired to be. You were tall, good-looking, married to a beautiful woman, and you traveled the world doing important work for freedom-loving journalists in distress.”
Coming from someone else, that would have raised alarm bells in me – in L.A., especially, I’ve come to see any form of compliment as flattery preparatory to some kind of manipulation. But coming from Martin, the words were heartfelt, sweet, and totally at odds with how I felt at the time, because, like so many of us working in the New Media content game, I had a deepÂ suspicion that I was making a complete ass out of myself in public. It was that kindness and honesty from him that I found very endearing.
Martin was also tormented by self-doubt, but he didn’t let that stop him from writing about the things that he cared deeply about; the world of comic books, heavy-metal music and cheesy sci-fi movies that are the Nerdcore Holy Trinity frequently appeared on his blog, and to read his reviews was to feel as though you were hanging out on a friend’s couch, relaxed and free to express your deeply held beliefs that Liam Neeson used the same fighting moves in “Taken” that he learned all those years ago on “Krull.”
But he also had a real empathetic sense, and last summer when I was writing about the untimely death of my cat, Martin sent me several emails telling me how what I had written had brought tears to his eyes and choked him up, and sent dozens of people to my site to read what I had written and offer me words of encouragement.Â I’ve struggled with that while writing this post, because I don’t want to for even a microsecond equate my cat Duce dying with Martin’s death; I know the difference between human and feline, thankyewverymuch. I just wanted to illustrate that the guy had a real big heart in him, and that when I was feeling down, he would go out of his way to try to offer some kind of comfort. And then maybe a few laughs and a link to something new & interesting that he wanted to tear apart & put back together.
I will miss these discussions. I will miss reading his wit, and honesty and willingness to bare his soul.
I will miss Martin.