I remember the first time I saw Marty 12 years ago. You couldn't miss him, of course. It was Computer Science 101, a lecture hall with hundreds of students. He would skate into class 20 minutes late, flip his skateboard up onto his desk, crack open a chocolate milk and begin to drink... 200 eyes on him. Martin would turn around and give us a little wave. The thing was, and it *clearly* pissed off the Professors, he routinely scored the highest marks in the class on every assignment. Immediately I said to myself, "I need to know this guy..." So I cornered him and announced, "You and I are going to be friends..." Martin looked me up and down and said, "Uh....No thanks..."
And so it began. Martin, in those days especially, had an approach to people that was at best "challenging", & at worst confrontational. Those who didn't "get" Martin brushed him off as a clown, but to those who watched, and listened, it was clear there was something extremely profound going on. Martin had an uncanny ability to see into people, to look through you, to reflect your own insecurities and hangups back at you, until you had no choice left but to drop them... and dance with him. Martin called your bluff every time... Despite his best efforts to the contrary, eventually we did become friends. I simply refused to let him go, or to let him push me away... I knew in my core that if being Martin's friend required change, well then I'd change. He was worth it...
Martin was a hacker in the true MIT tradition. As a teenager, and Marty didn't often brag about this, he reengineered some communication software into what became the de facto standard for software pirates around the world. In those days he was known by his handle, the "Redheaded Freak". Luckily (for him and for us), he later turned his attention to more "legitimate" endeavors. Martin was an utterly brilliant software engineer. For our senior term project, the class was broken into groups of four. Under Marty's lead, we settled into an efficient working mode. One of us would get Marty's food, one of us would get Marty's music, and the third guy, well Marty just told him to stay out of the way. Marty programmed, and needless to say, we all took home "A+s". Around Martin, it seemed there were three ways to solve any problem. The right way, the wrong way, and Marty's way, which made the "right" way look foolish by comparison. Martin found a home he loved here at MIT, where he found at least a few people that could *almost* keep up with him.
Being around Martin was a feast for both the senses and the heart.
Martin was utterly unique. A genius. Compassionate. Generous. Kind. Martin was not stingy with his love. He told us, and he showed us. He gave and gave and gave. Each of us knows how blessed we were to share a few moments on this earth with him.
Although what we've lost is tremendous, what he gave us is immeasurable.
To those who knew him, no explanation is necessary... To those who didn't, no explanation is possible...