Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Courtney E. MartinCourtney E. Martin is a freelance journalist who writes about gender, race, politics, and pop culture for a variety of national publications. Her book—Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body—will be published in April. She writes the Composing A Life column, which appears on Tuesdays.
Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: The Polar Opposite of Loneliness
No Comments | posted April 20th, 2007 at 08:45 am by Courtney E. Martin

Describing my book party turns out to be one of those rare occassions when words seem inadequate to me, but I’ll still give it a try.

It felt like almost every person I have ever loved, respected, walked beside, drank next to, sung with, embraced, worried about, debated with–and did I mention loved?–was in one sweet, little downtown bar. I wanted to press pause and walk around, inspect all of these incredible people from all different parts of my incredible life. It all moved so fast, seemingly propelled forward at warp speed by the sheer force of that many brilliant and beautiful people in one space.

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Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: A Perfectly Imperfect Girl
5 Comments | posted April 18th, 2007 at 11:33 am by Courtney E. Martin

my hero
My inspiration for the day? This little girl I saw rocking a tutu and eating chips at the Brooklyn Musuem of Art. In case anyone was wondering.

Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: Too Much Sugar, Not Enough Medicine?
2 Comments | posted April 17th, 2007 at 08:26 am by Courtney E. Martin

stewartA new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press confirms the obvious hunch that Americans are not so informed about current events. They concluded this by asking people stumpers like, “Who is the current vice president?” Thirty one percent of people either didn’t know or were too embarassed to utter Slick Dick’s name.

Here’s the really interesting bit, though: of the six news sources cited most often, “The Daily Show” and “The Cobert Report” were tied at the top with websites of major newspapers. As “well, duh” as that seems, we have to take a moment to reflect on how totally unprecedented it is that the majority of Americans are getting their news from a comedy show.

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Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: Rambling Cowgirl with a Spirited Rant
9 Comments | posted April 16th, 2007 at 01:50 pm by Courtney E. Martin

Okay, I’m officially overwhelmed and unofficially thrilled.

T, The New York Times‘ style magazine ran a great story comparing/reviewing my book, and one by the late, amazing Dr. Hilde Bruch. I almost fell off of our bright orange, almost broken though adorable (like everything from Ikea) couch when I read the words “…a spirited and smart rant that makes for a thought-provoking read.”

It also says that the book is a “rambling investigation,” but as my buddy Kendra wisely suggested, this surely means “rambling” as in cowgirl on the open road, as opposed to “rambling” as in your aunt on her second glass of boxed wine at Christmas time.

Anyway tomorrow is the big day–Perfect Girls hits stores. I am sending a wish/prayer/thought out into (yes Kimmi) the universe that it gets into the hands that need it most.

Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: The Calm Before the Storm
8 Comments | posted April 11th, 2007 at 12:42 pm by Courtney E. Martin


My book comes out in a week and I am feeling strangely calm about the whole thing. What can possibly explain this? (Especially given my predisposition to anxiety when I’m not staring down the publication of my first book.)

Maybe it was living through my first television experience—on Fox News’ Cavuto on Business no less—last week. It was me and five TV-veteran, business experts hanging in Bill O’Reilly’s green room with a collective foot of makeup on our faces. I lost track of how many times someone told me that I looked like I was 12-years-old.

Maybe it was being around my motley crew of a writer’s group last night and talking about the writer’s life, drinking beers, eating pizza, and laughing our collective, writerly asses off.

Maybe I am just too excited for my book party, which promises to be an overwhelming coming together of all the different facets of my life in one small room…with cupcakes and vodka.

Maybe it is that I have been getting really beautiful emails from young women who have their hot little hands on early copies and they’ve said things like this:

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Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: All-at-Onceness
2 Comments | posted April 10th, 2007 at 02:19 pm by Courtney E. Martin

Veruca Salt

Okay, here’s another concept for you to try on: “all-at-onceness.” We can thank media scholar Marshall McLuhan—of “the medium is the message” fame—for this one.

Essentially the idea is that in this time of constant communication, unparalleled access to information, and ever-rising ambitions, we are a generation accustomed to “all-at-onceness.” I think of it in terms of both quantity and timing—we want it all and, please and thank you, we want it all now. A little like Willy’s old friend, Veruca Salt.

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Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: Me and Vicky’s Girls
8 Comments | posted April 04th, 2007 at 03:29 pm by Courtney E. Martin

In case you weren’t sure, the world is officially full of gut-splitting ironies.

Victoria’s Secret ModelsI showed up at the Hotel Gansevoort, a fancy schmance hotel in the disgustingly trendy meatpacking district, for an interview and photo shoot with British magazine You. (Yes, you read that right, photo shoot; I was dumbfounded too.) They bought the first rights to publish an excerpt and an interview with me from my UK publisher, Piatkus.

The photojournalist and his assistant decided that the roof bar would be a great place to take shots of me. We rode the elevator up while making awkward small talk (or was that me and my internal voice wondering what the hell I was doing in a photo shoot?).

The elevator doors opened and we stepped out…right into a sea of giant models in bikinis and high heels. That’s right. Victoria Secret was doing a photo shoot at the exact same time in the exact same place.

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Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: Dudes and Babies
5 Comments | posted April 03rd, 2007 at 09:39 am by Courtney E. Martin

So I’m sitting on the train, headed God knows where, and a guy with Fu Manchu facial hair and a track suit wheels his fat-cheeked baby son on to the 5 train. He sits next to another guy—this one Asian-American and all suited up, pink tie, baby blue button-up. Fu Manchu tries to put his baby’s Timberland boots back on his tiny little feet and the Suit says, “Don’t you hate how those always fall off?”

“Yeah man.”

“You can get these little boots with velcro, so they don’t fall off, and the sole is softer so the baby can really feel his feet on the ground. That’s good for ‘em.”

“Cool man, where do you get those?”

I honestly thought I was going to cry. Not because this is unusual. I’m sure there are dads of different stripes trading parenting tips all over the globe, but I rarely witness it in such unabashed, matter-of-fact form.

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Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: More Next Next Titles to Make You Feel Important
1 Comment | posted March 27th, 2007 at 10:49 am by Courtney E. Martin

If you thought social entrepreneur was an exciting new title, I’ve got yet another possibly ridiculous but still impressive sounding super-modern descriptor for your super-modern life: portfolio career.

Apparently, what my mom did in shoulder pads and massive earrings back in ’88—clinical social work/community organizing/mothering/newspaper founding/film festival running—is now called a portfolio career. I got one too—writing/teaching/filmmaking/consulting/singingoffkey/publicspeaking. On good days I called it “liberating freelancing,” on bad “crippling insecurity and black hole emailing,” but I never called it a portfolio career.

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Courtney E. Martin
Book Tour Blog: The Conception
4 Comments | posted March 26th, 2007 at 08:39 pm by Courtney E. Martin

Writing a book is kind of like having a baby. (Disclaimer: I’ve never had a baby.) At least that’s what I imagine.

I sold the concept, more accurately, my awesome agent Tracy Brown who is kind of like a mix between an absent-minded professor and a matchmaker, sold the concept. Simon & Schuster’s Free Press declared their love for Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters (a title my brilliant dad came up with!) in April 2005.

I woke up the next morning and realized I actually had to write the damn thing. Which I imagine—again with no prior experience—is kind of like waking up and realizing that the thing you’ve wanted has come true, that you are responsible for carrying a frickin’ human being inside of your belly for the better part of a year.

I spent the next nine months of my life (no joke) feverishly researching, interviewing, reading, and occasionally freaking out.
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Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: The Next Next for Your Old-Timey Resume
1 Comment | posted March 20th, 2007 at 08:38 am by Courtney E. Martin

I went to a fascinating panel a couple of weeks ago at NYU, hosted by Americans for Informed Democracy called “Social Entrepreneurship and Global Change.”

Yeah, I had no idea what it meant either, but apparently me, you, and everyone we know (shout out to the mystically talented Miranda July) is one. (And, yes, July is one too.) As I understood it, if you are someone enacting creative solutions to social problems—and aren’t opposed to blurring the line a bit between nonprofit and profit, grassroots and government, pop culture and theory—then you can slap a fancy new title on your resume.

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Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: Why We’re Not Spoiled Brats, Damn It
1 Comment | posted March 13th, 2007 at 10:53 pm by Courtney E. Martin

A reporter for Pink Magazine interviewed Kate, Jennifer, and me about intergenerational conflict among women on our lunch break from writing at the New York Public Library (Florian taught us to call it nipple, cause he’s Dutch and funny) the other day.

We talked about the complexity of mentorship, freelance insecurity, and a bunch of other interesting topics, but what really got me thinking was a brief fore into the land of Gen Y “entitlement.” Seems that in a survey of boomer ladies, the majority complained of our generation’s audacious sense of entitlement to meaningful work, fancy titles, and respect without paying the requisite dues.

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