Ron Rosenbaum

I Don't Know How Personal...

…a blog should be. Issues/opinions or diary observations? Or both? Pajamas asked me to do “the kind of thing you’ve been doing” which, alas, is a lot of things, too many things ,a crippling, paralyzing impossible number of things. I should be more focussed.


Don’t know if I should focus on politics the way most Pajamas bloggers do (but I think they wanted me for my non fixed political focus). So I’ve tended to focus on culture the way I’ve done in my columns for The New York Observer and now Slate. (Did I mention that I’ve accepted an offer from the online magazine Slate ( to do a culture column every other week, somewhat like, but not the same as the one I did for 12 year for the Observer. (It doesn’t mean I’m still not fond of the Observer or the people there, it was a sad but amicable–and not total–parting).

But back to my confusion about what I should be blogging about. I think the most successful bloggers are the ones that focus in laser-like way on one subject, build a constituency and become a blogosphere focus for it. Non-focussed Diary like responses to life compel less linkage, but I feel my lack of focus is an aspect of my life. I’m all over the map.

Maybe it will help by contextualizing the strange variety of my life. None more various than last week or so.

Consider, after finishing my last Observer piece and my first official Slate piece (posted March 7–on Hitler, sex and Norman Mailer), I had to get ready to speak on Thursday March 8 at the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism in New Haven, on the question of a “second Holocaust” (“spine chilling” was one e mail response to my talk).


Then when I got back I spent the first part of the last weekend drafting my second Slate column. Then Saturday my girlfriend, up from D.C.. took me tp an engagement party for some journalist friends she knew who had all met in Baghdad covering the war.

Many of the attendees had based their war reporting from the same beyond-the-green-zone rented house in Baghdad and many of them shared a friendship with a woman named Marla Ruzicka who had been murdered while doing humanitarian work in Iraq and whose story has been told in a recent book The Sweet Relief by Jennifer Abrahamson.

I’d never met Marla, heard a lot about her from my girlfriend and her evident charisma was still apparent at the party which, while supposedly celebrating an engagement had a bit of a feeling of a wake or at least a sense of a which united those who knew Marla in life. I felt like an outsider, but I liked the people there and the spirit of the occasion and they made me feel welcome.

Then when my girlfriend left on Sunday, I finished up the Slate piece, worked on my new book (subject still secret) and my overdue screenplay and started selecting the students for the writing seminar I’d be teaching over the next couple months at the University of Chicago. Fascinating how many talented applicants there were and how difficult the choice was. My goal is to get them to make the transition from memoir-oriented “creative non fiction” to getting publishable first books under way.


Then I had to prepare for my Brooklyn Academy of Music “BAM dialogue” with British Shakespearean director Edward Hall, son of Sir Peter Hall (founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and himself (Edward). founder of the brilliant Propeller Theater Company which does all-male cast productions of Shakespeare (whose original casts included no women) and whose Midsummer Night’s Dream I’d seen at BAM a couple years ago and thought was hilarious. (If you’re in the BAM nabe, the “dialogue” is at 1-2 pm this Saturday the 17th).

To prepare I’m seeing a 10:30 a.m. Friday rehearsal performance of Twelfth Night, then after the Saturday dialogue I’m seeing their version of The Taming of the Shrew

Then on Sunday morning a phone interview with Norman Mailer (assignment) and on Sunday afternoon I see genius director James Lapine’s production of King Lear starring Kevin Kline.

Monday, back to my new book and my screenplay at last. And preparing for my once a week Chicago seminar. And blogging about all sots of things. Okay it’s crazy and could I have turned down any of these opportunities. Well maybe all but the chance to spend time with my girlfriend.

But I’m freakin’ dizzy. (If you know anyone who wants to be my assistant to sort my life out, let me know. Some perks like performance tickets, screenings. This is a cry for help.)


And you see my dilemma: I could blog about anything I don’t choose to write a formal essay about for Slate. I could blog about my life. Does anyone care? I could have done a more focussed post on the Marla party and the bittersweet quality of it. And I’ll do that kind of thing in the future. But I wanted to try one of those diary-type, this-is-my-life blog entries. This is all thinking out loud, but I guess I’ve learned something from it: I need to focus.

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