Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Silence and the Reasons Therefore

It would be easy enough to say I’m busy and leave it at that for why the blog hasn’t been updated in over a week . That’s true enough. This has been my busiest summer yet, especially in terms of schlepping kids from one camp/lesson/playdate to the next. In addition I have some exciting writing opportunities to work on, a syllabus to complete and plenty of projects around the house.

But that’s not it, or at least not entirely. Fact is, blogging has been far less fun lately than in the past. Back in the day (“the day” in this case being c. 2006) the Ohio political leftysphere had a much different vibe. We were a community, interested in politics and hoping our people won, but also interested in building up as a whole this thing called blog. The Meet the Bloggers project provided some of the glue holding that community together, but even those who didn’t participate in MTB were part of the conversation.

That community – my community – doesn’t really exist anymore. Some members moved on, from blogging altogether or blog far less frequently. Others have moved to other areas of blogging or up the blog food chain.

Those who remain and those who have taken their place treat this thing differently. Nowadays blogging is more competitive – explicit discussions of who has better traffic or links or “influence” pop up with discomforting frequency. And the focus is not on having an ongoing conversation about how to make the world better, but on winning – both in the blogosphere and in November.
As a result, the community is gone, replaced by a club. No one ever said it was a club (at least not publicly) and no one ever said who was in and out, but without doubt the winners have chosen those who are part of the club and ignore those who are not.

At this point I should say that it is not my intention to indict people for how things have gone. What has happened is the result of choices made by people far more successful at blogging than I, and those choices are not wrong in any objective sense, they just are not the choices that I would prefer (and trust me, if I were calling people out, you would have a very specific catalogue of who’s to blame and their misdeeds.)

I also apologize if any of this sounds whiny. I’m fine with the fruits of my blogging and, given the choice, I would change little of what I’ve done here. My only intent is to explain (to those few of you who care) why this blogger has found the whole enterprise far less enjoyable and therefore hasn’t been at it lately.

And I’m feeling wistful about the community has passed. The whole community thing gets overused, but upon attending a blogger meetup last week (my first in over a year), it all came back to me how it was and how much more fun it was back then. Not that the change should be a surprise. The best human institutions only string together a few Brief Shining Moments before drifting off course, and in the electronic age, those shining moments seem ever briefer.

And yet, I’m back. A few things have happened. First off, two of my favorite commenters got into a great discussion on last week's sole post. That plus meeting old (in adjusted blog terms) friends at the meetup, plus the fairly impressive traffic numbers while I was gone, plus some real-world conversations have suggested that the Pages still exist in some tattered remnant of a community.

In addition to that, some writing opportunities are presenting themselves and the standing advice for freelancers is 1) start a blog and 2) don’t let it go out of date. Last year between teaching and the blog and my one standing writing gig, not much time remained to build the freelance business. But if I’m to be serious about freelancing, I also need to keep up the maintenance around here.

So I’m going to start showing up around here more. But my plan is to be less part of the broader Ohio leftysphere and concentrate on what this thing was at the start – a place for my personal venting and, above all else, fun. I will wade at best infrequently into the dispiriting food fight that is the national campaign. I spend less time keeping up with news and more time digging into those bits that are interesting and little discussed. Above all else, I’m more interested in generating conversations about where we are and where we need to go as a society than carrying water for any one politician or badgering you all to agree with me.

And with that, I'm back, more or less.


Lori said...

Nice to have you posting again!! :)

tim russo said...

i think i just vomited.


bryan said...

good for you, pho. we need more voices engaged in this thing again.

Pho said...

Errk! Tim Russo being a dick to someone who won't parrot his line! No one saw that coming.

But thanks for reminding me of what I have to be grateful for. My blog is optional; it will never be a desperate attempt to prove my relevance to a world that's rightfully passed me by.

tim russo said...

wrong again pho.

you cite MTB as why you are so miffed. the facts of that situation are clear. i don't have a line to parrot, i have no patience for revised history passing for your own lament.

i like your blog, i like your voice, but your premise is based on a wild misunderstanding of a project i literally created from nothing, invited you to participate in, along with every other blogger in ohio. it fell apart for very plain reasons. if you lie about it, i'll correct you.

you can be grateful for whatever you're grateful for. just make sure you are accurate when you describe it.

Paul Ackerman said...


Whatever you write, whenever you write, there are those of us who will be ready to read.

Blog how you want and don't let the haters, the bottom feeders and the frankly twisted get you down.

tim russo said...

you're right ackerman, even i'll keep reading, especially when pho lies.

LisaRenee said...

Personally, I always enjoyed your posts about education. I can understand trying to regain what drove you to blog in the first place. I did that earlier this year when I stopped blogging for a week. It was starting to not be as fun and I realized I was more worried about trying to cover everything than the things I was really interested in.

I never was involved with the whole MTB thing though the one RootsCamp was fun. I think for me geographically it was much easier to remain an outsider and to be honest at times the whole clique feel was too much for me.

From a historical perspective what is happening now is not much different than 2004, most of us are political junkies, so it's hard to not concentrate on just the "big win" for many. Another advantage for me of having a blog with a local focus and another one with a national one.

I hope you end up back where you want to be, in the end what matters is how you feel about your own blogging. Some of my favorite posts are the ones no one commented on.


Village Green said...

I understand your taking a pause to reassess the blogging thing. And am very glad that you are not giving it up! Looking forward to the conversations. :)

Dave P. said...

Glad to hear you're going to continue on, Pho. I've been reading for about 18 months now and always enjoy your thoughts and posts.

I've never participated in a community of bloggers and probably never will. But I can relate to some of what you write from my 20+ years in the Cincinnati music scene.

Pretty dickish post by this Russo guy.

tim russo said...

no, dave, what's dickish is someone lying about something he knows he's lying about.

i realize blogging is about opinion, but if you don't know what you're talking about, best to leave the dickish pronouncements to those who do.

Jeff said...

It was great to meet you at the meetup. I'm glad to see you're taking care of yourself too.

I've been part of online communities that got less tolerant of dissent as the years went on. There's a real temptation to keep fighting long after you're not enjoying it anymore.

And I don't know this Tim guy from anywhere but this comment thread, but he sure is being a dick here.

tim russo said...

jeff, do you know the facts of this situation? if not, please refrain from making anonymous dicky judgment calls about who's a dick and who's not.

John Ettorre said...

Scott, I feel your pain, and it was good to finally meet you last week. I'm glad you're redoubling your efforts on the blog, because as I've said many times in comments, and again in person to you, your strong, mature, independent voice and point of view are rare and wonderful things, and they'd be greatly missed by many. As one of the few serious bloggers in history who has never cared about or tried to monitor my own traffic (I've been putting off for over five years attaching a tool that would allow me to do so), I can tell you that stuff takes care of itself as long as you continue to have something to say, and say it forcefully and regularly.

As for MTB, it was fated to slowly collapse on its own, as the two main engines, George and Bill Callahan, have gone on to bigger and better (and paying) gigs. But it remains a good example of the power of collaboration, and I'm sure other similar things will eventually rise in their place. Meanwhile, the regional blog world would be a far poorer place without dispatches from the home of the militant pragmatist.

tim russo said...

it's funny....it's always the same trolls every time.....ettorre, ackerman.......john, as a confirmed and avowed racist, how does it affect your traffic that when you google your name, the third item that appears says "john ettorre, racist"?

the two main engines for MTB, btw john, were me and myself. the third one was i. get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...


This isn't MySpace and Pho isn't a twelve year-old boy. Best for you to just move along.

John Ettorre said...

It does boggle the mind a bit that this character is in his 40s. He seems to have less emotional sophistication and maturity than my teenage sons, less than half his age. A bad case of stunted emotional development, I suppose. How very sad.

tim russo said...

ettorre, you were in the meeting that MTB was created. or have you forgotten. remember all the archives from the western reserve library you were pitching? you are aware of the facts too, and you choose to lie about them.

that was the last time you engaged in MTB, ever. i can print every email i sent out to every blogger in ohio, over a period of months, if you want proof, including the ones from you.

so if you have facts you want to dispute, please do so. otherwise, the cheap shots are your stock in trade, so keep em comin.

tim russo said...

sorta like this thread?

Hi George,

I fully endorse Tim's idea and would support SPJ's involvement with such an event. But I'm going to defer to John, since he's on the Programming Committee which plans events, since George, as you know, I'm a different committee...


ps. Good to see you yesterday! Thanks for your feedback on my "defense" of Doug.

All the Best,

Thanks again to Bill for thinking of this. I note, by the way, that
Action Cleveland hasn't yet posted any candidate responses, though
they were due five days ago.
I think we could turn this into something quite interesting, via a
webcast (a joint one with anyone who chose to come, or a one-by-one
webcast with each candidate if that's what they and we prefer). My
friends at Classic Teleproductions are now outfitting an all-digital
production truck just for remote webcasting, and they have in the past
even convened and produced (in a studio) Cleveland City Council
candidate debates, ward by ward, using Harry Boomer (then of WCPN) as
the facilitator. Their end use in all of this would be for telecasting
the program on Cleveland's local public access station, but the stuff
could be repurposed for our use as well (in fact, we'd probably get
first crack at it). I've long tried to connect the dots with them to
do basically a regional version of C-Span, and we seemed close to
pulling that off sometime, but there were never quite enough dollars
to do that. So I've always known that web is the way to do this. As it
happens, I'm meeting on Friday with Classic and Lev Gonick to see how
we might do at least some of this with One Cleveland as the
distribution partner. I'll bring up this idea as well, which would be
a good experiment. SPJ and the League of Women Voters (if we choose to
add one more Switzerland-like non-partisan partner), would no doubt
also be interested in helping in any way they could.
John E.

Chris Baker said...

Interesting. In many ways I hear you.

Personally, my encounters with the "community" were always when it took on the dynamics of a mob. A few times I've felt it direct its energies against me. It's weird how you can defend and respect people and then watch them all spin on a dime like flesh hungry zombies. When everyone started hammering Jeff over the Dem Convention that was when I had enough.

I've unleashed the powers of the crowd. I've seen it destroy people because of my words. I've reveled in the energy transferring over into the main stream media. It's heady when for those few brief moments you get to direct the symphony of personal destruction. The fact that they were Republicans doesn't make the dynamic any healthier.

The basic problem is that blogging is an exercise in egomania. No matter what your motives it isn't fundamentally healthy. Proof in this comes from the fact that it only flourishes with negative energy. Hate, aggression, jealousy, division, these are the things the make the blogosphere sing.

We are approaching an era of massive destruction brought about by our egomania. We were warned about our culture of waste by the people we stole this land from. We were too busy killing them to listen. Our children's children will pay for our sins.

That's why I have to laugh when I hear people talk about saving Mother Earth. Mother Earth doesn't need saving. We do. Mother Earth has a very simple solution for those who don't maintain the balance.

Human progress is always forged in blood. Unfortunately, we haven't even begun to learn.

Ryan said...

Pho, you were the first Akron-based blog I came across when I was still studenting it up at Baldwin-Wallace. Reading through the Pages and eventually the Stable (mainly with Redhorse) led me to enjoy the community that was.

Now seeing a post like this containing the bitter sniping responses from Russo reminds me of the blood which has tainted the water of the NEO blogosphere. It seems now that simple discussions degenerate into name-calling and publicly grinding axes on matters that needn't. Really, what's the point?

Of course, civil discourse would hardly befit an internet conversation. We may lob our typed grenades from the security of a computer keyboard and monitor and giggle over the impact, but truly that accomplishes nothing but serves to inflate egos and inflame opinions. Pho, I've always found life in the deathscape of internet discourse within your blog. It's an intellectually stimulating experience which I can enjoy because it's possible for me to separate your personal biases in your posts from facts and derive my own opinions. Sadly, it doesn't look like all of the NEOSphere can do the same.

Back to you Tim: all you do on your blog is complain and make it clear that indeed woe be you. If your ideas were thieved from you and you are perpetually slighted by a community of citizen journalists/opinionists/general-ists, haven't you the potential to create other ideas instead of lament on the robbing of MTB from you? I'm going to leave all of the other legal issues that you write about aside; those are your personal matters and I'm glad that you feel empowered enough to write about them. But frankly when it comes down the 'sphere (and that incident at WCPN), you're an angry person who will lash out at anyone who dares to cross you.

With all that said:

It's nice to have you back, Pho.

tim russo said...

hey ryan, thanks for the sincere concern. here's another email for your review.

On Feb 23, 2006, at 3:45 PM, Scott Piepho wrote:


I regret needing to ask this, but the Betty Sutton campaign wants to know if Tim Russo is planning on coming down Saturday.


A blog for Summit County and beyond. Pho's Akron Pages.

Paul Ackerman said...

Gee ... sounds like Betty Sutton and her campaign have a great deal of common sense.

Just what we want from our elected representatives, I think.

tim russo said...

no doubt, ackerman. kinda like pho himself, right? oh wait......he sniffed money.....


hey folks,

good news. we have another advertiser.

the Greater Cleveland Marketing Alliance (http://www.cose.org/news/index.asp?article_id=869) a project of COSE in Cleveland, is running a similar survey to the V&C survey about how Cleveland and NEO are marketed to the outside world, and wants to run a campaign across the MTB Ad Network to drive online participation.

they'd like to start the campaign this week. we expect to get artwork either Wednesday or Thursday and would like to have the ad up right away. George will email everyone the code, just replace the code you currently have for the reader survey with the code George emails out this week.

it will likely be a 2 week campaign, which will take us through May. V&C's campaign is expected to start in June, so the timing is perfect.

as before, all revenue will be split among the blogs in the network and MTB.

thanks again to everyone for staying involved in the MTB Ad Network.


Excellent work.

I didn't reply to the earlier email. I'm happy to do an email, but clearly I need some remedial html instruction, as the MTB survey banner debacle has shown.


A blog for Summit County and beyond. Pho's Akron Pages.

tim russo said...

this bud's for you pho


bginley said...

john Ettesnore you nerd - go email me some foul mouthed words that work TURN THE CAPS OFF THO

pho.mtb.really.330 don't lower yourself to care about the few bad apples ( who have all commented ) on your back-from-the-dead-blah-blah-blah bloggeroo - can you not smell the urine in the air when the Ferris Wheel churns at MTB ? when the zombies of cleveland's wanted-to-be want-to-cash-in, well you were tight right there so go cry in your Akron Rubber Bowl when people with greed in your reason for posting feed off the troubles of others.

tim you are free to post Ettersnore's fuck filled email(s) to me for another exhibit A-**hole of cleveland blogosphore snore that is always working with words or why real people don't bother with bloggers of elite status

John Ettorre said...

I'm guessing that readers can readily see why these two disturbed characters were fated to eventually find each other. Misery, vitriol and despair love company.

Anonymous said...

Hey didn't you read Tim's blog and realize how important he was?

I guess not because if you had read it you would have realized he was responsible for all things political in Ohio and some parts of Europe! He was the genius that came up with the idea that candidates should hold signs! All his. Before Tim, candidates did not know what to do with signs. And, his sexual problems are not his fault. Didn't you read? His mother fed him eggs before she realized he was allergic to them. This is obviously the source of all his problems. Don't blame Tim, blame his mom. And for those run ins with the law? Come on. He did not get caught HAVING sex with 13 years olds, He got caught WANTING to have sex with 13 year olds. What he did doesn't count, having online sex and distributing obscene photos of yourself naked to someone you believe is a 13 year old boy, but, turns out to be a Fed isn't that big of a deal. If you read Tim's blog you'd have known that. Besides, he fully admitted that going to meet that boy for sex was the biggest mistake of his life, he knew it was "too good too be true" and "thirteen year olds don't usually talk like that". In retrospect he admits he should have realized it was a trap, and not realizing that was the biggest mistake of his life. And, when candidates don't want to meet with him, it's not because they don't want to be seen with an admitted wanna be pedophile, it's some conspiracy set up by someone on his deep and fantasy laden enemies list. Obviously, someone as important as Tim has to have enemies, right? So, Pho. We have to ask. Who is paying you to take swipes at Tim? Is it someone from the Hillary camp? or maybe someone left over from Sen. Browns campaign?

tim russo said...

phonies find each other too, ettorre.

I understand from George that you've been doing some work on the Blair
campaign. I'd love to hear the whole story, as well as the work you've
been doing leading up to that, in order to write about it, somewhere.
Any interest in meeting to talk about that?
John Ettorre


I have since drilled down on you quite a bit, and found lots of
interesting stuff, including that Salon piece and the Russian stuff.
Don't know how I've managed to overlook all that till now.
Next week should work well. I'll send you some possible times soon.
John E.


You write like a fuckin dream, Tim, like a .340 hitter hits. And like
that hitter, some of it's god given, but plenty of it, probably more
of it, also comes from having taken years of batting practice and
having seen a thousand pitchers under every possible situation.
There's no replacement for that.


Anonymous said...

Phonies! HA HA HA You make JE's point for him when you use such a JR High put down. You are a riot Tim. I guess, you have to keep in that "JR high mind set" if you wanna keep convincing the 13 year olds you are 17 and not 41! Yikes.

Why don't you just get a job already?

Ryan said...

The continued degeneration of this thread into consistent self ego-aggrandizing is representative of the quality of the posters' postings. Bear this in mind: politics is more than vitriol and hate-mongering. Moreover, getting our common goals accomplished requires cooperative effort combined with sacrifice of perfected ideals. Whether some posters here like that or not, it's what is.

So for all of the high-mindedness and idealism of the few, the work of the many bears the fruit of reality. Whether or not those high-minded few can come to terms with that reality is something that bears itself out in the responses to Scott's post.

So this is the point at which I'm going to call you out Tim: if it's not about money and it's all about the so-called e-bodypolitic, why do you yourself seek adverts? I eagerly await your response.

Ryan said...

One more thing, Tim:

Let me know why you don't think a campaign being concerned about an accused pedophile being at an event is ill-done PR?

Ryan said...

OMGZ! Strike that question mark! Replace with full stop!


tim russo said...

hey ryan, you're a pedophile.

guess that makes you an accused pedophile too. everyone flee!

Ryan said...

Ah, the power of the non-sequitur!

Cheap wedding dresses said...

Thank you! You often write very interesting articles. You improved my mood.I'll be back again.