the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Letter to Paris


Sometimes I read personally bloggers lamenting the fact that they only write about the mundane events of their lives rather than getting involved into the big discussions of the day:  politics, war, etc.  They almost feel unworthy to be writing on the blogosphere next to their more serious brethren.

I don’t feel this way.

I’m not a big fan of political blogs, despite their popularity.  The readers are usually people of the same political persuasion patting each other on the back until some outsider breaks in to write something controversial.  Then, all hell breaks loose as insults fly.

I believe that personal bloggers are way more important than political bloggers.  It is the personal that will eventually bring people together.  Despite differences, most people everywhere want the same things:  love, shelter, sex, and good food.  I might want a corned beef sandwich and you might want a shish-kebab, but when it comes down to, it is the same basic  want.  I wish there was more cross-cultural blog reading going on.  I love to read about a Muslim woman’s life in Mauritius (Fitena).  I learn so much from her.  And hopefully, she’s learning something about American Jews like me (I just hope she doesn’t think that all Jewish men have an unhealthy relationship with a talkative penis — that’s even worse that Jews having horns!)

Personal bloggers tend to be more open to civilized discussion.  

For example, Tara Bradford is an American journalist living in Paris.   She writes a blog titled Paris Parfait, which she describes as a muses about a “parfait sundae” of art, antiques, culture, poetry and politics.  In the last few weeks, she’s been very upset about what is going on in Lebanon and has written some excellent posts about the conflict there.   Although they are written very passionately, I’ve complained about the one-sidedness of her arguments because she seemed to blame the situation more on Israel than on Hezbollah and Iran.  She could have just dismissed me, but instead, she invited me to write a post on her site, expressing my differing views.  (link here)

Now, that is a definition of a mensch.

Personal bloggers rule!


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Bad News Neilochka


  1. Scarlet

    Headed over…

    But I do agree about personal bloggers being better. Besides, ladies shouldn’t discuss politics;)

  2. Charming, but single

    I figure that I am serious all day long at work and my blog is my one little place where my opinion on something important doesn’t matter, where I’m not tied to Google News Alerts, where I don’t check the AP Wire religiously …

    Also, I just don’t like to worry my pretty little head over these things. ;P

  3. AWE

    F***ing excellent writing Neil, I have been wondering the same things.

  4. Caryn

    Wow, Neil … it’s like you’ve been reading my mind. I’ve been thinking a bit about this subject lately, too.

  5. berrie

    Neil! I just want to say what you wrote for Tara is RIGHT ON! Though I do go back and forth a bit on all that is happening in the middle east these days and our countries handling of it all. I try to have respect for all opinions even ones that I don’t agree on..and NEVER do I respect the beliefs of Terrorists…..and for the most part I do blog about normal everyday life (rather dull) most of the time…I think you’ve got a ‘new’ fan:o)

  6. Tammy

    You wrote an excellent piece at Tara’s place and I agree wholeheartedly. Can you tell me who occupied Isreal before the British? Throughout history the Jewish people have been persecuted and I don’t know why…no one can answer that question for me.

  7. Dagny

    I usually try to stay away from political discussions on line as well as those involving religion. I like to save those kind of conversations for bars. It’s so much easier to deal with someone pissing you off with their opinion when you can order another cocktail.

  8. Karla

    What a clever way to shamelessly promote your guest post on Paris Parfait. You go, Neil!

  9. Karen Little

    I like the personal blogs a bit more too – I think it’s because they’re more honest, and they’re less full of people out to impress.

  10. M.A.

    Tres magnifique, Neil. Je pense que vous ecrivait un reponse excellent!

  11. psychotoddler

    Excellent job Neil. I think what you wrote was perfect.

  12. Karl

    I’m with you on the political blogs. I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to politics, honestly. They just bore the everluvvin’ snot out of me. Always so derisive.

  13. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )


    I would definitely put this in the “perfect post” category as well! How refreshing! I’ll be sure to check out your guest post and the other blogs you read that you recommended.

    I agree with you too, that it seems personal bloggers tend to be more open to a wide range of opinions, and have more open minds and what I consider to be just plain old fashioned manners, where dissenting opinions are concerned.

    Thank you for writing this one! 🙂


  14. Jessica

    This is wonderful!

  15. Neil

    Tammy – Before the British, much of the Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire. The 1947 UN Partition Plan, which tried to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict, partioned the area in Jewish and Arab states. Israel was immediately attacked by Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq, setting the state for 60 years of violence. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.  Of course, there are conflicting views on who is more at fault — which makes this sad saga seem like one that is never going to end.

    As for why Jews have been persecuted so much — that is a tough one. Sadly, it probably comes originally from the birth of Christianity, when a struggling new religion tried to become mature by demonizing the father that begat him. Much of the anti-Semitism in the New Testament became ingrained in Western culture, so much so, that the stereotypes continued into the world of secular Nationalism, including that of Nazi Germany. The “outsider” is always feared and scapegoated. This has happened to many groups around the world, not only the Jews. And still happens to minority groups in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

    Karla — You know me better than I thought!

  16. Tatyana

    Forgive me, Neil, for not going to the Tara’s place to read your reposte (which, I’m sure, is excellent, as other commenters opined).
    I’ve had enough of the “abstract humanists” of the civilized world dropping crocodile tears over Lebanese children, conveniently forgetting the Israeli ones. It very well might be that Tara’s posts are not like that alltogether, but I don’t want to risk my hard-found balance and click on the link.

    If Sophia is willing to translate it for you, I’ll email you another link, by somebody @LiveJournal, fisking the reasons behind abstract humanists’s outrage…me – I’m fed up with negativity and prefer to look at the friendly pages and faces. Purely out of survival instinct.

    As to personal vs.political blog – I’m exactly the opposite from you. I might strike a conversation with a stranger, find much in common where food, love, poetry etc is concerned. But if the next thing I hear will be some socialistic remark or a lamentation on the awful fate of “victims of Israel aggression” – that would cross that person from my horizon immediately.
    Applies to blogs as well.

    Exceptions allowed, though, only to confirm the rule.

  17. paperback writer

    You know, I’ve never felt bad about being a “personal” blogger. Yes, I know my blog isn’t for everyone. That’s fine. I enjoy seeing other points of view. That’s the point of a personal blog.

  18. Bre

    Excellently written! Politics and Religion are two of the things that I think about most, but rarely post about. Some things I feel need a public statement, but others are much more private

  19. Dave Greten

    As for why Jews have been persecuted so much — that is a tough one.

    I think part of the reason the Jews have been scapegoated throughout history is because they have not had their own homeland for a long time. So they always (or for a very long time) have been the minority in another people’s land. When times get bad, who do the leaders blame? Not the majority, that’s for damn sure.

    This also leads many Jews to be very sympathetic to other oppressed and persecuted minorities. Note the active role many Jews took in Civil Rights legislation in the 60’s:

    Correct me if I’m wrong on this though. I’m not Jewish so I won’t presume to speak for an entire people.

    I’m a fan of political and personal blogs myself, both have their place.

  20. danielle

    Great piece. For some reason, I don’t think I should post or even talk about politics (not that I want to, I love personal blogs), but I always feel like I don’t know enough, even when I know a lot about what’s going on. I also tend to get upset and shut down, especially when discussions are about our president.

  21. Tara

    I’m a different Tara. I don’t get so into the political blogs because they do seem so one-sided and negative. Not that I don’t think they’re important or that everyone shouldn’t be extremely aware of what’s going on. I just don’t think they are a very good way to affect change, and without that, it’s more like masturbation…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I liked your piece Neil because it wasn’t mean or negative. You stated your beliefs and you were interesting. What more could we ask for? Excellent work

  22. Viscountess of Funk

    There was a time when letter writing was the only form of communication among people that couldn’t see each other for years and years – if at all – because travel was so difficult. I think blogging is a little bit like having a ton of friends that you can correspond with daily and learn about the larger universe. I also don’t like political/religious/serious blogs because I don’t want to interract with people exaclty like me. How boring!

  23. diana

    thank you thank you thank you neil… I read your post on Taras blog… and I was so grateful to hear another voice… telling the tale from his perspective.. in a calm, factual, non nasty voice… thank you again….
    I love it when we talk to one another in a respectful

  24. awareness

    Hi there.

    I read your piece on Tara’s site and followed the link here. I too personally enjoy eclectic blogsites rather than “all political harping all the time” They get so tiresome and ranty.

    Humour, absurdity, life’s pleasures, big topics, little topics……whatever comes to mind that day……all fodder to feed my muses. I enjoy your writing. I welcome you to visit my site when you have a moment………..

    Enjoy your day……….I’ll be back to check in again soon.

  25. Sarah

    i followed a link from Psychotoddler…
    i agree with you about this. my blog being about photos and design, i find most politics quite dull, yet there just seems to be no escaping it these days.

  26. tamarika

    I wrote this at Tara’s site and I repeat it here:

    “Neil, I thank you from the bottom of my broken heart for telling this story. I appreciate and respect Tara for permitting Neil to tell it [t]here. Am very moved by this.”

  27. treespotter

    that is the smartest take on the subject i’ve heard so far. i will not read any other blogs from now on.

  28. Jack

    Hey Neil,

    Not to inject more politics but Reuters has admitted it doctored a photo. You can find all sorts of information about it over here  or here

  29. ainelivia

    I read your post at Paris Parfait. A wonderful piece of writing and I was delighted to read something that didn’t rant or rave and sound slightly hysterical. A lot of the anti-Israeli stuff is very vehement.

    At a protest in London Bianca Jagger, who marched said whilst she supported the cease-fire demands of the march, she did not support some of the anti-Israel sentiments expressed by some of the marchers.

    Any chance you might submit this piece to UK papers, Independent, Guardian, Times, Telegraph, or may be the New Statesman. A little balance is needed Neil. Thank you.

  30. Fitena

    Merci beaucoup Neil. tu es un amour.


  31. Elvira Black

    What I really love are Jewish guys with horns on their penis. Talk about personal…

  32. hajew

    i loved this post and agree wholeheartedly. i’m a big fan of the personal blog. here’s one i discovered recently:

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