the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Neilochka’s Return: I Am a Blogging Rockstar

Today was the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av.  It isn’t a holiday that most American Jews celebrate, probably because it is the saddest holiday of the Jewish calendar, and it occurs in the middle of the summer when the sun is shining and the beaches are open.   Jews have never been good at scheduling.

It is a day of fasting, one of mourning for the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, as well as all the awful things that have befallen the Jewish people.  And there are a lot of them.  The Book of Lamentations is read in temple.   In Sephardic communities, it is customary to read the Book of Job.

At first, I forgot it was Tisha B’Av.  That is, until I took a walk to Main Street to get a bagel, and discovered that the kosher bagel store closed.  This section of Main Street has a sizeable Orthodox population.  I immediately noticed a group of Orthodox men, looking somber in their black coats, walking to temple.  They passed the public library.  In front of the library were laughing kids playing “tag.”  They were shouting and chasing after each other, the energy of childhood in the air.

“You’re it!  You’re it.” one kid screamed and laughed.

It was quite a contrast — the somber men in black hats on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar and the joyous, wild children playing their game.

Online, my virtual life occurs at breakneck speeds, much faster than the ones I notice on Main Street.  It is impossible for me to see contrasts that rush by on my monitor.  My brain cannot work that fast.  On Twitter, I follow “friends,” each reporting on their fast-paced lives in a chaotic mess of the sublime and the repetitive. 

Last week, a blogger “twittered” that his sister had just died.  A few responded with condolences, but within seconds, a new thread was growing on the subject of “Do You Think You Can Dance?”  In a nanosecond, we all switched gears, onto the new topic, and the death of this woman was knocked off the page, into the unseen digital archives.

Unlike the visual contrast of the mourning Orthodox Jews and the playing kids, both human beings expressing the flip sides of  daily life — sad and happy — there is little to grab onto in a virtual world.  There are just bits of information, equally important and equally irrelevant.

When I see the rate of data flow online, it occurs to me that one day, my final moments will be announced on Twitter, and it will last about ten seconds before the subject matter is changed.  That’s a depressing thought.  Am I so inconsequential, another minor subject equal in value to someone’s lunch or the latest category on Alltop?

Megan of the Velveteen Mind wrote an interesting post last week about “blogging rockstars.”  She suggests that this is a silly concept — we are all regular folk, writing in our underwear, from Dooce to the newbie.  I’d like to approach this subject in another way.  Rather than dragging the Dooces of the world to the level of the guy in his underwear eating Cheerios from the box, why not say everyone has potential rockstar talent just like Dooce?   I know, it sounds like bullshit, but isn’t that the point of the whole bloggers’ interview experiment?   If you end up being a blip on Twitter as your final moments scroll off the page — and it will happen that way — why not make believe that you are a rockstar while you are here? 

I am a rockstar.  I don’t need anyone to tell me that I am.  I write.  Perfect.  I wouldn’t be able to write a word if I didn’t think — deep in my heart — that I had something special to say.  Why bother writing then?  I could be jumping rope or watching porn!  So, instead, I write this blog, making believe that I am a blogging rockstar.   And if you tell me that you’re a rockstar, I will think of you as one, too.


  1. amy

    yr wicked cool Neil. I wish I were in LA often. I would make ya meet me at the Chateau Marmont and we could start a writers group over pricey drinks. xo

  2. blackbird

    Great post Neil – and I say that as one rock star to another.

  3. All Adither

    Just because your final moments become a Twitter doesn’t mean thoughts of you don’t linger in someone’s mind. Also, what a downer.

  4. Ry

    You know what? You are a freakin’ rockstar…and so am I.

    Great post, great thoughts, well said, well written. Good times.

  5. Kate

    I loved that post on Velveteen Mind. I even commented, even though I was like number one thousand (slight exaggeration).

    I started my blog two months ago because I needed a creative outlet. And getting readers outside of my own network of friends and family was just a bonus.

    No one is going to get famous blogging. In fact – a year ago, when I thought of the word “blog” – all that came to mind was thousands of Lost fanatics feverishly chatting about what the Island REALLY is.

    My last post was a guest post from my husband on the controversy surrounding the 08 Summer Olympics being in China. I could worry that this didn’t fit into my usual subject matter…but ultimately I’m just writing for myself. So who cares.

    Even if I’m the only one reading my blog – I’m not going to forget why I started it. And then I’m going to laugh really hard at my own jokes.

  6. iMommy

    Well done.

    This is a great philosophy in general – whether you apply it to blogging or anything else.

  7. Neil

    All Adither — Yeah, I’m sorry. I know this was a bit of a downer.

  8. Christine

    Well…the thread faded away on your timeline. Who knows how long it went on someone else’s Twitter homepage, depending upon who follows – and is followed – by whom!

    They may still be tweeting about it now.

    P.S. I am a rockstar, baby!

  9. Sheryl

    I’m not a rockstar. I don’t have anything to say, and that’s what blogging is: virtual Seinfeld. I do know how to spit polish nothing, and rub ’til it shines. But even that I don’t do as well as some.

  10. apathy lounge

    I am for sure. I may be the only one who sees it, but that’s another matter.

  11. AnnieH

    Get down with your Rock Star self, Neilochka. You and Sly and the Family Stone–Soulmates.
    Myself? I’m more of a backup band kind of gal. Like one of the Funk Brothers. Little pay, no recognition, but man, could they play music.
    Blessings to you and yours on this day of Tisha B’Av.

  12. Neil

    Sheryl — Seinfeld is one very wealthy man for being in a show about nothing.

  13. Redneck Mommy

    You’ll always be a rockstar in my eyes, Neil.

    It takes one to know one.

    Now will you please come over here and autograph my boob?

  14. ACG

    When I see the rate of data flow online, it occurs to me that one day, my final moments will be announced on Twitter, and it will last about ten seconds before the subject matter is changed.

    You could never be measured in Twitters.

  15. MammaLoves

    I’ll be a rock star with you if there will be good bagels…and naps…oh and beaches w/cabana boys.

  16. Rhi

    How do YOU know I write in my underwear?

  17. cog

    I shall trash a hotel room in your honor.

  18. anymommy

    Tongue out, fist in the air, head-banging my keyboard for you, Neilochka! Welcome back.

  19. Pants

    *bumps fists*

  20. Anissa@Hope4Peyton

    A friend of mine who lost her child this year had a beautiful line printed on her announcement. It said “Her ripples do not end here”, that forever, the impact that she had would continue to influence others. I think the same will be said for you, your ripples will never end.

  21. Jennifer H

    To be is to be perceived…on Twitter? Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have canceled my account.

    (I assume it’s all right if I decide to be a crossover country music star?)

    Rock on.

  22. ingrid

    what a fantastic, insightful and thoughtful post. thank you neil.

    you are, as always, fantastic. thank you for placing value on this thing that we do in the world.

  23. better safe than sorry

    i don’t even have twitter, or know what it is, or care whether i’ll be thought of afterwards. i’m more concerned about now, the people i’m surrounded by and their lives, the impact i have on them, the impact they have on me. anyone can be as famous as they want, in their own mind.
    i always thought you wrote because you’re creative, it’s your art form.

  24. Neil

    i always thought you wrote because you’re creative —

    That is a good point. You might have just undermined my entire argument. Maybe I am talking less about writing than blogging. Which might be the problem right there.

  25. Annie

    Neil, I think this is my favorite post ever. If you died I would remember you longer then 2 seconds, I would always remember you. You were one of the first people to comment on my blog! You are special to me and you are a rockstar for sure :-).

  26. Caitlinator

    If the basis of measuring the worth of a life comes down to Twitter, we may need to come up with a better way. Neil, you owe me a drink.

  27. cruisin-mom

    Neil, you are a rockstar. Me? not so much…3 loyal readers a rockstar does not make. But hey, I suppose being one of your groupies is the next best thing.

  28. Neil

    Cruisin — There are a lot of indie rockstars. If popularity was the key, Batman, The Dark Knight would be the best movie ever made.

  29. BaronessvonB

    Je flique mon Bicque lighter in your general direction.

    We ARE all rockstars – that’s why I’m hanging out in Paris – trying to escape the glare of my adoring public…

  30. gorillabuns

    I’m with Better Safe – We are all rockstars in our own mind.

  31. churlita

    I have kids, so I won’t fade so quickly. They’ll be talking to their therapists about me for years after I’m dead.

  32. Noelle

    I’m hoping that my death comes long after Twitter is just a blip in our memories, and something they use to promote 2000’s themed restaurants.

    My death will be announced via some brain chip device in many, many years, and I hope the same for you, too.

  33. Mary Beth

    from one rockstar to another, I’ll have my people get in touch with your people to tell you how awesome you are!

  34. Backpacking Dad

    Can I be the guitar player with mystique in your band?

  35. melanie

    I am more like a blogging “superstar”!

    (a dork with glasses and a uniform who sniffs her pits.)


    Must be way cool to be you!

  36. ali

    i am a golden god.


  37. Michele

    Baby, I’m a blogging QUEEN. I’ve got the tiara to prove it. You be a rock star, I’ll reign over my corner of blog land with scepter and jewels.

    Great post.

  38. New Age Bitch

    1. I go commando myself.
    2. Why make comparisons? For most people, putting themselves out there in print *is* the process. Rockstar status is just the icing on what’s already a pretty decent cake.
    3. Mmm, cake.

  39. LVGurl

    Blogging: just a few big fish and many small ponds. You are my big fish, Neil!

    And a rockstar. I’d throw my panties at you any day.

  40. Neil

    Michelle — a rockstar is one thing. A blogging Queen is just arrogant.

    Ali — and a golden god… I’m not even sure what that means. Is that a brand name of some sort of vibrator?

  41. V-Grrrl

    When my life is over, it’s over. That may happen before I die and it won’t be announced on Twitter.

  42. Lynnster

    You are so totally a rockstar, Neil. Absolutely!

    I read Megan’s post with a great deal of interest and, ironically enough, in catching up with older posts I’d missed around, I read something not all that dissimilar (including certain peop…I mean, subjects) on one of our regional blogs today.

    Which got me to thinking about three years ago when I moved out of the little world I’d been comfortable in blogging at AOL for eight years, and started reading and heading into more “mainstream” blogging. There were several bloggers I wandered upon almost immediately, a few well known or getting to be well known, and a couple with local-ish, to me, ties. After having read them for several months, at some point there was occasion for me to e-mail both of them, about totally different subjects, though perfectly valid ones.

    In either case, a simple acknowledgment would have sufficed, but one e-mailed back & we had a nice short little discussion & went on our separate ways reading & writing. The other ignored my e-mail, so I was like, “whatever”.

    The blogger I had the discussion with would later become arguably the “first pro blogger”, and my friend & former Nashville (now SF) media blogger Brittney Gilbert. The other one… well, I probably don’t have to say who it was. But I made up my mind at the time that no matter what happened with my blogging or how many people did or didn’t read me, I’d never let an email go unacknowledged & rarely let comments go without an acknowledgment. Brittney – who has far far more readers than me – tends to do the same and participates in comment discussions regularly. I would say part of that’s a Southern thing, but… *shrug*

    Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is if your blogging is causing you to cut yourself off from those who read and participate in what you do… I think that’s a problem. We’re all the same. Technically I’ve been blogging twice or more as long as some of the so-called “famous” bloggers and I’m not “famous” – nor do I care. It’s just something I do and something I’ve always done. *shrug again*

    Anyhow, excellent post (and excellent post by Megan as well). And let’s hope before I die that the fiance learns to operate the Internets and Twitter, or one day I may just disappear and y’all will never know what became of me. ‘Cos right now he barely knows how to turn on a computer. It’s true!

  43. Lynnster

    (whoops, I didn’t mean to write a book there…)

  44. Neil

    Lynnster —

    I guess my point in writing that post is, yes, of course, there are always going to be more well known people and more well-respected bloggers. But unlike the other media, you don’t really need to impress anyone to get the job to blog. You just start writing. So everyone should be pretty impressed with themselves for having their own publishing empire.

  45. Michele

    Neil, darling — don’t you think that assuming people care about what we have to write is arrogant? I blog therefore I am arrogant — why not elevate myself to queen status while I’m at it? Queens at least have substance and responsibility. Rockstars just get high.

  46. always home and uncool

    I feel like I’ll need to perform “Freebird” after every post now.

  47. mp

    I wouldn’t want to be a rock star..too much pressure to write entertaining shit on a daily basis..

  48. metalia

    *slow clap*

    Such a great post, Neil.

  49. piglet

    i read this last night but didn’t comment for some reason. i needed to come back and let you know what so many others have said, “bravo”. you are some kind of hero.

    p.s. i am a rock star too.

  50. unfinishedperson

    And we likewise, as your readers, are proud of your publishing empire too, where we get to read such thoughts as these. No, seriously.

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