Category Archives: Personal

The myth of false equivalency

scalesThis is the story of my first and last brush with campus activism during my college career. It’s been decades, so some names may be slightly askew — but the sequence of events is still crystal clear.

I crossed paths with 1960s counterculture often as a tot, and I’d always romanticized the activism it inspired. So when I entered college, I was eager to man the ramparts for social justice.

A cause of the moment was registration for the draft, which had been reinstated in 1980 by Jimmy Carter. Like any aspiring young progressive I knew, I was opposed to registration as a half-step away from conscription. (I’ve long since tempered that opinion; I now believe that conscription is a potent tool to make the powerful think twice about committing their own children to war.)

At the time, however, it seemed like a righteous cause to start my career as a student activist. So I was excited to attend the first meeting of a group called (IIRC) Students Against Registration and the Draft and attended by about 30 of the most visible leftist students on the UCSD campus.

Continue reading

My dad, the brand

There is at least one Rothenberg who’s taking real advantage of blogging as a tool for personal branding: my 81-year-old father Jerome Rothenberg, a lion of experimental poetry with more than 80 books to his credit.

My parents’ participation in the “little magazine” movement during the 1960s and ’70s inspired my own excitement about the DIY power of early desktop publishing in the 1980s. (I remember blue-lining literary magazines from about age seven.)

My folks have not slowed down, and my father hasn’t lost his interest in new ways to spread the word. He started his own blog, “Poems and Poetics,” in 2007, and he has built a substantial following based on his own reputation and his steady attention to adding new content that combines poetry with personal insight and autobiographical detail.

Jerome Rothenberg recently added a Facebook account to his arsenal, quickly picking up a set of fans along the way, and has been using it to great effect to promote the work on his blog. Next stop, Twitter?

School daze

I’m spending half of Saturday in the Douglass campus cafeteria at Rutgers while my kid takes tests preparatory to beginning her college career this fall at Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Cooling my heels here is a chance to reflect on two things: the welter of social media I need to update (this blog is the most neglected patch of my online turf, behind my CBS MoneyWatch blog, Che Underground blog, Sceneroller, Facebook, LinkedIn, about six Twitter feeds and all the social media we’re warming up at TheLadders) and the excitement I feel about my daughter’s college trajectory.

Like many friends my age, I kind of backed into college — and even more than most, I hurried through it with no particular idea of what I wanted to do when I got out the other side. My alma mater of UCSD is a top-notch school, and staying in San Diego occasioned the wonderful adventures documented in Che Underground. But I have a great deal of respect for the career focus my kid has demonstrated and much more regard than I ever did for the process of applying to a variety of schools, making decisions and possibly facing rejection. (I’m proud that she was accepted into every program for which she applied, but that reflects in a large part the specificity of her career goals. Few of us had such clear ones at her age!)

It’s risky to live vicariously through your kids, and I wouldn’t trade my choices considering the joys I’ve experienced as a result. But it’s an awful lot of fun to watch mine make their own choices and see those choices rewarded with success.

Plus, the salad bar here is fabulous!

I’m in the Times (not)

Mazel tov to The Other Matthew Rothenberg for a story in today’s New York Times that features a fetching photo and his views from high atop the Flickr digital-photo empire.

As my own social graph will tell you, the presence of two high-tech Matthew Rothenbergs has caused a bit of confusion at times and reminds me of the inconclusive negotiations my father had back in the dear, dead analog days of the early ’60s with The Other Jerome Rothenberg, an architect who also happened to write poetry on the side.

And while my wife Nancy Tobin remains at No. 1 in the Google sweepstakes, she’s in a similar pickle: For some reason, art attracts Nancy Tobins like poetry attracts Jerome Rothenbergs and Internet technology, Matthew Rothenbergs. She vies with a sculptor, a photo researcher, and a sound artist.

I’ve suggested to Nancy that they all team up and do a big “Nancy Tobin” show. In the same vein, my doppelgänger suggests “we go in 50/50 on something like whichmatthewrothenbergdoyouwant.com , put a line down the center, our clickable faces and bios on opposite sides of the page, and then pile on the google juice till it becomes the number one search result for our name. We’d be providing a valuable service to the world! (Well, the very small yet incredibly savvy portion of the world who is looking for a Matthew Rothenberg).”

I’m in … There can never be too many Matthew Rothenbergs!

Remembering Robert Hess


It’s a bit of a shock to realize that Jan. 12 will mark the 15th anniversary of the passing of our friend and MacWEEK colleague Robert Hess, whose 29-year stint on the globe ironically ended while the rest of us were covering Macworld Expo San Francisco 1996. (Robert’s love for the show and its attendant revelry inspired Ilene Hoffman to maintain the Hess Memorial party list for many years after.)

I still cherish the T-shirt from our Mac Black party I kept when Stephen Howard-Sarin and I cleaned out his office that weekend; I wish we could stage another Mac the Knife party at Bondage-a-Go-Go or some other sort of bacchanalia to remember our witty, resourceful and brave friend.

More Matthew Rothenberg!

That was funny: I actually did get mistaken for the other Matthew Rothenberg while on the road to promote “You’re Better Than Your Job Search” with Marc Cenedella.

The last night of our tour, in Chicago, our host at the bookstore introduced Marc as CEO of TheLadders — then began to read off my bona fides as social technologist for Flickr! I stopped her and cleared up the confusion.

It was actually a great object lesson in our career guidance to Google yourself, the better to be ready for any identity UFOs.

Happy post-Halloween!

Between Che Underground, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — oh, yeah, and real life! — this blog has been growing a bit weedy.

I started my very cool new job at TheLadders at the beginning of September … Sadie and Lily entered 10th and 6th grades, respectively … Nancy has been arting it up furiously … And we’ve been engaged in the usual run of family holiday fun, most notably our elaborate preparations for Halloween.

Our front yard is the scariest on the block, and Sadie and Lily outdid themselves as Rorschach from the “Watchmen” graphic novel and one of a pair of cupcakes. Lily is the one on the right in this photo from yesterday’s Halloween party in Maplewood Village.

A magical summer

Here’s a quick update from the Smoky Mountains, where we’ve rented a cabin for a week to wind up an amazing summer.

I’ve had lots of consulting work to keep me busy, but it’s also afforded me the flexibility to explore New York, catch up with folks, take a couple of trips, hang out with Nancy, get our house ship-shape and generally tie up all loose ends.

We vacationed in Michigan and Tennessee, the kids had their two weeks at camp, we hosted a passel of Nancy’s siblings and took in a Yankees game, I’ve worked on the Che Underground blog, we bought a conure, we visited a movie set (courtesy of Joe Drago) so Lily could meet Andy Garcia, we rode a tour bus around lower Manhattan (twice!), Nancy rented a new studio, I got to hang out with the peeps back at the CNET/Ziff Davis Media/Ziff Davis Enterprise offices, we learned all about fine vegan dining … It’s been spectacular!

Tuesday, Sept. 2, I start a great new job as content director for TheLadders, the No. One recruiting site for six-figure salaries. They’re great folks with a rockin’ office in SoHo, and I think we’ll make magic together. A perfect coda to a fantastic summer.

Crazy-busy family fun

We’re having family fun, but crazy-busy. On Friday our family and niece Katie drove our camper-trailer the 800 miles back from our annual gathering near Muskegon, Michigan, with Nancy’s kin … Got in around 1am Saturday … On Sunday evening, a contingent of those Michigan/Arizona relatives arrived at our house back here in Jersey … Four a.m. Monday, I got up to take the kids to Montclair to embark on their two weeks of camp … Nancy’s brother Dave arrived at noon at Newark airport to join the rest of the away team … Then we all caught a train into the city … Took my first-ever bus tour around Manhattan, then took in my first-ever baseball game at Yankee Stadium … Got home around 1am … Everybody but Dave took off this morning to drive back to Michigan … Dave and Nancy and I had a lovely walk around Central Park and dinner at Vynl on 84th & Columbus. Now home — whew! Time to get back to work so I can get some rest! :-)