AutoBiography/Memoir in 365 Parts (#14)

10 May
Red  Birnbaum[photo, Cheryl Clegg ]

Red Birnbaum[photo, Cheryl Clegg ]

Literary journalist Robert Birnbaum, who grew up on the mean streets of Chicago’s Golden Ghetto,West Rogers Park, is also a veteran member of the Newton (MA) Little League umpiring corps (where he is known as Red) and a (bumbling, but) active father of a teen-age athlete. He contributes to a number of smart journals and maintains a relentless web presence at Our Man In Boston.He counts among his influences Nelson Algren, Ernie Banks, Golda Meir, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mike Royko, Leon Dupres, Hannah Arendt, Howard Zinn, Eduardo Galeanos and Barbara Ehrenreich. He lives in the working class section of West Newton with his pooch Beny.

Beny [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

Beny [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

He claims to be working on his long awaited memoir Just Talking: Doing Things With Words.

4 Responses to “AutoBiography/Memoir in 365 Parts (#14)”

  1. hdinin May 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    Why, except for you very likely arm-twisting, cajoling and begging, are you, in God’s name, called “Red?”

    There’s nothing red about you, except maybe a certain florid appearance of the visage, blushing, that is, or craniofacial erythema that I assume means your blood pressure is elevated for some reason (labile hypertension).

    I am guessing , from my very dim memories of the late 70s and early 80s (God help us), period photos I’ve seen, and the contemporary appearance of your loss of pigmentation, that your hair was dark brown.

    So, is this just more auto-mythic, pseudo-Hispanic, Cubano-centric wishful thinking?

    Or were you subpoenaed at the age of three to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities?


    From: ourmaninboston
    Reply-To: ourmaninboston
    Date: Sunday, 2015 May 10 at 12:38 PM
    To: Howard Dinin
    Subject: [New post] AutoBiography/Memoir in 365 Parts (#14)

    robertbirnbaum posted: ” Literary journalist Robert Birnbaum, who grew up on the mean streets of Chicago’s Golden Ghetto,West Rogers Park, is also a veteran member of the Newton (MA) Little League umpiring corps (where he is known as Red) and a (bumbling, but) active fath”

    • robertbirnbaum May 10, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      Begging? Really?

      Wrong,chico. Numerous folks in Newton know me as Red (the irony here is that umpires are referred to as ‘Blue’). Of course that’s about all they know of me —Cuba is better known.He is a rock star with the Newton 8, 9 ,10 year old set. And a captain of the NNHS Gridiron Eleven

      I adopted the nom de guerre ‘Red Diaz’ to distance myself from the Party Pics —adopting a doppleganger’s foto credit.

      I am happy to take on the rubric Red as it is an opportunity to identify my politics which as you have described countless times is lodged in joyful hysteria of 1967-1972…

      • hdinin May 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

        Yeah really. Now what? [oh, and still dipping into the private mailbox without explicit solicitation of me for the use of my words, are we…? That permission I gave the one time was not a blanket license. So far, I still don’t mind, but next time, and every time, just, well, you know?, sorta’ check… OK?]

        And as long as I’ve got you, and as long as we’re in the realm of hyperbole, what exactly is it, besides some spasmodic reflexive need to demean your probably perfectly banal upbringing (much like mine, and millions of others) or the bouts you seem to suffer of nostalgie de la boue, no less factitious or psychosomatic, that makes you describe your neighborhood of West Rogers Park, which I always understood as being essentially middle class and Jewish, at least until well into the time you had migrated to Boston, as “mean streets?” You do use the usual soubriquet of “Golden Ghetto.” So maybe you’re just making an ironic little joke… sign of the times, tapping the zeitgeist, etc.

        I assume, as I implied, that it’s just some rhetorical tic and that you can’t help it (you do characterize your myriad random ejaculations on Facebook as a form of Tourette’s), but you do also, with every chance you can give yourself, describe yourself as a “literary” journalist. I know you to be literary, and I am more than delighted to call what you do journalism, but these tiny affective indulgences of yours do, I think, detract from any legitimate veneer your work otherwise gives you of being serious and honest, and avoiding a manufactured air of being hip and prepossessing.

  2. robertbirnbaum May 10, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Ms Cynthia Ozick (no less) referred to me as a literary journalist —in the NYT no less—Left to my own ideation, I would probably come up with something like “literary schlub”…

    What private mailbox? I responded to your comment at OMiB which though possibly of limited circulation, is indeed public…

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