Looking back to the mid-Eighties when I stumbled unto the opportunity to publish a hip downtown magazine I am not clear on how I fell into the habit/practice of arranging conversations/interviews with contemporary writers, photographers, film directors, cartoonists, poets, painters and all manner of creative individuals. Though it is not exactly an explanation for ‘why’, I have come to look upon this habit, which has persisted these twenty odd years, as a grand post-graduate education.
Many of these confabulations were first published in Stuff magazine before 1998. In 2000, I found a regular niche at the nascent literary magazine (of sorts) Identitytheory. And, over the fullness of time, I found myself contributing to cultural news venues such as The Morning News, The Millions, The Virginia Quarterly Review on -line, The Daily Beast, and the LA Review of Books among others.
Along the way, some of these countless ( have lost count on how many I have participated in) dialogues have been anthologized (mostly regularly )in the University Press of Mississippi’s “Conversations with…’ series. These I am proud to list below (click on the name to go to Publisher’s page for each book):
I expect to continue with these gabfests though I am ruminating on ways to refresh my methodology. So, let’s see what happens…thanks for reading all the way to the bottom
Two Stones [photo: Robert Birnbaum]
An alienated (it goes without saying, young) white boy from Ohio started a literary (of sorts) web something or other, way, way back in the year 2000—Identitytheory. An itinerant dog lover, poker player, FSU football fan Matt Borondy has penned a powerful rebuke to literary golden girl of the moment Clair Watkins…take heed infidels, the panda man is on the march…
Borondy concludes with a call to bears:
Let’s punch down.
The pain of our knuckles hitting the ground will remind us of the suffering we all endure: First-world white women with postgrad degrees, popular social-media accounts, and major book deals who still can’t say what they want to say because of that goddam Philip Roth; Syrian refugee kids who just got raped and can’t find a home because white American parents don’t want them eating free school lunches near their kids; and most importantly, white male online-lit-mag publishers who can’t put panda bears on everything.
Let’s burn this motherfucking system to the ground and put panda bears on motherfucking everything.
Stupid ‘award’ from stupid Boston Magazine
7 April 2015
Spending various of his formative years in a number of the tribal territories of Chicago Robert Birnbaum’s initial journalistic models were the inestimable Mike Royko and celebrity gossip reporter Irv “Kup” Kupcinet. As Birnbaum encountered the complexities of the tainted Viet Nam era,Izzy IF Stone and Hunter Thompson assumed prominent roles as guide posts. After a number of career missteps,Robert began publishing downtown tabloid Stuff magazine. After 15 years in the enviable role as a publisher in a major metropolis, he encountered a few more career missteps and ultimately began squatting on his own 40 acres of the Internet,Our Man In Boston.Among other publications Robert Birnbaum has contributed to are Stuff Magazine, Boston Magazine,Boston Common, The Improper Bostonian, Bark magazine, The Daily Beast, LA Review of Books, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Morning News, The Millions, Identitytheory.
Young Isadore with his father (circa 1947) [photographer unknown
25 March 2015
The only son of Alfred and Rachel Birnbaum was born in a displaced persons camp in Bamberg, Germany in 1947. Named Isadore (after his murdered paternal grandfather), his parents— given their horrific recent experiences— viewed him as a miracle. In 1956, when Isadore became a naturalized citizen, he took the opportunity to change his birth name to ‘Robert’, thereby accelerating his Americanization process and also removing a prime cause of being teased by his peers(“Isadore, are you a door or window”). From the age of 12 until he was 20, Robert lived in Chicago’s 50th Ward, known as the Golden Ghetto. He attended several mediocre colleges and has achieved a Master’ degree in History from Boston University.Robert has written for Stuff Magazine, Boston Magazine, Boston Common, The Improper Bostonian and on line for Identitytheory, The Morning News, The Virginia Quarterly Review,Los Angeles Review of Books, the Daily Beast and innumerable obscure literary venues.He is currently Our Man in Boston.