Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I've been liberal in my praise of Ron Rosenbaum in the past, and I was sorry when he and the New York Observer parted ways. He is a versatile journalist, and a spellbinding Dylanologist, and the every-other-week format of his Observer column, "The Edgy Enthusiast" was perfect for him, and if he occasionally lapsed into a piece about his cat, well, it happens to everyone, I suppose.

I'd like to know what the story was behind his departure, but I doubt we ever will. These days he's blogging, and turning in an occasional piece for Slate, and he is starting get on my nerves.

The problem is that he is falling into a rut. You can practically write your own Ron Rosenbaum piece lately, just by following a template: "I have always [loved, enjoyed, believed] [something about something, preferably very high-brow, like Shakespeare or very low-brow, like lox and bagels]. I think there's a reason (and a [insert adjective implying some deeper meaning, such as "epiphany" or "revelation" or just "deeper meaning") inherent in [whatever we are talking about], which I'll get to. But first let me talk about why I find [whatever it is] so seductive in the first place."

Be sure to include plenty of digressive literary allusions, drop a few names, maybe mention your time at Yale, and don't forget to flog your own books and you have the thing practically written.

Somewhere in this article about Errol Morris' "Standard Operating Procedure" I'm sure there's a trenchant point. I just don't have the strength to go looking for it. He's a better, more interesting writer than he has been lately, and it is disappointing to see him lapse into self-parody.

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