Room 8 Party!

So much to do, with last minute Passover preparation.

What do you coat the chicken with when soy sauce is verboten? It is enough to make one consider joining Shas [even the most ultra-religious Sephardim have no problems with beans during Pesach, but my heterodox collective of Social Democrats and Euro-malcontents insist upon being hometz-free in the Ashkenazic sense].

Unfinished pieces concerning Israel, Republican insanity over health care, the implications of the 44th Councilmanic race, and the entire state government recusing itself from accountability for anything are piling up on my G Drive likes planes waiting to land at LGA.

And instead of finishing them, I’m doing one on inside Room 8 navel gazing.

As Rock has noted, it is our fourth birthday here.

Room 8 was a direct outgrowth of the Golden Age of New York City Political Blogging. It would not quite be accurate to say we rose from its ashes–it would be more accurate to say we set the fire.

The fact that a political blogging scene in NYC would have eventually emerged in any event does not diminish the fact that the scene, as it exists, was almost entirely the work product of a young man named Ben Smith Azi Paybarah once declared that someone should write a book about what Ben created; someday I hope to write that book, though in a way I think those of us on “Room 8” already have.

The Golden Age took place entirely on the Ben Smith's old website, "The Politicker," and now most brings to mind the silent film career of WC Fields.

A performer of such physical grace that he started his life in show business as a juggler, and then performed as a "dumb act" (no dialogue); Bill Fields is not generally recognized today for his extensive work in the silent cinema. Partly, this is owing to the brilliance of verbal wit, and partially because he performed his entire career in silents wearing an obnoxious clip-on moustache. Mostly though, Fields’ career in the silent cinema (which includes two films directed by fellow racist D.W. Griffith) is not given its due recognition because most of the films no longer exist.

The Golden Age of the New York City political blogging met a similar fate. On February 2, 2002, "The Politicker" switched servers. Ben Smith’s posts were unaffected, but the comments posted on the site became inaccessible. At the time, Smith promised that the comment archives would be preserved in some form, but it was not to be. A few disembodied Haloscan threads floated around the web on their own, like asteroids, or headless horsemen, but eventually disappeared. The comments archive for 2004 through early 2006 no longer existed. Subsequent changes to the site have put all of the later comments from Ben’s threads out of reach as well, except perhaps by use of a Wayback Machine or similar technology.

What made "The Politicker" were not Ben Smith pieces, good as some were, but what was generated in response to them. Without the bloggers, "The Politicker" would have died the dog’s death suffered by the late and largely unlamented "Politicsny". But, what remains of the early days of "The Politicker" is now blogger-free. [My most famous post from this time exists on because Ben reprinted it on the main page ].

At any rate, the Golden Age of New York political blogging ended on March 20, 2006, when certain invited bloggers who composed the heart of what made the Golden Age golden, were first given the opportunity to post pieces on "Room 8" (although the actual launch took place on March 28).

The birth of "Room 8" ended "The Golden Age" for two reasons. The first is that many of the best and brightest put their energies elsewhere.

The second reason is probably even more important. Before "Room 8", "The Politicker" was the place where the entire New York City political community gathered to chat. The opening of other waterholes fragmented the community, and dissipated the impact of any discussion.

Is it any wonder that the "Golden Age of Television" took place when lack of competition limited the pressure to race to the bottom?

Smith, who’d created something unique and special, now sewed the seeds of its own decline.

Then, a month later, he did it again by creating "Daily Politics". Following all the discussions became too time consuming, the greater community, when looked at collectively, never, by the sum of its larger and more numerous parts, again equaled what we once had. Then, Daily Politics further diminished discussion by forcing those who wanted to posts comments to register.

The fact that such fragmentation was inevitable, and that it created new opportunities for expression, does not negate the sad sting of watching Sampson Smith, if not bringing down, then at least doing a gut rehab upon, the own house that Ben built.

That being said (and that being sad), it should be understood that all things must pass, and it was bound to happen sooner or later, and probably by now, regardless. And Room 8, which has allowed a 1000 flowers to bloom and feed off each other’s photosynthesis, has supplied a platform for some of the best (and worst) political commentary in the City.

At Room 8’s first anniversary, I anonymously expressed the hope that Room 8 keep on moving and avoid the "Dead Shark Syndrome" then most apparent at The Politicker (since rescued from its worst depths by Azi Paybarah).

Well, while we’ve diminished (The only recent pieces of mine which have attracted more than ten comments were explainable for either being about Room 8 meta stuff like Rock’s employment or for having attacked a candidate stupid enough to have retained Gary Tilzer as a consultant.), but we are still vital. We still get linked on Politico (OK it helps to know Ben Smith) and Slate (where, until recently, it helped to mention Mickey Kaus) and have recently attracted the star power of Dominick Carter

Next month will we will be joined by Hiram Monserrate and OJ Simpson.

Anyway, I think Room 8 is worth celebrating, So I’m inviting fans and contributors to join us for a party after Pesach


PartyDinner Party



Wednesday, April 7, 2010


7:00pm – 11:00pm


Waterfront Alehouse


155 Atlantic Avenue (Clinton & Henry)


Brooklyn, NY


View Map


Come one come all, Rock, the Judge, Mary Alice & Albany Project’s Michael Bouldin have already confirmed.

[Just to be clear, this is not a catered event–it is a join us for drinks and food–pay your own way event] 

Just to give me an idea of what to expect, please either this event’s Facebook page or email me at if you are attending.