Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Remembering the Blutarsky Way

Tuesday February 13, 2024

Over the weekend we learned that Michael Brochstein, better known by the pseudonym “Senator Blutarsky” and author of the Get the Picture blog, passed away. The online Bulldog community lost an irreplaceable and unparalleled resource, and Georgia lost a devoted fan and partisan.

“It was the first site I checked every morning.”

I was at the women’s basketball game Sunday chatting about the game with the husband from a nice couple in front of us. His phone had the Get the Picture site pulled up on it, and he asked if I was familiar with it. After I responded that I knew it well and had heard the news, he said that it was the first site he checked every morning. I’ve seen that sentiment from several people as the news spread across the Bulldog Nation. No matter if it was during the hectic middle of the season or in the slow offseason, there was almost always something interesting, topical, and often thought-provoking waiting at Get the Picture. If there was an issue of the day that really mattered, you could count on Brochstein to wade through the glut of information, elevate the key voices, and provide his own perspective.

A few have even invoked the name of Larry Munson as they processed the news. It’s not just because the site was named after an iconic Munson phrase. Fans revered Munson because he saw games they way they did. They tuned in to go through every agonizing heartbreak or outburst of exhilaration together, knowing that Munson would put just the right flourish on the moment.

In that way I can see why some felt a similar sense of loss. If something big, good or bad, happened in a game, you wanted to know how Munson called it. If there was something in the news about Georgia football over the past 15 years, it was a good policy to first check what Blutarsky had to say about it. His prolific output made it a safe bet that he’d have something to say, but it went further than that. If Munson expressed the range of emotions we went through during individual games, Blutarsky was a must-read because the love of the sport and respect for its traditions so evident in his writing resonated deeply with us.

That doesn’t mean that he was resistant to change or turned a blind eye to the problems within the sport. His passion was more a sense of stewardship for the elements of college football that make it unique and special to us and a lack of patience with those who, in his view, were destroying the sport from within.

The unedited voice of a person

Running an individual blog almost seems like an anachronism these days. It’s easier to broadcast a quick message on social media, and you’re likely to get more reach. Even longer-form writing is favoring siloed platforms like Medium or Substack. Brochstein chose a blog in 2006 because that was the only real alternative – social media in its current form didn’t exist yet, and blog networks like SB Nation were still in their nascent phases. If you had something to say, you headed to a service like TypePad, Blogspot, or WordPress, picked a template, and started writing. The blog format – in its simplest definition as the unedited voice of a person – suited Brochstein. It didn’t take him long for his site to find its voice, and that voice was informed, clever, measured, witty, passionate, and clear.

The clarity of that voice allowed him to stake unmistakable and novel positions that resonated beyond the Bulldog fan base. National pundits paid attention to what he wrote, and he wasn’t afraid to push back against the highest-profile writers and broadcasters in the sport. They hear from the rabid fan bases of all programs, but we were fortunate to have someone with such a strong conviction and intelligent point of view to cut through the noise.

The best bloggers are curators. Brochstein’s original content was worth the visit, but most of his posts riffed on articles, columns, posts, and tweets from all corners of the college football world. He was generous with links, and through the blog you got a sense of the larger conversation around the key topics in the college football world. By amplifying voices from national pundits to anonymous tweeters he had a knack for exposing his readers to diverse, insightful, and sometimes even ridiculous viewpoints while his own comments made it clear where he stood.

On a personal note…

I can’t imagine how much effort went into the site. Even just the process of collecting links and adding a few words takes time, and having a few of those published nearly every day with the occasional longer-form observations posts took a discipline that I can’t comprehend. I’ve maintained this site off and on for almost 30 years writing when I’m able and motivated, and I know how much time just an individual post can take. I just have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who is able to do it with that frequency, consistency, and of course quality.

His site is also a big reason why I’ve kept plugging away here. His posts were often excellent jumping-off points that got the wheels turning, and so many posts over here have built on or responded to posts of his. I’m also grateful and proud that he saw fit to read and share posts of mine over the years. That back-and-forth was energizing and something I looked forward to. Any post that caused me to think about things differently or challenged how I saw things kept this hobby fresh and enjoyable. And it wasn’t just his posts; the breadth of the content he shared through his blog opened our eyes to all kinds of viewpoints and issues that enriched our own experiences as fans.

I never met Michael, and I wish I had. We’ve corresponded, and we’ve bantered back and forth through our blogs. He shared so much of his fandom and love of pursuits like live music that we felt we knew him better than we did. I hope his grieving family finds some solace knowing that he and his project meant so much to so many. He will be missed and remembered.