My friend Russell Shaw

Summary:I need to say a few words about my late friend Russell Shaw.I knew him better than anyone at ZDNet, perhaps, because I knew him longer.

Russell in Portland, 2000
I need to say a few words about my late friend Russell Shaw.

I knew him better than anyone at ZDNet, perhaps, because I knew him longer. Over 22 years.

When I first met Russell, he was still coming down off rock and roll. Few from his recent past know this, but he actually started off as a rock journalist, back in the halcyon days of Capricorn Records. For years, he and Tommy Bass and Jim Pettigrew and I had a weekly appointment for pizza and beer -- bad pizza, cheap beer, but great times.  

Russell lived a hard, messy and often lonely life, in which work was his primary activity. He was an obsessive journalist, in that he practiced his craft obsessively. He would take any assignment, for any fee, just to keep working.

Russell Shaw on the train to Seattle
I remember near the bottom of the dot-bomb he conducted what he called his "shrinking water hole tour." He went to New York, to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, and he even came through Atlanta around the time of the Super Bowl. He was looking for assignments. To Russell, work was life, and he died as he lived, preparing to cover yet-another show, get yet-another story.

I admired him for it. He always made deadlines, he always did what was expected, and he was always proud of his colleagues. That didn't leave much time for a life.

Soon after Russell moved to Portland, in the late 1990s, Jenni and I spent a week with him. The picture at the top was taken during that trip, at Portland's annual jazz festival by the river. Russell loved Portland, he loved the Northwest.

He took Jenni and I on the train to Seattle, where the second picture was taken, and we visited Paul Allen's new museum. He wanted us to move out there. I'm sorry we didn't. But I'm glad he did, because he really lived there, and was happy.

Sometimes, it seemed everything in Russell's life outside work was a little superfluous. His knowledge of computing was far broader and deeper than my own, even though Tommy had to fly out west whenever he needed a major upgrade. I think Russell was just lonely, and loyal to his friends, because Tommy loves Portland, too.

Russell ate a lot, he drank a lot, he talked a lot and he laughed a lot, sometimes about things only he understood. I wish I had told him how much I cared for him before, but I am certain he knew I did.

As I said the Portland move was the healthiest thing he ever did. He had fallen into a rut here in Atlanta, and needed a life. He had one there. He had relationships, not just working ones but real ones, and I hope some real happiness.

These ramblings are small tribute because I'm still in shock. Russell Shaw lived to work. You were his life. It's easy to say he had few close friends, but he really had many thousands. Everyone who read him was someone he cared about.

Rest in peace. Russell.

Topics: CXO

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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