Jimmy Breslin Proved That the Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Embed from Getty Images The first time I met Jimmy Breslin at New York Newsday I thought he was sitting down because he already had such a huge reputation I didn’t realize that this living giant of New York City was actually shorter than me. But that didn’t stop me from always looking up to him.I was ecstatic when my publisher hired him away from the Daily News to join our side of the city’s tabloid war in 1988—even if it was for half a million bucks. Breslin was no Times man, as he’d say, although he did once entice the New York Times‘ Abe Rosenthal to join him at a bar in Queens, proving that some of the colorful characters he chronicled actually existed. Now it’s hard to believe that Breslin no longer exists—he died Sunday at age 88 of pneumonia.At that first meeting in Newsday’s city room, I wasn’t sure why he seemed to single me out when he said the trouble with young journalists today is that we spent too much time at the gym and not enough time in bars getting the real story. He made going to a health club sound like a dereliction of duty. He urged us to put the phones down and get out into the boroughs, walk up the five flights of stairs and knock on doors.I already knew about the groundbreaking columns that he had turned in, like when he interviewed the man who actually dug John F. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery and earned $3.01 an hour. Or how as a columnist at the Daily News he was the recipient of the Son of Sam’s letters, which helped lead the cops to the author, David Berkowitz, the serial killer responsible for terrorizing so many young New York women in the summer of 1977. And how he had the presence of mind—and the respect of the men in blue—to write about the policemen who rushed John Lennon to the hospital after the great rock musician had been gunned down outside The Dakota on West 72nd in 1980.Breslin had a staccato style that was Hemingway-like to my ears, as if I could picture him pounding on the keyboard of an old Smith Corona typewriter. But he also had an eye for detail and a love of language that propelled even his most mundane efforts into something worth reading, because you know, it was Jimmy Breslin, and what he had to say mattered no matter what, whether he was writing about that unique mob boss, Un Occhio, or taking the wind out of a blowhard politician who had turned his pin-striped back on the poor.Over the years, I’ve enjoyed devouring some of his 20-plus books, particularly The Good Rat, about a murder trial involving two cops, and Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game, about the hapless 1962 Mets under beleaguered manager Casey Stengel. I could always hear his distinctive voice, as if he were on the next barstool telling a tale while chomping on a cigar. But I remain a bigger fan of his columns, because that daily deadline pressure brought out the fighter in him—and he was afraid of nothing and no one.In pursuit of the story behind the headlines, he got severely beaten up at Crown Heights during a race riot in 1991. He was left standing in his underwear holding his press badge, with a black eye and a bloody lip. But the city wasn’t his only beat. He covered the world, too. I learned from his obit that he was standing five feet away from Robert F. Kennedy when the great liberal Senator from New York was shot in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic primary in 1968. I had missed his column on Three Mile Island in 1979 when it was on the verge of a meltdown that would have had apocalyptic consequences. Breslin didn’t hunker down in a bunker. Instead, he headed straight for the overheating reactor just south of Harrisburg, Penn. He reportedly told his loyal New York driver—Breslin never got his own license—to “step on it—it could be the end of Pennsylvania!”His path through the harrowed halls of the Fourth Estate took him from the old Long Island Press in Jamaica, Queens, where he was a copy boy, to the New York Journal-American, where he was a sports writer, to the New York Herald Tribune, where he started writing a column, and later to the New York Post, New York Magazine and the Daily News, where I first found him. With Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese and Hunter S. Thompson, he was one of the pioneers of New Journalism in the 1970s, practitioners of a unique blend of subjectivity and objectivity that never compromised on integrity—and my inspiration as a journalist. In recognition of his career, Breslin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 “for columns which consistently champion ordinary citizens,” the board explained. But he didn’t rest on his laurels. Not for a moment. He still had many more stories to tell, with hundreds of thousands of words boiling within him, waiting for the right moment to hit the page.During my time at Newsday, I never edited Breslin, but I did know some copyeditors whom he’d bark at when he was on deadline and didn’t like them messing up his lede. I knew he was cantankerous, and didn’t suffer fools, but I wish he hadn’t hurled a racist slur at the young Korean-American woman reporter who had sent him an in-house message criticizing one of his columns for being sexist. His politically incorrect attitude led to his brief suspension in 1990. As he said in an apology to the staff: “I am not good and once again I can prove it.”That was the flipside of his larger-than-life persona. He could share a drink with Norman Mailer, no slouch when it comes to big egos, and regard himself as the great American novelist’s peer—they did run a Don Quixote-like municipal campaign together in 1969, with Mailer aiming to become mayor and Breslin City Council president (their big issue was to make New York City the 51st state). But he would also venture into the farthest reaches of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens to shine the light on the unsung New Yorkers who make the city actually function—or whose lives were worth telling when tragedy struck close to home. He himself had come out of a rough and tumble world. While he was still a kid in Queens, his alcoholic dad abandoned Breslin’s family. From that low point, Breslin rose to the heights of the city. And he did it without fear or favor. Breslin called it the way he saw it—and we hung on every word.last_img read more

Focus on what’s really important

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion While you are in a huff about the #MeToo’s, where is your righteous indignation about the women who are actually physically and sexually assaulted? Are you attempting to assign equality to getting your bottom pinched with having a knife to your throat? When I was younger, a slap in the face was expected if you got fresh with a girl. Now, if you pinched a girl decades ago, it becomes front-page news and copious amounts of tears flow. Is Aziz Ansari’s date-gone-wrong the same as a mutilated body dumped in the park?What troubles me is that liberals, as you appear to be, jump on any fad that comes along (PC language rings a bell.) and beat it to death in pursuit of God knows what, while the real injustices don’t raise dust.My memory recalls that the Equal Rights Amendment was going to unite women in their quest for equal pay for equal work. Women have always had the right to not be attacked, as have men, as have all humans. Only liberals seem to find a way to make the trivial newsworthy.Jeff FalaceSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:Schenectady department heads: Budget cutbacks would further stress already-stretched departmentsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musicMotorcyclist injured in Thursday afternoon Schenectady crashSchenectady High School senior class leaders look to salvage sense of normalcy I read Jim Schaefer’s Jan. 14 letter, “Country is headed back to Puritan age,” and  Ricki Lewis’ Jan. 18 letter, “Writer owes apology for insulting women,” response regarding the #MeToo movement. For the life of me, I can’t see who Mr. Schaefer insulted. Do you think those few women/men — “gold-diggers, the well-bedded Hollywood stars, the trophy-wives, the “Oops-I’m-pregnant” dates, and the faux divorce/alimony/child-support schemes” — who married for money/youth give a hoot about someone writing it? As for the A-list names — the Gloria Alreds, Megyn Kellys and Kirsten Gillibrands — mentioned in both letters, two of them wouldn’t have the decency to feel insulted, and the third would have to have it spelled out for her to understand it. But getting insulted, or offended, is the first thing that liberals think of.last_img read more

GFF honours former Golden Jaguars defender Walter Moore

first_imgTHE Guyana Football Federation (GFF) has honoured former Golden Jaguars defender Walter Moore, who recently wrapped up a Talent Identification initiative to Guyana.This was done via a presentation of a plaque by the president, Wayne Forde, while on a visit to the National U-17 camp in New Amsterdam, Berbice, last Saturday.Forde, in presenting the plaque said, “It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to be able to give you this plaque today. You have done a tremendous service to Guyana’s football over the years, I’m personally proud of you; I’m sure we all are.”The plaque, which had the inscription: “In recognition of your remarkable career and long service to Guyana’s football. We say thank you for being a shining example and inspiration on and off the field of play”, was received by Moore with much surprise and to the applause of the U-17 squad.Moore and his club coach Kristian Heames conducted a Talent Identification programme in Guyana where they participated in the National U-17 camp along with Gregory Richardson, another national player.The Talent ID initiative sought to identify potential players for trials and possible professional contracts in Europe.This initiative is part of the new philosophy of the technical programme of the GFF which actively seeks to involve past and present national players as part of the technical development programme.last_img read more

NESG Partners Sports Ministry to Chart Roadmap for Devt

first_imgUgo Aliogo The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development have concluded plans to host the first inter-ministerial technical session on sports industry development, between November 19 and 20 at the VIP Lounge of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT).According to a statement made available to THISDAY by the NESG, it is expected that the reform of the industry would contribute to the socio-economic indices of the Nigeria economy by increasing participation in sport. The statement further noted that the partnership would enable the creation of jobs, promoting greater employment of youth, generating revenues from sport related activities and targeting a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of 2-3% to the economy within five-10 years.The statement added: “The outcome of the inter-ministerial technical session and the proceedings of the breakout sessions will form an integral part of the ongoing reform process towards a new national sports industry policy that will accommodate objectives of all stakeholders in the public, social enterprise and private sectors for a vibrant sport industry, capable of contributing to the growth of the socioeconomic indices of the Nigerian economy.“In addition to the honourable ministers of the six ministries identified above, the event will also have in attendance, heads of their relevant departments and agencies as well as selected chieftains from various economic sectors, multilateral agencies, social enterprise organisations and experts in both academic and practice of Sports.“The inter-ministerial technical session is jointly hosted by the Ministry and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and is a part of the NESG’s Sports Industry Thematic Group 2019/2020 Work Plan. This is expected to dovetail into the National Sports Industry Policy Dialogue which will be held next year as part of the events marking the National Sports Festival (Edo 2020).”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

England’s winning run is halted

first_img England’s winning run in the U16 boys’ international series was brought to an end by Ireland in a high-quality match on the Isle of Man.England won all three matches last year and had beaten Wales and Scotland this season, but the Irish edged past them by a point, winning 8.5-7.5 at scenic Castletown Golf Links.The visitors showed their strength in the singles, coming back from a two-point deficit after the opening sessions, when England had won the foursomes 3-1 and halved the fourballs 2-2.Michael Gilbert, a member of England’s winning team at the boys’ Home Internationals, led the way in the singles and withstood the pressure to take his point on the final green.Immediately behind him, English U14 champion Conor Gough and Ireland’s Mark Power were playing superb golf, eventually halving their game having both played round in six-under par. And, at the bottom of the order, James Cooper also won for England, defeating his opponent 4/3.But in the five games in between the Irish took charge and, when Callum Macfie’s 18th hole birdie putt slid past, the victory was theirs.Gough was top scorer for England with an unbeaten performance of 2.5pts from three games.Steve Burnett, the England Golf Men’s Performance Manager, said: “This was a very high-quality match and there was some excellent golf from both teams. Congratulations to Ireland and we look forward to next year’s re-match.“Castletown was a fabulous venue for the match and we were all made so welcome.”The course is surrounded on three sides by the Irish Sea and this was the first international to be played on the Isle of Man for many years. During the two-day match the club offered free coaching to island youngsters aged between eight and 16.The England team was: Barclay Brown (Hallamshire, Yorkshire), James Cooper (Cumberwell Park, Wiltshire), Charlie Daughtrey (Rotherham, Yorkshire), Michael Gilbert (Chelmsford, Essex), Conor Gough (Stoke Park, BB&O), Hugo Kedzlie (Spalding, Lincolnshire), Callum Macfie (Lindrick, Yorkshire) and Tom Stagg (Salisbury & South Wilts, Wiltshire) 12 Oct 2016 England’s winning run is halted last_img read more