Monday, March 20, 2017

1772 Remembering Breslin

Portable typewriter, case closed.

Jimmy Breslin died this weekend. Everyone who knew him and most people who read him thought he had anger management issues.

But they were wrong.  Guys like Breslin don’t have “issues” and don’t “manage.”  They have problems. And Jimmy’s wasn’t anger.  It was much bigger.  It was rage.

And that rage fueled some of the best newspaper work in New York, a town with enough newsprint star quality to fuel its own galaxy. At the time, anyway.

Breslin filled the room even when he wasn’t the biggest guy at the bar.  He filled it in a way that pushed movie stars and politicians and sports stars and clergymen and mobsters to the wall… just by being there.

Because this was the guy who was going to find out the truth about your dirty doings and write about them in long, run-on sentences and short paragraphs both of which he denied using, but did.

By now you’ve heard the stories because they’ve been circulating for most of the weekend. Jimmy interviewed JFK’s grave digger instead of the cluster of bigshots at the funeral.  He’s the guy who got Son of Sam the serial killer to cooperate and lauded the cops who stumbled over David Berkowitz and brought him down because of a parking ticket.

And there was “Un Occhio,” the one eyed king of “all organized crime” who operated out of the back room of a candy store.  And Mansion Murphy, the Long Island bishop who built a monument to himself out of a former convent.  Breslin was a Roman Catholic and Irish. But he always said the Irish church didn’t get it while the Italian church did.

He was a liberal in a liberal city but took on the state government of Gov. Hugh Carey -- Society Carey he called him -- when the rage hit him.

Good cops got the royal treatment.  Bad cops got a verbal Louisville Slugger to the jaw.

Jimmy didn’t like dogs.  He didn’t have much use for little kids, though he had six of his own, two of them long gone by the time he died.

So, yeah.  The stories.  Everyone knew the stories. Everyone saw him on Channel 7 and on Channel 4 and in beer ads.

A throwback.  A Queens boy with a Queens accent that was already a dead language by the time he was a grownup.

Rage.  He said it himself.  Someone who really was for the little guy and the losers and the nobodies and all the rest of us who don’t count.  No politician gets softballs from this guy. Just that baseball bat.

Rage. A guy who didn’t write his columns sitting in his living room wearing a bathrobe.  He went to the scene of the crime.

And the funerals. And city hall.  And it’s a good thing for the blobs in Washington that Breslin never learned to drive a car.  Because if he had been able to get there and back easily, there’s no telling the damage he could have done to the reigning princes of politics.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

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