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Monday, March 20, 2017

The Writer's Life 3/20 - Larger Than Life

RIP legendary columnist and NYC character Jimmy Breslin, 88. A Queen's boy who grew up in humble circumstances, he worked for many newspapers during his long career and was considered the voice of the working class. He won a Pulitzer Prize while at the NY Daily News. His page at Wiki lists 21 books under his name, several of which are fiction, the most famous being The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, which was adapted to the screen in 1971. He was blunt and it often led him into controversy. He wrote extensively on the Son of Sam and was accused of egging on the serial killer. He tried his hand at acting, amassing six credits, and was a frequent presence on talk shows. He even had a late-night show of his own: Jimmy Breslin's People, which lasted just 13 weeks in 1986. He was constantly perturbed that ABC allowed stations to air it at any hour, and finally placed a front-page ad in the NY Times: "ABC TELEVISION NETWORK: Your services, such as they are, will no longer be required as of 12-20-86 - Jimmy Breslin." In effect, he canceled his own program. He co-hosted Saturday Night Live, Season 11, Episode 17, 5/17/86, with Marvin Hagler, musical guests Level 42 and E.J. Daily. Here are quotes attributed to him: "The number one rule of thieves is that nothing is too small to steal." "Football is a game designed to keep coal miners off the streets." "Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers." "Media, the plural of mediocrity." "I don't know any other columnists, and I don't know what they do. I work the single! And nobody does what I do, anyway." Well done, sir. (From various sources) Here is Breslin at his favorite perch:

For the first time in eight days, the floating book shop returned to its regular perch. I had to scrape ice from the ledge of the garden that surrounds the apartment building in order to properly display my wares. That spot gets no sun this time of year. My thanks to the young man who purchased a large dictionary and to the elderly gentleman who kissed a volume of Chekhov before buying it. It was fun to greet and chat with folks I hadn't seen in a while. Mountain Man stopped by for a half-hour discussion. He will never see the glass as anything but entirely empty - no matter who's in office. I had donations from two sources. One of the porters of the building across the street brought over a bunch of paperbacks his wife said she had for me, and a gentleman working in building two of Atlantic Towers hauled a load of hardcovers across Avenue Z by handcart. All were very old, only half of them marketable. The person who discarded them must have been a medical student. The trouble with such tomes is that the advances of the past 30-60 years are absent. There were only two novels among the lot, The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace, considered risque when published in 1969, and Evergreen by Belva Plain.
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