RIP Jimmy Breslin
Not a post so much about photography about about influences…
Back when I was in high school, I was looking for what I wanted to do. Looking back now, as I approach 47, I wonder what my rush was.
At the time, though, I was reading a lot (still do) and talking about writing with friends of mine. We decided that we wanted to be newspaper journalists.
This was because we were reading columnists like Steve Lopez, Jimmy Breslin and Jayson Stark and Bill Conlin. These were our heroes, the people we tried to emulate when doing those high school term papers.
We’d go to the deli near school and by the New York Post and New York Daily News and Philadelphia Daily News and Philly Inquirer. This was our homework, done during the day when we probably should have been listening in History class.
But by reading these current-day masters, it worked. We became better writers. The teachers knew it. Research papers were pretty much automatic A’s for us. This continued into college. There was no internet then, so, since we went to different schools, we’d write these long letters to each other on yellow legal pads. Pages and pages. Long hand.
A third buddy joined us and these guys blew my writing out of the water. It was all I could do to keep up with their interestingness and humor. But I learned from reading their work, and through it all, we all still wanted to be newspaper men.
And we still read Lopez, Breslin, Stark and Conlin.
In high school, I read Jimmy Breslin’s Table Money. It was on a sheet of potential books the teacher gave us to stretch our thinking and reading. I remember I also picked, and read, Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance. Mailer was another reporter cum writer.
Anyway, I know I read Table Money, but I don’t remember much of it now. But over the weekend, Jimmy Breslin passed away. And when I read Dan Barry’s obit in the NY Times, I’ve decided I need to get back to Breslin. Think I’m going to start with The Good Rat.
(Dan Barry, by the way, is fantastic. He’s a columnist I still seek out.)
Anyway, reading Jimmy’s obit got me thinking back. I’m not going to be a newspaperman. I tried it, for a while. Gathered a good number of bylines back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. It’s a special breed, though, that was good at that. One of those buddies I mentioned spent almost 20 years a newspaper in South Jersey. He had it. The ink was in his blood.
But even though I didn’t go that route, the storytelling gene is still in me.Now I’m trying to tell stories with my camera. I still appreciate, though, those folks that can get to the heart of the matter, and tell a great story in a few paragraphs and column inches.
If you’re not too familiar with Jimmy’s writing, start with this column about the man who dug JFK’s grave.
BTW…the photo that opens this post is of my vintage Royal typewriter that I once bought for a song…and a portrait.
I may not be the newspaper writer I thought I would be..but I still dig the old hardware.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2017