For once, it was a safe day to be a hunk of leather on Jimmy Breslin's
shoe. He quit on Tuesday.
He did it right there in the headline, on Page 2 of the New York
editions of Newsday, in his usual demure fashion: "I'm right again. So
I quit. Beautiful," by Jimmy Breslin.
The column, calling the election for John Kerry, came with no advance
warning for readers, no tease from Page One, no champagne toast in the
newsroom. Just a note at the end about the column returning "from time
to time," as if it were that easy. As if, suddenly, politicians only
misbehaved from time to time, or good people only got killed from time
to time, or the little guy only got cheated from time to time.
Breslin, 75, sat in his Upper West Side apartment Tuesday afternoon and
sipped coffee and shrugged.
"If I'm in the bar, as in past years, which I can't do anymore, that
would be huge," he said. "I can't make it that big a deal, that's the
problem. Because it isn't. I'm like a cop. You go after 30 years. You
stay any longer, it doesn't do you a dollar's worth of good in the
Breslin said it is simply impossible for him to continue writing 840
words, three times a week, and write anything else.
"It'll be the same thing, sitting down and writing, just for different
stuff. Nothing's changing," he said. "I'm going to write a book about
New York City. It's going to be great."
Breslin, possibly the city's most famous living columnist, was a copy
boy at the Long Island Press in the 1940s, before he was 16.
"I had to lie to get working papers," he said. "You weren't allowed to
work at a newspaper because it was considered a factory."
He came up in the New York Herald Tribune, where he got his first
column in the 1960s, moving to the New York Post for a year before
quitting to write books in the 1970s.
"I wrote three strong best-sellers that made a bunch of money, which I
blew," he said.
Back to the newsroom, then, at the New York Daily News in 1978, where
he stayed 10 years, moving to New York Newsday in 1988. On Monday
evening, he finished his column about Kerry and filed it without
fanfare at around 7 p.m.
Howard Schneider, the paper's editor, said discussions about changing
and perhaps lessening Breslin's role began some time ago, at the
"What he told us was he wanted to keep the regular column through
Election Day, which he did," Schneider said. "Frankly, he did not want
to make a big deal of it. He thought the column should speak for
Associated Press November 3, 2004 NEW YORK
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