Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How Serious Is the Terrorist Threat?


The numbers don’t tell the story.
March 26, 2017
Related image
A police officer stands on duty as the union flag flies over Parliament at half-mast, London, England, March 23, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Neil Hall)
Statistically speaking, I am much more at risk of being killed when I get into my car than when I walk in the streets of the capital cities that I visit. Yet this fact, no matter how often I repeat it, does not reassure me much; the truth is that one terrorist attack affects a society more deeply than a thousand road accidents.
The man responsible for the latest attack in London, the so-called Khaled Masood, lived in the area in which I worked for many years, and through which I walked daily. So did several of his presumed accomplices who have since been arrested. The area is high in crime and there does seems to be an elective affinity between Islamism and criminality.
The day after the attack in London I was interviewed by some Flemish journalists from Antwerp, or very near Antwerp, a city in which a terrorist attack was aborted while we talked. A Tunisian resident of French nationality was stopped before he could mow down shoppers in Antwerp’s main shopping street, an attack that was “unsuccessful,” apparently, only because the would-be victims had the previous day’s attack in mind and jumped out of the way of the car in a pedestrianized street.
Two days before I flew from Paris Orly Airport to Montpelier, a man of Tunisian descent was shot dead at the airport while attacking a female soldier with a knife. Earlier, he had opened fire on a policeman in the north of Paris and moved on to Orly.
That night after the Orly attack, I dined in 20th Arrondissement of Paris, and as I left the restaurant in a quiet street, three soldiers in full military gear passed me on patrol. I am not sure how much the presence of soldiers on the streets in peacetime actually adds to civilian security, and it occurred to me that had I been a terrorist, I might have produced a dramatic incident there and then, for there was little doubt that the soldiers would have been vulnerable to attack. If they had attracted such an attack, I would have been more endangered than protected by them.
My nephew was in the Stade de France (the national stadium) on the night of the ISIS terrorist attacks in November 2015. Three suicide bombers tried to enter the stadium in a coordinated assault during a football match between France and Germany, at which both the French president and the German chancellor were present, but were prevented by a security check; otherwise, there might have been many victims, including my nephew.
It’s difficult to assess the true meaning or real significance of this apparent closeness to terrorism at one, two, or more (but not many) removes. Statistics tell me that I am still safe from it, as are all my fellow citizens, individually considered. But it is precisely the object of terrorism to create fear, dismay, and reaction out of all proportion to its volume and frequency, to change everyone’s way of thinking and behavior. Little by little, it is succeeding.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Today's Tune: Bob Dylan - My One and Only Love (Audio)

With 'Triplicate,' Bob Dylan triples down exploring Great American Songbook

By Randy Lewis
March 22, 2017
Image result for bob dylan triplicate
Bob Dylan (EFE)
One particularly enlightening passage in author Clinton Heylin’s authoritative biography of Bob Dylan, “Behind the Shades,” describes rehearsal sessions he conducted early in the new millennium.
As drummer David Kemper related to Heylin, Dylan would gather members of his band and rehearse many of his favorite songs by other artists — from Dean Martin and Big Joe Turner to the Stanley Brothers and country duo Johnnie & Jack.
“We would work it up just like the [original] record,” Kemper recalled. “And then we would put all of that music away, and we never would revisit it. We would never play it again.”
At first mystified by Dylan’s curious methodology, Kemper finally figured out what was happening. “Oh my God, he’s been teaching us this music [all along] — not literally these songs, but these styles.”
With the March 31 arrival of “Triplicate,” a three-disc collection constituting Dylan’s third, fourth and fifth albums drawn from the body of mostly pre-World War II music known as the Great American Songbook, it seems clear that this is at least partially his objective for his fan base as well.
If we truly want to understand the essence of Dylan’s monumental impact on contemporary music, it’s crucial to understand not just his own songs, but those that shaped him.
“If you like someone's work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to,” Dylan told The Times in 2004. “Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years. I go back to Stephen Foster.”
He also goes back to Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn and other great composers and lyricists.
He’s doing so in the most ambitious way yet in this batch of 30 more songs that encompass classics such as “As Time Goes By,” “September of My Years,” “Stormy Weather” and “Sentimental Journey” as well as considerably less-familiar tracks such as Alec Wilder and Edwin Finckel’s “Where Is the One” and Jack Lawrence’s “It’s Funny to Everyone But Me.”
Others have noted that the vast majority of the songs Dylan included on 2015’s “Shadows in the Night,” last year’s “Fallen Angels” and now this follow-up were popularized by Frank Sinatra.
It’s therefore probably no coincidence that in form, content and title, “Triplicate” echoes Sinatra’s latter-years magnum opus, “Trilogy,” a three-album 1980 release organized with a different theme for each disc: “The Past,” “The Present” and “The Future.”
In Dylan’s case, the separate discs are individually themed “’Til the Sun Goes Down,” “Devil Dolls” and “Comin’ Home Late.”
One key difference in this latest — final? — batch of standards is that he’s expanded the largely stripped-down instrumental accompaniment from core band —guitarists Charlie Sexton and Dean Parks, bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George Recile and the musician who arguably is the star of the show, steel guitarist Donnie Herron — with horns, albeit only on the opening cuts of each new disc.
Dylan mines a deep vein of anguish in “This Nearly Was Mine,” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “South Pacific.” Dylan can’t — and likely doesn’t care to — match the purity of tone or commanding vocal technique of the Italian opera singers most closely associated with the song: Ezio Pinza in the original Broadway cast and Giorgio Tozzi for the 1958 movie.
But Dylan’s weathered voice, with a touch of his recent-vintage gravel, heightens the human dimension in this tale of a missed romantic opportunity, and the regret that accompanies it.
Herron’s contribution across the expanse of these 50 tracks can’t be understated — along with the savvy choice to emphasize the instrument made by Dylan, who again produced the album under the pseudonym Jack Frost.
Herron’s steel guitar alternately sings, sighs, uplifts and weeps, embodying the pain that’s sometimes on the surface, sometimes implied from deep within songs written in the years following World War I, during the Great Depression and some during and after World War II.
The newly minted Nobel prize winner for literature immersed himself early on in all strains of pop, blues, folk, gospel, country, jazz and R&B music, and his ear for a great song is shown again here.
The insight into a heart that’s been wounded in Jimmy Van Heusen and Carl Sigman’s “I Could Have Told You” comes on two fronts at once: a guy who has been betrayed by the object of his affection, and the guy singing the song and watching another sucker go through what he’s suffered.
“I could have told you, she’d hurt you,” he sings with the resignation of the one who’s already been down the same path.
He also prizes great melodies, and few songwriters have ever matched, much less topped, the exquisite beauty of another Van Heusen classic, “Here’s the Rainy Day,” which he wrote with lyricist Johnny Burke. Its arching melody soars over a heartbreaking progression full of major seventh chords that musically contain a world of emotional complexity.
Whether it’s exactly what Dylan intended, he’s given us a bittersweet summation of a life on planet Earth, with all the ups and (more often) downs it has to offer, a journey he caps with Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Why Was I Born.”
“Why was I born, why am I livin’?/What do I get, what am I givin’?/Why do I want a thing I daren’t hope for?”
This compendium of existential questions — which never made the Hit Parade back in the day when Sinatra recorded it in 1947 — may have been in the back of his mind when he wrote something similar for 1989’s “Oh Mercy” album, “What Was It You Wanted,” a song that offered no answers, just queries.
There’s always clamor, understandably, for a new Dylan album full of new Dylan songs, something he hasn’t delivered since 2012’s “Tempest.” But the world is undeniably richer for his guided tour through the trove of songs that helped lay the foundation for American music.

A WEEK OF TERROR AND DIVERSITY IN EUROPE


Saturday. Wednesday. Thursday. How many more days will it take?


March 24, 2017
westminster.jpg
 Jack Taylor/Getty Images
On Saturday, Ziyed Ben Belgacem pays a visit to Orly Airport in Paris. He grabs a female soldier from behind and grapples for her rifle while holding a pellet gun to her head. He warns the other soldiers to drop their rifles and raise their hands.
He shouts, "I am here to die in the name of Allah ... There will be deaths."
He’s mostly right. It’s the plural part he gets wrong. The soldier goes low. Her friends shoot him dead. But he’s not entirely wrong either. There will be deaths. Even if they aren’t at Orly Airport.
French Police go on to investigate the motive of the Tunisian Muslim settler. His father insists that he wasn’t a terrorist. The media rushes to blame drugs for his attack. It reports widely on the drugs in his system rather than the Koran found on his body. No one asks if he was on drugs or on Jihad.
Ziyed Ben Belgacem had been in and out of prison. He was known to the authorities as a potential Jihadist and had been investigated for “radicalization” back in 2015. He had been suspected of burglaries last year and had been paroled in the fall. The system had failed all over again.
Prince William and Kate had been in Paris meeting with victims of the Bataclan Islamic terror attack. They returned to the UK, but media reports emphasize that the latest attack wouldn’t change their plans. But the UK was no refuge from Islamic terror. Not even Westminster Palace was.
On Wednesday, Khalid Masood, a Pakistani Muslim settler, rents a car in a town near Birmingham from an Enterprise rent-a-car shop sandwiched between a Staples and a beauty salon offering walk-in eyebrow waxing. Over a fifth of Birmingham is Muslim and by the time the bloodshed was over and Masood was in the hospital, police raided a flat over a restaurant advertising “A Taste of Persia”.
Because diversity is our strength.
Masood’s victims were certainly diverse.  The men and women he ran over or pushed off Westminster Bridge included Brits, Americans, Romanians, Greeks, Chinese, South Koreans, Italians, Irish, Portuguese, Polish and French. That is the new form that diversity takes in the more multicultural cities.
The victims are diverse. The killers are Muslim.
Prime Minister May spoke of it as a place where “people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free.” But not all nationalities and cultures. Some come there to celebrate what it means to kill infidels for the greater glory of Allah. Just as some pray for London and others pray for the flag of Islam to fly over Westminster Palace.
Khalid Masood, like Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had been in and out of prison. Like France’s Tunisian Muslim terror settler, the UK’s Pakistani Muslim terror settler had been investigated for “violent extremism”. 
Nothing came of it.
For thirty years, Masood went in and out of prison. And one fine day he rented a car and began killing. He was on the radar, but nothing was done. And now some are dead and others are wounded. And the politicians who could have prevented it give their speeches and celebrate the magnificent diversity that filled hospitals with the citizens of a dozen nations. 
"As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth,” Prime Minister May declared, throwing in a pitch for tourism. “It is in these actions - millions of acts of normality - that we find the best response to terrorism."
Come to London. Stroll and see the sights. You probably won’t get Allahuakbared to death. And if you do, the best response is a million acts of normality, apathy and denial. 
Mayor Sadiq Khan vowed that after a brief vigil, it would be "business as usual".
He was right.
On Thursday, Mohammed, a Tunisian Muslim tries to drive a car through a pedestrian mall on a major shopping street in Antwerp. It was right around the anniversary of the Brussels bombings in which Moroccan Muslim settler terrorists had killed 32 people and wounded 300.
And a year later it was business as usual.
On Wednesday, King Philippe had dedicated a memorial in Brussels titled, ‘Wounded But Still Standing in Front of the Inconceivable’. "We have to stand up and say 'no' to those acts that are not believable, that are not bearable," its sculptor insisted.
But the seventh King of the Belgians had a somewhat different message. “It’s the responsibility of each and every one of us to make our society more humane, and more just. Let’s learn to listen to each other again, to respect each other’s weaknesses,” he said. “Above all, let us dare to be tender.”
The Tunisian Muslim driving into a pedestrian mall did not dare to be “tender”. He didn’t respect the weaknesses of a society that tolerated him. 
Belgian soldiers deployed for the anniversary spotted him. The police gave chase.  Pedestrians scurried out of the way. The Muslim settler from France was taken into custody for endangering the public. It is hoped that the arrest was made in a properly tender fashion.
Police found a riot gun, knives and fake passports in his car.
The Antwerp police chief said that Mohammed had been known to the police and had been involved in the illegal possession of weapons in France. But official reports blamed the drugs and alcohol in his system. Like fellow Tunisian Ziyed Ben Belgacem, he wasn’t a terrorist, just a drunk and a junkie.
The police urged everyone to keep calm and return to normalcy. Everything was being done to ensure the safety of Antwerp residents and tourists.
Business as usual.
Meanwhile the Antwerp Town Hall had gone from flying British colors in solidarity with the victims of the London attack to worrying over an attack at home.  Just as William and Kate had come from terror in France to terror at home. 
British authorities claimed that they foiled a dozen terror attacks last year. There are arrests for terror plots in France and Germany. Every week there is either a terror plot or a memorial for the last terror attack before we are told to go on with our million acts of normalcy.
Some days the terrorists screw up. They pick what they think is an easy target, but she refuses to let go of the rifle. Or they overestimate how much alcohol and cocaine they need to nerve themselves up to kill and die. Other times they get it right. Or right enough. And the news flashes around the world.
Somewhere along the way it wasn’t life that became normal, but terror. And the insistence on normalcy just normalizes the terror. A week with three terror attacks across Europe is no longer extraordinary. We have come to expect that there will be men trying to stab and run us over from Paris to Antwerp to London. And we have come to expect another Islamic terror plot targeting Kansas City, Miami, Columbia, New York, San Bernardino, Boston, Tampa, Dallas, Rochester, Springfield and any city.
We don’t know when or where the next attack will come. But we know whom it will come from.
The question is what are we going to do about it? We can pretend to be baffled the next time some Jihadi with a rap sheet taller than the London Eye and longer than London Bridge goes on a killing spree. We can nod our heads while the politicians throw a vigil and encourage a million acts of apathy. 
Or we can end the flow of future terrorists and deport the existing ones.
Because they can’t run us over if we don’t let them in. They can’t bomb us if we don’t let them stay. 
We can listen to King Philippe and “dare to be tender”. Decades of such tenderness are what led us here. Or we can dare to make the hard choices that will make us and our children safe for generations.
Saturday. Wednesday. Thursday. How many more days will it take?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Time to Investigate Obama, not Just Trump


March 22, 2017

Devin Nunes, Adam Schiff
In this March 15, 2017 file photo, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Re.Devin Nunes, R-Calif., right, accompanied by the committee's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. . (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. Scott Applewhite AP

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff is in high dudgeon over the bad form of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes in reporting his bombshell -- that the chairman had been shown actual surveillance (not involving Russia) of the Trump transition team and possibly of the then president-elect himself -- to President Trump before he presented the evidence to the committee.

Bad form, quite possibly.  But so what?

The facts are what they are.

What appears at this writing is that Trump transition team members and possibly Trump himself had their identities revealed, were  "unmasked" in the parlance, while foreign diplomats were being surveilled. The identities of American citizens were not sufficiently "minimized," as they are required to be by law. This is a crime one would assume would put the perpetrators in prison.  So far it hasn't. More than that, such behavior is a grave threat to a free society, to all of us.

In effect, Trump was wiretapped -- if not in the corny, old sense of the word, something very close. Technologically, he was wiretapped, as were several (actually many)  others.
A fair amount of this happened not long before Barack Obama suddenly changed the rules regarding raw intelligence, for the first time ever allowing the NSA to share its data with 16 other intelligence agencies, thus making the dissemination of said data (i. e. leaking) many times more likely.  That was done on January 12, 2017, just three scant days before Trump's inauguration.  Why did the then president finally decide to make that particular change at that extremely late date, rather than on one of the previous seven years and three hundred fifty-three days of his presidency?  You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes or Watson to smell a rat.  Something's rotten somewhere -- and it's not Denmark.

Whether Barack Obama ordered the surveillance of Donald Trump during the transition is not the question.  He would never have had to. In fact, he would have been highly unlikely to have done so for obvious legal and practical/political reasons.  Instead, supporters of the then president in a position to authorize or activate such surveillance would normally know or assume his wishes anyway without having to be told and could act accordingly.
That is the way of the world since there was a world.

The operative question is whether these recorded conversations then ever wound up on Obama's desk or whether he knew about them in some other manner... and, if so, when. If the worst is true, it is a scandal that makes Watergate seem like a child's prank.  Even Watergate's own Bob Woodward seemed to acknowledge as much on The O'Reilly Factor on Wednesday night.

This is why any legitimate investigation by a congressional committee or anyone else must encompass both Obama and Trump.  This is a two-part story.  If both parties are not investigated -- they cannot be separated -- this is no more than a partisan show.  Further, the press cannot even faintly be trusted to investigate or adjudicate this matter.  Their bias is so overwhelming it would sink the Titanic twice.

Although I have more confidence in Trump (whose errors usually seem those of braggadocio) than I  do in Obama (who -- from the evidence of Obamacare and the Iran deal alone -- seems to have been capable of the most consequential prevarications), the issues inherent in this situation are bigger than the pluses and minuses of either man.  We have reached a point in our history when there appears to be no privacy for anyone at any level of society, nor organizations, such as the FBI, that can be relied upon.

Meanwhile, this situation keeps exploding. A letter just published online alleges that not only Donald Trump has been been bugged, but the chief justice of the Supreme Court. It also avers our intelligence agencies have been engaged in systematic illegal surveillance of prominent Americans for years while lying to us consistently. But the subject of the letter, who claims to have left his contractor job at the NSA and the CIA with "47 hard drives and over 600 million pages" (of classified information), is himself accused of fraud.   So I take no stand.
Nevertheless, something must be done about this privacy problem from top to bottom if we are to have decent lives as citizens and have a democratic republic in any way similar to what the Founders conceived.  How this can be accomplished in the present atmosphere is, to say the least, unclear.  The hatred of Trump by the media and the Democrats is so profound that rational discussion seems close to impossible. But we are headed toward being a society devoid of trust, if we don't try.  I made my little attempt at comity.  Originally this article was titled "Time to Investigate Obama, not Trump."  I add the "Just" -- for fairness.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn't Already. Follow him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.

WE HAVE NOW HIT FULL-ON CRAZY


By Ann Coulter
http://www.anncoulter.com/
March 22, 2017




Hours before it was to take effect President Donald Trump's revised travel ban was put on hold by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu. (George Lee/The Star-Advertiser via AP)

Liberals are ecstatic that a judge in Hawaii is writing immigration policy for the entire country, and that policy is: We have no right to tell anyone that he can't live in America. (Unless they're Christians -- those guys we can keep out.) 

As subtly alluded to in the subtitle of Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole, the goal of liberals is for the poor of the world to have a constitutional right to come here whenever they want. 

I can't help but notice that the Third Worlders aren't moving to liberals' neighborhoods. 

After nearly 1 million Rwandans were murdered by other Rwandans in 1994, our government asked itself: Why not bring more of this fascinating Rwandan culture to America? Ten thousand of them poured in. So far, nearly 400 have been convicted in the United States of lying on visa applications about their role in the genocide. 

And that's why we have to tighten our belt, America! Massive international investigations don't come cheap. 

Almost every immigration case is a con, something we find out every time there's a San Bernardino shooting and half the family turns out to have scammed our immigration officials. One hundred percent of the "humanitarian" cases are frauds. 

Earlier this month, Rwanda's Gervais Ngombwa was convicted for lying on his immigration application by claiming to have been a victim of the 1994 genocide. In fact, he was a well-known perpetrator -- even featured in Rwandan newspaper articles as a leader of the genocide.

For most of the last two decades, Ngombwa has been living in Iowa with his wife and eight children in a house built by Habitat for Humanity -- because no Americans need houses. He came to the authorities' attention a couple years ago by setting that house on fire after a domestic dispute, then filing a fraudulent $75,000 insurance claim. 

Another Rwandan genocidalist living in America was featured in Adios, America: Beatrice Munyenyezi, granted refugee status as an alleged victim of the genocide, even though she, too, had helped orchestrate it. 

Munyenyezi was living safely in Kenya when she applied for a refugee visa to America. The welfare is way better here. And, luckily for us, she had a "chronic medical condition" that required constant attention from a New Hampshire hospital. 

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet arrived in the U.S. on a tourist visa, then immediately applied for "asylum" on the grounds that he was persecuted in Egypt -- for being a member of an Islamic terrorist group. 

Being a member of a noted terrorist group cannot be used to block you from coming to America, thanks to Barney Frank's 1989 amendment to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, because liberals love this country so very, very much. Being a talented neurosurgeon from Switzerland, however, is disqualifying. 

Hadayet's refugee application wasn't denied until he'd already been living here for three years. When he was called in for a visa overstay hearing, he didn't show up, and the INS didn't bother looking for him. After allowing Hadayet to mill about America for another year, our government granted him permanent residency and a work permit. 

On the Fourth of July following the 9/11 attack, Hadayet shot up the El Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles International Airport. I guess the Egyptians were right! 

As bodies were being cleared away from the ticket counter, including Hadayet's, his wife blamed America for the attack, denying her husband had anything to do with it. "He is a victim of injustice," she explained. "In America, they hate Islam and Arabs after Sept. 11.” 

At least immigrants are grateful. 

Immigration bureaucrats are so determined to transform America without anyone seeing what they're doing that the INS initially refused to release Hadayet's file to congressional investigators, in order to protect his "privacy.” 

Of course, anybody could miss Egypt's designating someone a terrorist. And maybe the INS's test for Rwandan "refugees" is: Would this person be able to convince Rolling Stone magazine that "Haven Monahan" raped her? 

How about Rasmea Yousef Odeh? She waltzed into America after having been convicted and imprisoned in Israel for a supermarket bombing that left two Hebrew University students dead, and also for the attempted bombing of the British consulate in Israel. 

She was released in a prisoner exchange -- whereupon Odeh made a beeline for the U.S. 

True, Odeh wasn't subjected to the Inquisition-like vetting accorded the humanitarian cases, like the Boston Marathon bombers (we werewarned by Russia), Hadayet (we were warned by Egypt) or the Blind Sheik (same). 

But how did our immigration authorities miss a CONVICTION FOR BOMBING IN ISRAEL? 

Apart from the terrorism, welfare and fraud, what great things did any of them do for our country? 

Ngombwa was a custodian at the Cedar Rapids Community School District in Iowa, a job that, evidently, no American would do. Munyenyezi had a job as an advocate for refugees -- just one of the many jobs being created by immigrants. Hadayet ran a failing limousine company and was $10,000 in debt. Odeh was an unemployed waitress and a Palestinian grievance activist. Recently, she's been heavily involved in anti-Trump, anti-white male protests, because who doesn't like incessant Third World unrest? 

In 1960, 75 percent of the foreign-born in America were from Europe. Today only about 10 percent are. More than a third of all post–Teddy Kennedy act immigrants -- not just the wretched humanitarian cases -- don't even have a high school diploma

What is the affirmative case for this? How is it making America better? Improving the schools? The job market? Crime? The likelihood of terrorism? 

Can the liberals doing cartwheels over a district judge's announcement that everyone in the world has a right to come here (except Europeans and Christians), give us the cost-benefit analysis they're using? Twenty million Third World immigrants give us ( __ ) terrorists, ( __ ) welfare recipients, ( __ ) uncompensated medical costs, ( __ ) discrimination lawsuits, but it's all worth it because ( _________________ )? 

COPYRIGHT 2017 ANN COULTER 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Remembering Jimmy Breslin, old-school genius and voice of New York


By Mike Lupica
http://www.nydailynews.com/
March 19, 2017

Image result for jimmy breslin daily news

You could walk down the hall from the sports department in those years at the Daily News, and there was Jimmy Breslin in one office and Pete Hamill in the other, and all this cigar smoke and cigarette smoke in between them, and genius, and all the magic that made all of us want to write for newspapers in the first place. The soundtrack, always, was the glorious sound of their typewriters.

“If you don’t blow your horn,” Jimmy liked to say, “there is no music.”


But Jimmy Breslin never required self-promotion, as much as he liked to proclaim himself “JB, Number One” in his sidewalk voice, with all his big-city swagger and brio. All you ever needed to do was read him, really from the time he got a column at the old New York Herald Tribune and changed the business forever with the force of his talent and reporting and humor; and his ability, as he once told me, in as reflective a moment as I can remember from him, as he tried to describe what it was he did, to find “eloquence in simplicity.”
There was never anyone like him. There will never be anyone like him, now that he is gone at 88.
“You know, it’s just an honor for me to do this,” Clifton Pollard told Breslin at the end of the most famous newspaper column ever written, the one about Pollard digging the grave for President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963, one now taught in journalism schools.
But the true honor, always, was reading Breslin, at the Herald Tribune and at The News and New York Newsday, and in all his books, starting with his first big one, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?”
When they finally got around to awarding him the Pulitzer Prize, it was because Breslin, more than anyone else at that point in America, had finally put names and faces to AIDS patients. More importantly, he did something else: Jimmy gave them a voice. His.
There has never been a voice quite like it in newspapers. It was splendidly his own. He was the poet of his city who climbed stairs and knocked on doors and found ways to take the biggest stories and tell them through such as Clifton Pollard; who could tell you with one sentence about the true meaning of a single tragic death in New York, as if he had delivered a white paper on crime with these six words:
“Dies the victim, dies the city.”
But Jimmy Breslin was more than just New York, as much as he was New York. He went to London when Churchill was dying and to Vietnam and to Selma, where he wrote from marches and from churches and made you feel as if you were there. As brilliant as the column on Clifton Pollard is, go back today and read “A Death in Emergency Room One,” about a doctor named Malcolm Perry treating John Kennedy when Kennedy was first brought to the Dallas hospital that day.
Here are just a few paragraphs of that, in the business that Hamill has always described as “history in a hurry”:
“John Kennedy had already been stripped of his jacket, shirt, and T-shirt, and a staff doctor was starting to place a tube called an endotracht down the throat. Oxygen would be forced down the endotracht. Breathing was the first thing to attack. The president was not breathing.
“Malcolm Perry unbuttoned his dark blue glen-plaid jacket and threw it onto the floor. He held out his hands while the nurse helped him put on gloves.
“The president, Perry thought. He’s bigger than I thought he was.”
I knew Jimmy Breslin from the time I was 20 years old. I can say that he made me want to do this kind of work for a living and all that does is put me in a club about as small as the U.S. Marine Corps. But he did. I met him in Cambridge, Mass., when I was at Boston College, at the home of my friend Michael Daly’s father. His old boss James Bellows was running the Washington Star, and needed a young columnist. But I didn’t want to go to Washington. I wanted to go to New York. Breslin and Hamill were there.
Then I was working with him at the Daily News, on 42nd St., between Second and Third, past the giant globe in the lobby, the one you saw in the “Superman” movies, and then up to the seventh floor. Suddenly everything I’d ever wanted to be was just down that hall.
“I thought he would just go on and on forever,” Pete Hamill said on Sunday morning after he got the news. And Jimmy’s widow, Ronnie Eldridge, a former member of the City Council and a New Yorker of the highest rank herself, said, “He was a presence, wasn’t he?”
In his last years, he was still writing away. You’d call him on the telephone and ask what he was doing and he’d yell, “Working!” If he called you, the conversation, on his end, would always begin the same way:
“Yeah.”
And so often it would end with this:
“I’m here.”
He was Jimmy Breslin, who wrote hilarious books about the Mets, and the mob, but who knew such pain in his own life; who buried his first wife, Rosemary, and a daughter named Rosemary, a wonderful writer herself, and his other daughter Kelly. Somehow he kept going and kept coming. They chased him out of Crown Heights one night when things were bad there. Still he kept coming. And kept writing, even in the late rounds.
“It is a day,” Pete Hamill said, “to both mourn and celebrate.”
The columns come rushing out of the past on this day, out of memory: A column he wrote once about the great opera singer Marian Anderson, and her farewell concert, and a note running around Carnegie Hall that let everybody know who was singing.
The night he wrote about his dear friend Mario Cuomo’s keynote address at the Democratic Convention in 1984, and Cuomo reaching out to the country with his ballplayer’s hands. And the magnificent column he wrote, on deadline, through the eyes of cops, about the night John Lennon died.
A lifetime of work like that, from the sidewalk up. A voice, silenced now, that is as famous, and as much his own, as any his city has ever produced. So go back and read him today. Celebrate that way, with a book or an old column. It is the best way to honor the great Jimmy Breslin. The only way. Yeah. He was here.

Jimmy Breslin, RIP


The last of a breed of great newspapermen has left us.
March 20, 2017

Image result for jimmy breslin daily news
Jimmy Breslin of the New York Daily News who won a Pulitzer prize, speaks to reporters in the news room at the Daily News building, April 17, 1986.(Mario Cabrera/AP)


The newspaper column has joined the phone booth, the hotel room key, and carbon paper as an item of unplanned obsolescence. One of its final practitioners, Jimmy Breslin, died last week of pneumonia at the age of 88. To the end, he remained deliberately out of style, rumpled in wardrobe, aggressive in delivery, an ever-ready raconteur, deflator of pretensions, and defender of the working stiff.
The Bronx Bombers were not for this Queens-born boy: the Mets, he proclaimed, are “the team for the cab driver who gets held up and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn’t maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough. It is the team for every guy who has to get out of bed in the morning and go to work for short money on a job he does not like. The Yankees? Who does well enough to root for them, Laurance Rockefeller?”
Not for him the A-list celebs, the traditional story, the customary lead sentence. He always went for the unexpected. When President Kennedy was assassinated, for example, he didn’t go to the widow, the children, the cabinet, senators, congressmen, the Joint Chiefs. He interviewed the gravedigger—Hamlet redivivus, 300 years later.
And not for him the full name James Earle Breslin. On his baptismal certificate, OK, but for a byline? Jimmy would do just fine.
It had been Jimmy from the day he dropped out of Long Island University and started boucing around city newspapers, first as a copyboy, then as a sportswriter for Hearst’s now-defunct Journal-American (“A paper where you couldn’t believe the weather report”), then as a general columnist for the now-defunct New York Herald Tribune.
Though he assumed a professional scowl and started many an argument in bars favored by journalists, he loved the work. “A job on a newapaper,” he was to note, “is a special thing. Every day you take something that you found out about, and you put it down and in a matter of hours it becomes a product. Not just a product like a can or something. It is a personal product that people, a lot of people, take the time to sit down and read.”
A lot of people took the time to read him in the Daily NewsLong Island Newsday, and New York, where he helped establish the New Journalism—a novelistic approach to the news and those who made it. People also took time to watch him when he joined Norman Mailer’s quixotic bid to become mayor of New York in 1969. Breslin ran for president of the City Council, wondering aloud why he wasn’t at the top of the ticket. The two men campaigned on the slogan “No More Bullshit,” but as it turned out they were mountebanks themselves, and the public wasn’t buying.
After their crushing defeat, Mailer returned to egomaniacal exercises in fiction and nonfiction, and a chastened Breslin returned to the scene he knew best—the streets of the city. Between, during, and around columns, he helped the cops track down the notorious “Son of Sam” serial killer David Berkowitz in the seventies and exposed the corruption eating away at Mayor Ed Koch’s administration in the eighties. In his spare time, Jimmy made excursions into the clothbound world of the novel (The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight), biography (Damon Runyon: A Life), and social commentary (The Church that Forgot Christ). But none of the books had the bite of the Big Apple.
A total urbanite, Jimmy had never learned how to drive—he was raised by a single mother who earned a meager salary as a social worker, and drank to excess.  The Breslins couldn’t afford a car. But this wheel-less liability turned out to be his greatest asset. He went everywhere on foot or by public transportation, chatting up pedestrians, shopkeepers, cops, fellow passengers—anyone who would give him an ear and a mouth. He made the rhythms of their replies into a kind of municipal jazz that only he could record.
All along he was a festival of contradictions—Jimmy frequently published a list of people he wasn’t talking to, boasted that “there’s nobody in my league”—and then apologized in print to a woman he had insulted, “I am no good and once again I can prove it.”
In fact he was good, sui generis from Day One, a gifted and empathetic reporter who understood his neighbors far better than the J-School graduates who dreamed of a Pulitzer Prize but misplaced their humanity along the way. Jimmy, in fact, won a Pulitzer in 1986 for columns “which consistently champion the ordinary citizen.” The recognition embarrassed him; he was afraid the folks would now stop talking to the big shot. Not a chance. He continued to hide his intelligence behind a mask of urban patois, but if it deceived the interviewees it failed to con his colleagues. New York writer Jack Newfield spoke for all of us when he defined Breslin as “an intellectual disguised as a barroom primitive.”
There were fewer barrooms in Jimmy’s life after he stopped drinking in the eighties. He could tell a joke with the best of the standup comics; yet an aura of melancholia never quite left him after his wife and their two daughters succumbed to devastating ilnesses. He married again in 1982, to Ronnie Eldridge, a feminist politician who was his equal in argument and wit. But ill health dogged him as well: he suffered from a brain aneurism in 1994 and quit writing a regular column a dozen years ago when the deadlines proved too exhausting.
That didn’t stop him from giving advice to young reporters. Too many of them regarded him as an admirable antique, a souvenir of different times and a different news business.  Different indeed, but for writers trying to make their marks in an overcrowded field, his counsel remains as valid as the day he spoke them to an earlier generation: “You climb the stairs. All the stories are at the top of the stairs.”