I’m a little drunk right now. I’ve had a couple of beers. I poured them in my kitchen, but I really should be drinking at Pep McGuire’s. Jimmy Breslin is dead.
Jimmy Breslin was one of the few people on the planet I really wanted to meet. He was my idol, an Irish New York writer who reminded me of my Irish Philadelphia cop uncle. He hung out at Pep McGuire’s, maybe the best saloon ever. It was a place that would let a skinny fifteen-year-old who looked like he was, maybe, twelve, pass for a legal eighteen, if he was quiet and didn’t get in anyone’s way.
I never met Jimmy Breslin at Pep’s, or anywhere else, but GOD! I loved his writing. You don’t learn to write like that at journalism school, it’s the kind of writing you develop when you start as a copyboy. I imagine him pecking at the typewriter with two fingers, with a beer nearby. That’s just me imagining. I never saw it.
But I read the columns. I left New York for good in 1963 when I joined the Marines. I was in Pep’s one more time on my boot camp leave and in uniform. People bought me drinks then and I didn’t have to worry about getting in anyone’s way. But I didn’t meet Jimmy Breslin. And now I never will.