The Breslin Era: The end of the big-city columnist.

Jimmy Breslin was and is one of my heroes.

Ross Barkan at The Point:

” J.B. Number One," as he affectionately called himself, never graduated college. Why bother with classrooms when the barrooms, pool halls, police precincts and political clubhouses had far more to teach? His father had abandoned the family and his mother was distant, rarely hugging young Jimmy. Once, he caught her holding a pistol to her head. Around age ten, he was publishing his own neighborhood newspaper, The Flash, and he had a headline ready: “Mother Tried Suicide.”

Breslin was one of an era of powerful big-city newspaper columnists that hardly exist anymore, including Mike Royko of Chicago, Herb Caen of San Francisco, Carl Hiaasen of Miami and Steve Lopez of Philadelphia and later Los Angeles. Today, we have a lot of pundits—everybody’s got an opinion—but few combine reporting with opinion as Breslin did, and nobody has his stature.

The death of Breslin’s kind of journalism is part of the death of local journalism.

Breslin was a liberal without being subsumed into the party structure; he didn’t canonize the people he wrote about even when he admired them.

I haven’t thought about Breslin in years. I need to re-read his work, and internalize it.