Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

MARIO CUOMO’S REMARKS
ON THE OCCASION OF JIMMY
BRESLIN’S 70TH BIRTHDAY

Mario Cuomo and the great writer-reporter Jimmy Breslin
both came out of Queens to become stalwarts of their
professions. They’ve also been great friends for many
decades. Cuomo and Breslin are both struggling Roman
Catholic seekers. Each is a great interpreter of the
other—and of the world around us. The governor prepared
these remarks on December 7, 2009.

I’m not eager to go out to events at night. Like a lot of other people, my day’s work is sufficiently challenging to make me look forward to quiet evenings at home. It takes a really good reason to get me out, so when Pete Hamill called and told me that on December 7 there would be an event at night to honor Jimmy for his sixty years as a writer, I wanted to be sure it was real.

I asked Pete, “Does Jimmy know?”

And he said, “Yeah, he’s all for it.”

At first it didn’t sound right to me. Jimmy didn’t even celebrate sixty years of being alive, so why would he be eager to celebrate sixty years as a writer?

Logic gave me a quick answer. “Just being alive meant a lot less to Jimmy than being alive and writing.”

That’s the way it is with truly gifted people like him. Writers will remind you this evening of his Pulitzer and a wall full of other significant honors over the years acknowledging his unique and vibrant writing skills. As a reporter he became the uncommon voice of the common person with his uncanny ability to find in newsworthy events details that made the events more meaningful to the people of New York’s boroughs and millions of other people like them. Interviewing the gravedigger at John F. Kennedy’s burial is a good example. The writers will remind you how he could make people smile or laugh out loud when they bring back some of Jimmy’s

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