Mine has been a career of crime – no, seriously, I spent more than 15 years primarily covering and writing stories about courts and crime at such venerable newspaper titles as Newsday (its great, pioneering foray into the Hudson Valley), the New York Daily News, (best, nicest, most helpful, inspiring reporting colleagues), The Wall Street Journal, where I was among a handful of “contract reporters.” The Journal News and its online version Lohud (never understood the “logic” behind the dis-connecting in the minds of readers…oh, what’s the point, daily newspaper journalism seems to be one, long, slow-moving train wreck for the last 20 years ), and the Times Herald-Record during a glorious run when it was led by great journalists like Bob Quinn, Neil Swidey, Meg McGuire, Barbara Gref, and, of course, the late, truly great Mike Levine.
That was New York. That was where I was born, the Bronx, to be precise, raised in a ramshackle railroad apartment, for the most part (a building described by a friend as straight out of the Freddie Krueger horror movie(s), beginning with A Nightmare on Elm Street. My friend had . no. idea. I was schooled at St. Brendan Catholic Elementary School, Cardinal Spellman High School, CUNY-Lehman College, and, finally, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Yeah, I fit right in at the ivy-covered Columbia. Not too many immigrant-bred, outer-borough-born ‘scholars’ at the Ivy League home of the privileged.
But the school, my professors, and, most of all, my classmates, taught me how to overcome my prejudices.
Got a job walking out the door at graduation – which was the ultimate goal there: Secure a journalism job before the pomp and circumstance. It was actually an internship that the TH-R offered me after a tryout. But, funny, I never once thought it wouldn’t become a full-time job. Funny as in the arrogance of a still-young man who survived hard streets and harder nuns and hardest of all: years of a multi-pronged and eventually life-and-death, chronic, debilitating, disabling illness – and has a Columbia J-School award and a Columbia University masters degree in his back pocket.
It reminds me of that immortal scene in The Shawshank Redemption when Red finally gets parole after 40 years in prison. Only, I want just as much for that “kid” I was then to come talk sense to me 3,000 miles away in Northern California as much as I want to knock some sense into him.
But in any event, here are a few clips o’mine to keep you busy while I warm up in the bullpen:
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