Friday, July 22, 2016

A Man. An Honor.

While the Missus and I sat soaking up the sunshine on the beach last weekend, I spent a few minutes scrolling through Twitter and came across a tweet that made reference to Donald Trump not being much of a reader.  I did not know whether the tweet was something that Mr. Trump himself had said or something someone else had said about him.  I subsequently learned that it was the former.  The GOP Presidential nominee has apparently acknowledged in several interviews that he is not now much of a reader- and never has been much of one.  

I must confess that I was a bit surprised to hear him say it - and I say that not to denigrate him or to offer some sort of pseudo-intellectual observation on how his stated lack of passion for reading allegedly reflects upon his intellect.  I am inclined to leave the denigration of each party's candidate to the other party (because when the choice is between two options, both of which are unappealing to a substantial degree the campaign is destined to be waged at the "I know you are but what am I?" level of discourse).  Furthermore, I do not ascribe to the theory that one's intellect and one's passion for reading invariably go hand-in-hand.  My own personal experience has taught me that is not true.  My wife, who is very bright, does not read for pleasure.  Neither does my son-in-law who is also a very bright person.  

On the other hand, I not only like to read, I need to read.  Although I have no better than a pedestrian ability to use it, I find language fascinating and derive a tremendous amount of pleasure from its good usage.  Although my preferred form of consumption is books - and non-fiction as opposed to fiction by a considerable margin - one of the things that I find most interesting about reading is that you can find good writing in an impossible-to-count number of locations, including those in which you might not necessarily think to look. 

Yesterday while I was eating my lunch at my desk as is my custom (huge surprise I am sure that I favor "lunch as a necessity" over "lunch as a workplace outing") I spent a few minutes perusing Richard Deitsch's "Tech & Media" column.    I enjoy reading his column for much the same reason as I enjoy reading Peter King's "The MMQB" on the same site.  Each is sports-intensive. Neither is sports-exclusive. 

On Thursday, Deitsch's mailbag included a question that asked him "What are the top five most essential pieces of journalism for a young journalist?"   He replied by noting that it is impossible for him to offer any single definitive list of simply five pieces.  He then provided the gentleman who posed the question with what he, himself, considers to be the greatest-ever magazine piece,  and his selection for the greatest piece of writing to ever appear on the pages of his present employer

I was most intrigued, however, by his third and final selection, which he categorized as a newspaper column that "many consider to be the finest newspaper column ever written".  The column was written by the great New York City newspaper columnist, Jimmy Breslin (to whom I owe an apology as I mistakenly believed him to be dead and initially identified him as "the late Jimmy Breslin".)  He wrote it in late November, 1963 for The New York Herald Tribune.  

Whether Breslin's column is in fact the finest such marriage of words and newspaper that history has yet to read I would not pretend to know.  Hell, I do not know how anyone could make such a determination.  I know for certain that I cannot.  I know - having read it - that I found it to be an extraordinary read.  It was an examination of a sequence of historical events - the assassination, funeral, and burial of President John F. Kennedy - with which almost everyone has at least a baseline understanding from a unique and fascinating perspective.    

I consider the time I spent reading it to have been time well-spent.  If you read it, then perhaps you shall feel likewise. 


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