Monday, February 11, 2008


Everything was hard this morning in the Bronx.

The cold that knifed through the neighborhood yesterday was settling in with the guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart.

“My hands barely work even with gloves,” said Javier from Walton Avenue. “By the time I got the lid off my cup there was nothing but a giant coffee ice cube. It was as hard as a rock.”

Reading newspapers is even harder.

“That really has nothing to do with the cold,” Javier admitted. “The newspapers just aren’t very good once you get past the pitching form and the box scores.”

People on the streets have been saying that for years by not buying newspapers. Everyone thought it was the online surge, but Jimmy Breslin is offering something new these days.

Breslin – America’s greatest living journalist and New York’s greatest ever – has been throwing fastballs at newspapers as he promotes his new book The Good Rat.

He issued a challenge just last week:

“Pick up any newspaper in the morning,” Breslin said. “Count the words in the lead sentences. There will be at least 25 in all of them: Guaranteed. The writers just want to tell you how many degrees they have from this college or that university.

“Steinbeck would use 12 words in the first sentence,” Breslin continued. “Mailer 15 words. Hemingway five. That’s because they had respect for their readers. It may sound like I’m being hard on colleges and that’s because I am. None of them have any idea how to teach people to write.”

Mike Lupica – who went to Boston College and covers New York City baseball while living in New Canaan, Connecticut – mentioned The Good Rat in yesterday’s Daily News. His column started with a 47-word sentence.

Breslin could sum that up in one.



Pete said...

That’s funny about Lupica’s column. He couldn’t squeeze in a couple of more “big college words” and make it an even 50?

JoeyBoy said...

Lupica proves every theory about poor journalism and lousy writing. He is great as an elitist, however.

saucy said...

I think it may be hard for me to read a newspaper article now without counting the words in the first sentence. ha!

Henry said...

Lupica and the Daily News used to be a big deal in this city, but that was a long time ago. They have both been pushed to the margins in an ever changing city. It’s hard to know anything about the city when you live in the suburbs.

Donna said...

I bet Lupica speeds through the city in his luxury automobile. Doesn’t that count?

Henry said...

Very funny. No, that doesn’t count.