Home > Uncategorized > Bringing the sizzle. Kelly is best in the state (and took my job…the bastard..)

Bringing the sizzle. Kelly is best in the state (and took my job…the bastard..)

As a kid I always figured I was the heir apparent to my Dad at the Scranton Times. After all, Scranton may not have invented nepotism, but we came damn close to perfecting it. I was counting on this.

My Dad was a newspaper man….an elegantly curious reporter, editor, and columnist who claimed that never once looked at the clock while he was working. Author of over 4000 columns. I couldn’t wait to take over for him. I never actually ran my plan past the powers that be at the Times, however. And I didn’t have much experience. Or any experience really. But I was a romantic dammit. The job was mine.

popsAnd what a job! Writing. Words. For a living.

But still, something was nagging at me.

One time in my teens I actually convinced my Dad that I could write one of his columns. So he said, “go ahead”. My chance at fame. Jimmy Breslin, check your rear view mirror!

As a recall, it was a masterpiece! I handed it to him, perhaps typed out on a scroll. He read it and chuckled some. Then said it would run “next week”.

It did. Only I didn’t recognize it.

My Dad had gone rogue on me. He’d turned into an editor.

Granted, he managed to turn 800 words of mis-matched gibberish into something he could put his by-line on without fear of retribution, but still. What kind of wretched business was this?

I began to have second thoughts.

Then, I actually spent a few weeks at the Times as an intern. Not as a writer, but as a coffee fetcher/delivery boy. It was I who personally delivered papers to the District Attorney and the Mayor, among other deities. And filled up company cars with gas. Romantic it was not.

But still, I did get to hear of the one reporter who so hated editors that he constantly dreamt of (he used the word “dream”, not “nightmare”, by the way) dragging his nemesis down the stone stairs by one leg, so that his head bounced off every step.

Clearly, this was a world I was unfamiliar with.

My second thoughts multiplied. The newsroom seemed like a lunatic asylum. With smoke. Lots and lots of smoke. The place, essentially, smoldered 24 hours a day. Nobody talked in a normal voice. It was like being at a cock-fight.

And then I accidentally found out what newspaper people were paid. I could probably make more doing something else. Like busking with my guitar outside the Pub Charles.

kellyAnyway….years go by. It’s time for my Dad to retire. And there’s a new kid in the newsroom. Irish kid. Kelly. Dad says to me one day…”this Kelly kid….he’s got the sizzle.”

And, as it turned out, my job too. Carpetbagger.

Dad was a sort of mentor to Chris Kelly. And Chris respected my father. They shared a bond.  I really think it was easier for my Dad to step away knowing that Chris Kelly was in the wings.

Two totally different styles. Chris more in your face. My father more low-key. But both were offended by boors, especially boors in positions of authority. And both utterly fearless. My father refused to get a private telephone number, despite the fact that the phone would ring like crazy….from friends and foe alike. I’ll never forget how he dealt with one persistent critic. “When you get a newspaper column, you can write about what you want. Thanks for calling.” Click.

Dude never called again.

I don’t always agree with Chris Kelly’s pieces. But then again I never always agreed with my father’s pieces either. If anything I think my Dad was almost too loyal. A guy could be an incorrigible asshole, but my Dad would get a hold of some story of the guy secretly visiting sick kids in the hospital, and choose to write about that. “Everybody knows the other stuff”, he’d say. Basically, if he could think of anything nice to write about you, he probably never wrote about you at all. And maybe that, in a slippery sort of way, was even worse than being in Kelly’s cross-hairs. Ok, maybe not worse. Being in Kelly’s cross hairs has got to be like jock-itch mixed with indigestion. I’d ask Corbett…but if he thought I even knew Kelly the Governor might have me frog marched into a mine fire.

Just this week Chris Kelly was named best columnist in the state of Pennsylvania. I wish my father was here to see it. He’d have been damn proud.

So Pop, this column is for you. And no pesky editors either on the interwebz.

And Kelly….it’s for you too. Pop never wore a Ramones T-shirt, but he could rock too.

Maybe when you hit 4000….some hungry kid is gonna start hovering around your desk. Wanting what’s in your head to be in his head too.

Man, I hope so.

And…er….am I the only person who think that every year Kelly looks more and more like JXF? Dudes have the same jowls. And hair. Uncanny.

In a bit…

–tf

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jimbob
    June 2, 2014 at 10:09 am

    fetch me some coffee

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