he also wrote the 1969 novel The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight, a comedic take on organized crime that was based on “Crazy Joe” Gallo. Two years later it was made into a film with stars that – in retrospect – are pretty impressive. Jerry Ohrbach starred, but it also features early appearances by Robert de Niro and Herve Villechaize in key roles.
The book came out at the same time as The Godfather.
His book on the Nixon impeachment, How the Good Guys Finally Won is a masterful telling of that tale. He is loud, crass, opinionated, highly intelligent, and treated his readers as if he was talking to them face to face.
What I wouldn’t give to have him, Mike Ryoko, and Molly Ivins still here to be offering their commentary on the Trump Presidency…
My friend at the NYT drove Breslin around the airport, trying to get him on a flight to Armenia after a big earthquake, but flights were full. The office instructions were to put him on a flight to Moscow. His response was: “JB doesn’t do the Red Square bit”.
I met him a couple of times, years ago. His stepdaughter was a friend of a friend when I was in college, and we would once in a while end up hanging at her place, which was his place in New York City.
This group of friends was pretty much entirely Jewish, except for me (his wife and stepdaughter were Jewish). I remember that every time I was there and he was there, he’d kind of perk up when he heard my unmistakably Irish name. Kind of funny.
I have the vaguest of memories of his run for City Council president (I was just a kid then, but my parents were very politically involved). I think Norman Mailer was on the same ticket, running for Mayor, and Bill Buckley was running against them.
The most memorable quote from that race wasn’t Breslin’s, but Buckley’s.
When asked what the first thing he would do if he won was, he replied “Demand a recount.”
Anyway, love him or hate him, Breslin was certainly a New York institution. He’ll be missed.
Buckley’s candidacy was in '65, against Lindsay and Beame, with three-term incumbent Robert Wagner, Jr. stepping down. Chronicled in Buckley’s book “Unmaking of a Mayor”. The Mailer-Breslin ticket was '69. Both campaigns were given some recognition in a set of Politicards released in 1972, featuring Buckley and Mailer as the two jokers.