The documentary on the New York “street’’ columnists, Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, titled “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists,’’ recently arrived on HBO, brings a wave of joy for what was and anguish for what lies ahead in the business of printing newspapers.
When I made mention of the documentary on Twitter, a friend and former colleague at the Star Tribune, Steve Aschburner offered a succinct summary: “Part ode, part obit to certain era of newspapering.’’
My delight in the ode portion increased when looking up Breslin bios Saturday and discovering we share Oct. 17 as a birthday. I also found a conflict as to whether Breslin was born in 1928 or 1929.
There’s no comparison as to what Breslin was doing in the world’s busiest city, with cutthroat competition in a crowded newspaper market and what we were dealing with out here on the prairie.
Today, we talk about getting “hits’’ for online articles and videos. Breslin did the real stuff. He sold newspapers.
The best scene in the documentary is 20-30 seconds of footage where everyone on a subway is reading a newspaper and every one of them had their preferred tabloid.
Deadline is the thing in this film. The print deadline is what provided the heartbeat of a newsroom from the day I started as a sports copy boy at the Minneapolis Tribune in 1963.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been in the office on a Friday or Saturday night, but the Star Tribune still has the staff that makes a monumental effort for print. I smile when sensing the familiar frenzy while on the phone with Kevin Bertels, Jeff Rivers, Ken Chia or another of our worthies “on the desk” on one of those bustling nights.
And writing on deadline — you waited for that agony in the pit of the gut, as the moment neared, and you had to send, satisfied with the effort or not.
That remains the fascination with Breslin and Hamill: That they could be so terrific with deadlines flying at them, in the most overwhelming of situations — the twin Kennedy assassinations, the Twin Towers on 9/11, Son of Sam, etc.
Daunting talent displayed by giants of daily print in the giant city.
Read Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick.
As the Twins prepare to open in The Fort …
• This becomes a season of urgency for Max Kepler once the Twins find out in exhibitions how close Alex Kirilloff is to being big-league ready.
• Why Martin Perez is a frequent question. Last spring, it was why Anibal Sanchez and the Twins wound up wishing they had kept him.
• More impressed with Kohl Stewart’s stuff than anticipated late last season. Strong kid; Twins should throw him in bullpen mix this spring.