The Post was founded in 1802 by Alexander Hamilton and in great part saved by Pete Hamill in 1993.
Let me tell you about the room where it happened.
Seeing how it was considered bad form to plot the overthrow of the newspaper’s owner from the editorial offices — and if we didn’t quickly rid ourselves of parking lot magnate and crackpot Abe Hirschfield, he’d already made it clear that he’d get rid of us — the War Room became the corner of the short-lived South Street Diner, a small dyspepsia depot — expiration dates applied to the customers — beside The Post’s freight entrance.
As we went about whatever was left of our business, we’d slip into that diner to ask impertinent questions, including, “Are we still in business?”
Hamill or fearless fellow “Don’t Tread on Me!” lead conspirator Marc Kalech, who passed in 2012, would shoot back a thumbs up or a shrug, and then it was back upstairs.
There was something hopeful, reassuring and gloriously rebellious about having Hamill, who remained editor-in-chief even after Hirschfield fired him, as our calmly defiant leader. Damn the torpedoes, and all that.
Newspaper editors often holler, curse and throw things as deadlines approach. Apologies to follow — sometimes. For Hamill, it was steady as she goes. Even with The Post on the brink, I never even saw him brood.
I didn’t know Hamill well, not in a social sense. But I knew him enough to recognize that he was special.
The longest conversation I had with Pete was in an elevator en route to the fourth-floor City Room on 210 South Street. When I entered the lobby, Hamill was already on board, but reached back to prevent the door from sliding closed in my face.
I entered and thanked him. His gesture reminded me of my first day at The Post, and I then took a shot at telling one of the greatest storytellers the story:
It was 1973, Day 1 as an 85 bucks per week copy boy. I wore a tie and blazer, which I quickly learned wasn’t a sensible ensemble for a down-and-dirty ink grunt.
I was sent with a hand truck to pick up a bundle of the latest edition from the presses on the ground floor. I was to distribute them to different departments.
As I returned to my copy boy station, the elevator opened to reveal the Post’s famous, liberal-minded owner Dorothy Schiff and her Dapper Dan chauffeur, Everett, holding her precious Yorkie. Wow, Day 1!
TV viewers thought the Mrs. Pynchon character played by Nancy Marchand in “Lou Grant” was inspired by Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, but that Yorkie clinched it — she was Dolly Schiff.
As Schiff, Everett and the dog were about to enter the elevator, Everett ordered me out. Huh? Get out? “Mrs. Schiff rides alone,” he said.
I was livid and humiliated. Still am. But I obeyed. Not much severance for half-a-day’s employment. But this paragon of all-embraced virtue treated her dog with greater regard than her employees.
Later that week, the Times and Post reported that Mrs. Schiff had been feted at a dinner in tribute to her humanitarianism.
I told that story to Hamill, wrapping it up as we entered the City Room. He nearly fell flat laughing. Man, that felt good. I’d scored with Pete Hamill.
Hamill died Wednesday at 85.
Francesa loses his perceived his power over power company
Even in absentia, Mike Francesa’s credibility remains off the charts, as in below zero.
In April, Francesa boasted on WFAN that the severe storm that had knocked out the power in his neighborhood was quickly restored to his home because the electric company workers at PSE&G are big fans of his:
“The guys at PSE&G, after listening — because I know they’re listeners — did a great job. Thanks for getting my power back on so I could do the show.”
Of course, his delusional conceit surpassed reality. Power companies don’t make house calls in the midst of raging storms. They service power grids that serve entire neighborhoods or regions.
Well, this past week’s storm again eliminated power to Francesa’s home — as well as tens of thousands of others. On Twitter, Francesa not only took the outage personally, his great regard for his personal PSE&G servants vanished like a lost tape:
“We amazingly survive the storm only to lose power this morning. Why now? Why now will we be out until Sunday? Called PSEG. Their response: No idea what happened. And not a crew in sight.
“Usually you have to be a badly run sports franchise to be this inept.”
One would think by now that TV would stop trying to trick golf viewers with stupid, petty, transparent and repetitive deceptions. Why bother to insult us with what we’ve been conditioned to know is bogus?
Thursday during ESPN’s coverage of the PGA Championship, Talor Gooch — 1-over, ranked 141st and not previously seen on the telecast — suddenly appeared. Of course he did. He was ready to strike a 65-foot putt. By now we knew better.
Though ESPN pretended the coverage was live, the anticipated fact that the moment Gooch appeared he’d sink that putt was pulling one of TV’s sustaining “live golf” cons. The moment Gooch appeared, golf fans knew they were about to be had. Again.
Strong words but no action
In April, N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James did some public muscle-flexing, distributing a release that called on seven major satellite or cable providers to reduce the cost of sports packages because COVID had canceled live sports. Go get ’em, Ms. AG!
OK, now it’s August. Anyone receive a credit or rebate for 18 weeks of lost “very expensive” sports programming? James’ bold statement wasn’t worth a soggy corn flake while the networks and systems pocketed subscribers’ money in exchange for nothing.
Over the 40 years I’ve covered TV, not one leading politician has fought for sports cable/satellite consumers in what seems a populist issue. Perhaps that’s because the cable and satellite lobby knows how to spread it around.
Reader Dennis Flatley, from San Luis Obispo, Calif.: “At least one thing hasn’t changed about the formerly great game of baseball: Half of the Dodgers’ cardboard cutout fans are gone by the seventh inning.”
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