Reading Pete Hamill, Iconic Newspaperman (1935-2020)

“There’s no one New York,” Pete Hamill once said. “There’s multiple New Yorks. Anybody who sits and says ‘I know New York’ is from out of town.” The legendary journalist, who chronicled daily life in the Big Apple for more than 50 years as a columnist for the New York Post, New York Daily News, New York Newsday, and The Village Voice, died this week at age 85. Hamill’s punchy prose, everyman sensibilities, and unabashed love of the news business and the city he covered inspired a generation of journalists.

Revisit the storied career of one of the last old school newspapermen with this collection of some of Hamill’s best articles, including a dispatch from the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, a frank conversation with John Lennon, and encounters with a brash New Yorker named Donald Trump.

The New York We’ve Lost

December 1987 • New York

“Once there was another city here, and now it is gone. There are almost no traces of it anymore, but millions of us know it existed, because we lived in it: the Lost City of New York.”

RFK, Two Minutes to Midnight: The Very Last Hurrah

June 13, 1968 • The Village Voice

“Kennedy’s face had a kind of sweet acceptance to it, the eyes understanding that it had come to him, the way it had come to so many others before him. The price of the attempt at excellence was death”

Death Takes Hold Among the Living

September 12, 2001 • New York Daily News

“We were gathered at a large table in the Tweed Courthouse, discussing over bagels and coffee its future as a symbol of civilization, a museum of the history of New York. About 8:45, we heard a boom.”

John Lennon: Long Night’s Journey into Day

June 5, 1975 • Rolling Stone

“He is the sort of artist, like the aforementioned Picasso, who is always in the process of becoming. I think of this as a kind of interim report from one of the bravest human beings I know.”

T. Without Sympathy

December 1989 • Esquire

“The Man of the Decade? Easy—that guy who built, uh, What’s-his-name Tower.”

Blood On Their Hands

June 1996 • Esquire

“For too long a time, I loved the brutal sport of prizefighting. But I’ve arrived at last at that cold morning. You cannot love anything that lives in a sewer.”

Nixon’s Exile: Death in California

October 1974 • The Village Voice

“It is no accident that Nixon was from California. He was a master of desecration. And make no mistake: this place has been desecrated.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Newspaper Column

June 2019 • New York Daily News

“Count your blessings: if you ever wrote a regular column for the New York Daily News you’ve had one of the best jobs in the history of newspapers, a ringside seat at the greatest show on Earth.”

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