RACE

Denis Hamill on a white couple attacked in their car while waiting at a red light by Kings Plaza.

Click here for Hamill’s story via the New York Daily News. Here’s a short blurb.

Right over there by the traffic light near Kings Plaza at Avenue U and E. 58th St. , a guy named Ronald Russo, 30, sits in his car with his wife, Alanna, 30, about 7 p.m. Oct. 14, waiting for a red light to turn green to drive less than a mile home.

The light switches to green as a group of 10 black youths, ages 12 to 18, steps in front of the car in the crosswalk, according to prosecutors. The kids linger. Don’t move. Russo taps the horn. Instead of crossing, the youths start kicking the car. Banging on the windows, authorities say.

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL

A couple of years ago I e-mailed Denis Hamill.  I wanted to be a writer and I figured I needed to reach out to someone that knows the craft.  I asked Denis for some advice.  The former seventh avenue resident took the time to send me a long response.  I still have the e-mail to this day and read it often.

Denis mentioned that I needed to read, and read a lot.  To be honest, as a kid I hated to read…books that is.

DH told me try different books and different authors; both good and bad.

Dennis Hamill

One writer in particular he mentioned, a good one that is was Elmore Leonard.  On Tuesday, Mr. Leonard passed away.  He was 87.

I took Denis’ advice and went out to read all of Leonard’s work.  I’m currently reading ‘Get Shorty‘.

RIP Elmore Leonard.

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

A TOAST…LIKE NO OTHER

My friend Pat Fenton wants to spread cheers to everyone from the neighborhood. Here’s a great piece from an outstanding writer and a better person…

On my wall, above my books in the room I write in, I have a framed original Christmas column Pete Hamill wrote. It’s called “A Garland of Christmas Toasts.” It’s a full-page long, faded, Newsday column dated December 13, 1967. Signed across the top of it are the words, “for Pat Fenton who remembers.” And I do.

It’s perhaps one of the most beautiful, moving pieces of writing about Christmas time that I have ever read. Sad at times, political, sentimental, it rolls across the page like the lyrics of a Van Morrison song. He always started his annual Christmas column with an apology to the writer Jimmy Cannon, who originated the idea and the form as only he could. Jonathan Schwartz should invite Pete Hamill on his radio show and have him read that to us on Christmas day to remind us all of the way we were. And alert his listeners to pour a glass of champagne before he starts. It deserves it.

Here’ a sample of his column: “maybe it’s the beer and the season and the weather, but I could almost swear there was a time when we had a hell of a lot more heroes, and a hell of a lot more laughs. And I’m certain there was a lot more girls.”

It was lines like that made me want to be a writer.

So, with my own apology to him for borrowing the form, here’s to Windsor Terrace tonight…

To Pete Hamill and his brother Denis and to Brian Hamill, and to Bobby Rice, and Judy, and Johnny Kennedy, and to Jacky Malone, and to Steve Finamore from Container Diaries, who records the story of our lives on his Windsor Terrace blog.

Here’s to the bartenders in Farrell’s Bar and Grill on 16th Street and 9th Avenue in Windsor Terrace in my old Brooklyn neighborhood, and especially to Jimmy Houlihan and to Eddie Mills, they all give so much to those who need it. And let’s not forget the memory of the bartender/actor, Danny Mills who also defined what Farrell’s Bar was all about since it opened its doors in the 1930’s. He understood that.

Like Pete Hamill, we all drank there when we were young so long ago, so did our fathers from Ireland, and we all passed through Holy Name Parochial School where our report cards are still on file, hopefully forever.

Glasses up to Malachy McCourt and his brother Alphie tonight. And here’s to Larry Kirwan from Black 47. And to the musician David Amram too, who I learned so much about Jack Kerouac from. Cheers! And to Chris Byrne, another Windsor Terrace boy, whose special bar Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook got tossed around by Sandy, but whose still open for business. And to Lisa McLaughlin who brings the talent there.

It’s Christmas time and we have a few toasts to make. Here’s to all the people of the Queens Supreme Court who I spent a good part of my life with, and how they never once asked me, what the hell are you doing here working as a court clerk when you have a by-line in New York Newsday and the Daily News? Thanks to Tony and Maureen and Jackie, and Ken for putting up with me.

Here’s to my friend Jimmy Breslin, tell him to call me on Christmas morning, and be grouchy again when I don‘t have the answer he’s looking for. I miss those calls. Someone tell ‘Bres’ to write one more Christmas column. Let him write about how he is an usher in a Catholic Church in Manhattan, few people know that side of him. What a great Christmas story that would be.

May that women I shared a turkey sandwich on white bread with one cold evening in front of St Francis Assisi Church in Manhattan, as I was heading off to the old Rocky Sullivan’s Bar on Lexington Avenue to read, who trusted me as I handed half of it to her, be in a warm, safe place tonight. I never forgot her. She was Christmas.

Let’s all remember this holy Christmas night these words out of Newtown from a Litchfield Connecticut newspaper, “this heinous act does not define our town. What does is the love, compassion and caring that we have for one another. Love conquers all, especially evil.”

Along with “Scrooge”, let some cable station run a marathon showing of the movie “Pay it Forward” on Christmas Eve. Forget who is a Republican or a Democrat this night and let the politicians in Washington finally understand that we elected all of you to bring America together, not to divide it. It’s time for that.

Fill up my glass bartender, and let’s drink a toast to writers like T.J. English, Peter Quinn, Peter McDermott, Ellis Henican, C.J. Sullivan, who published some of the best stories about New York ever written in the New York Press, Jim Dwyer, Tom Kelly, Dan Barry, Jack Deacy, Column McCann, and the ones who I miss this year, Bill Reel, Dennis Duggan, Frank McCourt and George Kimball.

Here’s a special toast, a double Irish whisky to an editor from the Daily News that I will never forget working with, Bill Boyle, and his words, “go write a good story, Pat”, as he turned over a nine hundred word assignment to me that I just pitched to him. And , “don’t be too nostalgic.”

And let’s not forget to raise a glass to Brian McCabe, a great New York Detective and a great writer, and to my close friend the actor Jack O‘Connell, and the actor Ciaran Byrne, and to Kira and Nancy down in the Cell Theatre in Chelsea who breathe life in to all that we write with their stage.

Here’s to my friend Sandy Chapin this Christmas, and Pegge, and Jen Chapin, and Josh Chapin, and the memory of Harry Chapin who pointed us all in the right direction in America.

Hey bartender, send a drink down to the end of the bar to my friend, Mort Persky there, one of the editors of one of the greatest efforts to create a new newspaper in this town, New York Newsday, who watched over my words there.

Let’s drink to the memory of President John F Kennedy tonight who made my dad from Galway, Ireland so proud. This one is on me. Raise a glass and remember some of the lessons he tried to teach us when he said: “let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divides us.” So simple.

Let his words be a Christmas card for the world this night. We need it more than ever. None of these things may never happen, but if they did it would be a fine Christmas.

Thanks for the use of the hall tonight, Pete. Merry Christmas.

-Pat Fenton

TO BE THANKFUL

It’s just like back in the old days on 12th street where Denis Hamill would grab a stickball bat, step up to the plate and smash a home run!

Denis hits this one three sewers!

Do yourself a favor and read this article by Denis from today’s New York Daily News; one part has to do with Mickey Breen’s daughter Kelly, who lives in Staten Island and the other about a Staten Island native who was saving people left and right during Sandy.

Thanks to Willy and Gladys for passing this clip along from ‘Help Me Howard‘  courtesy of PIX 11 News – a solid report on Kelly’s ordeal with a real estate agent.

video.html?freewheel=91044&sitesection=wpix_help&VID=23892871

-Steve

HOOPS135@HOTMAIL.COM

MOVIN’ ON UP

Our guy Denis Hamill at the NY Daily News, will not be on his usual assignment any longer.

Seems like the boss wants him to cover bigger news stories.

No one covered the streets like the D-Man!

Good luck D.H.

Respectfully,

Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Once again, I was informed of another person from the neighborhood that has left us.

Along with posting positive memories of the neighborhood on the blog, I often get an e-mail, a phone call or even a text message letting me know someone from the neighborhood has passed away.

It saddens me to hear the news but I don’t mind – please keep sending me the messages. Our loyal readers, some as far away as Texas, need to know this information.

My favorite writer, Denis Hamill of the New York Daily News writes about his friend Mickey Breen who recently passed away.

As the years tumble forward from the tie-dyed days of Hippie Hill in Prospect Park when hundreds of us hung out on the grassy knoll just up from the Corinthian columns designed by Stanford White at Bartell Pritchard Square, you just keep on grabbing the black suit from the closet to go see another one of your flower power pals from Woodstock take his turn in the coffin in the front of a flowery room.

Guys like Dennis (Tiny) Reid, John Rice, Red Riley, Tommy Lenahan, Joey Corrar, Bruce Campbell, and my sweet brother, Joe Hamill.

This time, it was Mickey Breen, and he was a kind, funny guy who attended Power Memorial High where he befriended Lew Alcindor, before he became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Mickey loved his daughter Kelly, his five grandkids, his lady Gladys, his sister Colleen, his cat Cheech, the music of Jeff Beck, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels, and cold beer and big laughter and this place called Brooklyn that he called home until last week when he was waked in Hanley’s Funeral Home on Staten Island, where a slide show of old photos played on a loop as the Rolling Stones sang his favorite song ever, “Sympathy for the Devil.”

I didn’t know Mickey, but after reading D-Hamill’s story, I feel like I hung out with him on the parkside.

Mickey Breen, R.I.P.

Respectfully,

Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com