Thursday, May 11, 2006

On My Mind

I had a reaction today to the death of New York Times writer and editor A. M. Rosenthal -- I was jealous of his career. For 60 years, he had written for the world's most influential newspaper. Millions had seen his byline, and tens of thousands had actually read his articles -- many of them among the world's most influential people.

But he's dead, Jim. And it makes little sense to be jealous of someone who's dead.

And then again... I'm proud of many of the articles I've written, even if the most read of them had a readership much lower than of Rosenthal's least read. (Well, you get what I'm trying to say -- Eloquent Adam)

For instance, there was that article about a New York City ambulance crew who wrestled with a mortally wounded AIDS patient in the mid 80's, a man who had committed suicide by impaling himself on the jagged glass of a broken window. The crew carried him down four flights in a rundown apartment building in the Bronx, while he wrestled against them, thrashing as he bled profusely from a slashed subclavian artery. That was a pretty good one.

Then there was the piece I wrote about the Plenty Ambulance Corps, in the Bronx, in 1979 -- a group of Tennessee hippies who decided to come out to the burned out South Bronx and provide a free community ambulance service. You can see a couple of their kids on my website, the shot labeled, "two bronx babies."

And that was a nice story I wrote about Douglas Edwards of CBS News and his trusty and loyal producer, Richard Kallsen, doing The World Tonight. That appeared in "The West-Sider," or perhaps it was "The Chelsea-Clinton News," anyway, nowhere near the readership of the Times.

So, after reflection, I'm proud of my stories, but jealous of A. M. Rosenthal's reach. Was it the recognition he received, the fact that he was admired and respected around the world -- and, probably, resented by some as well. Was it the encomiums, the armor of influence?

Is the world big enough for both of us? (He's dead, Jim.)

It must be, and to all the other A. M. Rosenthals, I say, bring it on, do your best, your fellow writer salutes you!


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