Jimmy Breslin moved about six months ago from West 68th Street and Broadway to a high rise on West 57th Street with sweeping views of the Hudson River. He’s not sure why—ask his wife, Ronnie Eldridge, a former City Council member and host of the CUNY TV show Eldridge and Co.
The pool in this new building isn’t ready yet, but Breslin says he still swims regularly at the Reebok Sports Club/NY on Columbus Avenue. On a recent afternoon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer had been up since 4 a.m. working and hadn’t yet made it for a swim. He fueled up on peanuts while offering
commentary about Rod Blagojevich’s hair, the secret to a good marriage and who he thinks should be governor.
Q: You grew up in Queens and so much of that seems to inform your worldview. How did you end up in Manhattan?
A: I married her [Ronnie]. My wife died, had a tragedy in Queens, dead wife. So I moved here when I married her.
Q: What issues, in your mind, are not getting enough attention from local media?
A: Whatever you call media, it’s the plural of mediocre. One topic really is Afghanistan. Because that could lead to a draft. And that would truly change the city.
Q: What about locally in New York? Are there certain things you wish you’d hear more about?
A: Dead bodies from Afghanistan. And live bodies going over there.
Q: Your last book, The Good Rat, came out in 2008. Are you working on anything new?
A: I did a book for Viking—they got a Great Americans series or something—Branch Rickey [about the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager]. That’s coming out, that’s done. I gotta do a book on that Blagojevich from Chicago. The governor. But his appearance at the trial is off till June, so I’m doing a fiction book.
Q: How do you get absorbed in writing fiction? Do you read other fiction that you like?
A: No, I don’t care, I gotta go my own. Because I copy it! What, are you kidding me? If you’re gonna start that you’re gonna start using them as morgue clips.
Q: I’m interested in the Blagojevich project. That’s better than fiction.
A: Everybody told me, you go and you sit down, that his hair—they want to know if the hair is real. He was here in the city doing a show. The hair is real as I am. Oh, it’s real.
Q: You and Ronnie have been married for almost 30 years. Tell us, what’s the secret for staying married for 30 years? Happily, I presume.
A: (Shouting to the other room) Ronnie! They want to ask you one thing.
Q: We want to know the secret to a happy marriage.
Ronnie: (Yelling back) I don’t know.
Jimmy: What are you going to do, live alone? No, I think it’s the only sane way to live.
Ronnie enters room.
Q: We asked your husband what he thought the secret was to a lengthy and presumably happy marriage, because you guys have been together now for about 30 years.
Ronnie: Yeah, unbelievable. Unbelievable. [Laughs] I guess it’s just that it’s interesting, instead of boring. Well, pretty much never boring, except when he gets on a real—what do you call it?—a complaint. But otherwise it’s terrific. I think a little humor, and be interesting.
Q: You were trying to work when you were 16. Did you go to college?
A: They had a thing, the Newhouses then, visions of grandeur, at their chain of newspapers, where people had to go to college. So I went to Long Island University and took a couple courses, English courses, and it involved writing and I got A’s and I was a knockout early. It looked that way, you know. And I could say I went to college.
Q: So you never finished?
A: Ehh, I got outta there. I needed good money for beer. I couldn’t pay for college.
Q: What do you think about Gov. David Paterson? Do you think he should be challenged in a primary?
A: He’s one nobody ever voted for. I don’t know how he’s there.
Q: So you’d be pushing for a challenger?
A: No. I mean, I think it’s sad. I happen to know the guy that would win, Cuomo. The other two, it’s a dreary thing. You’ve got a senator and a governor that nobody voted for.
Q: Sounds like you like Cuomo.
A: Well, I’ve known him a long time.
Q: You think he’d be a good governor?
A: Sure he would. The father is my friend. Leave me out of it, shilling for the kid. He’s gotta win, he’s gotta be the governor.
Transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity
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