Longreads Best of 2013: Best Old Story That I Didn't Read Until This Year

Is John Lindsay Too Tall To Be Mayor?

Jimmy Breslin | New York magazine | July 28, 1969


Mark Lotto (@marklotto) is a senior editor at Medium, and a former editor at GQ and The New York Times Op-Ed page.

In the month since I happened upon Jimmy Breslin’s story about the 1969 New York City mayor’s race, I’ve probably reread it a dozen times; I’ve recommended it to college kids, writers of mine, fellow editors, and when Marshall Sella and I were working on our own story about Anthony Weiner’s tragicomic run, I thought about it every single damn day. My love of it is almost hard to explain, but: It’s an adventure. It starts in a leisurely and apathetic place, ends with a startling announcement, and in between twists and turns through gossip, memoir, poetry, politics, polemic. It’s beautiful; it’s funny; it’s angry; it’s self-lacerating; it looks at the city from 10,000 feet and then zooms in at the ice in a glass. Nowadays, most magazine features hit you with a nut graph somewhere near the bottom of the first section or the top of the second, and then spend 4,000 words fulfilling your exact expectations. But Breslin surprises, again and again. You don’t even know what the story is really about until you’ve read the last line.


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