For those visitors to The Passive Voice today who think they may have wandered into a parallel universe, PG has several posts written by or about Pete Hamill, an up-from-the streets Irish New York City tabloid newspaper guy from the old school. Pete died on August 5 of this year.
PG gained his appreciation for big-city urban columnists when he attended college near, then lived in Chicago and read Mike Royko’s newspaper columns (Royko wrote over 7,500 daily columns during his career). Royko was entertaining when he wrote about the more idiotic mishaps of the Chicago political machine and various of its personalities, but PG liked Royko’s columns about people who lived and worked in the grittier ethnic neighborhoods of the city.
Among others, there were areas where Polish, German, Greek, Italian, Swedish, Ukrainian, Czech, Chinese and Lithuanian immigrants had congregated during the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. At the time PG lived in Chicago, it was easy to locate and explore neighborhoods where most of the store signs were written in a foreign language and PG would seldom hear English spoken on the streets.
This was a new world for PG, who had grown up in tiny isolated towns that were nothing like Chicago. (Think Lake Wobegon).
As a result of these earlier experiences, PG developed a taste for the writing style of old-school urban tabloid journalists and Pete Hamill was one of the best.