2001-03-03 / Columnists

From The G-Man

From The G-Man

On A Dare And A Dream

Hey Leon! Can you hear me? I want you to know that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since you went away. I toss and turn in my sleep often, and I continuously replay moments shared with you in my mind. Can I share a few of those moments with the readers? You won’t mind will you? Good. I was hoping you’d say that.

I remember the time when I walked into the offices of The Wave, and I told Kevin Boyle that I wanted a shot at writing for the paper. I was hardcore, cocky and determined to prove that I was a force to be reckoned with. Kevin smiled and took me up on my offer, and although I dealt with him directly in the beginning, I recognized that Leon was the one who would say yes or no when all was said and done. I must have done something right in my very first article because he stuck with me until the very end.

There were so many times when he would attack the Yankees, and I would hurl a barrage of insults against the Mets. Some of the exchanges were as comical as an Abbot and Costello bit, and I will definitely miss those trade-offs.

When I was going through a difficult break-up, I went to Leon for some counseling. I usually consult my elders in times of despair and uncertainty, and he was extremely receptive. I asked him what was the secret to maintaining a long and loving relationship. I mean, here was a guy that had been married for 30 years, and he always smiled warmly when he mentioned that fact. "You have to be able to put up with each other’s crap, and she has to put up with more of mine than I do hers. I’m no easy guy to live with, but if you communicate, in your own little way, that is the key. You have to get a little lucky too, and I got lucky when I found my wife. She’s a good woman, and she’s got a great heart." I just looked at him, in awe, and I knew that I was talking to a man who really understood what love was.

We would spend time talking about his voyages on the QE2, and soon I would learn that this stout and grizzled man had a vast knowledge of world geography that could make him a five-time Jeopardy champion. He traveled the world and knew many things about many people, but in those conversations it was clear to me that none of the trips would have been worthwhile if his wife were not there to share his experiences. Having Susan by his side, in so many aspects, enriched this man’s life, and when he spoke about his travels he wasn’t just speaking about going abroad, he was speaking about life’s journey as well.

I was amazed to find out, in my last conversation with him, that he took over The Wave on a dare! That’s right. He was delivering seltzer to different locations, and someone dared him to take over the paper, while having no previous experience in the newspaper industry. It was a struggling publication, and he tinkered with it until he got it right. Even up until the point of his death, he was still trying to figure out ways to improve it. Along the way, the publication received numerous awards and praise. Not bad for a guy with no experience. He proved anyone could be successful if given the chance.

I can say so much more, but there just isn’t enough time or space in this paper. When I finally achieve that level of success that I am striving for, there will definitely be a section in my memoirs dedicated to Leon Locke. He helped to create "The G-man", and he stuck with me when I dropped some pretty big bombs on the Rockaways. When the "power players" wanted a piece of my ass, he never retreated. He believed in me, and the work I was doing, so much that he would submit some of my articles to The New York Press Association for award consideration. That says a lot, and I love, respect and admire him for taking such action. The odds are long that I will win anything, but I really don’t care if I do. I’m happy just to know that he thought of me enough to want to do something like that. The level of success I now enjoy is because of Leon Locke.

I have pissed off a lot of people over the last four years, and he loved it. I stand for what I believe in, and he loved it. We had disputes, but I can count them on one hand. All I know is he stood by me, and guided me, as a writer and as a man. I’ll miss his wisdom, his advice and his temperamental disposition. He had success in life and in love, and that is what we all seek before we are called.

Leon, I thank you for allowing me to grow as a person and as a writer. I miss you so damn much, and this loving and heartfelt tribute is…From the G-man.

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