Friday, October 03, 2008

Steve Dunleavy's Last Column

October 3, 2008
The New York Post


REAL men don't cry, but on Wednesday night if my eyes were dry, there was a Niagara cascading from my heart.

It was the occasion of my retirement at a monster bash at the Bourbon Street Bar and Grille in Midtown.

Perhaps I have made bigger decisions in my life, it's just that I can't remember when.

But when the bones get a bit creaky, you can't stay at the dance too long. So with a thousand moments of doubt, I regretfully decided to put my cue in the rack.

When you are 55 years in the business, 41 of those years working for the greatest news organization in the world, parting is not just sweet sorrow. It can be bloody torture.

Sure, when I made the final decision, I was awash in self-pity and doubt - that is, for just about a nanosecond.

Suddenly, you compile the camaraderie, the laughs, the exhilaration (with a few spills along the way), and you scold yourself for not realizing that you are not completing- but beginning - another chapter in a wonderfully happy life.

This company has sent me from Bogota to Baghdad, Lima to London, Kentucky to Kabul, Tampa to Tel Aviv.

How lucky can one guy be? How lucky to go into retirement with all that behind you.

I never spent a single hour at Columbia School of Journalism, except when I gave a lecture to journalism students - and I was about as popular as a fire hydrant at the Westchester dog show.

It's only those who are lucky enough to work for Rupert Murdoch who know what I am talking about.

This organization is filled with news hounds, young and old, guys and gals who take their jobs pathologically seriously - but, heaven forbid, don't take themselves seriously.

In my day, a misguided era in which the job was consumed by booze, tobacco and carousing, perhaps we were a little (little?) wilder, but the result of victory in the pages of the newspaper was the same.

Of course, then to atone for our sins, my friend and colleague Piers Akerman in Sydney says, "Forgive us our press passes." All of it has made me a pretty happy fellow.

Oh, yeah, I will miss those great cops and firefighters, the nutty judges and politicians and the criminal lawyers who were more colorful than an explosion in a paint factory.

And, of course, I will miss that great crew of the media militia - the reporters at The Post. And the leader of this wonderful far-flung empire, the boss.

Now I promise you, this is not goodbye. I promise you I'll be around to continue doing what I do best, being a pain in the rear end.

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