There Goes Wayne Barrett

When Barrett's investigation of the South Bronx city councilman Ramon Velez's land holdings took him to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Velez (right) went after him with a broomstick.
Courtesy Susan Perry Ferguson

Here comes Wayne Barrett.

Here comes Wayne Barrett, imposing; watery blue eyes; long limbs swinging; booming voice that trails off, almost always, in a world-weary, insider's rasp; the sea-green incorruptible, uncorrupted.

Here comes Wayne Barrett, you know this, with a raft of documents under arm; smiling, delighted, that smile; raging; glowing; tall; explosive, cantankerous, and, you know this, generous.

Here comes Wayne Barrett, determined; shrewd; punishing; unstoppable, hairs sprouting in chaos from a Rushmore head and a pinwheel imagination; Newfielded, newly felt; gifted; stacks of reports surrounding us at the beach; exhausting and, you know this, inexhaustible.

Here comes Wayne Barrett, husband; father; lover of Fran, lover of Mac; teacher; mentor; dog-owner; Christian; journalist; citizen; on the trail, always on the trail, soaring on the trail; loving and kind; too prosecutorial, too; long paragraphs and freighted words; phone at his ear, and, you know this, the real thing.

There goes Wayne Barrett, because the curfew had been lifted and the gambling wheel shut down, and anyone with any sense had already left town.

There goes Wayne Barrett, working until the end; hanging on; good-humored; leading, and misleading, by example; chatty; funny; reformer and transformer; unflagging; finally tired, alas.

There goes Wayne Barrett, and Donald Manes, Stanley Friedman, Roy Cohn, Rudy Giuliani, and, you know this, Donald Trump all go with him.

There goes Wayne Barrett, fact pattern in tow. Always the fact pattern. The fact pattern remains and, he knew this, it endures.

There goes Wayne Barrett, into the corner, face down like the Jack of Hearts.

There goes Wayne Barrett.

Timothy L. O'Brien, the executive editor of Bloomberg View, is the author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald. He was Barrett's research assistant on Trump: The Deals and the Downfall.


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