In the words of one co-worker, Staff Writer Bruce Newman is "the son Pat Boone never had."
Which makes it odd that this debonair, talented, sartorially splendid 25-year-old should have been seen recently walking down the seedy section of New York's 42nd Street, but the explanation is a simple one. Newman is really a journalistic throwback to the original inquisitive ink-stained wretch. If writing about the Times Square Boxing Club, the subject of his article beginning on page 40, means exposing his three-piece canary yellow suit to a fight gym's smoke and sweat, so be it.
"When I was a kid growing up in Indiana," says Bruce, "Times Square symbolized New York." And New York symbolized big-time journalism, toward which Newman began pointing even as an 8-year-old in Evansville.
"I guess it all began because I had acquired a taste for expensive cigars," he says. "My parents considered this behavior eccentric and cut off my allowance. So I had to seek other means to support my habit." To that end he founded the First Street Bulletin, a one-page hectographed neighborhood rag. Newman wrote all the stories—sample: "Pinky Maier is leaving for summer camp Tuesday. We're sure the whole neighborhood will miss her"—sold ads and peddled up to 70 copies of his paper a week at a nickel per. He says he cleared $50 in three summer months. "Of course, it was all in nickels," he says. "Bank tellers became suspicious. They thought I was breaking into parking meters."
April 30, 1978
Basketball being a pervasive sport in Indiana, Newman had a brief high school career. Newman stands 5'8". He feels he could have been the white Calvin Murphy since he could—and still can—touch the rim from a standing start, and dunk anything he could get his Little League-size hands around. This did not include a basketball. "Unfortunately no team that I know of plays with a rolled-up gym sock," he says.
It was back to the typewriter. Newman went on to Indiana University, where he covered the Hoosier basketball team and its volatile coach, Bobby Knight, to say nothing of Evel Knievel's Snake River Canyon jump, for the Indiana Daily Student. He also interned for a summer at The Boston Globe.
But none of these encounters with life really prepared him for the mean streets he found when he came to New York to join our staff in 1975. His first apartment was on a block where much of the movie Taxi Driver was filmed, a block one reviewer called "scuzz alley". One night Newman returned from an assignment in Daytona to find that his television set and brand-new Sony Betamax had been ripped off. He left, promptly for Greenwich Village, where he now listens to soft jazz and rock, reads P. G. Wodehouse, E. B. White and Raymond Chandler and dines often at the McDonald's on West 3rd.
Newman has written for us on basketball, auto racing and baseball and a good many less familiar subjects, including catapulting, hang gliding, coon squalling and the collapse of an arena roof.
"You might say," Bruce says, "that I have a bent for the unusual."
We might? We do.