During my first month in full-time journalism, my boss, Seth Lipsky, now the founder and top editor of The New York Sun, gave me a simple but odd-sounding instruction: “I want you having breakfast with a source every morning”. Part of Lipsky’s thinking was that because I owned “adult-looking” clothes — suits and ties from my short-lived legal career — sources engaged in the Jewish philanthropic world, my first beat at the Forward, would take me seriously.
With that instruction in mind, I marched down Park Avenue from my tiny rent-controlled apartment on 83rd Street to the plush confines of the Regency Hotel. I got there early and was greeted by a hostess offering me a newspaper. The first breakfast was with Robert Rifkind, then the head of the American Jewish Committee and a partner at the white shoe law firm of Cravath, Swain & Moore. For somebody who less than two months earlier had been at best little more than a billing-mechanism and at worst a legal serf, sitting down with such a legendary figure was a bit daunting. But now I know that in public life — and bigtime charity is a form of public life — it’s important to have relationships with reporters.
Now, almost 12 years after that first breakfast, I write in the current issue of Boston Magazine about a unique facet of Boston’s political culture: it’s fanatical devotion to the power breakfast. Guided by the new sharp-eyed editor, James Burnett, this piece provides a glimpse into this city’s hot breakfast scenes — locations as diverse Mul’s in South Boston to Mike’s City Diner in the South End, where you can catch the mayor, to the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons to Henrietta’s Table in Harvard Square — as well as the do-gooder organized breakfast groups, most of whom feature a prominent guest. There is, for example, Kevin Phelan, who has run an influential breakfast group since the 1970s and spawned two imitators.
The issue also features a story by Red Sox expert Seth Mnookin, whom Lipsky hired in 1999 and promptly placed a fedora on his head.