All manner of men came to work for the News: everything from wild young Turks who wanted to rip the world in half and start all over again — to tired, beer-bellied old hacks who wanted nothing more than to live out their days in peace before a bunch of lunatics ripped the world in half.
They ran the whole gamut from genuine talents and honest men, to degenerates and hopeless losers who could barely write a postcard — loons and fugitives and dangerous drunks, a shoplifting Cuban who carried a gun in his armpit, a half-wit Mexican who molested small children, pimps and pederasts and human chancres of every description, most of them working just long enough to make the price of a few drinks and a plane ticket.
On the other hand, there were people like Tom Vanderwitz, who later worked for the Washington Post and won a Pulitzer Prize. And a man named Tyrrell, now an editor of the London Times, who worked fifteen hours a day just to keep the paper from going under.
When I arrived the News was three years old and Ed Lotterman was on the verge of a breakdown. To hear him talk you would think he’d been sitting at the very cross-comers of the earth, seeing himself as a combination of God, Pulitzer and the Salvation Army. He often swore that if all the people who had worked for the paper in those years could appear at one time before the throne of The Almighty — if they all stood there and recited their histories and their quirks and their crimes and their deviations — there was no doubt in his mind that God himself would fall down in a swoon and tear his hair…
…Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right. I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top.
At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles — a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other-that kept me going.
The Rum Diary