A total urbanite, Jimmy had never learned how to drive—he was raised by a single mother who earned a meager salary as a social worker, and drank to excess. The Breslins couldn’t afford a car. But this wheel-less liability turned out to be his greatest asset. He went everywhere on foot or by public transportation, chatting up pedestrians, shopkeepers, cops, fellow passengers—anyone who would give him an ear and a mouth. He made the rhythms of their replies into a kind of municipal jazz that only he could record.
Read the rest of Stefan Kanfer's essay in City Journal.