Today is Brendan Byrne’s birthday. His 92nd. I don’t know him well, but I like the man a lot. I’ve been blessed to sit with him during a couple of cocktail hours at the kind of Democratic event at which he’s surely a hoped-for guest. He always classes up the joint, no lie.
One of Gov. Byrne’s best things is telling jokes, and I live with a stand-up comedian so I appreciate good delivery. Byrne leans across the table, lowers his voice, like he’s taking you into his confidence:
“After I left the governor’s office, I became a partner in a Newark law firm that worked closely with the airlines industry. One of my clients was Air Italia. Who I found out liked working with me because they thought I was Italian. (beat) (beat) Because of the name, you know. Brendan Byrne Arena.” **
** Arena became the Izod Center, and now sadly is no more. That said, how many times does a guy outlive a 19,000-seat sports & entertainment venue once named for him? I hope the Gov has a great birthday, and a good year ahead.