Longtime columnist Jimmy Breslin, who spent decades pounding out missives for the benefit of downtrodden and overlooked New Yorkers and at the expense of the city's powerful institutions, has died after half a century of writing.

Breslin was reported to be either 86, 87 or 88:

Breslin's death was announced by one of his longtime homes, the Daily News, who called him "a tabloid titan," a "cigar-chomping, hard-nosed newspaperman" and a "curmudgeonly ink-stained wretch" in their obituary/tribute to their colleague.

Breslin spent half a century writing about New York City and the country, using his reporting to turn the focus of stories like the deaths of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon away from the international icons and on to gravediggers and cops just doing their jobs in the wake of news happening around them.

"You can get some work, some jobs that will bore you 'til you're dead. So you better look for something that's got a little tingle to it," he told CNN in 2013 when asked what he loved the most about his job.

He was also one of the first reporters to bring Mario Cuomo to prominence, back when he was an unknown lawyer fighting the city on the condemnation of 69 houses in Corona, Queens. Mayor John Lindsay credited Breslin for helping preserve 59 of those homes with his advocacy for the homeowners.

Breslin was famously sought out by the Son of Sam in 1977, writing the columnist a letter that began "Hello from the gutters of N.Y.C. which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine and blood." He also ran for office with Norman Mailer in 1969, with Mailer running for mayor and Breslin for the City Council, on the platform of making New York City the 51st state.

And while Breslin had an outsized personality as a hard drinking everyman driven by a rage against injustice in one form another, the Times notes that it wasn't so cut and dry:

Breslin also admired Dostoyevsky, swam every day, rarely drank in the last 30 years, wrote a shelf-full of books, and adhered to a demanding work ethic that required his presence in the moment, from a civil-rights march in Alabama to a perp walk in Brooklyn.

Breslin's loss has been mourned by politicians and reporters alike: