When I was a youngster, which was a very long time ago, a guy named Ed Helminski took me into his journalistic embrace. Ed had a business model that involved smart coverage of the U.S. nuclear enterprise, and he made that model work at a time when journalistic models were faltering all around us. His newsletters sold well among private sector types who needed the best intelligence to make business decisions. But they were a must-read for the arms control and anti-nuclear communities as well. (Still sell well. Still are a must read, probably more than ever. Don’t mean to be slipping into past tense here.)
Ed’s publications provided a home for wonky budget and policy arcana that forced me to think better and more deeply about the nature of the nuclear enterprise, the sort of thing far too deep and boring for a newspaper, but that fascinated me. And Ed himself was bigger than life, brash and friendly and deeply supportive and loyal. Once you were in the family, you were in. And always with the hat.
He died Friday, suddenly, and we’re incredibly sad. Services are Tuesday in D.C., and there’s no way I can make it, but know that I’ll be there in spirit.