Paul Piccone, like Telos, the journal he founded, was an original, and the strength of his character and spirit inspired not only his journal but everyone with whom he came in contact. He never lacked confidence in anything he confronted, however unfamiliar, and he attacked every new challenge with the same indomitable energy with which he faced life as a whole. He was always “in your face,” but with as much charm as gusto, so he had a way of disarming even his staunchest critics. To friend or “enemy,” he was most assuredly unforgettable.
The eldest of five brothers, Paul emigrated at the age of fourteen with his family from L’Aquila, Italy, to the United States and settled in Rochester, NY. His father was a tailor. Leaving high school before graduating, he worked factory jobs for several years until he decided that he wanted something more. He completed undergraduate studies at Indiana University and entered the doctoral program in philosophy at SUNY Buffalo, where he received a PhD in 1970. Together with other graduate students at Buffalo, he founded Telos, which in 1968 became the leading New Left journal, attempting to come to terms with the political and intellectual turmoil of those years. Granted a position in the sociology department at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, Paul published Telosout of his office. As always, he was able to surround himself with a coterie of like-minded students and colleagues to help him. In 1970 Paul moved to New York City, bought an abandoned building in the East Village, and made it into his home and office. For more than two decades thereafter, Paul guided his journal as its editor, mentor, and publisher. In 2000, shortly after his 60th birthday, Paul contracted a rare form of cancer, which he struggled with until he died on July 12, 2004, at the age of 64.