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Sunday, February 3, 2013

I felt like an era ended when former New York City mayor Ed Koch died at 88 on Friday. When Koch became New York City’s mayor in 1978, I had just turned 10; his third and final term ended on Dec. 31, 1989, eight days after I turned 22.  He was the mayor of my childhood, even though my family lived in Mahwah, N.J. I mean, he was The Mayor. The only mayor! He was the one on the local newscasts and in the pages of the New York Times. I had no idea who Mahwah’s mayor was. To me, the mayor was like the president: there was one, and it was Ed Koch, just like there was one city, and that was New York City. The title “Hizzoner” seemed to have been invented for Koch (it wasn’t). To this day, when I think “mayor,” I envision Ed Koch.  I had always hoped to meet him. He was the quintessential New Yorker, so we thought the same way about a lot of things. For instance, New Jersey:

“I don’t want to leave Manhattan, even when I’m gone. This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me,” Koch said after purchasing a Manhattan burial plot in 2008.

He also said about Albany, N.Y.:

“Have you ever lived in the suburbs? It’s sterile. It’s nothing. It’s wasting your life.”

Columnist Joe Klein diagnosed Koch with Wisenheimer’s Syndrome. Was Koch being a wisenheimer when he suggested protecting the New York subway system from graffiti by installing wild wolves to protect the trains? I don’t know; it seems effective to me.

Sometimes Koch simply spoke truths that other people shied away from. I like this quote:

“If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”

I wish more politicians said things like that these days instead of bragging about how right they are all the time! Also, I defy you to tell me that Koch’s diet advice wasn’t right on the money:

“The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth — something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food — just watch it, don’t eat it.”

In honor of Hizzoner, I’m going to watch a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar right now.

Here’s what I had on the blog this week:

UPDATED TO ADD: More great Koch stories from Vanity Fair and New York Magazine.

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10 Responses to “A Farewell to Ed Koch, Plus the Week in Review”

  1. My plan is to be back in NYC this summer! Then we wiiiill meeet!!!! Your outfit with the fuzzy sleeves just pulls my heartstrings so hard;)

  2. I miss him already. He was my mayor too. When he was first elected, I was a actually living in Albany and I thought all of his cracks about upstaters and Albany were so funny. What a true New Yawker. That bit about Wisenheimer’s Syndrome is what I miss living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hardly anyone around here knows how to tell a good joke.

  3. stacy says:

    NYC needs more guys like him. Actually, this country could! Sad to see him pass 🙁

  4. AK says:

    I had a long conversation with Ed Koch 8 years ago as part of a graduate program I was in. It was one of our most memorable meetings — rarely have I met someone so compelling, maddening, crochety and smart all at once. His legacy as mayor is as complex as the city he oversaw; he did a lot of great things and also made a lot of really big mistakes.

    • WendyB says:

      I read your comment right after reading the New York Times story on Koch and Judaism, in which he was called “classic Koch, contradictory and iconoclastic.” That pretty much sums it up.

  5. Marti says:

    CBS Sunday Moring did a Story on Ed Koch a while ago I was totally captivated, great man. What other mayor walks around a huge city asking its citizens “how am I doing” great man. RIP ED Koch

  6. Pat: SSB says:

    You have some memorable Koch quotes here. When he was running for mayor he was all over the city, especially at subway entrances and he always took over all the space around him.

    Just recently found out he was responsible for naming the Park commissioner and administrator who came up with the Central Park Conservancy, that great agency that restored and now takes care of the park. For that alone he was a great mayor in my book.

  7. Sue says:

    I too was very sad to hear of him passing. I did get to meet him in the mid 80s when he was still hizzhonor, as a friends mom worked for him when I was a teen. He was exactly how you would picture him, sharp and funny and likely to say anything about anything with conviction. He was who he was, always.

    And he will always be mayor