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RIP Ed Koch

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Boom_70, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I always loved him. Mayor of NYC is unlike any other elected position. Your politics really don't matter. It doesn't even matter WHAT you do. It just matters that you 1) do something, really anything, and 2) have a strong, forceful, personality and a presence.

    This is why Ed Koch was a great mayor. He was an easy contrast, because he followed Abe Beame who was ineffectual and was fighting off the city going into bankruptcy -- it was a really depressed time in NYC. Beame didn't have a forceful personality that could just will the city through things. Then Koch came and it wasn't so much about anything that Koch did that was so spectacular -- just that he was a presence. Beame was slashing budgets and begging for money from the Federal government and everything felt miserable in NY in the mid 70s. People saw no hope. I remember the constant blackout problems from when I was a kid, in particular.

    Koch pretty much faced the same thing, and he was slashing budgets left and right, but he was able to go to the cops or the fire department and find a way to sell it with his personality. He was able to bring back the credit rating for the city. The difference with him was his enthusiasm and the fact that he was a very visible face out there -- the whole, "How am I doing?" thing. Being a personality is great in NY.

    It's why Giuliani was a great mayor, too, even though him and Koch couldn't have been much different. Giuliani just did stuff, made himself the face of the city and was a tireless worker, like Koch. He also followed someone weak and ineffectual -- David Dinkins, so he benefited from that same kind of contrast.

    Koch seemed like a guy who could be a major asshole toward people, and stubborn as all hell, but at least he came across as an unapologetic asshole. I guess heaven needed another gay guy who didn't want to come out and announce what everyone knew.
  3. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Ragu, your first paragraph was the best summary of the duties of the Mayor of New York I have ever read.
  4. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    I agree with that. Well said.
  5. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    I go back as far as Wagner. Koch was our LaGuardia, beloved and a little nuts, an energetic omnipresent caricature equal parts Katz's and La Grenouille and the Russian Tea Room, the 7 Train and lower 5th, Washington Square and Wall Street. The hyperlocal hometown hero governing the ungovernable. How I'm going to miss him.
  6. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Most of what I knew about Koch for most of my life came from his appearances on SNL. However, there's a great account of the 1977 mayoral election in "The Bronx is Burning" (the book).

  7. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    The first NYC mayor that I remember, and Ragu's right, he really did have a strong personality. I remember watching him on NBC-4 News as a kid and, in my young eyes, always seemed like a positive person.

  8. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Remember when HBO outed him a few years ago? That was weird.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    It was a film. ... Outrage. Looked at the ethics of outing politicians, so since that was the purpose of the documentary, it didn't seem weird.

    I am not sure I completely understand why Koch was the way he was with being gay. ... but that was his choice and really none of my business. His rationale was that he just wouldn't answer questions about his sexuality because he thought it was off limits. Gay groups thought he had a responsibility to be loud and proud. But to my mind, the only responsibility he had was to himself. ... being who he was comfortable with.

    The only thing about his whole, "Is he gay?" thing that I found odd -- in his behavior -- was when he was running for reelection in the late 70s and he started appearing with Bess Myerson (former Miss America) at his side as his beard. I was too young to completely get it, but I know now that when he played that game, he was playing make believe to get elected, rather than going with his later stance of, "My sexuality is off limits." Honestly, in NYC in the late 70s. ... he didn't need to come out of the closet, but he also didn't need to pretend to have a girlfriend either. Don't ask, don't tell would have been fine, because people didn't care.

    I am never good when I play Joe Jr. Psychologist, but I kind of get it because I know the behavior from other men of his background and his age. Jewish men from that era were raised that being a "fagala" was a bad thing. I suspect he struggled with reconciling who he was with what he was fed when he was a kid, and rather than deal with it, he just chose to never deal with it publicly. And that is his right.
  10. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    I will remember Koch being as much the guy on the street as the archetypal New Yorker (born in Newark). I remember seeing him in 1985 or 1986, having a sidewalk conversation with someone who called him out. I thought, "Damn, that's the mayor!" Hizzoner turned the man's attempt at an ad hominem attack into an earnest, engaged discussion with reasonable give and take. How we miss that.
  11. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    I think the outer boroughs in 1977 were still very socially conservative. Stonewall wasn't even a decade past.

    And Koch's inaction in the early days of the AIDs crisis still reverberates with activists.
  12. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    I think he was born in the Bronx.

    The Times obit is masterful. www.nytimes.com/2013/02/02/nyregion/edward-i-koch-ex-mayor-of-new-york-dies.html?hp
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