Wednesday, December 11, 2019

mini 012 Remembering Ed Koch on his birthday

Mayor Koch would be 95 today, Thursday 12/12/19. Boy oh boy would it be fun to have him around these days!  Always audacious, he had the audacity to die back in 2013 at a mere 88.

As former Mayor Mike Bloomberg said at Ed’s funeral, here was the typical New Yorker: A Jewish guy buried in a Protestant cemetery in a Dominican neighborhood. No, Mike, not typical. Archtypical.

My own first look at his audacity came around 1958. It turned into a friendship of more than 50 years. What was audacious about him back then? Try this:

That was the 1950s. Washington Square Park. Sunday sing-ins. Audacious? Hell, yeah. The only thing worse he did back then than play the guitar was to sing.

But he already was a lawyer and he was the lawyer that fought City Hall for the rest of us and won over the Parks Department which wanted us to clear out of the park and stop the Sunday sing-ins.

Ed destroyed the DiSapio-Tammany Hall wing of the Democratic Party, which badly needed destruction.  He rose from City Councilman to Congressman to Mayor to Elder  Scold in quick time. But he never changed much.

When he was first elected, New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy and there was no help coming from Washington.  So he figured out how to do it on his own.  And then, he did it.

He supported W. Bush’s run for president. (We fought. We ate.) He was friends with Republican Senator Al D’Amato (all three of us fought, we all ate.)

He ran his segment on my radio show overtime. When I asked him what to take out to make it fit into the Bloomberg Radio computerized weekend program he said “I don’t care. Take out anything you want.” So, I did. He was harder to edit than he was to interview. And it cut into my breakfast hour. 

I loved the guy. Still, I do.

But Ed, if you can hear me, I know they never gave you a harp up there… so put down the cheap guitar, stop “singing” some Pete Seeger song and get your butt back down here.  New York and all of America needs fixing. And I know you’re the guy who could do it.

Wes Richards 12/12/19

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