I am writing to express my heartfelt sympathies over the departure of former Mayor Edward Koch (1924-2013), Mr. New York.
The time was 1924 when Mr. New York was born in the Bronx, when “the smell of the Bronx is perfume to me” (Rodgers & Hart, “I Gotta Get Back to New York”)and “as black as onyx, we’ll find the Bron-nix Park Express” (Rodgers & Hart, “Manhattan”).
Mr. New York graduated from New York University Law School andsettled in “Greenwich, where modern men itch to befree” (“Manhattan”) to play his guitar back in 1956 and become involved in the mire of politics with the Village Independent Democratsto defeat the Tammany Hall political machine in 1963 on his journey to City Hall as mayor for three terms (1978-1989). Upon Mr. New York’s election as mayor, I sent him a letter telling him, “You grew up ridin’ the subways, runnin’ with people, up in Harlem, down on Broadway. You’re the heart and soul of New York City” (Odyssey, “Native New Yorker”). A couple years later, I questioned him about his support of Medicaid-sponsored abortions in New York City at a Richmond Hill High School town hall meeting. Being a pragmatist, Mr. New York unfortunately scratched out the lyrical line, “Our future babies, we’ll take to Abie’s Irish Rose. I hopethey’ll live to see it close” (“Manhattan”).
Despite the corruption scandal at the Parking Violations Bureau in 1985, Mr. New York was not tarnished by the fall of some of his closest political allies: “And in the station house we’ll end, but Civic Virtue cannot destroy the dreams of a girl and boy” (“Manhattan”).
Butwhat is most memorable about Mr. New York ishaving seen him, a Jew,attending Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the time of the late John Cardinal O’Connor, and learning of Mr. New York’s burial in the Trinity Church cemetery in Washington Heights. His words in a 2009 interview were, “I believe in the afterlife. I believein God. I believe in reward andpunishment. And I hope to be rewarded.”
“New York is New York, that’s all you cansay. It gets in your blood and it’sin there to stay” (“I Gotta Get Back to New York”).
There are many televisions, but there is only one Mr. Television, Milton Berle. There are many native New Yorkers, myself included, but there is only one Mr. New York: Ed Koch. May he rest in eternal peace.