Friday, February 1, 2013
Is it really possible that former NYC mayor Ed Koch died on the very day that a documentary about his life was going into limited theatrical release?
Talk about timing.
His death is of course sad, but at age 88, it would be safe to assume he had been knocking on the door anyway. He'd had several recent hospitalizations.
What makes it a bit more tragic is that he was about to enjoy a renewed period of public prominence as audiences got to see this movie and critics weighed in on its merits. Yet heart failure put a stop to that about 2 a.m. this morning.
I wouldn't say I knew all that much about the former mayor, but he was the first New York City mayor I was ever aware of. In fact, looking at who held the office before Koch became mayor in 1978, I had not even heard of this fellow: Abraham Beame. Is that a real person?
That may be part of why Koch was considered so iconic. He made the job of NYC mayor a national figure, a trend that continued with David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and now Michael Bloomberg. Without Koch asserting himself so vigorously, it's very possible these men would never have become such household names.
Of course, neither was the man universally beloved. In another documentary I just saw a few weeks ago -- How to Survive a Plague -- Koch was painted as a figure who did little to help the cause of people with AIDS fighting for health coverage. Which is kind of ironic, because it was widely assumed that Koch himself (a lifelong bachelor) was gay.
That said, his outspoken style and catchphrase "How'm I Doing?" made him widely popular, as did his ability to raise the city out of a crushing economic crisis into prosperity.
I saw the trailer for Koch prior to my screening of Amour last month, and was really looking forward to seeing it. Now I think I may seek it out in the theater rather than waiting for DVD.
Rest in peace.