Title Slate: The Eleventh Hour - #311 Koch 2. Rec: 1/29/90. Dir: Andrew Wilk
Slate: "I'm not the type to get ulcers. I give them." Edward I. Koch
B&W photo still Edward I. Koch with arms up in victory at fan packed stadium. Host Robert Lipsyte narrates and announces tonight's topic, Ed Koch.
Funding by announcers. Charitable organizations overlay The Eleventh Hour graphic.
Show opens to a quick wide shot of Host Robert Lipsyte in the studio sitting across triangular shaped table with Former New York Mayor, Ed Koch.
Host Robert Lipsyte introduces introduces tonight's topic, Ed Koch, The Personality, in Part II of the series on the former New York Mayor and cuts to first segment, The Best and Worst of Ed Koch.
Split screen with Koch jogging and his statement, "I am an ordinary guy with special abilities"
Another split screen as Koch continues jogging. "...I do the things that the average New Yorker would do if he or she were mayor
B&W photo stills Montage - Koch in ginormous toy sunglasses standing next to Casper the Friendly Ghost, Koch playing trumpet, shaking hands on var. occasions.
Color clips playful Koch on stage with dancers, in magic show, being eaten by giant shark head, marching in a rally arms up in the air.
Testimonials by var. New Yorkers - an elderly lady, businessmen at lunch Koch arms up in the air at var parades and rally in New York City.
Clips of upbeat Koch arms up in the air, shouting, at var. rallys and parades in New York City.
Var. New Yorkers testimonials about Koch - all positive, man at newspaper stand, man in laundromat
Koch standing outside talking with reporters, several Mics pointed at him
Koch on TV interacting with viewer who has called in. Phone number for the show is displayed.
Clip of Koch on the Dick Cavett Show.
Clip of Koch on ABC News program "2020" in 1984
Slate: The I-Was-Insulted-By-Koch Club, to the tune of "I Wanna Be Loved by You"
Split screen B&W photo of Carol Bellamy with Koch quote, "A horror show"
Split screen B&W photo Donald Mane and Koch quote, "A crook"
Photo of the United Nations: with typewritten words, "A cesspool"
And b&w photo of Leona Helmsley and Koch quote, "The wicked witch of the west"
Split screen pPhoto of a suburban home and quote Suburban Life: "A joke"
Split screen photo Rep Ron Dellums and Koch quote "A Zulu warrior and a Watusi"
Split screen of Jimmy Carter and Koch quote "A boring man"
And best one of all. Donald Trump: Koch's quote"Piggy , piggy, piggy"
Koch on stage wearing a gold lame costume as others in var costumes applaud him
Lipsyte sitting with Koch in the studio.
INTERVIEW: ED KOCH
Robert Lipsyte 5:06
Well, it's hard to believe that you were once a shy kid a wallflower. Did you invent Ed Koch as mayor?
Ed Koch 5:15
Well, let me tell you what the progression was. I think that your width is natural. You either have it or you don't have it. And I'm proud of the fact that I have a New York style of wit. I was not as outgoing when I was a member of Congress, although not bad. But when I became mayor, I knew that I had to do more than bring fiscal stability back to the city of New York, I had to bring a spirit back to the city of New York, people were walking around like they was zombies dead. That was not good. And so part of what I did was conscious. And part of what I did was just natural.
Robert Lipsyte 5:53
Well, part of what you did was you were a tombler a borscht belt guy who stirred things up. So some people would say that this was wonderful. The social director of New York and another would, say that he was Nero. While Rome burned
Ed Koch 6:09
That's rediculous because I also balanced the budget didn't I. I mean, the fact is, there wasn't a single policy decision made in the city of New York, of any importance that wasn't made in my office, and you ask the budget people, I overrule them on occasion, I supported them when they were attacked, I did what was in the best interest of the city. So being mayor, for example, involves a number of things. That means some ceremonial aspects. In the beginning, I said, I'm never gonna do anything ceremnial, ridiculous. If you want to encourage people to come here, then you have to ceremonialize, the opening of a new building, bring public attention to events, that your presence is important, because the media comes. Now some people objected to that. But that's part of being mayor
The personality was political. Some Yeah. Well, where did it begin in it? Now when you said How am I doing?
Well, that came from my congressional days
Robert Lipsyte 7:07
that was kind of like a jab to get people back.
Ed Koch 7:10
No, no, not at all. It was it came out of my congressional days when I was elected as a member of Congress, and I was elected five times. I came back every Friday because Congress was not in the session, I stand at the subways. And when I would stand the subways, and I just say good morning, people rush by because it's seven o'clock, eight o'clock in the morning, then, just by chance, fortuitously I one day, I said, How am I doing? And they stopped and they talk to me. So I realized that it was the kind of phrase that corporations paid hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, to be identified with
Robert Lipsyte 7:49
it was a slogan not a question was a slogan. And you didn't really want to hear the answer necessarily
Ed Koch 7:56
That is not true. People would stop and tell me many times good, sometimes bad. Either way, was alright. It was a an artifice to get people to stop in their busy march into the subway system and to talk to me and it worked. So I carried that on into the mayoralty.
Robert Lipsyte 8:15
Now in the three terms, the personality expanded and became larger. Yeah, I guess, were you aware of?
Ed Koch 8:23
Sure, You have to understand that there is, with the exception of Washington, no press corps, comparable to that which you have at City Hall, not Albany, not anyplace else in the nation, you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 30 reporters every day, they must file stories, and their story is only what happens at city hall or in the government agencies. So the attention that's paid to what the mayor does is just enormous.
Robert Lipsyte 8:53
Will you come back to the press all the time? And is the implication here that you were entertaining them as well, keeping them busy feeding them?
Ed Koch 9:01
entertaining is the wrong word. I believe and entertaining strong word unless you think that having a natural width is entertaining. Well, what we but I did nothing. for them. I was a public official, who was extraordinarily covered by the press because that was their job to do. I use them in the same way they use me they had to get stories from me, because if they didn't, then they'd be asked by their editor. I, on the other hand, believe that the best way to get New York City moving again was to educate the public part of my job as mayor was to educate the public. I did that through the media
Robert Lipsyte 9:40
also part of this this personality there was there was a streak and depending on who you're talking to, it was New York toughness, or it was meanness you yourself had said this sometimes something vicious in me
Ed Koch 9:54
Well I mean, that's one line out of hundreds that I've written in a book and that well I mean, yeah
Robert Lipsyte 9:59
well I mean, yeah which Ed Koch do we believe on which day?
Ed Koch 10:02
Believe them all. I'm a many faceted personality as are you? I don't believe I'm mean at all. I think that occasionally, your anger will flare up if you're if you believe you're being unfairly treated. But I don't believe I mean, I think I'm not trying to use george bush's word. I think I'm a gentle kind person. I'm also tough. You have to be tough in this business of politics for several reasons. One, tough to say the city of New York. And secondly, you're constantly being examined and vilified. And unless you're tough enough to respond, you can have your spirit broken, you know, if I didn't have my personality and my nature, all I would do is to do what every editorial of the day asked me to do. And many of those editorials are ridiculous. It's one guy or woman sitting at a typewriter, who believes that he or she speaks ex cathedra
Robert Lipsyte 11:03
your personality was in a sense, a shield?
Ed Koch 11:06
Robert Lipsyte 11:07
And it protected you from perhaps listening to some of these people
Ed Koch 11:11
I read, voraciously is a real
Robert Lipsyte 11:14
you read all the criticism as well,
Ed Koch 11:16
everything I read everything we had didn't upset you. Sure it upset me on occasion. But we even had a clipping service that we gave to the press where we assembled all of the clips, no matter how attacking, they were of me, and we circulated them because we thought, let it all be in the record.
Robert Lipsyte 11:33
Do you feel that your personality enabled you to just kind of dump back out again, express
Ed Koch 11:37
my personality gave me the strength, not to cave to unfair attacks, not to do things that were counterproductive if I had the intelligence to recognize that because some editorial writer or some reporter was concentrating on some aspect that was important or not important, but not as important. There's something else that had to be concentrated on I didn't cave very often, to the moment of the day. I won't tell you that on occasion, if the New York Times constantly talks about the need for more taxis that I didn't put a lot of effort in. And then when we got it to the point where the taxi Commission had to vote on more taxis, they wouldn't do it because they had been appointed by the City Council. They represented the taxi industry. They were not my appointments. And it was regrettable that the editorials that should have happened at that time with great intensity didn't happen.
Lipsyte cuts to off site segment with New Yorker cartoonist and playwright, Jules Feiffer.
Jules Feiffer at his desk and sketching. He talks about Ed Koch.
INTERVIEW - TALK WITH JULES FEIFFER
He's a very attractive larger than life personality and he does embody the city in that way. You know, the ego, the look of him or physical look of he's just funny looking and funny looking at not unpleasant way. You go back to the lonely outsider, the guy who was never going to really quite make it the brightest kid in the class of one of the brightest, who is always on the outside, who really wanted to be more than anything else to be accepted. I first met Ed Koch, it was back in the late 50s when he used to come around the village voice and hang around with Dan Wolf, who was the editor and co founder the voice. And he was a very amiable, somewhat seedy, village reformed character, clearly with no future. And I reminded me always have my somewhat nebb ishcharacter in my cartoons called Bernard Mergendeiler, who had no future with girls Koch, I felt had no future in politics. I was right about Bernard, I was wrong about Koch. I never expected this man who seemed as I said, kind of nebbish a little nerdy to take on once he achieved power. There's fullsedness, this size, growth and physical size being a good indicator of it. But the arrogance was a surprise to me the split off of righteousness. How am I doing that came out of that was this wonderful metaphor for celebrating himself? Because it never was, how are we doing? It was how am I doing this? This, this nerdy Colossus bestriding the city. Always an outsider, always thinking of themselves separate from the city, and always about performance not unlike Ronald Reagan, but not the good looking Reagan, but the nerdy Reagan but and and it. It helped in terms of that persona to break the city down into its fragmented parts, increase the fragmentation, increase consciousness of their fragmentation so that by the end of his reign ed koch seem to me the physical embodiment of the New York City cab driver, as as head of state
B&W photo still Ed Koch.
CONTINUED FEIFFER INTERVIEW
It helped in terms of that persona to break the city down into its fragmented parts, increase the fragmentation, increase consciousness of their fragmentation so that by the end of his reign ed koch seem to me the physical embodiment of the New York City cab driver, as as head of state
Back in the studio with Lipsyte and Koch.
is a brilliant cartoonist, and he's going to talk about my physical characteristics if you seen him. In other words, what I'm simply there.
Robert Lipsyte 17:25
Wait a minute, He called you a nerdy Colossus.
Ed Koch 17:29
No he also called me ugly. That's what he did.
Robert Lipsyte 17:32
He said, not unpleasant looking. Okay. Does that hurt you? No. But doesn't hurt. No, you don't care? Does anything hurt you? Like,
Ed Koch 17:40
yes, sure. But not. When it comes from people who have posed me for 12 years he was posed to me for major part of my administration. Now, firstly, doesn't apply to me. And even his language doesn't make any sense. nerdy means that you're someone who is a superb scholar, and you can't do anything else. I was never a superb scholar. Never. I was never at the top of my class. I, I have some abilities as an administrator, but I was never a superb scholar. He thinks I was.
Robert Lipsyte 18:15
That's pretty cute. But nerdy also means a wimpy, geeky wallflower guy who can't get girls.
Ed Koch 18:22
It also always includes that the major virtue that you have is that you were a superb scholar, and everybody
Robert Lipsyte 18:30
it means you're carrying slide rule, but it doesn't mean that you used it. Well. This did hurt you a little bit. No, honestly, it really didn't. Yeah, did you? Did you make an obscene gesture?
Ed Koch 18:46
I use the Boy Scouts salute. See if you have three fingers like that looks like one finger.
Robert Lipsyte 18:52
And that's what he saw. He saw.
Ed Koch 18:54
He saw. He saw one finger. It was really three. And he said he got the message.
Robert Lipsyte 18:58
But you were you were saying read between the lines?
Ed Koch 19:01
Robert Lipsyte 19:02
Well, do you feel that that was I guess you felt that was appropriate.
Ed Koch 19:07
I remember this guy. I mean, he was yelling obscenities at me. Now most people think that a mayor should just take it. Well, that this may be above it. You say be above it. I say just take it. You punch me figuratively I punch back.
Robert Lipsyte 19:24
And when you do something like that, do you think that makes everybody else feel a little better?
Ed Koch 19:29
Is there a reason to do it? Because? Well, the reason is for me. I mean, I don't want ever to be in a situation where I'm not able to look at the mirror and say, Listen, you responded the way a reasonable responsible person should respond. You didn't just cave because of fear of what the press would say you're, you're overwhelmed with your position as mayor. I'm no different than anybody else. I've said that constantly. I'm an ordinary guy with some special talents as a good administrator and i think i exhibited those talents over the years
Robert Lipsyte 20:04
Well your personality. Do you think that was the expression of the New York personality that you embodied New York
Ed Koch 20:10
clay Felker once and he's not a supporter of mine, he wanted somebody else to run from there. He came over to me once in a restaurant and he said to me, after tell you something, you are the quintessential New Yorker. I thought that was the highest compliment that had ever been paid to me by anyone. Because I'm one of the less than 50% of the people live in New York, who is born in New York, I was born in the Bronx, most people were not born in New York City, doesn't mean that you can't become a New Yorker. It's easy to become a New York state of mind. But I'm proud of my birth.
Robert Lipsyte 20:44
What does that mean to be a quintessential New Yorker?
Ed Koch 20:47
Well, you walk faster, you talk faster, and you think faster.
Robert Lipsyte 20:51
Now, as the quintessential New Yorker, do you think you change the spirit of the city in the 12 years
Ed Koch 20:56
Robert Lipsyte 20:57
Ed Koch 20:58
Well I make people proud of themselves. Once again. When I came in as a result of what my predecessors had done to the city, bringing it to the edge of bankruptcy, there was this picture of cartoon of a beam on the cover of Time Magazine as a beggar going to Washington cup in hand that made everybody feel terrible, not just for a beam, but for for, for us, the imperial city of this of New York, capital of the world the beggar a supplicant, I changed that. And I believe that if you check with members of Congress, I changed the image of New York in Congress. They didn't like New York City. They ultimately helped us because I had been their colleague, and they wanted me to succeed Tip O'Neill, the the then, majority leader and ultimately speaker said that the Congress provided the federal guarantees which made it possible for us to survive because my colleagues, his colleagues, as well wanted me to succeed
Robert Lipsyte 22:04
in expressing yourself as a New Yorker and raising the spirit of the city. Did you ever go too far?
Ed Koch 22:09
Undoubtedly. I don't remember when but undoubtedly,
Robert Lipsyte 22:12
you think you might have gone
Ed Koch 22:15
this when you consider that for 12 years, not a day pass, but that I was asked my opinion on some matter, and that my opinion appeared in the media, written Radio Television every day, 365 days a year. 12 years. It's amazing how few times I screwed up and put both feet in my mouth.
Robert Lipsyte 22:37
Yeah. Because there was kind of the the the Freudian interpretation that because you had no, no dog to kick or wife to say, hey, Ed, you went a little you know, too far today, that you just kind of kept expressing yourself. And in so doing, you were the mayor, but you allow a kind of meanness
Ed Koch 22:58
on these nickel psychiatry's are worth a nickel.
Robert Lipsyte 23:02
You don't think the city got meaner?
Ed Koch 23:05
No. You have to contrast our city with Chicago, with Atlanta with Boston. With la those are cities where people are at one another's throats. That is not true in the city of New York. Last year, we had over 500,000 felonies those are major crimes primarily of violence. About 500 of them were crimes involving some bias component. It's a very small number. Now, we're the only city in America that breaks down the crimes that way. If you went to Chicago be percentage wise much more, but no other city does that break down. We exhibit ourselves before the whole world
Robert Lipsyte 23:49
Bensonhurst was an aberration rather than an expression
Ed Koch 23:53
Absolutely. I mean, the fact is Bensonhurst was terrible. Howard Beach was terrible. The communities are not terrible. We have people who engage in violence on a racial basis, or some other bigoted basis. white on white, black on black, white on black, black on white. And those crimes deserve special condemnation and special punishment. The state legislature refuses to do it.
Robert Lipsyte 24:20
You delivered David Dinkins, a kinder gentler city than the one you got from a beame.
Ed Koch 24:27
I believe that you can't put it that way. I delivered to David Dinkins, a city whose budget was in balance when I turned it over to him whose economy is the best in 20 years more job bite the deficit. There was no deficit when I turned it over to him the debt and he has said that personally, it's not his fault either. The deficit occurs because the income of the city has declined the projection since I left not cracks between you and their dates. When the When the dollar has come in, in terms of sales tax and corporate tax and personal income tax, and on the dollars that were coming in when I was there that has nothing to do with David Dinkins coming in the revenue flows were adequate to support the expenditures. And I actually cut expenditures by something like $640 million when the City Council, and for a time the board of estimates said No, leave it to the next mayor. I said, No, no, I'm leaving the next mayor, a balanced budget, and I did.
Robert Lipsyte 25:31
Okay, you did a good job. Are you are you going to be plowing close to the road in the next four years?
Ed Koch 25:38
What's that mean?
Robert Lipsyte 25:38
That means that somewhere in the back of your mind that Ed Koch could come back?
Ed Koch 25:44
Oh, no, I will never run for public office again. Never in your life. In my life. I'm having a wonderful time I write a column once a week, I have an hour television show. I'm with a wonderful law firm, Robinson Silverman. I speak throughout the country, under the auspices of Harry Walker agency, these are all plugs. I am a professor at NYU with six lectures, and more, I do a commercial for slimfast. I mean, my life in today is as busy as it was when I was mayor. The reason that people in high public office go through this period of depression, which many do is that when they go into the private sector, they find that they can do in three hours what other people take eight hours to do if they're at high levels in government. With me, I have a full 12 to 14 hour a day schedule, and I'm making a lot more money doing it. There's nothing wrong with that. And there's nothing here 25 years of my life to public service. I mean, that's blood on my part. And I don't regret a single day. They were painful days, but I don't regret a single day. I think I made the city better for individuals and for the city at large.
Robert Lipsyte 26:56
You have some service to the state. You feel that you left the world better off. Yeah. Do you miss anything?
Ed Koch 27:04
The truth is, I do not and my, uh, you know, I've said this so many times people gonna say Oh, he protests too much. Not at all. It's a closed chapter in my life. I have given close to 25 years of my life. City Council District leader before that. Congressman, Mayor, 25 years of my life takes a lot out of you. People say I'll even look younger today. And I think I feel younger. I think you shorten your life when you do what I have done and I that's why I'm so supportive of David Dinkins, I know what he's going through now, and I want to help him to succeed because when he succeeds, the city succeeds.
Robert Lipsyte 27:44
How are you going to help?
Ed Koch 27:47
Well, I, I was on a show the other day, joe klein was on and he gives David Dinkins a C. Because the joe klein doesn't knows nothing about government. In my humble judgment. I gave Dickins an a will tell you the difference. joe klein has this vision. Where is David Dinkins vision. That's really what he was saying. David Dinkins has been in office for a month. I said on every single issue, decisiveness standing up to special advocates and not letting them appoint his health commissioner, throwing out from the lower east side the abandoned buildings as squatters, who are preventing those buildings from turned being turned into buildings for other people who were homeless. On every balancing the budget tough decision and you get money.
Robert Lipsyte 28:37
You shouldn't have had, you should have had members of the media like yourself covering you
Ed Koch 28:42
well, because I don't have a political agenda. I am a columnist in search of the truth, not a columnist in search of getting my agenda adopted.
Robert Lipsyte 28:53
Thanks very much, Ed Koch. We'll be back tomorrow night for the final program in our series.
Interview concludes, Host Lipsyte announces Koch to be back for the final episode in the series. He announces the show and introduces himself. Show ends.
Credits over pan out over studio with Lipsyte sitting with Koch.
Funding for the program by announcer. Grants by charitable organizations overlay the Eleventh Hour graphic.
Description: The Eleventh Hour - show #311 Title: Ed Koch - The Personality (Part II) Description: The Eleventh Hour continued interview with former New York Mayor, Ed Koch Guests: Ed Koch, Jules Feiffer (off-site) Original Broadcast Date: 2-6-90
Enter a name for the new bin:
Select the bin you'd like to add the clip to:
Share this by emailing a copy of it to someone else. (They won’t need an account on the site to view it.)
Note! If you are looking to share this with an Historic Films researcher, click here instead.
Enter the security code you see below:
Oops! Please note the following issues: