Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
Bronx, New York, United States of America
December 13
Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact for more info.


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FEBRUARY 1, 2013 3:15PM

Remembering Ed Koch

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When I heard the news Friday morning that Ed Koch had died, I knew I would have to write about him.  He was more than just the 105th Mayor of New York City. His personality made him a true celebrity and he elevated his office to national prominence. He offered access to the media more than any of his predecessors or successors did. He also was more than just a politician.  He was a movie critic, writing a newspaper column and then hosting a weekly Web series called Mayor at the Movies. He also served as the judge for a time on the syndicated television show The People's Court.

He was comfortable with the media and had numerous appearances on movies and TV, my favorites being his fictional roles in the film City Hall and the sitcom Spin City. He made dozens and dozens of appearances as himself in everything from Saturday Night Live to The Muppets Take Manhattan. His larger than life personality was on display in everything he did. I remember meeting him briefly during my summer job during my university years and his friendly attitude really made an impression.

He had been in an out of the hospital a few times recently, but I always heard that he was "in good spirits." Last night, when the radio news announced that he was admitted into the intensive care unit, I heard no reports that he was cracking his usual jokes, just that he confessed that he was feeling "very tired," so right away I suspected the worst.  The news that he passed away, then, did not come as a surprise.  After 88 years, he has led an amazing life. He has a bridge named after him and there is a new documentary about him, called Koch, that coincidentally opens today.

Even though he couldn't solve all of New York's problems, he did help turn my city around for the better. His candid expression of what he believed was refreshing (he once said, "If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me; if you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist") and his wish for personal privacy always earned my respect.  He will be missed. May he rest in peace.

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This is the first I heard. To me, he was pure, unadulterated NY. Brash, sharp as hell, fearless, a total control freak, and a man in love with what he did.

I first met him as a Congressman when he came out against the Viet Nam War. When he finally moved from his rent controlled apartment in the West Village, he moved a few blocks from me, and I used to see him all the time. When the cameras were off, he more often scowled than smiled.

I had friends who worked in his administration who warned me he was a total tyrant as a boss. The big question was always whether he was gay and nobody ever knew, and what does it matter. The fact that he loved this town and gave it his life is undeniable.
My parents tell me the campaign against Mario Cuomo was brutal. Cuomo's supporters made awful signs that said "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." Can you blame him, whatever the case may be, for being disgusted with people making sexual orientation an "issue" and just wanting to keep his public life and personal life separate?
Absolutely. I know there's a lot of controversy in the gay community about it, but my thinking is these are entirely personal matters, and by forcing them on those in public service we limit who will enter and get more psychopaths.

Let me add something else: Koch was a horrible movie critic, grossly sentimental, almost berift of any objective criteria. I think he loved the movies as a reflection of himself, nothing more. But that is how most think. I used to write theatre reviews for the same publication, and he used to get pissed when they didn't pay him, which was nickels and dimes. The man was frugal.