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CINEMA: The Tao Of Ed

 

NEW YORK TIMES: It is hardly an uncritical account of Mr. Koch’s dozen years as mayor, but time has a way of turning the furious political battles of the past into amusing war stories, and of softening old enmities. Politicians, civic leaders and journalists who were thorns in Mr. Koch’s side offer measured, even affectionate assessments of his administration, though some hard feelings persist, especially on matters of race. In the film Mr. Koch himself, who died at 88 on Friday, seems to have mellowed very little. New York may be a safer, cleaner and less argumentative place than it was in the 1980s, but the Ed Koch of 2010 appears as contentious, as mischievous and at times as inflammatory as ever. We see him campaigning for Andrew Cuomo, whose father, Mario, was Mr. Koch’s rival in a bitter Democratic primary in 1977 and in the gubernatorial race five years later. We also hear him call the younger Cuomo “a schmuck” on election night and speak disparagingly of another Democrat, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. In extensive interviews — conducted at his modest Manhattan apartment, in the back of chauffeured cars and even beside his own tombstone — Mr. Koch is happy to rehearse old grudges. MORE

RELATED: Mr. Koch’s 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch caught in a maelstrom day after day. But out among the people or facing a news media circus in the Blue Room at City Hall, he was a feisty, slippery egoist who could not be pinned down by questioners and who could outtalk anybody in the authentic voice of New York: as opinionated as a Flatbush cabby, as loud as the scrums on 42nd Street, as pugnacious as a West Side reform Democrat mother. “I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers,” the mayor — eyebrows devilishly up, grinning wickedly at his own wit — enlightened the reporters at his $475 rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village on Inauguration Day in 1978. “Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.” MORE

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