An adored, yet controversial and contradictory man known as the quintessential New Yorker recently passed away and was buried in a Manhattan Christian cemetery acknowledging his Jewish heritage after having the Queensboro bridge named after him.
The estimable, if sometimes insensitive three-time Big Apple Mayor Ed Koch highlights Neil Barsky's often profuse documentary Koch. Even during the interviews that were conducted before his physical condition weakened further his enduring vibrancy was still evident.
The former Wall Street Journal journalist locates depth in an evenhanded way even if tilted toward its narcissistic, unapologetic subject whose "How am I doing" helped an unlikely law-and-order campaign lead a liberal congressman and reformer into a union with Democrats that he once impugned. It helped him become mayor over popular opponents in 1977.
During his tenure when his reputation often blossomed especially during Ronald Reagan's first term his economic measures to avoid bankruptcy led to landslide reelections, blacks and gays weren't that sympathetic towards him. Even though, in the case of the latter, he had signed the first antigay discrimination law but wasn't on top of the looming AIDS crisis.
Though he did a lot to help reestablish minority neighborhoods through a project shunned by his predecessors, there was the fatal shooting of Yusef Hawkins in Bensonhurst and the shutdown of a vital but costly hospital in Harlem. As the economy triumphed over adversity, a racially divided city was significantly pervaded by crime until the trend lessened when David Dinkins succeeded him.
Mario Cuomo and son Andrew were thorns in the side of higher aspirations for such a polarizing political reformer who lost the backing of upstate voters while backing Andrew who would go on to become governor. The politics around him finally became scandalous when running for a fourth term, too much on the corruptible side that tarnished a distinctive reputation.
A refined portrait, though, is well-chosen to reflect an era nicely incorporating old clips and a candid aging, longtime single man criticized by man as being a hypocrite and closeted; to the latter he obstinately responds in what manifests an affection for a city and a remarkable, if mixed memorable political life where his calling had to be.