Two Things I Learned From Koch

I can’t wait to see the movie “Koch” not just because he was a colorful Mayor. But, let’s just say, I knew the man. He was my boss, so to speak. Some time ago…actually a long time ago in the late seventies, I was Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City when Koch was elected Mayor. Normally, a change in administration is always daunting, but this one rocked my boat. No sooner was Koch declared Mayor, he announced that he would have five inauguration celebrations…one in each of the five boroughs…all in cultural venues. This I thought was a stroke of genius… celebrate with the people who elected him. So the first thing I learned from Ed Koch was to embrace the public.

The site chosen for the Bronx affair was its Borough Hall, which was also, at the time, the location of the Bronx Museum.  Unfortunately, what threw me into a tizzy was that the Bronx Museum was in transition…there was no director and the walls were bare. Oy veh! (Woe is me!) or (Uh Oh!). The second thing I learned from Koch was that you don’t say no to a Mayor, especially if you want to keep your job. So of course I scurried to find an exhibition of works we could loan, frame and install in time for the big affair. We were lucky to find a cache of photographs of architecturally significant buildings along the Grand Concourse. Perfect! The inauguration party was a huge success. Koch was a happy man. There were Mazel Tov’s (Good luck!) all around for the new Mayor. This got me thinking that perhaps this is why the film “Koch”  is part of the Westchester Jewish Film Festival at the Burns.

“Koch” is playing at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, April 13th, 16th and 18th. For tickets, visit

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