Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a true blue New Yorker who loved his city with a passion - was born here and never left to live anywhere else, had always said he wanted to go out to the song "New York, New York." And on Monday this week the three term mayor of New York City, who passed early last Friday morning at age 88, had that wish fulfilled at his funeral service at the large and packed Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue at 65th Street where, at the end of the long touching series of tribute (including former president Bill Clinton), as his coffin was slowly carried out of of the Upper East Side temple the organist played "New York, New York." And by the time the coffin - held high by six NYPD officers - was exiting the building the organist had segued into "The Lullaby of Broadway" from the musical 42nd Street. Note that Koch himself, in his ever active post-mayoral decades, did a brief acting role on Broadway when he played Daddy Warbucks in Annie the Musical. Many outside New York might recall him as judge/host of The Peoples' Court TV show in the late nineties. No stranger to the big and small screen Koch appeared in over five dozen Hollywood films and television shows including Sex and the City, Spin City, Saturday Night Live, and The Muppets Take Manhattan - playing himself in each production.
Outside the temple on Monday as the dark hearse carrying Koch's coffin crawled up Fifth Avenue, before cutting across Central Park on 72nd Street and up Amsterdam Ave. on the West Side all the way to Upper Manhattan, the Scottish bagpipes played "Going Home." The final resting place for Koch was a graveyard in Washington Heights and considering how Koch epitomized New York City it was fitting that the Bronx born Koch, who never left New York City, would have his funeral service in a Jewish temple on the East Side, then be buried up in a non-denominational cemetery in the predominantly Dominican Upper Manhattan district.
Due to the logistics of size New York City ran out of burial space sometime ago. The space that Koch was buried in this week was said to be the "last" burial space in Manhattan. Koch had picked the spot himself some time ago. When he was asked why he chose to be buried in Manhattan, he replied with a chuckle, "The thought of having to go to New Jersey is too stressing." Current Mayor Michael Bloomberg made reference to this at Koch's service Monday.
As anyone who has seen the historic NYC graffiti film Style Wars knows well, Ed Koch - the former mayor of NYC was not liked by the graffiti generation of New York City in the 1980's and 90's. However not all graffiti artists disliked Koch. As reported this past week by ANIMAL, Bronx-based graffiti writer CES who made his debut about a generation after the cast of Style Wars did their thing, saw him as inspiration of sorts and last Friday as news if his passing hit news headlines CES drew the black book memorial (see up above) in homage to the politician. “Ed Koch was a true iconic New York mayor. Although he was against graffiti, he gave the movement light and motivated many artists in the culture to push harder,” CES told the online magazine. Coincidentally the new Neil Barsky documentary Koch about the mayor opened in two Manhattan theaters the same day as his passing and as a result was a sellout over the weekend as New Yorkers flocked to see it as way to pay tribute to the man.
Above is a photo I took last Friday afternoon in Grand Central Terminal during the iconic New York City landmark's 100th birthday celebration that ran all day long with tons of events going on including free giveaways, special tours of the architectural masterpiece being offered, non-stop entertainment such as swing bands playing in the majestic grand concourse (seeing passing commuters stop to dance reminded me of that scene from the Fisher King), and vendors offering goods at 1913 prices for the day (Financier Patisserie who baked the impressive looking Grand Central Terminal clock themed cake (pictured right) were offering cups of coffee for a nickle while Leather Spa was offering shoe shines for a dime). And while Friday was the big celebration / official 100 year anniversary date the 100 year celebrations will continue at Grand Central Terminal in the coming months - on which I will report further.
Upcoming events and concerts in the week or so ahead in New York City include a great hip-hop double bill this Friday (Feb 8th @ 8pm) at Stage 48 with two of the genres greatest emcees gracing the stage: Rakim and Raekwon host a killer bill this Friday at the Hells Kitchen area venue. More info. On Saturday (Feb 8th @ 9pm) at the Bowery Ballroom longtime UK alt rock outfit The Wedding Present (who enjoyed eighteen UK Top 40 hits including "George Best") will play "George Best" plus other songs - and that is exactly how the show (only $15 for tix) is being billed. More show info.
Graffiti/aerosol/street art fans should head out on Friday, Feb 8th in Brooklyn, to THE 4MULA (TD4/NYC) at Lowbrow Artique which is a new art collection from the crew featuring Meres, BIsco, Jats, Just One, Leias, Zeso, and Zimad plus sounds provided by the legendary DJ/producer Marley Marl. Showtime is 6pm to 10pm and entry is via RSVP to ensure entrance to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lowbrow Artique is located at 143 Central Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211 and if you miss the opening the art will be on display through March 1st. Today's Future Sound from the Bay Area are headed to NYC this week and through Feb 23rd to teach beatmaking/music production workshops and do a beat battle during their stay out here. More info here and also in this column next week. And finally I leave you with that song, made famous by Frank Sinatra, that was played at Ed Koch's funeral service this week - "New York, New York."
Frank Sinatra - "Theme from New York New York" (Concert Collection)