Fat Eddie Koch

October 15th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

kochI have known Ed Koch casually and intermittently for a shockingly long time. He remains, at 87, a grand icon for us former New Yorkers. He’s still at it and got my attention recently because he and his sister wrote a diet book for little kids.

Eh? Diet book for 4 to 8 year olds?

You betcha and he both remembers what it was like to be in kindergarten and elementary school, as well as be a fat kid.

I attach a bit grainy pic I took of him in (ta da) 1979. He’s been bald for a long time and trim enough for many decades. He’s even thinner now, as commonly happens by the time people close in on 90.

The pic is a scan of a print article I did on then Mayor Koch’s program to professionalize the management of the City. He brought in private execs (forced volunteerism) to analyze and optimize programs. It worked well, saving lots of money and delivering services better as a result.

He came to mind today when I noticed that he was a guest on a BlogTalkRadio show on Fitsmi for Moms. I’ll embed the player for the show below. It’s only a half hour and is great stuff, but his phone connection is not the best and you may have to crank your speakers a bit. Highlights from the show are in text here. Click the player below to hear the show.

BTR disclaimer: The podcast I co-host is on BTR. I’m prejudiced for the service.

The book, Eddie Shapes Up, is with Pat Koch Thaler and has a forward from a certain Bill Clinton. In it, he’s non-guilt-spewing and delightfully frank as always. He talks about how his family, friends and others worked with him to change his eating and exercise habits to make him a new boy. No more chubby or stout clothes. No more girls refusing to dance with him. No more being the kid no one picked for a team.

In the interview, you can hear why I’m so fond of him. He starts by correcting the host, Linda Frankenbach. “I was fat,” he said plainly as she struggled for euphemisms. People called him “Fat Eddie.”

He speaks and writes with compassion and experience, shared with his sister then and now. He is about how tough and how possible it is for kids and their families to do the right things.

For another anecdote from way back, the first time I met the, fairly slim, Ed Koch was in the rain early one morning. I think it was 1972 or 1973. I lived in the West Village, as did he. About to get out of the rain and into the IRT at 14th Street, I got accosted by this guy standing under an apartment marquee. He said, “Good morning. I’m your congressman, Ed Koch.” Headed to work, I was still amused and stopped. No state rep had ever sought me out for anything.

He asked if there was anything about state government that bothered me and I wanted changed. Oddly enough, I don’t remember what they were, but of course, I had several answers. Then the miracle happened. As I spoke, he pulled out a little pad and a pen. He wrote down what I said and repeated it for clarification. My congressman not only asked what I thought, but he gave a damn. He cared enough to record it. You can be sure he subsequently had my vote for the House and each time he ran for mayor.

Ed Koch has long been one of the good guys.


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