LIONEL PODCAST: The Illusion of Reality and Postmortem Encomia

Death has a way of filtering reality and distorting history. Tolstoy said that history would be a wonderful thing if only it were true. That Murray Tolstoy was on to something. With the announcement of Ed Koch’s passing I was most impressed with true and accurate depictions of his legacy and those recollections that were at least grounded in part in reality. And then as the day progressed each recollection and postmortem anecdote seemed to fuel what could only be construed as what I call auto-mourn, i.e. an almost self-directing momentum that some media reporting possesses that takes on a flavor and tenor of its own with the intent of outdoing or “outmourning” a competitor’s elegy and/or panegyric. Ed Koch will certainly and deservedly be in the pantheon of New York mayoral titans. The troika: LaGuardia, Koch and Giuliani. Natch. But he was not without faults and shortcomings. Such may not be the best addressed when in the midst of eulogia. That being said, he was an historical figure and his record has nothing to do with Koch the human spirit who has passed. Had he addressed the AIDS crisis with his patented verve he could have made an important contribution in stopping this scourge. But he had a larger-than-life presence that gave New York a shot in the arm when it was desperately needed and there will simply never be another like him. Period.

The essence of that which you’re trying to do. One of the greatest pieces of unsolicited advice I can give is to figure out that which you’re really trying to accomplish. Stop the eye-rolling, Sparky, and listen. In this TV and radio thing I do, I ask myself constantly, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Viewership, listenership, respect, attention, what? The answer: Yes.

Watch the man on the screen. This will be my legacy. When I lapse into cosmic expurgation (AKA death) let there be an exhibit at MOMA consisting of a 24/7 virtual and continuous playing of these words. And should GITMO be closed permanently and a new form of mind torture is required and sought, chain a detainee to a chair and make him watch this, my words. Forever. Until he begs for death. Or something.

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