A Fascinating Look at the Life of Ed Koch

Ed Koch, left, with President Jimmy Carter in 1978<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Koch_Abzug_Carter_photo_op.jpg">Karl H. Schumacher</a>/The White House (via Wikimedia Commons)

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Koch
Zeitgeist Films
95 minutes

This fiercely honest tribute to Ed Koch, the hard-nosed and exuberant figure who ruled New York City from 1978 to 1989, briskly strings together interviews with the late former mayor, grainy archival footage, harshly critical testimony from Koch’s contemporaries, and a rollicking classic-rock soundtrack. The result is a documentary that intrigues and intoxicates like a David Mamet stage play.

The finest moments in the film, which premieres Friday in New York City, focus on Koch’s rise to power in the late ’70s, when the Big Apple was a powder-keg metropolis engulfed in financial disarray and a crime wave. Koch—a closeted homosexual and iconoclastic liberal—is depicted as the consummate political shark, siphoning off key constituencies during a gang-fight-like mayoral election in 1977. Neil Barsky, a former hedge fund manager and economic reporter for the Wall Street Journal, directs with a gritty cinematic zeal.

Ed Koch spent his final days as he always was: charmingly megalomaniacal. “This belongs to me…Thank you, God,” Koch, 88, says as he reminisces about his tenure as chief of the Empire City—where he pissed off scores of feminists, Jews, African Americans, and hardened lefties alike. Overall, Koch is a riveting portrait of a towering and polarizing man.

It’s also great fun, so watch it with plenty of buttered popcorn. Trailer here:

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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