Tag Archives: Letters to Santa

In Memoriam: Ed Koch; Cool Old Guy First, NYC Mayor Second

Mayors, and politicians in general, usually possess the stereotype of being buttoned up, polished, careful with their words and actions. They’re not usually schlubby Jews with thick Noo Yawk accents and the kind of appearance that more resembles the Uncle at your Bar Matzvah who drinks too much Kiddush wine, commandeers the microphone and tells hackneyed jokes than the leader of the most influential city in the world. But former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who died early this morning, defied those stereotypes, and many others. Indeed, had you presented a four-year-old me with a photo of our Uncle Morty side-by-side with one of Koch we would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference, and that, perhaps, speaks to his appeal and to his legacy.

There are two real cornerstones that shaped our youth and who we are today: The Mets and the Muppets. And Koch had a history with both of them. Before we every really knew Ed Koch as the outspoken Mayor of New York City, we knew him as a Mets fan, an old guy in a Mets hat who seemed to be of some import but we weren’t really certain what. Our first memory of the late Mayor is probably his brief appearance in the 1986 Mets music video “Let’s Go Mets Go,” popping up next to NYC luminaries such as Robert Klein, Howard Stern, Twisted Sister and Gene Shalit, seeming more like a crazy, die-hard fan than a political heavyweight. But Koch proved you could be both simultaneously, and few reveled in the Mets World Series victory more than Koch. You can accuse some politicians of feigning allegiance to their local teams, especially in times of triumph, but you can’t say that about Koch and the ’86 Mets.

Our other early memory of Koch – and something of a rite of passage for NYC Mayors – was his work with the Muppets, offering a cameo in The Muppets Take Manhattan. Certainly, a Muppet film taking place in the country’s largest city would require an appearance from its leader. But that much, a rote cameo, was somewhat perfunctory. What was special about this particular cameo was that Koch felt right with the Muppets, that his off-kilter brand of governing was somehow complimentary to the bizarre, left-of-center sensibility of the Muppets. They were, in a way, a natural match, with Koch even appearing in “The Great Muppet Look-Alike Contest,” a feature in a 1983 issue of Muppet Magazine, paired up with Gonzo naturally. And he was right at home sparring with Gonzo again in Muppets Take Manhattan. 

Twins.

We’re too young to have really understand Koch’s impact as Mayor of New York City. We think he generally did a good job, but that might be because we like him, because he remained a visible, outspoken presence in NY life. We’re not even familiar with his hosting turn on SNLthe third piece of the triptych that helped define our personality along with Mets and the Muppets. But we know that he was a fan of and a part of two things that we love, that are a part of our very makeup. And he’s also an integral part of another strand of our DNA, New York City. We’ve come to love this city the way that Koch did for so many decades. He was a quintessential New Yorker, a wise-cracking, tough-talking, bald-headed Jew who became Mayor.

Only in New York.

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Filed under Checks & Balances, In Memoriam, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Local Flavor, Matt Christopher Books

(Belated) This Thanksgiving We’re Thankful For Jason Segel

It dawned on us a couple of weeks back when we caught Forgetting Sarah Marshall on TV (and cemented this past weekend when we suffered through The Muppet Christmas Carol on The Hub), that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jason Segel, as he’s almost single-handedly saved the Muppets.

Read on: The dark days of the Muppets and Segel as their Moses

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Filed under Lady Holiday, Mickey Mouse Club, Muppets

Friday Muppet Video! Kermit is Not a Whore!

Is this a tradition?!?

As I’ve previously mentioned, I normally will not tolerate any kind of Muppet mockery (stoned Kermit, for example).  However, this protection over the brand also extends to employ of the actual Muppets themselves.  It’s been almost 20 years since Jim Henson left us prematurely, and then ownership of our puppet friends has changed hands twice, first to a German company and then finally to Disney, so there’s cause for concern that the Muppets might be whored out for commercials not worthy of the Muppet name (and, no, I am not including the Pizza Hut spots.  Those combine two things I love), or forced into new, edgy personas in an attempt to be more relevant; less Sesame Street and more Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.  It was then with great trepidation that I watched a video posted by Gawker TV entitled, “Kermit is a Giant Slut on the Today Show.”

Fortunately, it was not as bad as the title indicated.  The “lewd pop-culture reference” teased by Gawker seemed to me more like just a pop-culture reference, perhaps a biting one, kicking a tiger while he’s down, but not quite lewd.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In fact, I kind of prefer this segment to an earlier one in the show when Ms. Piggy made a rather obvious (and perhaps cruder) Swine Flu quip.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’ll take relevant feline humor over lame porcine jokes any day of the week.

Good work, Muppets!  Way to not debase yourselves to meet the normal Today Show level of discourse.

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Filed under Muppets, Talkies