Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and the host of a nationally syndicated weekend show on the Talk Radio Network. Show More

It might have been my first week as a New York reporter.

The Sunday shift on a steamy afternoon in late July, Ed Koch hitting seven crowded swimming pools in Brooklyn and Queens. He wore a tie and shirt sleeves and kept getting splashed. In those days, we followed the mayor everywhere, as he could easily say anything about anything at any given time.

"The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth."

Or "If you seek violence, we will seek to put you in jail."

Or "I was born at the age of 12 on a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot."

Or "If you agree with me on 12 of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist."

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I'd never met anyone who had more opinions, insights or attitudes, unless you counted my relatives back home. But with Koch, at a pool club or a political club, every single word dripped New York. The mayor of New York was unavoidable for comment.

"The people have spoken," he said when he was finally turned out of City Hall. "And they must be punished."

But that came years later.

On that first steamy Sunday, my head was whirling. My notebook was full. I was trying to settle on a lead. And the talkative mayor had plenty left to say.

"You get everything you need?" he asked as he climbed into his car for the ride back to Manhattan and I trudged to the subway. "What did I forget? Let me know if you need me on anything."

I'm sure if I'd have asked, he'd have had a view on the best train back to midtown and where to get dinner later that night.


1. Dating Bess Myerson.

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2. Hugging Donald Manes.

3. Calling suburbia "sterile. It's nothing. It's wasting your life" -- then running for governor.

4. Hating and reading Sydney Schanberg, Jimmy Breslin, Dan Collins, Wayne Barrett, Ken Auletta and Murray Kempton.

5. Dissing the Super Bowl "New York" Giants: "If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie."

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Feeling nostalgic for Sandy? Thirty thousand juiceless LIPA customers weren't after Thursday's stiff winds . . . What exactly is New Hyde Park cuisine? Surely, Top Chef alum (and NHP hot-stove phenom) Danny Gagnon can explain . . . Can't some private donor cover the cost of opening West Islip's Casamento Park Pool this summer? Officials say SuperExpense Sandy has drained the town rec budget . . . Did Supervisor Pat Vecchio really think his folks would start loving Smithtown's sneaky traffic cams just because they're known officially as "the Red Light Safety Program" . . . Why did Roslyn need 20 years to repair the Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower? Are all four faces finally giving the same time? . . . A year after killing that Broadwater LNG plant in the Sound, are LI environmentalists secretly grinning now? Reports say liquefied natural-gas prices have dipped so low, a similar terminal is sitting idle off the Massachusetts shore . . . Nice start by the LI Drowning Task Force, but wouldn't this be better: Mandatory swimming lessons for every LI elementary-school kid? . . . Weitzman's running, Suozzi's being urged -- is yesterday tomorrow for Nassau government? . . . Who knew Sandy was such a prude? Storm damage has closed the lighthouse nude beach at the Fire Island National Seashore at least until Memorial Day.

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THE NEWS IN SONG: Start spreading the blues: "A Sundae in New York" by Jimmy Picker, tinyurl.com/edsnyc.


As members of the New Jerusalem Church were buying audio equipment to replace $3,000 in stolen gear, who should show up at the same Sam Ash Music store trying to sell the missing gear? Now Duane Smith, Triston Thomas and Richard Norris are accused of church burglary. And the Rev. Ada Jones has plenty to preach about on Sunday.

Email ellis@henican.com

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