Tag Archives: Edward I. Koch

“Faith Healing”; “Indian Culture”; review of “Mayor” by Edward I. Koch (three journalism school papers by Roger W. Smith)

 

 

Faith Healing

 

Indian Culture

 

review of ‘Mayor’

 

 

I wrote these three papers in 1986-1987 for courses in the Graduate School of Journalism at New York University. The topics, which I chose, were “Faith Healing” and “Indian Culture,” for an introductory reporting course; and a review of Mayor Edward I. Koch’s book Mayor, for a course in city reporting. It should be noted that the second paper was on American Indian culture; the term Native American did not seem to be widely used then.

In any profession or avocation where skill is required, no instruction or practice is ever wasted. This was true of these assignments. And, they were interesting ones.

 

 

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A few additional comments.

I had some vague acquaintance with spiritual or faith healing as something that had become popular, but no prior experience of it as a participant or observer. My friend Bill Dalzell, who was interested in charismatic religion, had told me about father Ralph DiOrio, the healing priest, whose home base was in Massachusetts. My friend Bill believed in the psychic or mystical as they apply to the real world and to the body. I believe that he attended one of Father DiOrio’s healing masses.

The healing mass that I attended was on a Friday evening in Bayonne, New Jersey. I called ahead to ask if I could attend the service in a reportorial capacity. I was told that I was welcome to. But, on that evening, at the mass, the priest seemed almost angry that I was there; he was not willing to be interviewed.

The parishioner whom I interviewed for my story, Sal, was a truly nice guy. He was very willing to talk, eager to tell his story. He was with his wife, who let Sal do the talking.

Sal said we should talk in a pew in the back, which we did, he speaking very softly, quietly, presumably because he didn’t want to disturb the service.

In my Monday morning therapy session, I told my therapist, Dr. Colp, all about the healing mass. Dr. Colp, the man of reason and science–he was a non-practicing Jew — was very interested. He did not scoff at what Sal (as I told him) had to say. He said there was reason to believe that what Sal had to say about healing masses having resulted in the remission of his cancer might be valid. This was consistent with Dr. Colp’s envisioning a day when “more is learned about the mind-body interaction,” as he put it in his book To Be an Invalid: The Illness of Charles Darwin.

 

 

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The only interview I conducted in person for my story about American Indian culture was with Yvonne Beemer, a Cherokee Indian about my age who lived in New York City. The rest of my interviewing was done by phone.

I never had met a Native American person before.

I did meet one other Native American person by chance once, shortly thereafter, at a wake. He was a Mohawk who worked in high steel with one of my wife’s relatives, who was a rigger. His first name was Joe, and his coworkers–this was in the 1950s when such things would not have been thought (which they now would be) derogatory or insulting–called him Indian Joe.

My wife made a point of introducing us. Joe (whose last name I was not told) was very receptive to conversation. I was getting into it and was eager to talk with him, but an officious busybody relative of the deceased who was at the wake interrupted us about something stupid and ruined the conversation. (I had read Joseph Mitchell’s New Yorker article “The Mohawks in High Steel” and all or part of Edmund Wilson’s Apologies to the Iroquois.)

I also read (mostly skimmed), with great interest (with regard to the parts of the book I read), a book which I purchased at the Museum of Natural History: Lewis Henry Morgan’s magnificent and groundbreaking study League of the Iroquois. I believe that all this reading came after I wrote the journalism school paper.

The major influence on me, what stimulated my interest in American Indian culture (especially Iroquois culture), was the works of Francis Parkman, which I read in their entirety in the mid-1980s before attending journalism school–particularly Parkman’s The Jesuits in North America, which was a fully engrossing and stark narrative: what the Jesuits experienced, suffered, and went through in Canada. The nobility and ultimately tragic futility of their endeavor seems to be mostly unappreciated and largely forgotten.

 

 

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I enjoyed Mayor Koch’s book. And I liked the mayor. For his feisty personality and as a quintessential New Yorker, though I didn’t necessarily or always agree with his politics.

Some fifteen or twenty years ago, I was walking at midday during lunch hour on a gravel path in Bryant Park, right behind the New York Public Library. Oddly at that hour, there was no one else on the pathway; the park was quiet.

A man was walking in the opposite direction, towards me. Our paths crossed. It was Mayor Koch. He was retired then.

We made eye contact, with Mayor Koch looking at me, for a moment, inquisitively or intently. I felt certain that he knew that I knew who he was.

We were not that close distance-wise (something — as a factor in human interaction — that the anthropologist Edwin T. Hall brilliantly studied in his book The Hidden Dimension), but we were close enough, as I have said, to make eye contact, and Koch gave me a friendly and inquisitive look as if he found or conceived of me to be an interesting person. I should have said, “hello, Mr. Mayor.”

 

 

— Roger W Smith

   February 2020

 

 

 

Scan (2)

frontispiece, Francis Parkman, “The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century”; France and England in North America, Volume Two (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1910)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Trump Takes Manhattan”

Trump Tower, post election.jpg

 

re:

“How Fifth Avenue Is Coping,” by Matthew Schneier, The New York Times, November 23, 2016

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/fashion/fifth-avenue-holiday-shopping-donald-trump-tower-protesters.html

 

 

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The above referenced New York Times article is about the massive traffic headaches that have already been created – and which are looming – mainly on Fifth Avenue and on streets and other avenues in Manhattan in the vicinity of Trump Tower. Trump Tower, the main residence, for the time being, of President-elect Donald Trump, is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets.

A couple of points that I would like to make before discussing the contents of this particular article, which thoroughly describes the problem.

— New York City, it goes without saying, has always attracted people with star power: celebrities and magnates. Yet I have always thought and felt that it’s the sort of place which nobody can dominate. It is such a huge and such a great city that it cuts everyone down to size. I know that when I first moved to New York, as a young adult, I was awed by it. It seems to have that effect on everyone. It’s a welcoming place in many respects in that the atmosphere is so tolerant, of different races, lifestyles, ethnicities, persons high and low, and so forth. It’s welcoming, it’s also overwhelming. It seems to have that effect on everyone. It attracts; it excites; and, it intimidates. It has a way of cutting people with big egos down to size.

— New York is one of the world’s greatest cities for walking. Fifth Avenue is among the best places to walk. Stretches of Fifth Avenue include some of the most expensive residences in the world and luxury stores. Yet, the avenue is accessible to all. The sidewalks are wide, the pedestrian traffic is not limited by any means to one social class, and it’s a just plain fun avenue to stroll on. It is aesthetically pleasing, rarely gets overcrowded (to the point where passage is difficult; an exception might be right in front of Rockefeller Center, where there is a giant tree on display during Christmastime; crowds are found there at this particular time of the year at certain times on certain days). The glamor, elegance, and upbeat quality of the avenue and its denizens from around the 30’s to around 100th Street seem to rub off on everyone; the pedestrians always seem to be cheerful and unstressed. You rarely seem to see something depressing.

It looks like this is changing. It makes me very unhappy. Actually, angry.

 

 

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What the Times article says:

— The “festive spirit” normally observed on Fifth Avenue during the holiday shopping season has been “dampened a bit by the long guns of stationed police officers and the regular presence of bomb-sniffing dogs.”

— Famous stores on the avenue have been blocked by police barricades.

— Anti-Trump protests have shut down traffic. (Perhaps the protests are abating now.)

— Gawkers loitering on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower have presented a problem, both for pedestrians and security.

— Pedestrian access to the east side of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, where Trump Tower is located, has been restricted.

— When Trump moves to the White House, the situation is not likely to ease. It is expected that he will still be spending considerable time at his Trump Tower residence. And, Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, and the couple’s son, Barron, are to stay in New York in the near term.

 

 

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Last week, I had an appointment at the Apple Store at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street to have my iPhone battery checked. It was raining hard. I was doing a shopping errand for my wife at a department store at Fifth Avenue and 39th Street.

I love to walk in Manhattan, and having to go from one place to another gives me a reason and incentive to walk. So, I headed north on Fifth Avenue, my preferred route and the most direct one. An alternate route would not make sense, and I much prefer Fifth Avenue to Madison or Park.

But, I had to make a detour at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. There were barriers on both sides of the avenue (east and west) which served the purpose of a sort of funnel. Pedestrians were lined up on either side of the avenue, awaiting an ID check that would enable them to pass. A depressing sight. I have never seen this before in New York.

I was thinking what are they lining up for? It’s not worth it. Probably they wanted to be able to walk past Trump Tower and get a glimpse of it. Big thrill!

 

 

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I was reminded of an experience I had somewhere between fifteen and twenty years ago. I was walking during midday in Bryant Park, which is right behind the New York Public Library. The park runs between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets.

I was on a gravel pathway right behind the library which abuts the park. There were few people around, and my path crossed that of ex-mayor Ed Koch, who was strolling the other way on the same pathway. Neither of us was in a hurry.

We made eye contact.

I did not speak to Mr. Koch. I probably should have said, “Good day, Mr. Mayor.” But I kept going without speaking.

I had the distinct feeling that he knew that I knew who he was – in short, recognized him.

He peered at me. I had the feeling, intuition that he was thinking to himself, looks like an interesting face, an intelligent person (me).

We exchanged congenial glances.

I was reminded about something I read about Walt Whitman when Whitman was working and living in Washington, DC during the Civil War. Whitman often spotted President Lincoln riding by on horseback for business or pleasure. “I see the President almost every day. We have got so that we exchange bows, and very cordial ones,” Whitman wrote in 1863.

Mayor Koch, when I encountered him on my stroll, similar to the experience Whitman had when he saw President Lincoln riding by, seemed to be an ordinary citizen, no different than any other New Yorker. That’s the way it should be. Donald Trump is not larger than life. He should not be allowed to shut down Manhattan.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     December 2016

 

 

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Addendum: See also

 

 

“With Trump Using Tower as Base, Fifth Avenue Grinds to a Halt,” The New York Times, November 16, 2016

 

 

“Donald Trump Loves New York. But It Doesn’t Love Him Back,” The New York Times, December 9, 2016

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/nyregion/donald-trump-new-york-protests.html

 

 

“Businesses Near Trump Tower Say Security Is Stealing Their Christmas,” The New York Times, December 23, 2016

 

“One-Man Traffic Jam Will Hit City When Trump Visits,” The New York Times, January 27, 2017