I’ve always said that I’d rather attend a funeral than a wedding. At a funeral, you can be reasonably sure that the protagonist’s troubles are over. At a wedding, however…
An acquaintance of mine, it turns out, had a small part in the recent obsequies for that awful old yenta, Ed Koch. So of course I watched the video. Everybody showed up, but not everybody spoke.
For example, neither Governor Cuomo spoke: neither the current governor, the crazed hyped-up beady-eyed Andrew, nor his dad, the sad-faced old beagle Mario(*).
Ex-mayors Giuliani and Dinkins were there. Neither spoke.
Mayor For Life Bloomberg did speak, but confined himself to feeble one-liners — he is not a gifted comic — and sentimental banalities.
Bill Clinton showed up — the only guy in the world who lusts more after a microphone than Chuck Schumer — and even he stumbled and stammered his way through an obviously phoned-in impromptu speech.
One came away with the sense that all these people probably hated the honoree as much as I did — though for different reasons, of course. But they had to do the decent thing and send him off as became a minor though conspicuous player in the Great Takeaway, the annulment of the postwar Golden Age; a cause in which all the lamentable creatures above-named have their done their own squalid parts.
So he was bundled offstage with the usual bodyguard of flimsy fabrications and mendacious cliches. Not to mention an honor guard of uniformed thugs who really have no sense of occasion at all, and haven’t even been taught how to march in step.
John LoCicero’s bit — starting at about 46:20 in the Youtube video above —
is the most fun. It’s very New York: fresh and candid and you-gotta-problem-wid-dat?
Gave me my title.
I seldom think of Byron — not really my favorite writer — but this dismal liturgy brought him to mind. It really calls for his breezy contempt:
He died – his death made no great stir on earth;
His burial made some pomp; there was profusion
Of Velvet, gilding, brass, and no great dearth
Of aught but tears – save those shed by collusion –
For these things may be bought at their true worth;
Of Elegy there was the due infusion,
Bought also; and the torches, cloaks and banners,
Heralds, and relics of old Gothic manners,
Formed a sepulchral melodrame; of all
The fools who flocked to swell or see the show,
Who cared about the corpse? The funeral
Made the attraction, and the black the woe;
There throbbed not there a thought which pierced the pall,
And when the gorgeous Coffin was laid low
It seemed the mockery of hell to fold
The rottenness of eighty years in gold.
(*) I met them both, years ago, when Mario was running for governor.
Mario was disarming and charming; Andrew, even then, was an obvious
psychopath, a brooding, Lurch-like figure hovering wordlessly in the
room, humming with balked ambition and Oedipal rage. Mario was charming the
pants off the twenty-something young woman taking pictures of our interview
— not literally, of course; but if he had wanted to make it literal,
he could have, I think. And Andrew was watching all this and obviously
asking himself, How does he do that?