The Quotable Ed Koch: Wit, Wisdom, and One-Liners

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19:  Ed Koch speaks at the renaming of the Queensboro Bridge in his honor at The Water Club Restaurant on May 19, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)
Photo: JP Yim/2011 Getty Images

Ed "Quintessential New Yorker" Koch had a wonderfully big mouth. The late New York City mayor was entertaining until the end and legitimately funny, always recognizable by his honk of a voice with that old-school Bronx accent. His catchphrase as mayor — "How'm I doin'?" — was only the beginning of his verbal gems.

On Politics
"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers." [via NYT]

"If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist."

"If you don’t like the President, it costs you 90 bucks to fly to Washington to picket. If you don't like the governor, it costs you 60 bucks to fly to Albany to picket. If you don’t like me — 90 cents."

On Anywhere But Here
"Have you ever lived in the suburbs? ... It's sterile. It's nothing. It's wasting your life, and people do not wish to waste their lives once they've seen New York! ... This rural American thing — I'm telling you, it's a joke."

"At age 88, I wake up every morning and say to myself, 'Well, I'm still in New York. Thank you, God.'" [via Vanity Fair]

On Losing (and Maybe Running Again)
"People get tired of you. So they decided to throw me out. And so help me God, as the numbers were coming in, I said to myself, 'I'm free at last.'" [via NYT]

"The People have spoken … and they must be punished." [via Daily Beast]

On Denying the Giants a Super Bowl Parade, 1987
"If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie." [via NYDN]

On His Sexuality
"Listen, there's no question that some New Yorkers think I'm gay, and voted for me nevertheless. The vast majority don't care, and others don't think I am. And I don’t give a shit either way! What do I care? I'm 73 years old. I find it fascinating that people are interested in my sex life at age 73. It's rather complimentary! But as I say in my book, my answer to questions on this subject is simply Fuck off. There have to be some private matters left." [via NYM]

Are you gay? "When was the last time you performed oral sex on your boyfriend?" Well I’m single now so it was a long time ago. "See, I don't think you should answer that question. It's an improper question, and so is yours. My sexual orientation is none of your business and whether or not you performed oral sex on your boyfriend is none of my business." [via Time Out NY]

In the end, Koch's final big quote comes not from him, but the journalist Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan and whose last words will adorn Koch's grave marker: "My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish."