Ed Koch Surprises No One, And Manville Returns!


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March 24, 1966, Vol. XI, No. 23

Koch Battles the Odds, Gets in Council Race

By Jack Newfield

Having vanquished the DeSapio machine in Greenwich Village, Edward Koch this week announced he will make a fight for public office. He seeks the Democratic nomination for the City Council in the 2nd district, now vacant as the result of the election of Republican Theodore Kupferman to Congress.

His entry into the race will surprise no one. He has always frankly stated that he wants to be elected, not appointed, to public office. When he supported Republican John Lindsay in the mayoralty, the political dopesters spread stories that he was trading his support for a high office in the Lindsay Administration. Koch said flatly then — and apparently meant it — that the job he wants is one he would be elected to.

Koch, 41, an effective warrior for urban reform, says his campaign will “reflect the concerns of the people heading up his committee, social critic Michael Harrington and author Jane Jacobs.

For the past five year, Koch has battled endlessly — and with amazing intensity — for the undramatic but vital issues that underlie urban reform. He has fought against police brutality, air pollution, sidewalk narrowing, the bulldozer approach to urban renewal, the invasion of the Village by New York University, and the invasion of downtown by the Lower Manhattan Expressway.

Some of his friends believe he has an almost disastrous tendency — in politics — to say what he thinks and to make himself almost too clear. He is aware of this tendency — and he is even amused at it — but he never curbs it; he just hopes for the best.

His announcement that he was going to abandon Abe Beame and vote for Lindsay in the mayoralty election shook up a number of reformers, especially those in the upper echelon. Most of them probably did the same thing, but in the privacy of the voting booth. The mayoralty polls were split just before election day and Koch genuinely wanted to give Lindsay any boost he could. Lindsay hadn’t the faintest idea he was going to do it until the news came over the radio.

Koch has a grueling fight ahead. The 2nd Councilmanic District has never been represented by a Democrat, although Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one. He also faces the possibility of opposition within the fragmented reform movement for the designation.

The going will be far from easy, but he is one of those few people who doesn’t mind hurdles. He beat DeSapio three times with the odds against him.

Bill Manville, Back at the Old Saloons

By Sally Kempton

When Bill Manville, the famous chronicler of mellow Village evenings, returned last week to Sheridan Square, he came at three o’clock in the afternoon. He came to the Limelight, where I found him standing at the bar surrounded by mothers with strollers and tired professors from the New School. He was sipping a beer and eyeing the other patrons with the air of a war correspondent at a PTA meeting. “Of course I think the Village has changed,” he said in response to my ritual question. “Doesn’t everybody always think the Village has changed?”

Manville, a tall man with the sort of face which old-fashioned novelists used to describe as saturnine, had come downtown to discuss his recently published novel, “The Palace of Money.” “I’m in New York mostly for that reason,” he said, choosing a table as far away as possible from the two children who were playing tag in the center of the room. “I was in Rome for two years and then in Mexico for six months working on another book, and I’m here more or less celebrating publication, or until I can’t stand the city any more.”

A man walked by the window, peered in, did a double take when he saw Manville, waved, and walked on. Manville waved back.

“The Village is very funny,” he said. “I used to say that you could go to the White Horse every night of the week and then if you missed a couple of nights when you walked in again everybody would say ‘Who’ the tourist?’ You get out of touch very quickly here. With me, getting out of touch was finally a matter of choice.”

“Is that why you stopped doing Saloon Society?” I asked.

“Sure,” said Manville. “I figured that that part of my life was over, it was time I went on to something else. That way of living required a state of mind I just didn’t have any more.”

Manville’s novel is about a man who is in the process of losing the Saloon Society state of mind, and Manville admits that it is a chronicle of his own coming of age. “The situation in the novel is fictitious, of course,” he said. “But the emotions are pretty much my own. I think people progress in life looking over their shoulders at past pleasures. They’re more or less dragged kicking and screaming into maturity. But there’s a point where you have to decide that what you have is better than anything that might be around the corner. I think that’s where maturity begins, and that’s the decision the character in my book finally makes.

“This is my last autobiographical novel,” he added. “I don’t think my life has another novel in it.”

Manville’s last novel, “Breaking Up,” concerned the dissolution of a marriage, and was written in 1961, concurrently with his Saloon Society column. He wrote his first novel at the age of 21 (“It was so terrible I didn’t even try to sell it”), then wrote nothing else until 1959, when he began the column.

“I was working for Gray Advertising at the time, and since the work was very easy I had a typewriter and a lot of time. I was spending every evening in Village bars. Well, there was a guy around who had had an enormous map of the Village made up, with all the famous bars circled in red. He would take a lot of pins, each one standing for a person, and people would call him up every night and tell him which bar they were drinking at. He would sit at home and move the pins around from bar to bar. Naturally it got to be a very big thing, and everybody wanted to be on the map. Anyway, I wrote a little thing about that and sent it to the Voice, and that’s how the column started.”

“Who was A.E. Kugelman?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s a funny story,” said Manville. “There was this art director at my agency named Kugelman, and one time he came into my office and said, Why don’t you write about me in your column and make me famous. Well, he had that rather distinctive name, so I gave it to my leading character. The Kugelman character was actually based on the guy who made the map, but every time I heard anyone in the White Horse or the Remo say something funny I would attribute it to Kugelman, so after a while the character got fairly outlandish. It had an extraordinary effect on the real Kugelman. People used to call him up, girls would drag him into corners at parties. His wife stopped speaking to me. He came to me once and told me — I swear — that he was losing his identity. He said he didn’t know whether he should talk to people like the real Arthur Kugelman who lived in Queens and saved his money or like the lunatic in my column. ‘I freeze up, Bill’ he said to me. ‘I just don’t have the lines.'”

The Saloon Society column went on for two years, “until it began to lag on me.” Then “Breaking Up,” which Manville had also written in his office at Gray Advertising, came out, and after that, as he says, the advertising business stopped being funny. So, presumably, did New York. Therefore he got himself a contract and an advance to write “The Palace of Money,” and went off to Rome, where, he says, he would like to continue to live, “at least part of the year.”

“There’s such pressure in New York,” he said. “Pressures of all kinds, and even though I like to come here I like leaving even more. The advantage of being a writer is that you can go anyplace. Your typewriter will always sustain you.”

He looked around the Limelight and asked what sort of place it had become. I told him I wasn’t sure. Then Manville pulled himself up and prepared to leave. “The Village was the life,” he said. “I used to think that every Saturday night was a rebirth. Now I carry a history that’s more important to me than anything that can happen on Saturday night. That’s inevitable, it has to happen.”

Then he added, “I’m sure it’s still turning people on.”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]