By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
The Beach commission called a special session the following week, and drafted another resolution to censure their colleague. The second censure comes up before the commission for a vote January 23.
Hirschfeld acknowledges that if he knew himself based only on what he's seen in the local media, "I wouldn't sit at a table with me." At the same time, though, he seems to covet attention, regardless of the sort. "This kind of publicity," he says, "I couldn't buy for $50,000."
Unfazed by his dubious fame, Hirschfeld delivered yet another joke at the next commission meeting, this time poking fun at Arabs and Jews. "I told a joke," Hirschfeld says. "If that joke is a crime, then people shouldn't live any more. All you see on TV is jokes."
You're a funny guy. Have you ever considered becoming a stand-up comedian?
A comedian, no. Let me tell you my opinion. Comedy is a wonderful medicine for human beings. We have to know how to entertain ourselves, and it seems that the best show on Broadway is Jackie Mason's comedy [The World According to Me]. The highest Tony Awards and the only Tony Awards and the only case of Tony Awards is Jackie Mason. He's got awards for being the producer, the director, the actor. He must've gotten ten awards. Nobody got two awards. In England he was invited by the Queen.
Are the two of you friends again?
I'm glad you ask that, because last Monday night I was at [comedian] Joey Adams's birthday, and there was Joan Rivers and Jackie Mason and a who's who in government. The governor, the mayor - there were about 250 people there, and me and my wife. It's an unbelievable honor in New York.
I'll tell you how it works. About two years ago at [Adams's] birthday, I was in New York and Zipora was in Miami and I brought a friend of mine with me. They asked me my name. "You're Abe Hirschfeld?" And I said yes, and they asked the other party, "Are you Zipora Hirschfeld?" and she said no. And they said, "I'm sorry, you can't come in. This is a special party only for his very close friends." I was embarrassed and I took a cab and she went home.
At this party was Jackie Mason. He was a great hit, but I believe Governor Cuomo was better as a comedian. Unbelievable. And when I left, he [Mason] was at the check-out counter and I was standing next to him and we really dropped our hatchet. He hugged me, I hugged him, and I said, "Jackie, I want to come see your show." And he said, "Just let me know when you want to and I'll have tickets waiting for you."
People were offended by the joke you told at the commission meeting. They say it's improper for a city commissioner to tell such jokes.
Well, any city commissioner that has to hide something shouldn't be on the commission. They buy what they see and they get what they see, and if they don't like what they see, then they'll have to vote again.
HIRSCHFELD COVER, PART THREE:
Some say the publicity you've garnered is not positive, that this isn't the kind of publicity the city needs.
No. One, "they" are not people. Second thing, there is an old Jewish saying: "It's very easy to walk along a loaded wagon." When Abe Hirschfeld goes to a city, the whole world follows. And the same thing happens in Union City, in Albany, in Jackson Heights, in Washington Heights, and in Gramercy Park and Lenox Hill neighborhood. Those are the neighborhoods I completely renovated and made it booming in two, three years. This is my tenth community that I completely revived and brought to the top.
In every enterprise or in every government there are people with different knowledges. All I try to do is use my knowledge in the advance of experience. If they could realize what I know - and I know that there is a lot that I don't know - then they would be big people, but they think they know everything, and that's where the problem is. My philosophy is to take complex problems and bring in simple solutions.
But are there simple solutions?
Always. You know the simplest solution in the world? The computer. It just works on one and zero. There's nothing simpler than the computer. Yes and no, and that's why it functions so well.
Is there a simple solution to the most immediate problem facing the nation - the Persian Gulf crisis? How would you solve that problem?
It's too late for you to write about. In my opinion, when one is sick, he tries to find the best expert on the subject. There's only one person that knows foreign affairs in this universe, and on a scale of one to ten, if he's a ten, nobody's a two or three. We had a fantastic time - not fantastic, we had good times - when President Reagan was the president only because Richard Nixon was the chairman of the board. I believe that all three presidents - Carter, Ford, and Reagan - can't shine Nixon's shoes in foreign affairs, and the only problem is that both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan don't have a good relationship with Bush. I still think that if they would ask Nixon today to enter the negotiations, he probably would find a solution.