I MAY NOT SEE ANDREW FOR QUITE A WHILE
I met Mario Cuomo quite early in the game. I had written a column suggesting that Ed Koch would be elected governor of New York and Cuomo asked me when he could be on my radio show. I was floored. We did the show and so began a long relationship that ended when Andrew announced that he would run against Carl McCall for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York.
Frankly, I wasn’t happy about the decision that would have denied McCall the chance to be the first African American elected governor of New York. I spoke out in columns, in my TV appearances and on the radio. My good friend “The Guv,” a man I admired then and now, let me know in no uncertain terms that he was unhappy. After a long, long run, the show was over. Maybe I should have shut up, but that capacity is not in my DNA. While the show was running, I wrote a book, humorously titled Me and Mario: Conversations in Candor. When Mario died, I was devastated.
When Andrew Cuomo was elected, I figured that there would be some distance between us. For his first two terms as governor, I couldn’t get near the guy. Hey, them’s the breaks. Then one day when I was on the air with our Roundtable Panel, the phone rang. It was the governor’s special assistant, saying that the governor wanted a chance to do a show with me. Our News Director, Ian Pickus, and I were both stunned. We not only did that show but many, many more. I was surprised by the chemistry. After all, we all knew about Mario’s sense of humor. I loved fencing with him and he almost always won in the jousts. My all-time favorite was when I said something and he asked, “Is that what you think?” When I replied that it was, he said, “Who cares?” Doesn’t get better than that.
When these interviews with Andrew started, I was really surprised. Let’s face it — Andrew has never really come across as a comedian. I was astounded. He can be really, really funny. Like Mario, his sense of humor is biting, sarcastic and penetrating. Mario used to make up profound sounding quotes and attribute them to A.J. Parkinson (there is no one of that name) and Andrew continues the tradition. Andrew has amazing recall of any alleged wrongs that have been done to him and in my case, he is always on me for having supported his primary opponent and he doesn’t stop. For whatever reason, I think that these attacks are really funny. Of course, Freud is reported to have said, “There is no joke.”
The guy really makes me laugh and that is in real contrast to what I used to think of him. But, maybe we’re through. The other day we had quite a conversation about the press. He laid out the concerns he had with their demeanor. Frankly I thought he made some very good points. We all know that this can be very dangerous territory. I well understand that and have always believed that if you tick off the press, they will get you. Been there myself.
Sure enough, all I did was to ask him what he was doing for Thanksgiving. He replied that he was having his mother and daughter for a quiet dinner. Little did I know that simple utterance would make international headlines. You name it, every country in the world had newspaper articles on the subject. You might have thought the guy had dropped an atomic bomb or worse. It was nonsense. Yes, he advised people not to travel but this was his mom in her upper nineties. Stop it already! They are not stopping and I suspect I may not see Andrew for quite a while.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]