August 10th, 2005


Abe Hirschfeld, Dead at 85

New York City has lost one of its most colorful nutcases.

gnomi pointed me towards Abe Hirschfeld's obituary in today's Boston Globe. (The Times obit is here.) For those of you who never heard of him, on the surface Hirschfeld was a real estate magnate, who made a fortune mostly out of buying Manhattan parking garages. I suppose if he had left it there he would be remembered simply as a successful businessman.

But he was a nut. And I'm not the only one who says this -- in 1993, he attempted to buy the New York Post at a time when it looked like the newspaper was going to fold. Afraid of having to work for Hirschfeld, the staff revolted and published an issue with articles all about Hirschfeld's nuttiness. The front page of the paper showed their signature Alexander Hamilton icon shedding a tear, and the page 3 headline screamed out "WHO IS THIS NUT?"

Why did he earn this reputation?

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There's more to it, of course -- words can't describe the expansiveness with which he approached people or presented himself. I remember his reaction to the Post's headline was to tell the staff how much he loved it and to walk around the newspaper offices congratulating them on such a fine issue. It was a little bizarre.

Anyway, rest in peace, Abe Hirschfeld. You made New York City a little more interesting.

Another Good Review of "Sanctuary"

(Apologies for posting so much this fine morning.)

From the Tangent Online review of the September 2005 Analog:

A Catholic priest assigned to a large space station confronts an ethical dilemma when an alien approaches him seeking sanctuary in the chapel. The female insectoid, an adherent of a fringe religion, has developed a pregnancy that violates her people's mainstream traditions. Seeking to protect her from a forced abortion, the priest grants her request for sanctuary, and diplomatic turmoil results. The situation sours further when the priest learns of the alien's ulterior motives.

"Sanctuary" is a complex and thoughtful piece, well-written and accessible. Burstein’s noble protagonist struggles to answer some serious moral questions, and for that reason, the story is sometimes uncomfortable to read. Readers may find the theme vague, and each person may take away something different from the story's unexpected ending.

(Thank you, britzkrieg.)

More on Abe Hirschfeld

For those who were intrigued by my post on Abe Hirschfeld, here are a few more references:

  • Welcome to My World: Abe Hirschfeld: I should have realized that a man like Hirschfeld would have had his own webpage. Earlier today it still read as if he were alive; currently it has an obituary, and no links.
  • New York Post - Abraham Hirschfeld: However, this subpage still exists, with a picture of the cover of the New York Post showing Alexander Hamilton (the paper's founder) with a tear running down his cheek. All the links still exist along the side, including the one to email Hirschfeld.
  • CJR: The Greatest Tab Story Ever Told, by Mike Hoyt: This article, from the May/June 1993 issue of Columbia Journalism Review, is all about what happened at the New York Post when Hirschfeld briefly took over.

(Thanks to writer Sean P. Fodera for the links.)