Somewhere in founding father heaven, Alexander Hamilton is shedding another tear for Honest Abe—open-air parking pioneer, immigrant mega-success story, perennial Empire State political candidate, unheeded 9/11 prognosticator, storied, Pete-Hamill smoochin' 16-day owner of the New York Post, and as far as I know the last of the great insane bazillionaires. But for me, Abe Hirschfeld, dead at the age of 85, wore another, more special hat: He was the last believer in afternoon newspapers. As we wait in vain for the second coming of Open Air PM (or for that matter, of Her New York, the equally disastrous paper started by fellow Post owner and jailbird Steve Hoffenberg—a paper that had the distinction of employing for one day a hungry kid named…Tim Cavanaugh), it's worth giving Abe a little credit along with the chortles. He was a one-of-a-kinder in a city that's becoming increasingly like every other place. Since I've never been on the receiving end of the frauds, bounced checks, and murder attempts that checkered his career, I'll go to this tribute from the Amsterdam News' Wilbert Tatum:
He will be missed by those who understood that he was an American original, trying his very best to be an American despite those who insisted that without New York City's blue blood in his veins, a Harvard degree and the ability to speak English without a Jewish accent, that he could never be.
Abe will be missed by those who are honest enough to acknowledge his importance and fundamental decency.
Abe Hirschfeld is not one that his friends or his family have to be ashamed of.