Losing My Sign

Playwright Steve Willis, one of the participants in our Lost New York seminar earlier this month, alerted us to this video, a parody of Stephen Sondheim’s classic number, “Losing My Mind.” The parody (or is it an homage) is by Fred Landau, who rewrote the lyrics and performed the song.

Thinking about the issues that Ward Dennis raised for us, we ask, how are we supposed to respond to the video? Does the renaming of the theater represent some sort of loss or erasure: poor Henry Miller! Though one might suggest that poor Henry Miller was already erased — by his namesake Henry Miller. (Come on, how many of you walking by the theater assumed it was named in honor of the author of Tropic of Cancer?) Or is this an example of productively re-purposing a building and giving it new life? (NYU occasionally renames its buildings and other spaces when a new donor gives [enough] money. I’ve often wondered how that makes the old donors feel.)

Rich Rodriguez, another participant in the seminar, wrote to us: “It was kind of hard to tell, but from what I could glimpse and despite the nostalgic tone, this is the kind of restoration we would like to see more of.  It looks as if they tried to minimize the damage and change to the original facade.  But then again, I am no architect, so I am not sure.”

Click here to read about the re-dedication of the theater last March.