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.
Hi, thanks for linking this here. As it happens, the visuals were put together by Jan Horvath, who teaches at NYU’s Tisch School through CAP 21. (I’m an NYU alum, with an LL.M. from NYU Law School.)
For me, there’s a difference between someone being honored by others with a theater, versus situations like Henry Miller (the producer/theater owner), Martin Beck, the Alvin, the Virginia, etc – the latter group named by the owners of the real estate for themselves or family members, for the reason that they were the owners and had the power to name it that way. (The naming of the latter seems to be a function of being the realty owners rather than their theater accomplishments having been noted by others. So when the ownership ends, I think the naming caused by that ownership is fair game as well.)
Thanks again for posting this!