for the Nyro record, the first edition of our so-yclept "Bible", the AIA Guide To New
York City, was contemporary with "Eli And The Thirteenth Confession", and its gestation period
pretty much encompassed "More Than A New Discovery" as well...ah, technicalities; for many a
latent urban beholder, it was more than a new discovery. And it never stopped being so--it just
got bigger and fatter and better and better, until by the colossally definitive 1988 third edition
it was positively bursting with rapturous architectonic patchouli as if it knew Madonna's "Like A
Prayer" was just around the chronological corner. Forget Rem Koolhaas--this was the real Delirious
New York. (And a delirium too doggone sensuous to be grasped by your typical pretentious architecture
Hard to believe it's
been so long (Berlin was still divided, bub) since that colossus came out--in
the interim, that ur-Gotham televised icon, "Seinfeld", went on and off the
air--but it came back for one more edition in 2000. Sans one author, in physical
fact if not in credit; Eliot Willensky died in 1990. And Norval White, having
retired and done the good Laura Nyro thing by decamping to Connecticut, had to
be cajoled back with a good offer; such is popular demand.
The end result--in
balance, a welcome return and updating. But there are significant changes, some
good, some not so good. And if you're getting ready to toss out your 1988 edition,
hold yourself back--as a true Gothamophile, you'll need it as useful fleshing-out
counterbalance. (Of course, afficionados will treasure all four editions
in their library. Bibles are like that.)
First, the "longbook" format's been maintained
at the monumental thousand-page scale of '88 (though the paperback cover's now
got French flaps); still quite convenient, even if as a Michelinesque "pocket"
guide it's enough to rip the inner lining of a tweed jacket asunder (yeah, so
whaddayawant). It's now, inevitably perhaps, openly riding on its well-seasoned
venerability ("The Classic Guide To New York's Architecture"). But this newfound
stateliness seems at times to crimp the insouciance of old. Take the cover. The
classic Pop-Supergraphic title graphic idea--skyscraper-stacked words spelling
out the title in big block letters with a kind of 60s-Nooyawkian Lenny-Bernstein-&-Joe-Papp
boogie-woogie vibrancy--is still there, but beaten into pretentiously pseudo-embossed leather-or-metal
submission. Think of Leonard Bernstein as handled by Andrew Lloyd Webber; and
knowing the authorship, I doubt that was anything like the intention.
1.[Note: It's open to debate as to what the "official" lyric of New York
Tendaberry is; while the lyric sheet and lauranyro.com shows it as "a
religion", Nyro clearly sung it without the article. Though I may be
kicking myself for not consulting with some of the hardcore Nyrophiles out
there, I'll tentatively accept the "printed" version--the fundamental
meaning's the same, anyway.
OCT 30 2002 UPDATE: We've received note from the omniverse that "the original vinyl lyric sheet is true to the song:
it contains no article..." Which shows you how passively middlebrowish a
Nyrophile I am --I went by the CD booklet. How the "official" lyric got
warped over time, I don't know --and it's also puzzling how lauranyro.com
wasn't on this tip, either. Because the dueling-"official"-version dilemma
remains, I'll still maintain it as "a religion" --which will keep the debate
ball rolling. A neat way to turn an embarrassing boo-boo into a subversive
weapon? We'll see...]
Further notes from the omniverse...
Date: Sat, 03 May 2003 23:32
Subject: To: Adam Sobolak
I was looking up the Laura Nyro NY line in NY Tendaberry online and came
across your rendition. No, the article and non-article versions do not
convey the same meaning, not at all! It's hard to believe that a NYer
wouldn't see that instinctively, but maybe you are not one. In any
event, if you don't see the difference, you should go get some help
before writing about it (and that's true irrespective of which version
Nyro actually used or intended). But it's obvious that she's speaking
in the sense of a whole NY feeling or experience (no article) and not
the sense of one religion or experience among others (article). Even an
LA native knows that!
NEXT: maps retooled, asides curtailed
in PART 2.
Table of Contents.