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These Boots Are Made for Lobbying

Aug 12, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 45 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Nancy Sinatra has been a good daughter to her father Frank—probably, in The Scrapbook’s view, better than the late singer deserves. Since his death in 1998, she has resolutely defended her father’s reputation against the dozens of stories of his coarse behavior—our favorite being a meal of steak and eggs served on the naked torso of a Las Vegas prostitute—and his lifelong association with mobsters and assorted lowlifes. 

Sinatra

Of course, a daughter is entitled to revere her father, and we don’t expect Nancy Sinatra to be objective about Frank Sinatra. But filial devotion is one thing; public annoyance is another. For years she has been agitating for the city of New York to erect a statue of Frank Sinatra in Times Square. Last week she took to Twitter to exhort Mayor Bloomberg, before he leaves office, to give the project his approval.

The Scrapbook has had its differences over the years with Michael Bloomberg. But if the mayor is the obstacle to a Frank Sinatra statue, we offer him our full support. 

The Scrapbook has nothing against public monuments, and New York boasts a number of memorable statues. But the rationale for Frank Sinatra of Hoboken, New Jersey, is practically nonexistent. Yes, he performed in New York many times over his long career; but the same could be said of Ella Fitzgerald (Yonkers), Mel Tormé (Chicago), Rosemary Clooney (Cincinnati), Bing Crosby (Spokane), or Billie Holiday (Philadelphia). And the stated reason for Sinatra is the unpersuasive fact that, late in his career, he popularized the theme song from a forgettable movie, New York, New York (1977). 

This is not an idle threat: A streetcorner in Chicago has already been named for Sinatra and, lest we forget, he recorded popular versions of “I Love Paris,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “The Girl From Ipanema,” “Roses of Picardy,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “It Happened in Monterey,” “Stars Fell on Alabama,” “On the Road to Mandalay,” “Come Back to Sorrento,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and most ominously, “Winchester Cathedral,” among others.

Which brings us to The Scrapbook’s solution. Since the only other show biz statue in Times Square depicts the playwright-composer-lyricist-performer George M. Cohan, it makes more sense—and would be considerably fairer—to commemorate the people who created the popular songs about New York rather than a singer who just included them in his repertoire. So instead of Frank Sinatra in Times Square, how about Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers (“Manhattan”) elsewhere on Broadway, or Vernon Duke (“Autumn in New York”) in Central Park, or Charles Lawlor and James Blake (“Sidewalks of New York”) on the Lower East Side?

The place for a statue of Sinatra is in Hoboken, and we’d love to see Rodgers and Hart back on Broadway.

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