No, I don't mean the gormless English tourist staring back at you from the top step.  I mean the remarkable Ira Schnapp.

Let me explain...
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Five minutes ago, my intention was to leave this posting as a short and hopefully sweet Hello Again.  The photo was supposed to be simple and pleasurable evidence that, just a few days ago, I was standing right there between those lofty columns, in one of the world's great cities having my picture taken by a total stranger to whom I had entrusted my camera (and who turned out to be a Brooklyn bakery assistant called Angela).

I was about to post the blog, indulge myself with a Slow Comfortable Screw and go to bed when I looked at the photograph again.  And something in it caught my eye - something I hadn't previously noticed...

Apart from the numerous pigeons on the left (and the two people indulging them with bagel crumbs), the hobo on the right and the august and sedate figure posing self-consciously between columns 2 and 3, there are the beginnings of an inscription on the building's entablature.

The particularly eagle-eyed amongst you may be able to discern the words 'NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN...'

If you have the wayward taste in music with which I am blessed, those words may have rung bells in your memory that have remained unrung for over three decades.  They form part of the lyrics of a particularly esoteric and mysteriously hypnotic song called O Superman, written and recorded by New York experimental and electronic music artist Laurie Anderson.  It reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1981.

As she wrote and sang them, the words were: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.  These are almost exactly the words of the inscription on the building whose frontage I am adorning.

So now we know what inspired that part of the wonderful Ms Anderson's song.

But - being a truckshunter - I couldn't just leave it at that.  O no.

The building in question is the New York City headquarters of the United States Post Office on 8th Avenue and it was a member of its architectural design team who suggested the inscription.  His name was William Mitchell Kendall and his taste in monumental inscriptions was impeccable.  The words are a translation from the ancient Greek Histories of Herodotus and describe the faithful service of the Persian system of mounted postal messengers under Xerxes I around 2,300 years ago.

From King Xerxes I to Herodotus to the US Post Office to the British pop charts.

And there's more.

The man who carved the words onto the entablature stones was called Ira Schnapp, who went on to design the Action Comics logo and logos for DC Comics - including the Superman logo.

Every picture tells a story.

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Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com


Bentonbag said...

"Neither snow nor rain..." was regularly quoted by Cliff the mailman in Cheers

Sid said...

I bet it'll take some adjusting to your usual lifestyle, after such an exciting few weeks.
Now all you have to do is plan your next big adventure....

Hildie said...

We missed you.
did you miss us?!!

You are looking very minuscule there!

Anyway, I am more than pleased that you have done all the research on the inscription
..... you know what it's like being a truckshunter ....
I'd now have had to set out on a long voyage of discovery via Google!

Sid said...

Do you know Hildie I believe Ian wished he could have taken us all with him.

Natasha said...

Hi Ian - Natasha here *waving from Bristol*! There is more to this amazing story: Laurie Anderson was of course married to Lou Reed, so how amazing that while you were observing and researching her lyric the whole world was mourning the loss of Lou Reed. Parallel lines!
Natasha x

Val said...

Natasha - my thoughts exactly :)
Welcome home Ian.
Night night, sleep tight x