Two photos taken during Ben’s final weekend of Mean Girls, a two-year journey that concluded on Sunday night. The photo on the left was taken by a fan (Lauren Smith) and posted to Flickr; the one on the right is of the men’s ensemble on stage. Look for an announcement soon about the boy’s next project.
Currently showing posts tagged New York
On Saturday, Emma performed in her last show at Point Park before she graduates in three weeks. On Sunday, Ben finished his run in Mean Girls with two shows. Very proud of all my children but leave it to my twins to face large and yet different milestones on the same weekend.
File this under the miscellaneous people who walk into your life and (thankfully) stay there.
When Ben was in “Billy Elliot” on Broadway, one of his child wranglers was Todd Montgomery. Ben and Todd quickly bonded over music and the fact that our youngest son thought he was generally “pretty cool.” (He is, BTW.)
One night, Todd introduced me to his wife, Carole, and described her as the “funny one” in the family. Literally, because as it turns out, Carole has been a successful standup comedienne for decades.
In addition to being two of the best and kindest people I’ve come across, Todd and Carole are a great testimony to making marriage and a partnership work. They helped take care of our son as if he were their own at a time when we truly needed the help, and for that alone, I’m truly grateful. I’m also eternally thankful for their no b.s. approach to friendship and family as well.
At some point, Carole mentioned a project that she was working on, a show featuring women all over the age of 50. The project has taken off in comedy circles, and has resulted in a special being taped for Showtime. The special airs on March 23 (plus additional dates, I’m sure) and promises a full hour of honest and sincere belly laughs.
That it’s been made possible, and nurtured, by a person I’m proud to know makes it all the more special. So, to all my friends in their mid 50s, as well as those a decade younger and older, I hope you will take the time to watch “Funny Women of a Certain Age.”
The cast of "Mean Girls" performed the song "Fearless" during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade amid record low temperatures — 17 degrees with a strong windchill, to be exact. Here is the performance.
And right after, we all found our way to a bar. Because, of course, this is how our family rolls on a frigid Thanksgiving morning.
With Jill at her conference in LA, I spent three-plus days in New York with Ben and Emma. As usual, we ran around quite a bit, but the best part (in addition to the company, folks and family we saw) was having a chance to take photos in a relaxed setting with one of my dearest friends. Nothing beats an opportunity to walk around New York City with a camera and time on your hands.
To see more photos in a larger format, go to my Facebook album here.
I had the chance to watch the Tony Award nominations announcement with Ben and a group of his friends this morning in New York, where I spent the day doing a shoot. Leaving just before the show started, you could signage already being prepared to go up on the marquee. Congratulations to the cast and crew on this wonderful achievement!
Here's a screenshot from The Today Show, where the “Mean Girls” cast performed “Apex Predator” from the show today. Check out the performance below.
It's been a busy past few days, with two shoots, a large D.C. banquet, family visits, a mini-reunion with longtime friends from North Carolina, and wrapping up our move from Lorton to Old Town Alexandria.
This week brings trips to New York (for another shoot) and Pittsburgh (for another family move) before returning home to take photos of Metropolitan School of the Arts' production of "Snow White."
More photos coming soon, I promise, but for now I'll leave you with a few from MSA's "10+1" show earlier this month.
Congratulations to the Mean Girls ensemble, which tied with Carousel for best on Broadway at last night's Chita Rivera Awards! We are so thrilled that all of you received this special recognition for your hard work.
In that vein, The Ensemblist, an online advocate for Broadway ensemble actors, is working with the Actors’ Equity Association’s #EveryoneOnStage campaign to petition for two new categories for the 2019 season: Best Chorus in a Musical or Play, and Best Ensemble in a Musical or Play.
Last week, Mo Brady posted The Ensemblist’s nominees for “Best Actors Not Eligible for a Tony Award This Season." And a certain child of ours was one of them.
“Nobody on Broadway moves with as much unbridled energy as Ben Cook,” Brady writes. “When he dances, it’s us if every limb is working in harmony, transmitting the choreographic intention not only from his core but from his guts. In what has become his calling card, Cook flawlessly executes the high-octane choreography of Mean Girls with reliability, slaying from ‘It Roars’ to ‘Apex Predator.’”
Seeing our 20-year-old twins in performances this weekend, with a 400-mile road trip in between, was a real treat.
First up was Emma's performance at Point Park Connections show at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on campus. (I took only one of these photos, and it's the one of the program no less.)
The next day, Jill and I had breakfast with Emma before driving to Manhattan, where we stayed up WAAAY past our bedtime to watch HBO's "Paterno" with Ben and a group of his friends after the "Mean Girls" performance. 3 a.m. was totally worth it, as was the early wakeup call to finish a freelance project.
Then, on Sunday, we went to the opening of "Mean Girls" and to the after-party in SoHo.
Attending one of Ben’s opening nights has gotten easier over the years — I no longer want to drink the entire bar to calm my nerves before the curtain — but each evening is special in its own way as you see the hard work of your son and his fellow cast members pay off.
Now it’s on to Boston to shoot another show at Wheelock Family Theatre!
#ProudStageDad #lucky #Coffeebythegallon #NottoooldforthisstuffyetIthink
April 6: Very proud of Emma and her fellow dancers who performed at the Point Park Connections show last night. Our youngest daughter was great!
April 7: “Paterno” airs at 8 p.m. EST tonight on HBO (with repeats throughout the month). It's a NY Times Critic's Pick with a certain young man name checked in the lead of the review, which you can see here.
April 8: At some point, I'll stop, but this weekend has been a little overwhelming as the "Mean Girls" opening approaches. For example, check out this interview with Tina Fey on CBS Sunday morning. You can see the boy in some of the “behind the scenes” clips toward the end.
In the midst of a crazy busy month, I managed to take a few days and recharge with my oldest son, Nicholas. During his spring break — he’s getting a master’s degree from Elon — we traveled to Pittsburgh so he could see Emma at her college. We then went to New York, where we met up with Jill and Ben and saw a preview of Mean Girls.
Of course, my camera was my constant companion. Here are a few shots I took while Nick and Jill saw another show, the wonderful Come from Away.
Back to School: First day of rehearsals yesterday for Mean Girls. Previews begin March 12; show opens on April 8. Tickets selling fast. Very proud of the boy and his newest Broadway family.
New York City is one of my favorite places to photograph, even though I don’t get up there as much as I once did. These were taken during a quick two-day trip just before Christmas. I’ve posted two albums to Facebook here and here, and put several on my Instagram page (@glenncookphotography) as well.
Moment for reflection — New York City, May 2017
Ben made his Broadway debut in “Ragtime” at the Neil Simon Theatre in November 2009. On Monday, his roommate and fellow "Newsies" cast member, Josh Burrage, makes his Broadway debut in “Cats” at the same theatre. Adding to the small world aspect of professional theatre, the marquee for “Mean Girls” — Ben’s next show — went up today across the street at the August Wilson.
As Ben said when he posted this photo, “Honored to walk to work with my roommate and see this. Lots of love for 52nd Street.”
And in other news, this announcement also came out today. Very proud of Ben, who has been cast in the Broadway-bound "Mean Girls," written by Tina Fey and produced by Lorne Michaels. The show opens on Oct. 31 at The National Theatre in Washington, D.C., with a run planned for New York in the spring.
Amusement park fun — Coney Island, N.Y., October 2015
Colored blocks — Schenectady, N.Y., August 2014
Solidarity in stone — New York City, May 2017
Flowering firework — Bayville, N.Y., July 2010
Hello, New York. It’s been a while…
On my first trip to the city in several months, I had the opportunity to take dance photos in Washington Heights with my twins (Ben and Emma) and three alums from the “Newsies” tour cast (Josh Burrage, Kaitlyn Frank, and Iain Young).
A subway tunnel on 191st Street and Fort Tryon Park provided the backdrop for this latest set in the series.
For more photos, go to my Facebook album here. Click on the "Art & Dance" tab at the top of this page to see more galleries in the series.
Windy afternoon on Coney Island — August 2015
Canal bridge — near Syracuse, N.Y., October 2015
New York City as Gotham — November 2016
Continuing our series of headshots, take a look at these photos of repeat customer Georgia, a second semester freshman at New York’s Pace University. The photos are up at http://glenncook.virb.com/georgia.
Looking for a sign — New York City, February 2016
Harlem Mural — New York City, January 2016
Another "Road Show" selection, today's "Daily Photo" was taken while walking through Harlem with my wife last January during a trip to New York City. As anyone who visits this page regularly knows, I'm a great fan of graffiti and outdoor artists, and this one in particular caught my eye for two reasons.
First, seeing how the artist managed to navigate the many textures on the metal door is a remarkable feat. You can see many doors like this in New York and other urban cities, but this one is beautifully executed. Second, I love how the sprinkler/fire alarm bell is incorporated into the left eye, giving an already surreal work a cyborg effect.
You can see this and other photos through March 4 at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton as part of "Road Show," the lead exhibit to the Collector's Showcase gallery on the second floor of building 16. The exhibit is open Wednesdays through Sundays.
In 2011, while walking to our apartment in New York from Penn Station, I happened upon the annual Broadway Barks event in Shubert Alley and was happily surprised to see two of my favorite actresses — Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore — up close. The two co-founded the animal adopt-a-thon in 1999 to promote animal adoption and make New York a no-kill city.
Moore, who won seven Emmys mostly for two classic shows that were a staple of my childhood, was known for her charitable endeavors. Her death on Tuesday at the age of 80 did not come as a huge surprise, but still caught me and I’m sure many of her fans off guard.
Thanks to syndication and streaming, we can continue to see Moore’s Laura Petrie and Mary Richards characters for ever. And I’m thankful that, for a few minutes at least, I had a chance to see one of my favorite comediennes do something she loved.
The boy singing "Top of the World" from Tuck last week at 54 Below. The "Not At This Performance" cabaret featured understudies who never had the chance to perform on stage.
Wonder Wheel — Coney Island, October 2015
In just under the wire, here's a video I made 7 years ago to commemorate Ben's Broadway debut in Ragtime. Ahh, the memories.
The beautiful Chittenango Falls — Chittenango, N.Y., August 2015
Six years after I took this photo of a firework on Long Island, it remains a favorite... Happy 4th of July!
Need some headshots? Check out these, taken of Ben during a session in New York City earlier this month. The photos are up at http://glenncook.virb.com/ben-2016.
Lonely walk to the subway — New York City, June 2016
“Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” the first number in Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate,” is a famous show business anthem. Performed by the ensemble, the self-referential song is “a chance for stage folks to say hello” while also conveying the uncertainty that comes with opening a new show in front of an audience.
“Another job that you hope will last/Will make your future forget your past/Another pain where the ulcers grow/Another op’nin of another show.”
Just over a month ago, as “Tuck Everlasting” opened on Broadway, I found myself humming that song and wondering how long this small, family-friendly story would last in a crowded New York marketplace. It was the first time Ben had been in the opening of a Broadway show since “Ragtime” in November 2009, but the circumstances were much different then.
At the time, our son was just 11 (he turned 12 during the run). We had to get an apartment in the city and soon found our lives turned upside down in one of the most thrilling, confounding and, at times, scary periods we would have as a family.
With “Tuck,” Ben was 18 and striking out as a true — at least in the legal sense — adult for the first time.
The whispers started within a few days after “Tuck” opened to largely positive reviews, including a rave in the New York Times. The box office was not good. Ticket sales were stagnant. Expenses were high with the recording of the show’s soundtrack — due out June 3 on iTunes — and the creation of a video B-roll to promote “Tuck.” A decision to rely on social media and avoid print advertising almost entirely did not make sense, but I attributed that to being an old print guy.
The bump you’d expect in the first week after opening never happened, and a disappointing showing when the Tony nominations were announced did not bode well.
Three weeks of steady drizzle did not help either, forcing the postponement of a potential buzz-generating “Today Show” appearance three times. In one of the busiest seasons for new musicals in years, one that is nonetheless dominated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, much-beloved “Hamilton,” it was proving to be a harsh uphill climb.
The day after the “Today Show” appearance, the producers decided to pull the plug. “Tuck,” the little show that could — and did — make it to Broadway, would not last until Memorial Day.
Why do shows that are so good, so rich and thought-provoking in their themes and execution, seem doomed to short runs?
It’s an age-old question that is answered, simply, with the phrase: “Broadway is a business.” And any business that doesn’t make money can run for only so long before it closes. When you’re looking at a show that spends hundreds of thousands a week just to keep the doors open, the risk/reward ratio makes even investing in such a proposition a daunting prospect. Just ask the producers of “American Psycho” or “Disaster,” two other new musicals that have met similar fates within the past month.
“Tuck’s” brief life was not due to a tainted spring or a man in a yellow suit, but to a fate that was an all-too-familiar flashback to “Ragtime.” No matter how entertaining the show was, how noble its themes and intent, the money talked.
On its final weekend, Emma and several of Ben’s friends from Northern Virginia went to New York to see "Tuck" while Jill and I went to the graduation events for our niece, Margaret, in North Carolina. Jill and I had a lovely time, but I kept thinking back to the days leading up to the “Ragtime” closing.
I remembered following Ben from our apartment on West 54th to the Neil Simon Theater just a few blocks away. It was a bright, sunny, and not horribly cold January Sunday. I took a picture of him walking down Broadway with tears in my eyes, feeling lost for my son. No one in our family knew what would happen next.
It has been a fascinating ride since then. Still, when something like this — such a heady, overwhelming mix of euphoria, sadness, joy and confusion — happens to your child, you can’t help but be touched by it. And each subsequent time it occurs touches you in some different way.
The same could be said for parenting. It never gets easier, just different. Your hopes and dreams for your children don’t evaporate even as they evolve with each experience. And they are still capable of bringing tears to your eyes at a moment’s notice.
On our way home from North Carolina, I found the picture I took on the day “Ragtime” closed and noted how things have changed over the past six-plus years.
“Today,” the Facebook/Instagram post read, “he made a similar trip for the final performance of ‘Tuck Everlasting,’ this time from his apartment and for the first time as an adult. We love you, son, and just like that day when I followed you as a 12-year-old into an uncertain future, I can't wait to see what happens for you next.”
Glen Loch Mill and Restaurant (now closed) — Jamesville, N.Y., October 2015
Moving out of the penthouse — New York City, February 2016
Graffiti bridge — outside Syracuse, N.Y., November 2015
Through the window — New York City, April 2016
Boots and booze — New York City, April 2016
Flowers for sale — New York City, March 2016
Post-New York randoms a week after Tuck Everlasting opened on Broadway:
• Master of the Obvious: Well, that was a trip I won’t soon forget.
• The best part of the trip was getting to spend some quality alone time with my boys. I don’t get to do that enough.
• The second best part was seeing my son do what he loves, and seeing his siblings happy to be part of the experience. We missed Kate not being there, though.
• Watching a friend tap dance while Jon Dee Graham played an instrumental in the basement of the Hill Country BBQ was NOT the most surreal part of the trip. Close, but not quite.
• When people are obviously trying to listen to acoustic music in a small venue, I don’t know why some feel an uncontrollable urge to turn up their inner frat-boy volume to 11.
• I've was in way too many photos last week and not behind the camera enough. There is something wrong with this picture...
• Things I thought I'd never say: I agree with John Boener on something. But then he had to bring up Ted Cruz.
• Riding a bus home is OK until you get stuck in traffic and someone decides to leave the spicy burrito they ate in the bathroom 3 rows back.
• People are bipolar. Mother Nature is not. Not sure what she is exactly, but that's a different story.
• NYC tourist tango: 1, 2, 3 ... GAWK! 1, 2, 3 ... GAWK!
Two more observations, all with accompanying art…
• If our cats could speak English, they'd say, "See? We told you, this stuff is real..."
• Kids, this is appropriate... (And yes, my mom did send it to me.)
"Tuck Everlasting" made its formal Broadway opening Tuesday at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York. Jill, Emma and I drove in from Virginia and Nicholas flew from Nashville to see Ben in his first "adult" role.
Here is a photo chronicle of our day and night, which included subway rides, a visit to Sardi's, the Gypsy Robe ceremony for the Tuck cast (covered by Broadway World), the show, the red carpet treatment, and a premiere party at Tavern on the Green. A memorable time was had by all, that's for sure.
Old school with The Honeymooners at Sardis — New York City, April 2016
Under the bridge — New York City, July 2015
Walking home — Forest Hills, N.Y., September 2014
McGraw-Hill building — New York City, February 2016
Sitting in shadows — New York City, February 2016
Opening night for "Tuck Everlasting" is finally (almost) here, the culmination of almost three months filled with firsts for the boy.
Tomorrow, we have the chance to see Ben perform during the opening of an original Broadway musical. At 18, he also is making his “adult” debut in the ensemble at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City.
What makes this a unique experience for Ben, besides the "adult" part and living on his own in the city, is this is the first time he has been part of the cast of an original musical in New York. "Ragtime," in 2009, was a revival. "Billy Elliot" had already been running for more than a year on Broadway when he joined the ensemble. On the "Billy" and "Newsies" tours, he went through the tech process, but both of those shows were already established and much of the music/script/choreography had been locked in by the creative team.
A new musical, even one that had been performed out of town, is much different.
Five weeks of rehearsals were followed by almost a month of previews as the creative team continued to tweak and polish “Tuck,” which is based on the acclaimed children’s novel by Natalie Babbitt. Tim Federle, a wonderful writer and family friend who was one of Ben's mentors on "Billy," was brought in to contribute to the book. Music has been added, polished, and cut. Much of the choreography is new.
That’s the reason the preview process is so important, because it gives the show a chance to be performed for audiences to see what works and what doesn’t before it is formally locked in.
Chances are that if you saw “Tuck” in the first week or two of previews that what you’ll see now is different. It’s certainly been different for Ben, who is on stage quite a bit as an ensemble member and had not gone through one of those periods as a performer. (He was an understudy during the “Ragtime” revival.)
What makes this period so grueling for the actors, creatives, and crew is that you are essentially doing two shows a day, six days a week. During the preview period, “Tuck” has been running on a nontraditional schedule, with Sundays instead of Mondays off.
On single performance days, you typically arrive around noon to make adjustments and run through the show, take a break around 5 and then return two hours later to do it again for the preview audience. (Wednesdays and Saturdays are two show days.) Meanwhile, Ben is understudying two roles — Jesse Tuck and Hugo — and is learning their parts on stage.
Also over the past month, the show has hosted legendary theatre photographer Joan Marcus, who captured the in-performance images that are at the top of this piece, and shot performance footage for a “B-roll” that will be used for promotion purposes.
Finally, on Sunday, the cast gathered in a recording studio to record the score’s soundtrack, which will be available digitally on June 10 and in stores on July 1. That was another first for the boy.
And so now it’s almost time. Another opening, another show. Proud family members in the audience. Others rooting for Ben from close and afar.
There’s a certain “déjà vu all over again” feeling … and we couldn’t be more proud.
Break a leg, son.
A couple of additional things to note:
• It has been so wonderful to see the large number of friends and extended family who’ve come to see the show during the preview period. Cast members from “Billy Elliot” and “Newsies,” as well as friends from Virginia, North Carolina, and Michigan, already have seen “Tuck.” I hope you’ll consider a trip, too.
• Dave Mack, a New York-based photographer, videographer and musician, is working at the Broadhurst Theatre and has been taking a series of beautiful portraits backstage. Here are a couple.
Cover model — New York City, February 2016
Tim Federle, whose young adult debut “The Great American Whatever” has been called “a Holden Caulfield for a new generation” by Kirkus Reviews, held a storytelling session and book signing Sunday at the McNally Jackson store in SoHo.
The multitasking author, who also is co-writer of the book for the new Broadway musical “Tuck Everlasting,” brought our son, Ben, as his special guest to read the first chapter of the book. Tim and Ben worked together on “Billy Elliot” in 2010-11 and have been reunited again on “Tuck Everlasting.”
Tim, who is one of the nicest people we know in the industry, was a Broadway performer prior to making his writing debut with “Better Nate Than Ever” and its sequel “Five, Six, Seven Nate!” His first novel was named a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year” while its follow up won the Lambda Literary Award.
Proud parents with Ben after his performances in his first-ever Broadway show (Ragtime, November 2009) and his first show as an adult (Tuck Everlasting, April 2016).
Tonight, my 18-year-old son is performing for a paying crowd in his first Broadway show as an adult. About 50 miles north of Syracuse, the family of one of my high school classmates is mourning the loss of their 18-year-old son, an aspiring musical theatre performer who was killed last week in a head-on collision that was not his fault.
Life is just not fair.
Like many of you, through Facebook I’ve become reacquainted with many people I grew up with but haven’t seen in years. Chuck Leikham and I went to the same high school; he is best friends with David Watson and his wife, Mary, who I’ve known almost as long as I’ve been alive.
Chuck and his wife, Kristen, have three children and live in Adams, N.Y. He has been in the military for much of his adult life, and now is assigned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Like many families in the military, they have endured long separations from each other.
Their son, Parker, was deciding between colleges in Michigan, where he planned to pursue a career in musical theatre, when the van he was driving was struck head-on about a quarter-mile from his home. Parker had performed in local, youth, and school theatre since he was in second grade and had just finished a starring role in his school’s production of Beauty and the Beast the weekend before the accident.
By all accounts, he was a terrific talent and beloved by the community and his classmates. A lineman on his high school football team, he was on the school’s “Whiz Quiz” team that won an international championship in 2014. He also was known for wearing bow ties.
Two days after Parker’s death, a community candlelight vigil drew more than 800 people to the South Jefferson High School stadium, where his parents and siblings released 18 balloons in honor of his life. A local video company showed up to record the event, and after letting the family know they had a drone to capture the proceedings from overhead, his mother asked the crowd to make a bow tie for her son. The result shows the incredible outpouring of love and support for Parker and his family.
Tonight, as we celebrate Ben’s opening preview of Tuck Everlasting, a show with beautiful music and the theme of eternal life, we’ll also say a prayer for a family that has lost its own shining star.
Note: The family is trying to get Ellen DeGeneres to wear a bowtie in honor of their son and is asking for support from their friends on Facebook. Chuck wrote today that his son “loved her show and has much in common with her. Parker was all about love and tolerance.” To write in, go to http://www.ellentv.com/be-on-the-show/1058/
Recently, the father of a 13-year-old girl wrote asking if I could help her with a class project by answering some questions about photography. The dad explained that his daughter — a dancer and a big “Newsies” fan — had started following my work because of my ongoing “Art & Dance” series and had gotten a camera for Christmas.
As a dad, it’s hard to turn down this type of request, especially when a parent takes the time to ask for help for his daughter. As a photographer, I’m more collegial than competitive, and always happy to help others.
Answering her questions was an interesting exercise. Since Jill and I reached 50 last year, we both find ourselves reflecting on why we do what we do, what drives us to continue, and what we like/dislike about our roles in this life. As the child of two teachers, this was my teachable moment, an opportunity to explain the craft I've come to love.
Over the next four days, I’d like to share edited — and in some cases enhanced — versions of the responses. (Call it a “director’s cut” if you will.) If you follow my writing and this blog, chances are you’ve seen some of this before. But I hope you find it an entertaining read nonetheless.
What was your inspiration to become a professional photographer?
My dad was a visual artist who could paint, sculpt, or draw anything that came to mind. I can't draw a stick figure, but I've always had his eye for composition, just not the creativity (or sadly, the fine motor skills) to create something out of nothing.
When I first went to New York with our son, Ben, in 2009, I thought of my dad often as I was drawn to the visual explosion that is the city. Dad died in 2007 and never visited New York, but in so many ways, the stuff I see walking around serves as a constant reminder of his interests, insights, and influence on my life. Also, when in New York, I spend most of my time on foot as opposed to in a car, so I see things differently when I’m there.
On a beautiful spring day, I took out my camera, started taking random pictures of the things I saw, and found I have a knack for it. I shared the photos to Facebook, found my friends liked them too, and just continued with it.
What do you like most about photography?
Capturing moments in time, whether it is through the dance pictures, an unusual or visually interesting place, or through portraits I take of people. People seem to appreciate that I can do it and like my work, which is very gratifying.
Photography also has allowed me to make connections I never would have imagined — such as the one I’m making with you right now — and several folks from far-flung places have said they became interested in picking up a camera after seeing my random noodlings. I've been lucky to go out on photo shoots with a variety of other weekend warriors, all of whom I've learned from and whose talents are greater than mine.
Here’s what I say to anyone who has an interest in taking pictures: Try it and see what happens. You might find you like it and have a previously untapped talent. It’s something you can do alone or with others. It gives you a chance to be creative in ways you might never have imagined.
Next Up: Learning the basics.
Ben is featured in a wide-ranging interview on Broadway World, looking ahead to “Tuck Everlasting” and back at “Newsies.” In some ways, our high school senior is starting to sound like the theatre veteran that he is.
• The hardest part of performing professionally at such a young age was definitely being away from my family. I moved to New York when I was eleven and my parents had to switch off taking care of me until we could find a permanent solution. And being on the road [with “Billy Elliot”] when I was 13, and then once again when I was 16 with “Newsies”, was really hard. I was on my own, away from my family, and barely ever got to see them.
• I would say the hardest thing I've had to learn is that your body is not indestructible. I remember when I was younger, I wouldn't stretch very often and would go from zero to a hundred without really thinking about it. And that's okay when you're really young, but the older you get, the more your body needs to be taken care of. I remember I suffered a heel injury when I was in “Billy Elliot” and was out of the show for about four months, and that was really hard; I never stretched and that was definitely a wake up call for me, having to make sure I kept my body warmed up and healthy.
• In this business, unfortunately, there are hundreds of no's to one yes, and it can be really hard. But if you know this is what you want to do with your life, never give up. I know, personally, it's something I have always had a passion for and have longed to do, and everyone in this business is in it, not for the job security or the paycheck, but because it's what they love.
The boy is growing up. To see the rest of the interview by Gianluca Russo, click on the link here.
Snowy morning — New York City, February 2016
Subway station at night — Forest Hills, N.Y., September 2014
Stage door entrance — New York City, February 2016
Facing the falling sun — Montgomery, N.Y., February 2016
Street vendor on a break — New York City, February 2016
Buildings in reflection — New York City, February 2016
Friday night in New York City — February 2016
Tracks above ground — New York City, September 2014
Playing in traffic — New York City, May 2015
Up the down staircase — Schenectady, N.Y., October 2014
Fountain at Clinton Square — Syracuse, N.Y., October 2015
Lighted tree — Montgomery, N.Y., February 2016
In a continuing quest to show — from afar — the process of rehearsals for "Tuck Everlasting" (and the boy who is in it), here's a short video on the unveiling of the marquee. The show opens in previews on March 31, with opening night set for April 26.
Members of iMpulse made their annual winter trip to New York City this past weekend, taking a series of small and large group classes at Broadway Dance Center, seeing "An American in Paris," and posing for portraits at Columbus Circle before returning to Virginia on Saturday evening.
All but one member (Sophia Kleess, who was at a college audition) attended the photo session. A photo taken at a session locally is included here.
To see all of the portraits full size, visit my Facebook album here.
Congrats to Ben on his first day of “Tuck Everlasting” rehearsals. We’re so proud of you, son, and can’t wait to see the show.
A near airplane crash. A cross-country flight. Two college auditions. A son on Broadway. A wife working with the White House. And a drink with a Hall of Fame baseball player.
I can't say the final weekend of my 50th year on the planet was boring.
Coming in mid-January, my birthday always has felt like something of an afterthought, given the post-holiday hangover we all seem to feel post New Year's. Add four kids with birthdays in December and a January that is one of Jill's craziest months at work, and it's easy — and understandable — to see why. Hell, I'm usually not in the mood to celebrate, and it's my birthday.
Last year, for my 50th, Jill pulled off a wonderful surprise that had my mom coming in from Texas along with a gathering of many of our closest friends. This year, as my 51st approached, I decided the fewer surprises that life has to offer, the better.
It started Friday, when Emma and I embarked on another college audition trip. This one, which ultimately involved three auditions over a 24-hour period, was in California.
Leaving the anticipated wintery mix and snow behind in Virginia had lots of appeal, although two cross country flights over a four-day period had me anticipating feeling my age and then some. My body does not deal well with the winter weather whiplash we seem to be having around here, and I was still tired from the previous weekend when Jill and I went on a whirlwind trip to New York.
The New York trip (chronicled here and here via my iPhone) involved seeing Billy Joel and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night Time” (her Christmas present), having tea at the Plaza Hotel (a present to each other), and attending the engagement party for our “adopted” son, Ginno. The party also was a reunion of many of the kids and parents from “Billy Elliot,” sans Ben, who is on the road with “Newsies.”
After all that, I’m sure Jill welcomed our departure as she spent the weekend working with the ASCA staff on planning the School Counselor of the Year celebration, which includes a visit to the White House next week. We don't see her much during January because of SCOY and another major program she supervises, so I felt fortunate that we had the New York trip as a last hurrah.
Little did I know when boarding the plane how close to a last hurrah it really would be.
On the first leg, we were off to Chicago, a little late and flying low because of the bumpy air. We made it just fine, did the cross-country trek across O’Hare, and got ready to board our connection to L.A.
Checking my phone, I saw the first surprise. Late last year, Ben booked “Tuck Everlasting,” a new Broadway musical that opens in April. He’s leaving “Newsies” at the end of the month before starting rehearsals in mid-February, but no formal announcement had been made. Then, without warning, the press release went out.
We boarded the plane behind a large man, obviously an athlete. As he sat on the first row in first class, I recognized him as Frank Thomas, the Fox TV analyst who spent the majority of his Hall of Fame career with the Chicago White Sox.
After sitting on the runway for about 15 minutes, the plane started to take off. Two wheels lifted off the ground, and on Row 31 we felt the familiar surge from behind. But in a split second, the plane jerked back and the pilot ground it to a halt, fortunately taking advantage of O’Hare’s long runway.
The collective reaction was, “What the (insert expletive of choice)?!?” The fire department came out to cool off the smoking wheels as the pilot explained that a cargo door, one right under where we were sitting, had come open.
We were very lucky, even if Emma’s nap had been abruptly halted. We waited for some time until the wheels cooled enough to return to a gate (ironically the same one where our first plane landed in the nether regions of O'Hare), so we could catch another flight. I'm sure at least a couple of people also had to clean out their shorts.
It was that scary.
While Emma started on some homework, I went to the bar and saw Thomas. Figuring the night could not get more surreal, I mentioned that it must have been “interesting” to have been in the front row of the plane. He said “Cheers,” took a sip of his wine, and offered to let me sit.
We talked briefly about — what else? — airplanes and baseball, and he could not have been nicer. An hour later, steeled for the next leg of the flight, we boarded again for California.
The next day was filled with Emma’s auditions, followed by a nice dinner together. On Sunday, my birthday, Emma picked up Starbucks for me. We went to another audition and had lunch with some friends from Northern Virginia who also were in California.
At that point, we drove to Hollywood so we could be closer to the airport for our departure. In our three trips to L.A., I’ve learned to hate the traffic (worse than even Northern Virginia), love the climate (65 degrees in January) and embrace the kitsch.
Emma indulged me as we went to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (separate blog coming on that at some point) and to Amoeba Records, the second best in the U.S. after Austin’s Waterloo. We then had dinner with the Hetheringtons, longtime friends from Ben’s “Billy Elliot” days.
Coming on the heels of Ginno’s party the previous weekend, the West Coast reunion with the Hetheringtons was a nice capper to the California trip. We reminisced, we laughed harder than I’ve laughed in a long time, and looked to the future.
That future includes two more long-distance trips this month, one to North Carolina to see Nicholas and work on a freelance story, and Ben’s last “Newsies” performance in St. Louis. Ironically, that’s where he started tour life in “Billy Elliot,” more than four years ago.
Circle backs. Full circle. And around and around it goes.
For my kids, Alan Rickman will always be known as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. On screen, I greatly enjoyed his work in the original “Die Hard” and opposite Emma Thompson in “Love Actually.” (The lesser-known cult classic “Galaxy Quest” comes in third, at least for me.)
Like many actors, however, Rickman’s first love was the stage, and he returned often after establishing his movie career. On a business trip in 2002, I was fortunate to see him in the Tony Award-winning revival of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.”
“Private Lives,” written in 1930, is a screwball comedy about “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” divorcees who reunite and abandon their new spouses on the first night of their honeymoons. As with any classic farce, it is wonderful when handled with care and imagination, and falls completely flat when it’s not.
The Rickman revival, in which he reunited with frequent co-star Lindsay Duncan (who won the Tony for Best Actress), was a brilliant night of theatre. Witty, sophisticated, often laugh-out-loud hilarious, and, surprisingly, full of heart.
Walking back to my hotel on that mid-summer evening, I marveled at the performances and the show. More than a decade later, it remains a fond memory of actors working at the top of their craft.
RIP, Mr. Rickman. It was a pleasure to see you live.
(And, it goes without saying, there has been too much death in the entertainment world this week…)
New York is where photography moved from being a hobby/ business necessity/family requirement into one of my great passions. The positive response I received from Facebook friends after posting albums of the New York-themed “Street Scenes” in 2009-10 is, in large part, what pushed me to improve my skills and eventually pursue photography professionally.
Although the amount of our New York travel has decreased significantly over the past 3-4 years, I always have my camera when we visit the city. Except this time.
With only an iPhone and a lens kit Jill gave me for Christmas, I took these pictures during a recent trip that was nice mix of business and pleasure (mostly the latter). Over three days and three nights, we went to myriad places in various sections of the city, and my phone (or at least its camera) was buzzing.
Curious to see what you think of the results. All feedback is welcome!
For more photos, go to my Facebook album here.
Another set of headshots, taken last fall in New York of siblings Jeremy and Diana, are now up on my website here. I'm happy to take headshots and portraits at reasonable rates in Manhattan and in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. All you have to do is call, email, or send me a private message on Facebook.
Skylight — New York City, February 2015
Graffiti in shadow — New York City, July 2015
Lines beyond the links — Forest Hills, N.Y., September 2014
Midtown parking instructions — New York City, October 2014
Canal Center — outside Syracuse, N.Y., October 2015
Peeling sign — Rochester, N.Y., October 2015
Headshots and senior photos of Georgia are now up on my website at http://glenncook.virb.com/georgia. Why don't you schedule a session to kick off 2016?
Now on my website (http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance) is a fascinating human interest story on a young woman who became a corporate attorney thanks to her mother's willingness to sacrifice everything. I also took the photos of Patricia Astorga and her mother in New York City earlier this fall.
Montezuma National Wildlife Preserve — between Syracuse and Rochester, N.Y., October 2015
Storm clouds — Syracuse, October 2015
Buried advertisement — New York City, March 2015
The horror of "No Parking" — Rochester, N.Y., October 2015
Headshots of adult actors and performers taken during "short shoot" sessions in October 2015 in Syracuse, N.Y. To get more information about these sessions, contact me here.
Engagement photos of Ginno and Elie, taken earlier this month along the High Line and in Manhattan's meatpacking district, are now up on the website here. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Sometimes you have to “Just Dance.”
That’s what a group of children and adults have done at a local school in the village of Chittenango, N.Y., since a fire destroyed their studio in late September. And this Saturday, they’ll dance again in a fundraiser to benefit the rescue workers who put out the blaze.
“We are a small community that needs to take care of each other,” said Michael Quirk, a Chittenango native who opened Just Dance Studio seven years ago. “During our time of need Chittenango has stepped up and helped us. We want to give back to show our thanks to this great community.”
Chittenango, located about 15 miles east of Syracuse, is a small village best known as the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The village holds a three-day Oz-Stravaganza! and has a yellow brick road on both sides of Genesee Street, which houses Chittenango’s main business district.
Just Dance Studio, which has 87 students ages 3 to adult, had its facilities on the first floor of a two-story brick building on Genesee. Late in the evening on Sept. 24, a fire started in a second floor apartment and quickly engulfed the building.
The students were dancing the next day at the local high school.
In early October, I took a brief business trip to the Syracuse-Rochester area. Stephanie Wicks, a longtime friend and co-worker of Jill’s, mentioned the fire and what had happened. “You probably could get some good pictures,” she said.
I contacted Quirk and his sister, Kelli Handzel (the business manager), and offered to take photos of several of the studio’s students to raise funds for the rebuilding efforts. We agreed to meet on a Saturday afternoon the day before I left outside the studio building, which has been condemned and will be demolished.
Ten dancers, ranging in age from 7 to 11, were there with their parents. Many were wearing Just Dance T-shirts, and all had costumes. We took photos at the studio, went to the Chittenango Volunteer Fire Department, where a festival was being held, and then to Chittenango Falls State Park.
Most of the photos in my “Art & Dance” series are of pre-professional and professional dancers who have been immersed in years of training. This shoot served as a reminder of why kids get into it in the first place — they like to “Just Dance."
Saturday’s recital, which will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at Chittenango Middle School, comes as the volunteer fire department continues its annual fundraising campaign. Taxpayers fund the trucks and most of the department’s emergency equipment, but repairs, maintenance and upkeep of the building and grounds are paid for with donations.
Tickets are $5 at the door. Dance and fire safety demonstrations are planned, along with flu shots, a 50/50 raffle and other activities. Quirk is using the recital as an opportunity to “reveal” where the replacement studio will be located.
“We are very lucky,” he said during the shoot. “This community has been so supportive. At the same time, many people thought we wouldn’t continue to operate or just close up shop, so we need to make a statement that we’re still here and we’ll be even better. For many of our kids, dance is becoming their primary activity. They enjoy it too much. We enjoy it too much to just walk away.”
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Chittenango Fire Department, mail it to 417 Genesee Street, Chittenango, N.Y., 13037. For more “Art & Dance” photos from this session, go here.
Niagara steam — Niagara Falls, N.Y., August 2015
Abandoned barn amid the arriving fall — Jamesville, N.Y., October 2015
No cars standing — Schenectady, N.Y., October 2014
Every once in a while, I must spend some time reclaiming the muse.
Since May, our family has gone through a seemingly never-ending set of transitions, racing from task to task, thing to thing, and place to place. We’ve traveled hither and yon for work and for children, and tried desperately to keep up the pace. To be frank, some days it’s gone better than others, at least on my end.
We’ve seen two kids graduate (Nicholas and Kate); helped move three of the four children (Nicholas, Kate and Ben), co-signing on leases for the latter two; helped the fourth (Emma) get ready for college applications and auditions; been forced to buy not one but two cars (one died; one was totaled); dealt with lost (and never found) luggage after one of the trips; and purchased new camera equipment after mine was stolen. When you and your insurance agent can recognize each other’s phone number without caller ID, you know it’s been a rough go.
Fortunately, and thanks to Jill’s careful planning and management of the household budget, none of these events have been catastrophic. Still, the collection has added to life’s scar tissue, and it hasn’t helped that at certain points “time” was the only word that did not have “down” as a prefix.
My creative muse, which is interwoven into everything I do, was feeling more neglected than our cat. And my muse’s meow was starting to turn into a roar.
Thankfully, Emma had her first college audition and a dance intensive in New York this past weekend. I drove her and two friends up to Lower Manhattan and stayed with friends in the city for the two days. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Since Ben left the city four (!) years ago, I’ve rarely had enough time to do the things that make New York so appealing: Visit friends, take pictures, see shows, etc. This time around, I arranged to do a little of it all and cashed in some prime travel karma chits that apparently were accumulated over the past several months.
I had a chance to spend time with Ginno, our “adopted” older child, staying with him and taking his engagement (!) pictures on the High Line on Saturday. After seeing Carol, another friend, I watched a devastatingly beautiful revival of “Spring Awakening” (this season’s must see after “Hamilton,” which I’m beginning to think I’ll never get tickets to watch).
Sunday was the big test, in part because planned activities required me to go from Hudson Heights to Bryant Park to JFK Airport to Coney Island before returning to Virginia. The day would start early, before 8, and would not end until I picked up Emma and her friends at 5:30 for the drive home.
I’m still shaking my head at the how, but it all worked. A headshot session with two children at Bryant Park was smooth, productive and efficient, despite the autumn chill. My friend Bernadette, who accompanies me on many of these types of adventures, and I left and aimed toward the TWA Flight Center, where an open house was being held in the iconic terminal.
We arrived just after 11 and managed to get in, despite the large (and growing) crowd that wanted to see the terminal one last time before it is converted into a luxury hotel (blog entry below). No waiting in long lines meant we had a legitimate shot at our next appointment, which was with another friend (David) in Coney Island.
Somehow we made it there in time to spend three hours snapping away, swapping stories and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. When we left to get Emma and her friends, I felt rejuvenated.
The travel gods were reasonably kind to us on the way back to Virginia, despite an awkward exit from the city (memo to self: Learn how to get out of Lower Manhattan smoothly) that threw us off somewhat. We made it home by 10:30 p.m.
All in all, I have no complaints. The experience helped me regain the creative muse that I’ve struggled to find at times over the past couple of months. Now I’m ready to attack the world again.
My father was a huge fan of the Jet Age-influenced modern architecture that found its way to the United States in the early 1960s. He was particularly fond of the Space Needle in Seattle and loved the design of the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, which looks like a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs.
He also appreciated the design of the Trans World Airlines Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport, even though he never had the chance to see the famed gull-winged building that was dedicated in 1962.
On Sunday, two days before what would have been my dad’s 75th birthday, I toured the terminal with Bernadette, a family friend and fellow photographer. The tour, part of Open House New York, was billed as the last time the terminal will be open before it is converted into the centerpiece of a $265 million luxury hotel.
Designed by the celebrated Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, the terminal is considered one of the masterpieces of 20th-century modernism. Saarinen, who also designed the St. Louis Gateway Arch, wanted it to have sleek and flowing lines that represent a bird in flight.
New York City was considered the birthplace of the Jet Age, which officially started in the mid 1940s but took off (literally) in 1958, when the Boeing 707 began service on a New York to London route. That was the first year that more passengers crossed the Atlantic Ocean by air rather than by ship, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
The development of the Boeing 747 only accelerated the pace of air travel, but it also was the beginning of the end for the TWA Flight Center, which struggled to handle the larger planes and additional passengers. On Sunday, for example, organizers for Open House New York expected 3,000 to 5,000 people to be on hand for the tour, and the terminal felt crowded with half that number.
Fortunately, unlike many celebrated buildings that seem to be randomly razed in and around the city, the terminal was included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Last month, the state approved plans by MCR Development and JetBlue Airways plans to build a 500-room, six-story luxury hotel on the terminal site.
The Mad Men-era terminal will become the lobby for the hotel, which is scheduled to open in 2018. For generations to come, the hotel owners promise, it will feel like 1962 again.
Somewhere, my dad is smiling.
For more photos, see my Facebook page here.
Stone steps — Chittenango, N.Y., August 2015
Street sweeping — New York City, June 2015
View of the Freedom Tower — New York City, June 2015
Church school in Harlem — New York City, September 2014
Abandoned store — Schenectady, N.Y., October 2014
Chittenango Falls — Chittenango, N.Y., August 2015
Flag in the side mirror — outside Syracuse, N.Y., August 2015
Town bridge — Alden, N.Y., August 2015
Police presence — Forest Hills, N.Y., September 2014
Garage windows — Schenectady, N.Y., October 2014
Clouds over Lower Manhattan — New York City, July 2015
Roseland hands — New York City, September 2013
Finding color in the gray — New York City, September 2014
Under the Brooklyn Bridge — New York City, July 2015
Angry face — New York City, September 2014
Playing in traffic — New York City, May 2015
Standing out in a field — Saratoga Springs, N.Y., October 2014
Two days after Ben left the Broadway company of Billy Elliot, and the afternoon before he left on the tour, kids and parents from both companies joined us for a "Goodbye ... Hello" celebration in one of the kids' favorite locations — a park close to the show. Thanks to all who attended and supported our son. It was a great afternoon.
Ben played the principal role of Michael during Billy Elliot's 1,000th show on Broadway this week. Unfortunately, I was traveling from New York to San Francisco, but my mom and nephew, Eric, were there to see the performance. Photos are by Broadway World and Playbill.
Congratulations to everyone involved with the show, which has been running on Broadway for almost three years.
A big congratulations to Ben on his debut as Michael today in Billy Elliot. Son, you were great, and we hope you get to perform the role again soon. Thanks to everyone who attended and those who sent kind comments — it was fantastic!
Few things are sadder than seeing a stage, full of such life and vibrancy just a few days ago, empty except for the crew loading out.
But that’s what happens when a show closes. For those not familiar with the lingo, it’s called the “strike.” (Ironically appropriate, in this case…)
This morning, after dropping Ben off for school, I walked past the Neil Simon for the first time since Sunday’s closing performance, seeing the crates and the crew working in what seemed like organized chaos to me. It’s yet another difference between community and professional theatre; in this case, you have a lot of people who are paid good money to clean up afterward.
It’s still sad, however. And it made me do my own version of a circle back.
I circled back to last week, when suddenly people who thought the show would run for a lot longer raced to the theatre to see “Ragtime.” Several times, waiting after the show, I looked at the crowd standing outside in the frigid cold to get autographs and wondered: WHY?
In the short, three-plus block walk from the theatre to our apartment, I also thought of Alejando Escovedo’s song “The End,” written about the dissolution of a relationship. As the guitars build, Escovedo almost shouts, “Is this really the end?” repeatedly during the chorus.
I use music (along with writing) to process my thoughts and this was the song I played walking around the hospital in the final night before my father passed away. Sadly, the feelings were the same.
This show is not coming back; it really is the end.
If you have the time, take a look at this video of “Gene” the puppet, a creation by cast member Benjamin Schrader, talking to cast members about the show’s closing. It will make you smile.
Ben had the opportunity to perform as Billy with cast members from “Billy Elliot” during the 25th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. “Billy Elliot” raised more than $150,000 during the six-week fundraiser, finishing as the second runner-up in the competition among all Broadway shows.
With Neil McCaffrey as Michael and the show’s Ballet Girls, the group performed a hysterically funny mashup of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” in two shows at the Minskoff Theatre.
The six-week fundraiser by 52 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies raised $3.7 million. Seventeen productions participated in the benefit at the Minskoff (home of “The Lion King”).
To see a six-minute compilation of clips from the show, go to this link.
The performance also gave us an opportunity to spend time together as a family over the Easter weekend, an event that featured a visit from Nicholas as well as a subway trip to Coney Island. Below are photos that illustrate the always "interesting" time we have together.
Ben auditioned for and was cast as "Young Jack" on NBC's "30 Rock." He taped the two-line part on Wednesday, Nov. 10, playing the Alec Baldwin character in a flashback sequence. Despite a show the night before and a 7:15 a.m. call time, Ben did the taping and then went to the Billy Elliot matinee. (Ironically, his scene was about messing up in an elementary school play...) The show airs on Dec. 2.
The girls and their dad went up to New York to see Ben on Columbus Day weekend. I took Emma the chef to the Cake Boss bakery in Hoboken, and the girls had a chance to see their brother in Billy Elliot. It was Emma's third time to see the show and Kate's first.
So, about that cake...
For her 13th birthday, Emma wanted to surprise Ben with a cake from Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, site of TLC's "Cake Boss" show. We made the appointment in October and Emma sampled, met Mario, and picked a cake with edible pictures. On her birthday, we went to back to pick up the cake, unveiled it for Ben at the apartment, and then took it on tour to the restaurant between shows and to "Billy Elliot," where Emma stood by proudly as it was served to the cast before the evening show... She truly was the boss of the cake.
While Jill got ready for Christmas in Virginia, Nicholas, Emma and I went to New York to be with Ben. On the Wednesday before we returned home, the three of us walked around Manhattan, clocking more than 7 miles in a 10-plus hour trip that featured stops in Rockefeller Center, at the Pop Tarts and Charmin stores, the Times Square Toys 'r Us, Starbucks (of course) and Lincoln Center. It was a very nice and (amazingly) peaceful day.
Now this one was special... Thanksgiving with the Jill and the kids, plus Ginno, Kim, Zach, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, a few celebrities (Neil Diamond, Cee-Lo, Kermit), great food, and gorgeous weather. All in all, a wonderful day.
Given its proximity to Halloween, some clever person decided to dub Hurricane Sandy “Frankenstorm.” Appropriate, given that this was a particularly ghoulish event, in part because it is so rare to have such a massive storm whip through this late in the season.
For several days, the threat of Frankenstorm presented a new chapter in the DC-NY rivalry, except this time neither city wanted to be the winning team. In the end, we were largely spared as the storm smacked the eastern seaboard. For us, Frankenstorm was really Frankenweenie.
That wasn’t the case in New Jersey and New York, which were hardest hit, as the storm surge hit New York City on Oct. 29. Streets, tunnels and subway lines were hit, and power in and around the city was shut off for hours.
We didn’t lose power. The lights flickered, but we didn’t lose it, which is amazing given that our grid often feels like it has a short on a regular day.
I witnessed some other miracles during and after the storm, as well as a few things that make you wonder what the hell is happening to our world. First, the miracles:
• My teenage girls didn't lose it at each other. They agreed, without discussing it, to temporarily put aside their differences and get along for the first time in many, many months. The cat was glad to get her scratching post back, even if it's only on a temporary basis.
• My teenage boy is safe in Manhattan after being evacuated from the building where he is staying. It's near a crane that was perched precariously near a series of apartments and stores in midtown.
• Jill's Atlanta meeting went very smoothly, The travel gods were so kind that she actually got home on time.
Of course, there are things that make you shake your head, such as:
In the middle of the wind and rain, the phone rings from someone wanting to know if I'm "voting for conservative family values." The last thing I need to add to the atmosphere is more hot air. In fact, I think Frankenstorm is Mother Nature's response to the barrage of political ads that are permeating the airwaves.
And finally, Sandy illustrated the inherent risks you see in live TV news coverage. On one station, a reporter said: "Wow, this thing is pounding me from behind..."
So, after two and a half years, we finally moved out of our apartment on West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan. It really made no sense to keep it with Ben on the road and Ginno going with him to be his guardian.
That said, we will miss that place more than you can imagine. Great memories were made there as our family embarked on adventures we never thought possible.
A number of bucket list items were crossed off thanks to that place.
But one more adventure was still to be had: Driving a U-haul through the streets of Manhattan. And surprisingly, I managed just fine, even though it was a rough ride. Once we got everything loaded, I took off down the New Jersey Turnpike, which felt like riding a mechanical bull for two hours without stopping.
Fortunately, the traffic gods were kind for once, and I managed to get home safely. We’re now merging the apartment furniture into our house, moving most of it into the basement and Ginno’s boxes into our garage. Who knows when we’ll be back into the city that we’ve come to love.
And that, folks, is what I define as a melancholy realization.