Tag Archives: lower Manhattan

Visiting the national 9/11 memorial

One of several 9/11 memorial images visitors see as they walk the long path to the entrance

My daughter Lizabeth, a college freshman studying acting at Pace University, called home shortly after she’d visited the newly-opened 9/11 memorial with a group of fellow students. It was clear she’d been teary-eyed – genuinely moved by the enormous losses of that day.

It’s hard to grasp all that is “Ground Zero” until you see it with your own eyes, and those of us who didn’t lose a loved one will never truly understand the depth of grief wrought by the terrorist attacks of that day. But we can honor those lost with a simple act – remembering.

Knowing that I’ve long followed events surrounding development of the 9/11 memorial and museum, Lizabeth took her camera along so she could snap a few photos. She quickly decided, however, that taking pictures felt wrong somehow. This is a place where thousands of Americans died. It’s not, she told me, a tourist attraction.

Parents feel especially proud during such moments. I listened intently as Lizabeth described the experience of walking through the memorial grounds. Every turn brings more and more names of people who died that day. And powerful waves of emotion.

View across a 9/11 memorial reflecting pool on Sept. 12, 2011

I thought of Lizabeth as my husband James drove me to the airport last Wednesday morning. As soon as passes to the memorial became available, he thoughtfully reserved a pair so I could experience the site with Lizabeth during my trip to NYC. “Do you think it’s tacky to take photos,” I asked. “No,” he said, “I’m sure lots of people take pictures of the memorial.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” I replied. For once I felt like the lawyer in the family. “Thousands of people died there,” I said. “It’s really a grave site.” He reminded me that people photograph cemeteries all the time. I’m guilty of that myself, of course – but that didn’t make me feel any better about it.

I recalled trips to Washington, D.C. and the many photos I’ve taken at Arlington Memorial Ceremony. Like most people, I photograph the things that have special meaning or the things I most want to remember. For me it’s the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame marking John F. Kennedy’s grave.

Though I planned to visit the 9/11 memorial with Lizabeth last Friday, I ended up going alone on Thursday night after walking by a memorial gift shop near the site where someone had extra passes for admission that evening. I knew Lizabeth wouldn’t mind me going alone, and I was eager to experience the memorial under a starry sky.

View across a 9/11 memorial reflecting pool towards the 9/11 museum

Somehow the darkness amplifies all that steel and water, with all the trees and all those names — backlit after nightfall. Two names, in particular, stand out — belonging to two women listed with the words “and unborn child.” A pair of tridents from the “twin towers” inside the 9/11 museum are beautifully lit and visible through the transparent walls of the museum, which will open once completed.

I stayed at a hotel adjacent to the World Trade Center construction site — where I started and ended each day with time spent watching the work in progress that holds such significance for our nation. Giant cranes moving back and forth. Workers in orange and yellow vests dotting the sight both day and night.

A steady stream of patriotic pilgrims head to the site and surrounding areas each day — negotiating crowded streets with everyday New Yorkers bustling between home, office and other haunts. For all the deaths wrought that terrible day ten Septembers ago, this is a place full of life and focused on the future.

— Lynn

Note: Several Arizona cities, including Gilbert and Phoenix, have their own 9/11 memorials. Click here to see images from the National 9/11 Memorial webcam, and here to learn more about the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Coming up: Exploring memorials at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix


This is what democracy looks like

Mother and daughter who participated in an Oct. 15 Occupy Wall Street march in NYC

It’s a chant commonly heard during “Occupy Wall Street” marches, which have been branching out from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan to other parts of NYC.

My daughter Lizabeth ran into them Saturday night after catching a subway from her university near Ground Zero to Times Square in the heart of NYC’s theater district.

That morning, I’d walked alongside several marchers as they made their first stop of the day — to a Chase bank in the Wall Street financial district. At one point, I turned to see four college-age women chanting “This is what democracy looks like!”

One, a student named Taylor from Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, told me they were protesting to show that “young people have a voice.” I don’t disagree, but I’m guessing that some of the folks who are marching have yet to exercise another fundamental right — voting. I hope they aren’t overlooking the one in their zeal to embrace the other.

I also chatted with a man originally from Australia, who now calls Canada home. I asked Joel about the role art seemed to be playing in the movement, noting that I’d seen several protest-inspired paintings and sculptures during my many visits to Zuccotti Park.

We agreed that art and social justice are often “intertwined,” but Joel took the observation a step further. “In a military dictatorship,” he told me, “art is one of the first things crushed” — noting when I pressed him further that although America has a strong military presence in the world, it’s not a military dictatorship.

Still, he’s concerned about the country’s future — and America’s youth. He’s pleased to see parents bringing their children to “Occupy Wall Street” events, hoping it’ll raise youth awareness about freedom of speech and critical thinking. Too often, he told me, children simply do what they’re told without considering the consequences — even when they disagree.

Joel hopes that even parents who disagree with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement will spend some time with the families at Zuccotti Park, showing their children what exercising freedom of speech and citizen activism looks like. My own children, now grown, have attended plenty of rallies for issues we care about right here in the Valley.

Farther along in the march, I asked a woman named Penny to stop and talk for a few minutes about why she’d chosen to participate. Turns out Penny is a professor of labor studies at a New York university. We spent several minutes standing on the corner of a street together, and she told me about her two children, ages two and five.

Penny says her daughter has “come to a lot of rallies,” convinced that they foster “learning the importance of working together with other people.” She’s also eager for her daughter to experience the “collective joy of standing together.” The woman’s own joy was evident as we spoke. “I hope that she feels connected to other people,” Penny added.

Soon Penny was on her way, passing out flyers encouring people to consider using local credit unions rather than giant banks like those affiliated with Wall Street. So I turned to three women and a young girl talking nearby, and asked if they’d share their reasons for making that morning’s march.

A third grader from New York, who shared that her mom is unemployed, didn’t hestitate in offering an explanation. “Me and my mom are here to change the world,” she told me. “We’re here to occupy Wall Street.” At the time they were just a few blocks away from literally doing so.

“If one person doesn’t like something,” Sofia told me, “then it doesn’t matter.” Seems she’s wise beyond her years about finding strength in numbers and solidarity with fellow citizens. So I asked what she’d say to other children who might be thinking about getting involved.

“They should come out,” Sofia told me. “It’s fun, it’s freedom — and you never know what is going to happen.” Later that evening, of course, protestors numbering 6,000 according to reports by ABC News, took to Times Square, and a small number were arrested.

She’s right about the unpredictability of such things — but I’m hoping everyone involved will remember the children standing alongside them as the movement marches on. They’re watching, listening and learning. And they deserve peace — on not only a global level, but in their everyday lives as well.

— Lynn

Note: “Parents for Occupy Wall Street” is holding a “Family Sleep Over” at Zuccotti Park Oct. 21-22 (4pm-11am). Click here to learn more.

Coming up: NYChildren exhibit featuring photographs by Danny Goldfield, A graphic biography on the life of Anne Frank, “The Big Draw” at NYC’s National Museum of the American Indian

Pondering peace

I was struck, while listening to President Obama deliver a speech today to a gathering of United Nations members in New York City, by several of his remarks about furthering peace and justice in the world.

Our conscience calls on us to act. Our common humanity is at stake. Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. Together let us make peace…but a peace that will last.

It reminded me of quotes I’d pondered earlier this year at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, which are pictured throughout this post.

Parents looking for ways to promote peace, which always starts at home, are getting a little help from Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company — which presents a work titled “Peacemaker” Feb 11-26, 2012 at Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale.

Phoenix Theater offers this description of the work…

The Blues and the Reds have lived on either side of the Wall for decades. Interaction is forbidden, and both communities live in an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and mistrust. But when circumstances allow Simp, a Red, to meet Bluey, they learn that their similarities far outweigh the differences.

“Peacemaker” — which is full of clowning, juggling and physical storytelling — is meant to promote acceptance, empathy and friendship.

The United Nations reports that “an International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September.”

“The first Peace Day,” they add, “was observed in September 1982. In 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, which established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”

An art exhibit featuring photos of NYC children who hail from every country on the planet opened today at Park51 in Lower Manhattan. The Kickstarter-funded exhibit features the work of David Goldfield, which I hope to explore while visiting Lizabeth next month for Pace University’s homecoming weekend.

We pay attention to peace for a lot of reasons at our house, including the fact that our daughter Jennifer hopes to work at the United Nations one day. She’s an ASU student studying cultural anthropology whose current classes focus on human disease, religions of the world, and Holocaust history and the media.

For ideas on promoting peace in homes, schools, communities and beyond, visit the “International Day of Peace” website at www.internationaldayofpeace.org.

— Lynn

Note: You’ll find Arizona Museum for Youth at www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com, Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company at www.cookiecompany.org, Park51 at www.park51.org and the United Nations at www.un.org.

Coming up: Making peace with a purple plastic purse

Keeping pace

My youngest daughter, Lizabeth, called Saturday night to tell me about her dorm in New York City. She’s attending Pace University, the closest university to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Her room overlooks a lovely patch of green where she hopes to spot people walking their puppies.

But also Ground Zero, where construction continues on the new World Trade Center. Lizabeth has long lamented much of the country’s singular focus on death and destruction in the aftermath of 9/11. 

She’s focused on the future, eager to see hope and healing rise from the earth so shattered by hatred and loss. She’ll be witness to rebuilding of the World Trade Center each time she looks out her window and strolls the streets of Lower Manhattan.

A courtyard at the Pace NYC campus houses several works of sculpture, including this piece near a 9/11 memorial called the Book of Remembrance (at left)

While most of the events taking place in NYC this week are centered on the tragic losses wrought by 9/11, which we must all take care to remember collectively and alone, many reflect that yearning I see in Lizabeth to move from what has been to what can be. From the tragedy of destruction to the triumph of diversity.

The “91111 Moving Forward Project” invited children eight to 14 to take and upload photographs that “show New York as a city of diversity and forward movement, even during tragedy.” Accepted works are being displayed online and at various NYC locations through Sept 30. (www.notestrokes.com)

“The underlying purpose of the project is to impart things that are positive to young people that have been growing up in New York City since 9/11,” reflects project founder Thomas Riedl. “Young people that have been exposed to many negatives since then.”

The Pace University community will be participating in 9/11-related events in coming days, including several that are open to the public — photography exhibits, symposia, an oral history project and a memorial service. (www.pace.edu/paceremembers911)

This Book of Remembrance at Pace University in NYC lists the names of four students and 43 alumni killed in the 9/11 attacks

They’ll also remember four students and 43 alumni lost to 9/11 — with a reading of names, a release of 47 balloons, a candlelight vigil and more. A community viewing of memorial events at Ground Zero is scheduled for members of the Pace community on 9/11.

Perhaps because my own children were 8, 10 and 12 at the time of the attacks on 9/11, there’s a special place in my heart for the voices of young people directly affected by them. So one event taking place at Pace holds special appeal.

It’s a debut performance of “Ten Years Later: Voices from a Post-9/11 Generation Speak” — an exploration written by 13 young people ages nine to 21 that’ll take place on the stage where Bravo TV films its “Inside The Actors Studio.” Celebrities take note. These kids will be a tough act to follow.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the World Trade Center, visit www.wtc.com, www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress and www.911memorial.org/world-trade-center-history.

Coming up: The 9/11 memorial and museum takes shape, More 9/11 events featuring artworks by youth, Remembering 9/11 through arts and culture

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade auditions

Some of the kids who audition at ASU Gammage this Saturday might get to enjoy workshops, performing and sightseeing in New York City this November

I’ve got NYC on my heart and mind today as Hurricane Irene threatens to head up the East Coast, possibly affecting some of my favorite sites in New York City — the beautiful Battery Park waterfront, Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan and more.

Folks enjoying their weekday lunch hour along a waterway in Battery Park

But I’m also thinking ahead. More than 3 million people are expected to line the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route in NYC on Nov 24, and your child could be among those performing for the crowds. Macy’s expects another 50 million people to watch the 85th anniversary parade on NBC.

Auditions for this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are being held by the national Camp Broadway organization this Sat, Aug 27 at 9am at ASU Gammage. It’s an open call dance audition but no dance experience, headshot or resume is required — meaning any child who will be 12-16 at the time of the parade who might like to participate can try out.

Camp Broadway will be casting 120 children and teens from across the country (there are about ten auditions total) to perform an original number titled “There’s No Place Like Here” at the parade. They’ll be performing on and near a Zhu Zhu theme float — which will feature a performance by a “mystery teen pop star.” Tempe is stop number one for these auditions.

Those chosen will participate in a special Camp Broadway experience that includes six days of music, movement rehearsals and workshops — plus on-site rehearsals at Herald Square under the direction of Tony Parise, artistic director for Camp Broadway at the national level.

Parise will teach a dance combination on Saturday as part of the audition process. Auditions will be conducted in groups, and participants are expected to dress for dance. Think comfortable clothes and soft rubber-soled shoes. Sandals, flip-flops and hard-sole dress shoes are a no-no.

There are no time slots for auditioners, and the length of the audition process will depend on the number of kids who take part. Camp Broadway estimates that it could be a two to three hour process, but urges families to prepare for longer or shorter hours. Be sure you arrive at the audition no later than 9am.

I’m happy to report that the experience sounds a good deal more enjoyable than dancing with Abby Lee Miller at the Pittsburgh studio where Lifetime television films portions of its new “Dance Moms” reality series.

Those selected to dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will pay an $895 program fee to participate. While in NYC, they’ll receive Camp Broadway giveaways — and they’ll even get to keep their parade costume. Participants also pay associated costs like travel, housing and such.

Perhaps some of the parade performers will get inspired to study one day at places like the Juilliard School in New York City

While in NYC, dancers will not only prepare for their parade performance, but enjoy time with dance captains from various Broadway shows — who will teach them actual choreography from these shows. Parise notes that there will also be time for sightseeing, since some rehearsals last just half a day.

While in NYC, parade performers will spot taxis sporting ads for all sorts of Broadway shows -- and maybe feel inspired to perform on Broadway one day

Those with an interest in all things Broadway might want to mark their calendars for next year’s Camp Broadway at ASU Gammage taking place Jun 4-8. Campers will see a touring production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet” and meet the show’s cast.

Participants from Camp Broadway at ASU Gammage in 2007

Come Saturday, I’ll have a heavy heart for those along the East Coast who might be experiencing or bracing for the storm. Especially folks at places like the 9/11 Memorial Preview Center and Poets House, which I so enjoyed visiting during my last trip to NYC.

But I’m glad to have something positive to think on as well — all those dancing feet and smiling faces as Camp Broadway gives oodles of young dancers at ASU Gammage a chance to live their own NYC dreams at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to read about special Macy’s discounts available through Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale

Coming up: Saturday event featuring family-friendly comedy

Remembering New York

There’s an image that I work hard to keep alive, just as I’m learning to let so many other memories go. It’s the image of watching my daughter Jennifer, dressed in peach and lavender tulle, dancing the role of “Bon Bon” in a Ballet Arizona performance of “The Nutcracker” many years ago, before Ib Andersen unveiled his own choreography for the classic work.

Jennifer loves these typewriters and card catalog drawers at Poets House

I thought of Jennifer Thursday when I happened upon the Poets House on River Terrace in Battery Park City, because their children’s area had all sorts of folk art, stuffed animals and other things she’d truly enjoy — even pint-sized manual typewriters and old-fashioned school desks with chairs attached.

Poets House in NYC invites children to read to these stuffed animals

But it’s the desk of a gentleman who works there that really caught my eye. I snapped oodles of pictures, eager to show them to Jennifer when I got back to Phoenix. It was a creamy shade of green Jennifer would simply call “retro” — and it was covered in large magnetic words like “family” and “imagine.”

I wanted to bring this desk home for Jennifer's dorm room

I was struck by how many of the words reminded me of New York — especially the word “different.” There’s an amazing diversity of people and experiences in the city, and I adore it.

Ferry station along the Hudson River near Poets House in NYC

After my time at the Poets House, and my stroll along the Hudson River that followed, I felt like running away from home — never leaving this city that feels such a rare blend of comfortable and thrilling.

Visitors to Lincoln Center enjoy several sculptures throughout the plaza

Thursday night I went with Lizabeth to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where we saw “War Horse” — this year’s Tony Award winner for best play. While strolling between various venues within the center, we happened upon one of the “Pop-up Pianos” that Sing for Hope places around the city for a brief bit of time each year. Each piano is painted with a different motif, and members of the public are encouraged to play them.

Another sculpture found in the plaza near the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center

Soon after we spotted the piano in an open courtyard where nearly a hundred people sat on long concrete benches or metal chairs at bistro tables, two men who appeared to be college-age played — one right after the other. Each played an elaborate, lengthy piece and we suspected, because The Juilliard School is located within eyeshot of the plaza, that they were accomplished music students.

A Pop-up Piano from Sing for Hope placed in a plaza at Lincoln Center

Lizabeth was eager to play the piano when it first caught her eye, but hesitated after hearing the two gentlemen play — fearing she’d spent too much time away from piano to sound nearly that polished. I held back so she could choose whether or not to brave the piano bench, but shared that hearing her play might inspire younger, beginning students to give it a go.

View of The Juilliard School from the Vivian Beaumont Theater

Soon she was playing pieces like “Peer Gynt” from memory and trying selections from piano books left atop the instrument. She told her dad when we got home Friday night that she didn’t play as well as the others, but I told her it wasn’t about the performance. It was about courage, and she has it.

View inside the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center

Like Jennifer’s performance in “The Nutcracker,” Lizabeth’s performance in that majestic plaza will stay with me for a lifetime — a fact that gave me comfort when it appeared my NYC photos had been lost. Still, I think sometimes that the moments we can’t preserve are the ones we remember best.

— Lynn

Coming up: Remembering 9/11

Pasta pizza & public art

Yesterday my daughter Lizabeth introduced me to one of the seven wonders of the culinary world–pasta pizza. A little pizza joint near Manhattan’s financial district was our first stop after making the flight from Phoenix to Newark.

Along the way, she gave me a brief walking tour of the area. The Seaport Historic District, Ground Zero, a city park filled with people and public art — which I captured on camera while she patiently put up with my “Stage Mom” musings.

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Today we’re off to Greenwich Village and the Art Gallery District in Chelsea. We’d love to do Shakespeare in the Park this evening, but tickets are hard to come by so we’ll probably have to save that for a future trip.

— Lynn

Note: The three pieces of public art pictured above, all from City Hall Park in lower Manhattan, are Splotch 15, 2005 from the Lewitt Collection in Chester, CT; Three X Four X Three, 1984 — one of several Sol Lewitt Structures in the park; and Pyramid (Muenster), 1987.

Coming up: Gardens & greenery of NYC; Of scooters & subways; “Kickstarter” project supports art near Ground Zero; NYC: The good, the bad and the ugly