Congratulations to proud parents Denise Schneider and Frank Sennett, who welcomed baby boy Frank Robert Schneider Sennett on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 3:54 a.m. Frankie weighed 6 pounds, 7 oz., and measured 20 inches long. All are doing well.
And if you’re wondering what they’re doing at the top of the column, well, I originally intended to tag the happy news discreetly at the bottom. Why? Blame nostalgia. Not so long ago the paper boasted all sorts of bold-faced columns: Irv Kupcinet and Bill Zwecker, and of course Mike Sneed, who still runs on Sundays.
There was a vigorous cosmopolitan swirl to those bold-faced columns. We weren’t a city of anonymous nobodies, hog-butchering and clock-watching unheralded and alone, but a glittering array of celebrities and quasi-celebrities and the connected powerful. Folks who counted.
Those days are gone, replaced by ... whatever the heck it is we have now. The top Chicago “influencer” is .... a 26-year-old make-up artist named Alexys Fleming, with 2.6 million followers on YouTube and 700,000 on Instagram. Not to take anything away from her. She seems good at what she does, and if the public is far, far, far more interested in learning how to transform into the Night King from Game of Thrones than in reading semi-witty critiques, the fault is not hers. (There’s actually more to Fleming than that; a diabetic, her ”Dumb Things People Say to Diabetics” video is funny and should be required viewing for anyone grappling with the ailment).
But I digress. To tuck the news of little Frankie’s arrival at the bottom and let it sit there, to be honest, looked strange. And demanded explanation. And the more I explained, the longer it got and I realized that ... one of my favorite expressions when it comes to writing is a line from Napoleon: If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna. No half-measures, no shilly-shallying.
So if we’re going to have a birth announcement, let’s do it up.
On to the crux. Who are Denise Schneider and Frank Sennett? Funny you should ask. Frank is director of digital strategy and custom media at Crain’s Chicago Business. I’ve known him for years; but he isn’t the reason you’re reading this. As usual, it is mom who does the heavy lifting.
Denise is the director of communications at the Goodman Theatre. Part of her job is to wrangle the press.
Such as when I showed up last month at the Goodman with the lucky winners of the Sun-Times contest to see Robert Falls’ production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale.”
We settled in our seats. I looked around at the audience and thought, with a degree of self-pity, how disconnected I am. It wasn’t the opening, so no Chris Jones, the Tribune’s erudite theater critic, to trade wry observations with; no Hedy Weiss, the former Sun-Times critic, to puzzle over from a safe distance.
Suddenly, there was Denise, standing in front of us, big as a house. This was May 16, three, count ‘em, three days before the blessed event.
There is an old rule that a gentleman should never remark upon a woman’s pregnancy unless he actually sees the baby emerging.
But I’ve known Denise for many years, conspiring to ballyhoo many Goodman productions, which have added no little savor to my life in the city. It was Denise who, when I took my older boy to the theater for his 15th birthday, contrived to have the PR staff sing “Happy Birthday” to him. That kind of thing builds loyalty in a doting dad.
We spoke of matters dramatic. The Goodman is putting on “The Music Man,” opening at the end of the month, and I, always eager to contextualize art, observed that the classical musical about a fraud who cons a gullible small town is practically ripped from the headlines, given our current parlous national state. Denise, undeterred by her condition, discussed and strategized and flattered as well as anybody could, and when conversation rolled around to her bun in the oven, I volunteered that I would be honored to put the joyful arrival in my column.
And so I have. Welcome to the world, Frankie. It is, as Hemingway said and you will discover, a fine place, and worth the fighting for.