Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seven (7) Things I Learned From Hamilton

Lin-Miranda Miranda in Hamilton via Wikimedia Commons
I'm a stubborn bitch who prefers to see the show first, then listen to the music, later, when it comes to musicals.

But. So many of my friends have been buzzing about Hamilton I couldn't hold out until it is scheduled to come to my area, late next year. I downloaded it from Spotify and have been playing it on repeat for almost a week. Who needs Xmas carols?

1) The buzz is right, it's terrific. Beyond terrific. That said, for those who incline more to Rogers & Hammerstein or Elton John & Tim Rice style musicals, wrapping one's head around the rap and hip-hop can be an initial challenge. There's so much here (and there are some weepingly poignant ballads, too).

2) Listening to songs from a complicated and detail-rich Broadway musical out of sequence will leave you confused AF. All gratitude to my writer friend Samantha Joyce for providing me with the Idiots' Guide to turning OFF default shuffle.

3) It is a hella lot more comfortable reading or listening to history than living it in the moment. In the moment, it is terrifying and painful.

4) I am a sentimental wuss and bawled my eyes out over several of the songs. Which now happens every time I listen to it. I can't wait to actually see the show. (Anybody want to trade Los Angeles tickets for a slightly used kidney?)

5) There seem to be a couple of different ways politicians relate to their country. The "A dot Ham" way, putting aside personal gain for the sake of country, or the "A dot Burr" way, seeking government office as a convenient tool for personal gain or ego stroking.

Let us hope that just as Aaron Burr's style was only temporarily ascendant, that in the longer, bigger picture, the USA won't stand for it.

6) The music winds its way into your bones, and is full of clever hooks, but the lyrics are freakin' brilliant. And pointedly, they show how the Founding Fathers didn't exactly hold hands singing kumbaya, before, during, or after independence from England. Take these excerpts from Cabinet Battle #1 (handle with oven mitts, they are HOT!):

JEFFERSON:
'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'
We fought for these ideals, we shouldn't settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote 'em
Don't act surprised you guys, cuz I wrote 'em
<snip>
Oooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York's in Debt -
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I'm afraid
Don't tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade
In Virginia, we plant seeds in the ground
We create. You just wanna move our money around

HAMILTON:
Thomas. That was a real nice declaration
Welcome to the present, we're running a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow
Doin' whatever the hell it is you do in Montecello
<snip>
A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor
Your debts are paid cuz you don't pay for labor
"We plant seeds in the South. We create.
Yeah, keep ranting
We know who's really doing the planting
<snip>
Madison, you're mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you're in worse shape than the national debt is in
Sitting there useless as two shits
Hey, turn around, bend over, I'll show you
Where my shoe fits

7) Everyone believes themselves to be the hero of their own story, from Alexander Hamilton to Aaron Burr to Mike Myers' character Dr. Evil, to more recent politicians.

I need to keep in mind that Hitler and his henchmen thought he was a good guy. And he did have his good points: teetotaller, vegetarian, pet lover. (Well, until the end when he poisoned his dog.) Alexander Hamilton was a passionate patriot, but he was also a very flawed human being, too.

Our nation has survived rough times, and crooked politicians. We've survived Grant's administration when the nation was being tooled by robber barons much like current Cabinet nominees. America has never lived up to its lofty ideals: our history with American tribes is horrific, and then there was the whole slavery thing, and Jim Crow?

I am going to work as hard as possible to look on the next phase as an opportunity to do better. To stand up for those who are marginalized and most in danger in the next administration: Muslims, both native born Americans and immigrants, our other immigrants, our LGBTQ people, our disabled people, our POC, for all our people. To speak truth to power, because that is the only way things change.

To not turn my back when I see people in danger. To practice kindness, as much as possible.

What are you going to do in the next phase of America?