ALEXANDER HAMILTON

This is the Hamilton post I’ve been talking about. I am far too excited to write this.

If you live in the US, you probably thought he was a president for a while. He’s the guy on your ten. You most likely had no idea where he was born, or that he was a bastard, orphan, and son of a whore. Not before Lin-Manuel Miranda & the amazing cast and crew of Hamilton The Musical shared Lin’s extensive (like, six years extensive) hard work and creative genius with the world at The Public Theatre, on Broadway, at the Grammys AND AT THE WHITE HOUSE.

(skip through to 8:50 to see the performance.)

Hamilton is a history Broadway rap musical about the life and work of founding father Alexander Hamilton. A lot of those words shouldn’t go together in a sentence. Briefly, Hamilton is the best thing to happen to the theatre business in a long time, the hardest ticket to get your hands on for the next year and a half, and also really fucking amazing.

Watch the video. For real. Just watch it.

Okay SO. When Lin-Manuel Miranda – the Tony, Grammy and Emmy award winning writer, actor, librettist and genius – thought that the first Secretary of the Treasury of the US embodied the very essence of hip-hop, a lot of people thought he was crazy. Most of those people supported him anyway, because they’re not stupid. And because they know that Lin’s a genius. I’m a big LMM fan. Can you tell?

I learned about Hamilton in November 2015, thanks to tumblr. (Thanks, tumblr.) I had heard about In The Heights (which I’m listening to as I type this), Lin’s first musical the same way. After my final drama exam in November 2015, I ran on the street yelling about my unemployment, slept over at a friend’s house, and got the cast album.

HOLY COW.

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Burr (Leslie Odom Jr) and Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda). Cosmopolitan.

Hamilton is just. UGH. I’m gaggingly awful at doing reviews of things that I love. From the first song, the musical is a fast paced whirlwind – some might even call it a Hurricane. (that’s a Hamilton pun you won’t get unless you’ve heard Hamilton.) I’m super grateful for the cast recording – the musical is sung through, so there are no scenes in between the numbers. Just…some force of crazy magic propelling the cast, chorus & Betsy Struxness (the chorus member who is just…pure…magic?). Hamilton makes the hip hop heads reconsider musical theatre, and makes musical theatre nerds start listening to rap.

 

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That guy in the purple? That’s Thomas Jefferson. (Daveed Diggs) Joan Marcus.

The founding fathers in the musical don’t look like the ones on the money. Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson has much, much better hair. With a cast of black, Latino and Asian-American founding fathers & their phenomenally strong female counterparts, Hamilton does something that seems extraordinary, but is quite simple at the core: “This is a story about America then, told by America now“.

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From left to right (and their names): Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs); James Madison (Okieriete Onaodowan); George Washington (Christopher Jackson); Peggy Schuyler (Jasmine Cephas-Jones); Angelica Schuyler (Renee Elise Goldsberry); Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (Phillipa Soo); Phillip Hamilton (Anthony Ramos)

Alexander Hamilton was a crazy, non-stop workaholic. Like, write 51 essays with a quill and ink in 6 months. HAMILTON WROTE THE OTHER FIFTY ONE. Lin, like Hamilton, has this awareness of mortality and the need to live, create and leave legacy now because it could all be over very, verrrrry quickly. (Click boom.)

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I think that’s why I connect with this musical so much. It’s so bizarre and insane and fun that someone would write their way to the top and then write their way write back down because they don’t know when to shut up. It’s 100% a Shalom thing to do. It’s the issue of knowing that death could be today, and what do you leave? What story do people tell? “If I throw away my shot, is this how you remember me?” Legacy has always been really important to me. I think the major difference between me and Lin & Hamilton is that my sense of time cripples me. Search ‘birthday’ on my site for references. What is a legacy if you’re too afraid of not having one to create one?

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Hamilton threw me into crisis.It’s the hardest ticket to get in the world. Sold out until 2017. I loved every second of it. I adore the idea of cabinet meetings as rap battles. I AM OBSESSED with the fastest song in musical theatre being a rap about brining Alexander Hamilton back to fight in the war. (6.3 words per second. Daveed Diggs, everybody.) When the smartest character in the show is Angelica Schuyler -the badass sister that reads Hamilton so quickly you’ll miss it if you blink, and makes sacrifices like you cannot believe- how could you not? This show is evidence of a mind at work (work).

Hamilton will turn you into a US history nerd. I already was – am?- but it just. UGH. YES. While it’s almost entirely historically accurate, it is a Broadway show. Lin takes dramatic license with a few events and characters, only making the show even more amazing.

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Marquis de Lafayette (Daveed Diggs), Hercules Mulligan (Okieriete Onaodowan), John Laurens (Anthony Ramos)

I don’t know if I connect with this show more because of its sheer brilliance, or because I, like Hamilton, am also a fast talker with a death wish. I don’t know. I DO KNOW that the Original Cast Recording is available FOR FREE on spotify, and if you’re in a part of the world without spotify, the YouTube playlist is here.

There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait…

love and light,
shalom xo

(drop a comment if you caught the hamilpuns. seriously.)

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Bravado

This week has been something.

I went from crying for seven straight hours to not crying at all. It may not seem like a world altering change, but when your eyes are suddenly unpuffy and nobody’s asking you what you’ve been drinking for the whole week, it makes a bit of a difference.

I was stuck with an English essay that provoked procrastination from every crevice of my being. The essay topic was alright, but one of the short stories that we were working on just…ah, it did nothing for me. It was (a) more of a novella than a short story, (b) had a rapist as the narrator on moral authority. I just got very tired reading it. It’s an excellently written story, though. I think that everything happening in my country about rape culture at the moment made me a little apprehensive.

I just submitted my essay a whole 12 hours before it’s due. I’m feeling quite accomplished. (This is a lie. I am not.)

I’ve got a little bit of time tonight because I am neglecting my law & philosophy readings. I feel as though my room is conspiring against me: My doorknob sliced my finger when I entered, and now it won’t stop showing me that in less time than I can adequately comprehend, I will have been alive for eighteen years.

Eighteen doesn’t seem like a long time, and birthdays don’t seem like a big deal, but if you’ve been around this little corner of the internet, you’ll know that I don’t do well with birthdays. The ABEC (Annual Birthday Existential Crisis) comes to town a month before my birthday, usually. Being the Americanest American to ever American, my birthday is on July 4th. (The bitch is early this year.)

I think this has all started because I’m listening to my favourite music from 2013. I loved Lorde in 2013. Everything she sang made sense to me. In 2013, I was a 15 year old in 10th grade struggling with physics dating a twin boy. I wanted to dance more than anything, I wanted to sit on tennis courts with my then-boyfriend and his brother, my then-best friend and our little clan, drinking out of paper cups. I wanted to be able to describe my year as the feeling of wind on your hand when you stick your arm out of the car window on a roadtrip.

Today, in 2016, I’m still faking glory. I’m trying to convince myself that when the lights come on, I’ll be ready. I have been ready, for the most part. I’ve fooled everyone into thinking I have been, at least. Every day is a pill tipped back, every day a brand new story. Everything is for the applause, in the most selfish way possible. Does that make any sense?

I’m walking to 18 slowly, and it’s running at me. I’m trying to find my own bravado before it crashes into me.

I’m also going to move to New York in 3-ish years.

Love and light,
shalom xo


featured image from this 8tracks mix

Old, Old Literature in a Brave New World

My new English tutor is interesting. Granted, there are several other words I could use to describe him more accurately, but I’m going with interesting because of the way he’s made me think about things that I hadn’t had previously.

I met him on Friday, after arriving late to the first tutorial our group had with him. As a bit of an icebreaker activity, we were told to introduce another person in the group to him, and they us. (to him. Is this good English? Yikes.)

My introduction (thanks Tory) let slip that I was (a) in love with, and posthumously married to John Keats, (b) that I adored the Romantic poets (but mostly Keats srsly he’s my guy), and (c) that this blog existed. I helped with the last bit.

The point of all this rubbish background info is to let you know why the fresh hell I’m writing about this, and what the actual heck I’m writing about. What the tutor, whose name I was fortunate enough to miss (but I think it’s Ian?), said was that he’s of the opinion that poetry pre-1900 should be ignored as it’s irrelevant now. Or something. The Romantics (stab to the heart), Victorian poets – the lot. His reasoning was sound (and valid) (#IntroToPhilosophy FLEX) though: can Wordsworth and his bridge musings seriously teach us more than a Palestinian woman’s commentary on the situation in Gaza can?

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, while lovely, really doesn’t do much for us in 2016. Unlike Wordsworth’s “calm so deep”, The Palestinian situation isn’t going away any time soon, and it only makes sense for us to focus on issues like that, right?

I’ve been having a think about this over the weekend. I’m reeling from a week that consisted of an average 5 hours spent on crying a day, and believe it or not, questioning the relevance of poetry periods has helped a lot.

The title of this post was a pun, but only to me – I’m starting Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World tomorrow. That’s it. I chuckled.

love and light,
shalom xo

featured image from http://e2ua.com/group/london-wallpapers/

Passions & Pageants (and other rambly thoughts)

Hi friends! (Exclamation points make everything look super cheery. It’s disgusting.)

This week has been a little bit of a crazy time, no different from any other weeks. I’ve been battling with the ever expected ‘”DID I SCREW UP BY CHOOSING THE WRONG MAJOR” crisis-at-midnight’ since Wednesday, listening to nothing but two musicals by the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He’s the guy that wrote Hamilton & In The Heights & 21 Chump Street. (You should listen to all of them.) There’s probably a post about Hamilton coming soon.

I’m a law major. I don’t know if I want to become a lawyer, or if I want to become a law lecturer, or if I want to be Harvey Specter. Or Jessica Pearson. (Definitely Jessica Pearson. She’s the only one whose name has been on the door from the beginning.) Enough Suits talk – I’ve been having a big think about passion & purpose, whether the two actually exist, or whether they should have as much emphasis placed on them as they do.

This Humans of New York post & comment has fueled a lot of my internal monologue:

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Everyone talks about their “passion” as if it’s some pre-determined thing that’s somewhere out there waiting for you. Like a soulmate, if you believe that there is literally someone in the world you were “meant” to be with.

I don’t believe there are careers or hobbies you were meant to have any more than there are people you were “destined” to be with. I’ve been in enough relationships to understand that, yes, you can fit really well with someone, that fate can appear to have aligned perfectly for your getting together, but the success of the relationship is still dependent on your own decisions and how hard you’re willing to work for it.

The same is true about your “passion”. I study neuroscience; I want to go into research. I could have just as easily (if not more easily) become a writer, simply because I absolutely love writing. In college, I often enjoyed my writing classes more than my science classes. In fact, if money wasn’t an issue, I might have chosen to become a writer instead.

Does that mean I’m not following my passion by choosing a career in science over writing? No. Because I could never give up science. I could never give up my curiosity and desire to learn about the world, and the opportunity to actually be on the forefront of that discovery.

Your passion is what you put your energy into. It’s what you decide, consciously or not (but sometimes it has to be consciously!), to care about, to strive towards, to give your life to. It is a reflection of you and not of whatever the actual subject of your interest is. It can change.

People forget that “passion” doesn’t describe the object of your devotion; it describes the energy and emotion you invest in that object. People who jump from career to career, actively searching for something they can enjoy doing, can very well be exhibiting just as much passion as someone who’s stayed in the same career all their lives and loved every day of it.

Huh. Isn’t that something? I have crazy passion for theatre. Like, if you had to ask me what my ideal career would be, I’d probably have to give you the hodge podge that is “a lawyer librettist performer teacher”. Quite something, right?

Passion is specific. (Here’s a very smooth segue to pageants.) My friend, Errin, is probably one of the most crazy determined people I know. I struggled through math in grade 10 with her, planned THE BEST prom the school had seen with her in 11th, and now have the pleasure of calling her my friend & fellow law student. Errin has been doing pageants for a while, and apart from the fact that she is crazy good at them, she defies stereotypes while she kicks ass.

She’s just won Miss Wits (my university’s internal pageant), and is now competing for the title of Miss Varsity Shield. If you’d be keen to drop her a vote, you can click right here. The public vote counts 33%, and she deserves it. Love you, gal.

Things have been crazy. I work 12 hours a week, and I’m trying to be really good at school. I’m trying to save enough to buy my phone back (it got stolen here)& replace my laptop. Gertrude is having a rough year, like me. At least one of the banks I’m battling with got back to me today.

Here’s to an easier weekend.

Love & light,
shalom xo