Happy Independence Day! I wish anyone reading this (and I assume you are all in the the U.S. , but who knows) a safe and sane holiday. It is too easy to criticize our country these days. What with two presidential candidates found seriously wanting for one reason or another, an age-old gun debate still raging while the body count continues its rise and grave questions still looming about how our actions or inaction may be threatening our planet. It is easy to forget that we are living in such a wonderful place with more opportunities to make a difference than anywhere else on earth. I still believe that.
I spent a couple of days last week with my older brother who lives on the penninsula south of San Francisco. While there I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack from “Hamilton”, the blockbuster musical from which my brother played me excerpts. The music was great and while hearing it I perused an interesting companion guide to the production which details how it came to be – starting with a brief description of Alexander Hamilton’s beginnings. I am embarrassed to admit how little I knew about Hamilton, a Founding Father. He was born a bastard son in the West Indies and raised austerely. He was orphaned by his early teens. I won’t go into the details here but I encourage you to just read the first two or three paragraphs on Alexander Hamilton in Wikipedia. He accomplished an amazing array of things before he died at the age of 49, interestingly enough, of gun violence.
That the production, “Hamilton” ever came to pass is, itself, a great story. Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, an Hispanic, “Hamilton” features a cast of actors of various darker hues in powdered wigs playing white people while singing, much of the time, a hip-hop score. On paper it shouldn’t work but it does, perhaps because it captures so well the essence of our melting-pot culture. The very same culture that allowed a young man of questionable Caribbean lineage to become one of our greatest citizens has now produced what may well be one of the most popular Broadway shows ever. A great show honoring an awesome American. Something to be proud of.
As a final note I will add that nowhere but in America would you find a ridiculously large, indestructibly built and handsomely appointed trailer named, ludicrously, Imperial Mansion. Gotta love this country.