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Finally ... "HAMILTON"

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The Tiny Goddess and I finally saw HAMILTON at the Pantages Theatre here in LA – and, yes, it’s just as wonderful as everyone says it is: exciting, smart, challenging, and, most importantly, stupendously entertaining. It takes off like a rocket and never comes down.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ambitious, off-the-wall concept (a rap opera about one of our Founding Fathers) fuses contemporary slang and attitudes with a serious history lesson from Colonial times, all presented with old-fashioned Broadway razzle-dazzle. I’m not a big fan of rap but what Lin-Manuel Miranda has done is blend rap and hip-hop with conventional Broadway, R&B, soul, and pop music to create Something New. How rare is that?

On a long car trip, the TG and I listened to the CD—both discs—with the TG following the libretto. (And make no mistake: HAMILTON is an opera. It is almost completely “sung through.”) I am very glad we did “study up.” The words fly by so quicky in HAMILTON -- so many interior rhymes, so many creative anachronisms, so many fast jokes and sly references -- that I suspect that I might have been somewhat lost at times. Instead, I knew exactly what was happening onstage, which increased my enjoyment. Quite a few times during the performance, I told myself, “I’m so glad that I know this already.”

Miranda makes a lot of complex historical detail come alive in a thrilling, very-present way. The frequent anachronisms and modern attitudes only reinforce the parallels that Miranda implies between the chaotic Revolutionary Era and ours. Only the “colonial” costumes are specifically from the age of Hamilton. Everything else is timeless, or rather, in Miranda Time.

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"T" for Texas

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I feel for Texas. The pictures from Hurricane Harvey are pretty horrific. (The pictures from Sierra Leone where hundreds lost their lives in mudslides after torrential rains collapsed entire hillsides are equally terrible, as were the scenes from Peru last spring where floods killed hundreds and left 700,000 homeless.)

Water has a terrible power…and a lasting effect on its victims. I spend way too much time watching videos of tsunamis on YouTube. Those Texans are going be cleaning up and rebuilding for a long, long time. So many lives, upended; so many plans, ruined.

I’ve only spent a little time in Texas. The last time I was there was a few years ago helping my son – Calder’s Father, the Sculptor – drive a rental trunk full of his work from a show of his in Houston back to Los Angeles.

We weren’t in Houston long, but we had a taste of a harsh, nasty Gulf storm. Nothing like Harvey obviously, but we got completely, ridiculously soaked in a very short period of time. And there was instant 100% humidity, right after the storm. We joked with the waitress who served our lunch that housing costs in Houston are low because the weather is so horrible. (Even though we were near the Gulf, there were signs on certain bridges that they could freeze in winter. What kind of a strange climate is that?)

One thing that struck me as we drove through Texas was the careless, almost haphazard arrangement of buildings. Everywhere you could see oil wells and heavy equipment interspersed in neighborhoods. Industry right in the middle of residential areas, some next to schools and playgrounds. They don’t zone too seriously in Texas.

Here are some good places to send money to help the victims of Harvey:

The Texas Workers Relief Fund.

RNRN Disaster Relief Fund.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

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Down Down Down Down Down

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This was a very bad week for Donald Trump … but a worse one for the USA. Can you believe it? We actually have a white supremacist/neo-Nazi sympathizer in the White House.

And I’m afraid that things are going to get worse. Much worse.

I really don’t like to think about or write about Trump, but there he is – this huge FACT in all our lives that cannot be ignored. I want to work on my novel and escape into Art. But that really doesn’t work.

Trump’s racism has a long, blatant history: his housing discrimination suit in the 1970s, his race-baiting of the DNA-exonerated Central Park Five, his birtherism, the Muslim Ban, his vile attacks on immigrants, minorities, a judge with Mexican heritage, a Muslim Gold Star family, etc., not to mention his father Fred Trump’s history of racist beliefs and actions including an arrest at a KKK demonstration in New York in 1927. But Tuesday’s press conference where he called some of the KKK/white supremacist/neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville “very fine people” might have been a tipping point.

As horrible as the GOP has been for the past forty years, Trump’s open acceptance of bigotry wasn’t just the usual Republican dog-whistle (Ronald Reagan’s “I believe in states’ rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on August 3, 1980, or the first Bush’s “Willie Horton” ads, or Fox News’ take-down of ACORN, etc.), it was an attempt by an American president to normalize extremism and race-based hatred.

And this time, he might have gone too far.

 

PRESIDENT PARIAH

What Trump said was so toxic that two of his business councils (his Strategy and Policy Forum and Manufacturing Council) dissolved before his eyes. And these were supposedly his people -- because what did Trump sell himself to the American people as if not a “businessman” who could bring direction and decisive action to logjammed Washington. Now corporate leaders don’t want to even be in the same room with him.

Of course, Trump’s actual record as a businessman is deeply-deeply-deeply flawed. The only thing that he has been really good at is self-promotion. (After all, he self-promoted himself into the presidency.)

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