Females are Strong as Hell

After the Treasury Department stated that Alexander Hamilton was safe on the $10, we fans of the musical were breathing a sigh of relief. What we didn’t know was that we were in for another treat.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew hurtled American currency into the 21st by announcing Harriet Tubman would be featured on a redesign of the $20 bill.

Finally, a female face will grace our money! What’s more, Tubman is one of the most impressive women Sec. Jacob J. Lew and his team could have chosen.

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After escaping a life of slavery at the age of 29, Tubman kicked off a long career of badassery. In addition to freeing hundreds of slaves via the Underground Railroad, Tubman was a spy for the Union army during the Civil War. Keep in mind that she was doing this decades before women even had the right to vote. Seriously, how much more impressive can a person get?

I mean, just look at her expression. It seems to shout through the centuries, “Don’t test me, for I am woman.”

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As if this historic update to our currency wasn’t special enough, it seems that it was inspired by a future female leader. An 11-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts native named Sophia wrote a letter to President Obama two years ago with one simple birthday wish. She wanted a woman represented on the USD. Rejoice, Sophia! We’ve gotten our wish.

It begs the question: What will women do next?

How “Hamilton” Turned My World Upside Down (And Made Me Care About History Again)

How does a (usually) plastered, poor one, former Peace Corps one, living in Boston get dropped in the middle of the hottest plot?

That’s right, my fellow countrymen. I’m talkin’ about “Hamilton.” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s instant classic debuted in early 2015, and I have no qualms with admitting it took me until last month to discover it for myself. It also took me until 2009 to fall in love with “Wicked,” to put things in perspective.

But I digress. You all came here to read a love story. And as everyone knows, a good love story begins with a “Meet Cute.” Ham and I met at work, of all places. I run the in-house studio for a marketing firm, and one of our presenters is big in the East Coast theater community.  One afternoon, in between shooting video blogs for our clients, my thespian friend asked, “Have you listened to ‘Hamilton’ yet?”

My eloquent response can be found below.

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In short, no. Not only hadn’t I listened to this so-called masterpiece, I didn’t even know what she was talking about. With a patience level I could never have achieved, she pulled up the show’s opening number, the aptly named “Alexander Hamilton,” on YouTube . Nothing would be more accurate than to describe what I felt as love at first listen.

As any self-respecting Millennial would do, I immersed myself in the world of “Hamilton” via social media and music streaming platforms. The original Broadway cast recording became the soundtrack to my life. Honestly, I could probably log a marathon with the numbers of miles I’ve run to “My Shot,” and don’t get my started on the countless shower solos of “Wait for It.”

But more than making me feel culturally relevant and giving me disillusions about my rapping abilities, “Hamilton” reignited my passion for history. I even read “The Reynolds Pamphlet” and enjoyed it! I was inspired to listen closer to the songs, and I found something new to research each time. For example, the line “God, you’re a fox!” in “Blow Us All Away” sent me on a purely academic investigation of Philip Hamilton’s attractiveness. Let me just say that my journalistic curiosity paid off. He was indeed a fox. See below:

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Still, one of the best things about “Hamilton” is that it lends a fresh voice to those long dead. Moreover, that voice can be appreciated for generations to come. Amidst the addicting beats and clever lyrics, we are shown that, while our Founding Fathers wore powdered wigs and puffy breeches, they won this country with cunning and courage, battles and brains, words and war.

This Pulitzer-winning musical reminds us that those same men were human. Men who fell in love and learned to hate. Men who felt desire and pain. Above all else, they were just men (and women, of course).

In between the rap battle-styled songs and the Beyoncé-esque numbers, we’re taught that history was written by people just like you and me.  It gives one that notion that history does, in fact, have its eyes on you.

For a musical to achieve what “Hamilton” has achieved is phenomenal, and I wish it much continued success. If you need me, I’ll be listening to the soundtrack on repeat and praying for the day when I can get my hands on tickets. (Lin-Manuel, if you’re reading this, hint hint.)

 

 

An Excerpt from “Is the Bar Open Seating?”

My newest novel-in-the-works, Is the Bar Open Seating?, is going to be a crass, semi-autobiographical work with Bukowski influences. Below is an excerpt from the opening chapter, Nice to Fucking Meet You.

“I have finally done it. I’ve succumbed to the cliché.  I’ve dug deep into the platitudes and situated myself in this coffee shop armchair to string words together and call myself a writer. The coffee itself is sub-par made palatable only by the healthy dose of whiskey I added to its caffeinated depths, but as I said before, I am not here for the coffee. I am here in hopes of embracing the banality and inspiring myself to spew some sort of literary substance.”

As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated. This work-in-progress is copyrighted, so don’t be a thief. Be original.  Enjoy!

A Cultural Post

One of my favorite parts of experiencing Sierra Leone was the instant immersion into the languages, both tribal and Krio. Two hours a day we practiced with our LCFs (Language and Cultural Facilitators) and our host families were only supposed to communicate with us in Krio. It’s incredible how much more deeply you can interact in a foreign country when natives see that you can speak and understand their language. Just for fun, for this post I will write a paragraph in Krio and translate it in English below.

Kabo! Na we go lan aw fo tok Krio fayn-o. Krio no de pidjon tok. Krio na de tok na ol pipul dem na Salone. Di mos important tin we yu go rememba fo Krio na di gritin dem. Dis important pas mahk. We yu no de grit yu neighba dem o padi dem, yu go mek boku enemy dem. Say, “Monin-o” na di monin tem, “aftanun-o/kushe” na di evin tem, and “gud ivin” na di nite tem. Wi go see bak, ya?

Welcome! Now we will learn how to speak Krio well. Krio is not a pidgin language. Krio is the language spoken by all people of Sierra Leone. The most important thing to remember when speaking Krio is the greetings. This is important above all else. When you don’t greet your neighbors or friends, you will make lots of enemies. Say, “Morning!” in the morning time, “Evening/Hello” in the afternoon time, and “Good evening” at nighttime. We will talk again soon, yes?

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!

Me with my host family in Bo.