Archive | June, 2021

Today Is My Birthday, and to Celebrate, I Am Reclaiming My Time

7 Jun

Today is my birthday, and I have a confession to make: I’m not 100% sure of how old I am.

No, that’s not some Peter Pan–ish form of denial. And it’s not an indication that I’m so old I’ve started to forget basic things.

It’s just that, over the last year or so, I’ve had to remind myself multiple times of what year it was and how old I was. Really.

We all experienced that to some degree over the last 16 months or so, didn’t we? The pandemic year warped our sense of time, causing days to blend into each other, and leading us to forget just when we were experiencing things, or when we had experienced them. Things we thought we did “this year” were actually done “last year.” Many predictable or scheduled events were either postponed or canceled outright. And a few milestones that should have been a bigger deal took place during the pandemic without as much as a whimper, leading some to think they didn’t even happen.

Birthdays, for example. I know I had one in 2020, but since the celebration was so muted (by necessity, and because of everything else that was happening around that time), did I really turn another year older?

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Remembering When the Lights First Went Up on Lin-Manuel Miranda

3 Jun

It was March of 2008. Barack Obama had not yet been elected President. No Country for Old Men had just won Best Picture at the Oscars. Among the most popular songs were “Low” by Flo Rida and T-Pain, “Love in This Club” by Usher, and “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles. And around the country, many Americans were unable to identify the Founding Father whose name and face were on the $10 bills they used every day.

That month, after a successful and Drama Desk Award–winning run Off-Broadway, a new show moved uptown to the Great White Way, carrying with it the hopes of producers and investors that it would bring new, younger, and more diverse audiences to Broadway and fill the void left when Rent closed later that year. As successful as this production was, though, no one could have predicted that over the course of the next decade, its creator and star would break boundaries and revolutionize Broadway.

That show, of course, was In the Heights, and its creator and star was a young up-and-comer named Lin-Manuel Miranda — who, as if you need to be reminded, would go on to write the pop-culture phenomenon known as Hamilton.

In March 2008, Miranda was just 28 years old and still largely unknown. He’d traveled the world and performed as part of Freestyle Love Supreme, the hip-hop improv group he co-founded, but Miranda surely wasn’t a household name yet. Nor was he the social media influencer he is today — though, at the time, he did have an amusing YouTube channel where he shared home-video clips of his younger self lip-syncing to songs like “King of Wishful Thinking” and freestyle-rapping about the heat with his friends.

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