May 31, 2016

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT:

Hamilton (Joe Posnanski, 5/31/16)

The idea took hold a few months ago. It's hard to say exactly what sparked it other than ... well, have you ever been the parent of a 14-year-old girl? It is a daunting experience. Elizabeth is a good person. She's a good student. She has a huge heart. She's a loyal friend. She's funny too. She likes Death Cab and Spinal Tap and comic books and reading. The other day, she told me that her favorite movie of all time is "The Godfather." I mean, she is more me than I am.

But she is 14, and in some ways that explains everything. In some ways it doesn't. There are times I feel closer to her than ever ... and times I feel so much further away. Farther away? Further away? One gorgeous day in autumn, I was sitting on the porch, working, and she came outside and sat next to me, and it became clear after a few choice words about tattoos and nose rings and such that she had come out for the sole purpose of starting a fight. There was no specific reason for it other than she's 14, and I'm her father, and this is the timeless story.

There have been other things, trying things, unforeseen things, a punishing year, and one day I came up with this idea. I would take Elizabeth to see "Hamilton."

We have a flaw in my family, one that goes back generations: We tend to grow obsessed with, well, stuff. What kind of stuff? OK, my mother through the years has had been possessed by countless activities including (but not limited to): paint-by-numbers; cross-stitch; stamp collecting; Harlequin Romances; computer programming (the most profitable of such obsessions); various soap operas; various reality TV shows; crossword puzzles; cookbooks; Candy Crush; all sorts of collectibles and, most recently, coloring books. She recently had coloring pencils shipped from Sweden or Switzerland or some such place. She's very good at coloring. You can find her work on Facebook.

This is just how the family mind works, I guess. I have known all my life about my weakness for growing obsessed by things. This is the reason I haven't seen Game of Thrones or The Americans or Downton Abbey or House of Cards or any other recently popular television show. It isn't because I dislike television -- it's the opposite. I like television too much. I know the only way to avoid free-falling into that television hole is to never start watching in the first place.

I don't mean this theoretically. For years, people have been on me to watch "Mad Men." Three weeks ago, I caved in and decided to watch. I have now seen every show, all seven seasons, 92 episodes. That's in three weeks. In other words, I have spent roughly four of the last 21 days doing nothing but watching Mad Men. That's not healthy. I mean, the show was superb but I'm glad it's over. I would rather obsess about something else.

Elizabeth is one of several million people -- so many of them teenagers -- who have become obsessed with the Broadway show "Hamilton." It is funny, if you think about it. Kids all over America are smitten by a show about a previously minor Founding Father who probably would have gotten chucked off the $10 bill had it not been for the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda.
When I was Elizabeth's age, we all wore Rush and Black Sabbath T-shirts and sang about how Mommy's alright and Daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird.

These kids are singing about Alexander Hamilton's argument with Thomas Jefferson over a plan to establish a national bank and assume state debt.

All of Elizabeth's friends seem to be into Hamilton. One of them will periodically and for no obvious reason break into "You'll Be Back," a song where King George tells the colonies they will eventually return to England's rule (''Cuz when push comes to shove/I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.").

The King, inevitably, has the best tunes.

Posted by at May 31, 2016 8:27 PM

  

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