Off the Cuff
A Very Special Fourth
By Allen Clark
It wasn’t your grandmother’s Fourth of July. But it was the Fourth, and celebration was up to you. In our case, we signed up with Disney+ and at long last had seats to “Hamilton”. Next to the savings I’ve amassed through adroit purchase of Forever stamps, this was the best investment I could’ve ever thought of. Five seats for $6.99 — a savings of maybe a bit more than $7,982 at the June 2016 price in New York City. Think what you could save if you watched it again on the Fifth and Sixth?
It gets better. Why see it on my iMac? Why not see it on TV? Our daughter, son-in-law, and their son brought over their big flatscreen TV, along with a huge disco-worthy speaker.
Act I before dinner – safely distanced. Act II after dessert (apple pie made by my wife clearly from a Revolutionary-era recipe, as American as… well… apple pie). In the middle of the dessert I asked, can’t we have closed captions? No problem. There they were in a large, artful, very legible font. Lyrics for the ages, rap for the aged.
As we entered Hamilton’s world again, the machine-gun pace of Miranda’s score was amplified by a sudden blast of fireworks somewhere south of us, almost as if on cue. Now, in close to total darkness, the projection locked us in, 100 percent focused on the glowing screen and glowing performance before us. I became aware that Hamilton, Washington, Burr, and cast weren’t Broadway performers; they were the real people; the language, the real language; the action, the real history. It wasn’t suspension of disbelief but transformation. It certainly was our country’s birthing… and we were there.
From there, I began to hear the relevance of Miranda’s lines to today’s issues, to Black Lives Matter and the unfolding political concerns. Irony was in the air, everywhere. Listen to the lyrics (now readable!):
<“I’ll make the world safe and sound for you
Will come of age with our young nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you….
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday.” >
<“The art of the compromise
Hold your nose and close your eyes
We want our leaders to save the day
But we don’t get a say in what they trade away
We dream of a brand-new start
But we dream in the dark for the most part….”>
<“There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable….”>
All these thoughts converged as we sat six feet apart, celebrating as we never had before.