Tag Archives: Rent

How I Found My Voice

I first became aware of The Village Voice in high school, when my older brother, Brett, used to go the Beloit, Wisconsin, public library to peruse its political investigations and music coverage. We were both discovering punk rock, watching Patti Smith on Saturday Night Live, and we could read about the newest bands from CBGB’s in the Voice. Later, in college, I got assigned to write about it in my one and only journalism class. Within a few years, I was copy editing and writing there, ultimately becoming a senior editor in charge of music. It was a crazy, difficult, exciting place, and the work I did for them — “discovering” Paul Beatty and the rest of the ’90s NYC lit scene bubbling around the incredible Nuyorican Poets Cafe, traveling to New Zealand to write about music, covering Rent as it moved from Downtown to Broadway and beyond, interviewing John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, the creators of a new musical called Hedwig and the Angry Inch; writing about punk drag artists such as Justin Bond and Miss Guy — still defines me. And then there was my one and only cover story, the first major interview with Patti Smith after her husband Fred died and she returned to the stage — an incredible encounter with the woman who made me want to be a rock’n’roll critic, and move to New York, and dive into the sea of possibilities. RIP Voice. Say hi to Aretha.

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A Story of Hamilton

The screensaver of my son, C. Ham

As I write in an essay published by the Los Angeles Review of Books today, I have a double investment in the musical Hamilton: I come from a long line of Hamiltons, including, according to family legend, Alexander; and I wrote the book about Rent, a major inspiration on Lin-Manuel Miranda. I also relate to Miranda’s script, and the accompanying Hamiltome, being a piece of writing about writing. Read the full essay here: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/whats-in-a-name/.

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A Career in Cassettes

 

IMG_7460 I’m trying to find a tape of my circa 1990 interview with Ellen Willis. Haven’t found it yet, but here’s some of what I unearthed: interviews with the entire original cast of Rent, Paul Beatty, Patti Smith, Kathleen Hanna, Mary J. Blige, Stephen Trask, Carrie Brownstein, Bjork — the list goes on and on. One cassette is labeled “Missy/Moby.” Is this my legacy?IMG_7461

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Lin-Manuel Miranda on (My) “Rent” Book #hamilton

I just came across a summer story from Entertainment Weekly in which Lin-Manuel Miranda cites the book about Rent as an inspiration for the forthcoming book on Hamilton:“When I fall in love with a musical, I want to know everything about it. I remember Rent changing my life on my 17th birthday and being so grateful for the Rent book, which so beautifully brought the story behind Jonathan Larson’s musical to life.” I wrote that book, with my friend Katherine Silberger. The funny thing is, I’m dying to see Hamilton not just because it sounds like such a great show, but because my family lore is that I’m related to Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton is my grandmother’s maiden name, and the middle name of my dad, brother, and son.

 

 

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