Gather ‘round the glowing image-box!
It’s time for another live-tweet! This time, we bring you, via the magic of American Public Broadcasting, our scintillating thoughts on Hamilton’s America!
Mark your calendars for the glorious return of #Hamildames!
This documentary will be aired on your local PBS affiliate at 9pm ET on Friday, October 21.
(We truly wish this were available to Dames Nationals outside the US. Fingers crossed for international accessibility soon!)
Dame S & her daughter got to see the first 30 of the documentary minutes at an event with Leslie Odom, Jr. in Philadelphia this week & is delighted to tell you all that this documentary is going to deliver allll the goods for the process nerds out there.
Don’t expect to see live performances of a bunch of songs from the show -- you’ll see snippets, but the documentary is really about the making of the show, and contextualizing Hamilton himself & his achievements for a modern audience. It’s deeply moving to see Lin and all of his collaborators and castmates moving the song cycle from a conceptual mixtape to a full-blown cultural juggernaut.
In Dame S' favorite moment of the Q&A this week, Leslie said that the most moving moment of the show every night was when he watched Lin, Anthony, Chris & Oak perform “The Story of Tonight”. He said that watching four men of color on stage, singing about friendship, the way white people get to do all the time in American musical theatre, spoke to him in a very deep way about what the show could mean in the long term. At that point, Dame S' daughter turned to her & whispered “Mom! Friendship is magic!” And she cried a little.
Anyway! We hope you’ll join us for all the live-tweeting fun, just about a year to the day after we held our first #Hamildames live-tweet of the original Broadway cast recording.
Plus! Dame M is working on a special set of notes about the actual show, which she got to see in August. Hit reply and let her know if you’d like to read this special issue, to be sent out on 10/21, as well.
Aw, opening night Lin. Bless!
2nd Anniversary Q&A!
We're planning a Very Special 2nd Anniversary Issue for October 14. Remember when our beloved Kathryn VanArendonk interviewed us about our origin story? This year, we'll take questions directly from YOU!
We don't have a theme in mind, and we're happy to entertain all manner of questions, sooooo ask away!
Dame Margaret’s Variations on a Theme
(I ain’t sorry)
So, I know that Angelina filing for divorce from Brad Pitt is technically old news, but I have three great pieces related to it and IT’S (half) MY NEWSLETTER, so I CAN DO WHAT I WANT.
First, there is this in-cred-i-ble New Yorker profile on Harvey Levin, the man behind TMZ, the gossip website that first posted news of this split, and basically every split of consequence since the site’s founding in 2005. If you can read this without longing for a Shonda Rhimes-produced TV series set at a gossip website, then I do not want to know you.
NEXT-- courtesy of our beloveds, the Unfriendly Black Hotties (whose segment on Brangelina and celebrity splits in this week’s episode was fire): a Bloomberg profile of Laura Wasser, the divorce attorney representing Angelina in the split, and also one half of most splits of note since, again, 2005. If you can read THIS without longing for our friend Christina Grace to end up Laura’s trophy girlfriend then, once again, I do not want or need to know you.
AND FINALLY, there’s perennial #damesfav Anne Helen Petersen’s essay on the split, which is perfect from the title (“Brangelina is Dead; Long Live Angelina”) to the clear-eyed way in which she diagrams Angelina’s expertise in crafting her own image. I almost feel like Brad and Angelina got together, and then split, just so AHP could write this piece.
Speaking of Ms. Petersen, she put out a piece JUST TODAY on The Girl on the Train and “the allure of female rage”, speaking of the book as “the latest in a long line of texts that channel women’s rage at living under patriarchy,” presenting an escapist fantasy where “the escape is not into a more perfect world, just one where women can call bullshit, some more murderously than others, on the increasingly impossible expectations that legislate our lives.” PREDICTABLY, this piece is terrific-- even if I agree with its observations about the mid-aughts chick-lit boom more in aggregate than specific; I think AHP is right about the overall shape of that trend, but wrong in equating the pro-consumerist, pro-romance angle to specific books. But that is a tiny quibble with a very impressive, persuasive, and engrossing piece-- one which does, however, contain spoilers about the novel and film in question. Don’t cry yet, though, spoiler-phobes! You can read about half the essay without encountering them-- just quit when you reach this picture or this sentence “In The Girl on the Train, the knowingness is split between three women, each of whom arrives at it at different points and to different ends.”
And, continuing with a very Buzzfeedy, #damesfav-y theme, eternal #damespiration Bim Adewunmi published two terrific terrific longform pieces about romantic comedies for them recently-- one, an oral history of just how Two Can Play That Game changed the landscape of black romantic comedies and, the second, an examination of “rom-com bitches” (like my fav, Sigourney Weaver’s magnificent heel turn as Katherine Parker in Working Girl) and the societal anxieties they represent. Both are worthy of bearing Bim’s byline and I can think of no higher praise for anything.
AND FINALLY, I am dying over this great piece of investigative journalism from Anna Merlan at Jezebel: “The Team of Men Behind Rachel Brewson, the Fake Woman Whose Trump-Fueled Breakup Went Viral.” It is just as bizarre and wonderful a story as the title suggests. Would make a GREAT plot for my imagined gossip website TV series, incidentally.
Dame Sophie’s Fugue for Tinhorns
FYI there is ZERO follow-through on this glorious pun set-up, I just love cetacean puns.
This week’s link round-up written while going for the current world record of repeat listens of the Eagles “The Best of My Love”. Those countrified white-boy harmonies are my kryponite, friends. Whoaaaaaaa, sweet darlins, you get the best of my liiinks!
Winning in the feels-bomb category last week, this week & possibly every week: Abe Chabon, son of Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman, is a child of tremendous privilege, so you might be inclined to give his dad’s piece about their trip to Paris Fashion Week a very strong eyeroll. You should definitelyread it, anyway, so that you can experience the exquisite perfection of the conclusion. If I can see & understand my daughter as well as Chabon sees his sweet Abe, I'll be very happy.
As it relates to non-celebrities, at least, the problem is not so much about what happens to women after they become established and successful. The problem is that a woman retains so many obligations to so many people that she must, almost always, strip-mine her selfhood to achieve that success and security in the first place.
This is all tied into the dissatisfaction & rage Anne Helen Petersen writes about this week (see above!). Actually, it strikes me as a little odd that she left Ferrante Fever out of her Girl on the Train piece, so maybe read these two in conversation with each other? (With a kicker of #NormalizeLadyRage, obviously.)
Apparently, nobody’s favorite “method” actor Jared Leto, the man whose on-and-off-set behavior was so disturbing and foul that his Suicide Squad castmates formally excluded him from all of their press junket activities, has been cast as Andy Warhol in...something, honestly, I don’t even care what. All of this is just a prelude to sharing Julianne Escobedo Shepherd’s correct assessment that the only fictionalized Andy Warhol we need, outside of the songs of Lou Reed, was embodied by David Bowie in the film Basquiat. Some helpful soul on YouTube has compiled his appearances in the film into Part 1& Part 2. So handy! (And Dame M. can’t resist sharing Daniel Kibblesmith’s hilarious imaginary letter from a children’s hospital director imploring Jared Leto to stop visiting their patients in character as The Joker.)
Tiny House hunters are the real estate reality TV dummies we love to hate. I only get to hate them by proxy via my friends’ hilarious Twitter excoriations of them, because we don’t have cable, but I get the gist: insufferable jerks decide to buy and live in very small houses as a lifestyle choice & then praise themselves lavishly. Whatever, good for them, adults can choose their choices, but I would just like to point out that a lot of what drives the tiny house ethos of sustainability is a product of Auburn University’s Rural Studio. Founder Sam Mockbee’s philosophy, expressed in houses and community structures built out of recycled & reclaimed materials on miniscule budgets, is devoted to building structures that “combine sound construction, utilitarian functionality, and aesthetic harmony to give their inhabitants the dignity and comfort they deserve.” This work is not about being on-trend, it’s about ameliorating extreme rural poverty, and to see it co-opted by people whose $155,000 could easily buy them a decent-sized house in a more reasonable real estate market is...well, gross. h/t forever to my dad, Bill Brookover, who was the first to introduce me to Mockbee’s work lo these many years ago. (If you haven’t read his special guest star conversation with us about historic preservation & nostalgia formation, file it away as your favorite longread of the weekend!)
I am only 3 episodes into watching Luke Cage, but as everyone’s been saying, it’s fantastic - definitely my favorite of the MCU TV shows so far - and I am really looking forward to synthesizing & sharing a bunch of coverage of the way the show uses music in weeks to come. For now, let me just say that in addition to a number of A+ playlists on Spotify, the score is now also available to stream (and/or to purchase on fancy yellow vinyl). Composers Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad hosted a live performance of the score at a swanky event in Los Angeles earlier this week. This is an interesting moment in Muhammad’s career: the score, which is assured, cinematic, and just plain old wonderful to listen to, invites comparisons with J.J. Johnson’s work on classic blaxploitation film scores like Across 110th Street, Cleopatra Jones & Willie Dynamite, and he’s recently announced that he & Frannie Kelley will now be producing their hip-hop podcast Microphone Check independently of NPR. I look forward to seeing where this adventure takes them! BONUS: Luke Cage is a very literary show, and this Luke Cage Syllabus is going to be essential to your reading lists for the rest of 2016, at the very least.
Come at us, but don't @ us,
unless you want to do some #LukeCage yelling, in which case be our guests!