Music: Hamilton: An American Musical is a musical about the life and death of America's first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Fans of the other founding fathers musical (siddown, John!) are in for a surprise, if not an unpleasant one: Hamilton is a hip-hop musical, energizing the dialogue of the American Revolution through the aggression and urgency of rap. Written by and starring first-generation Puerto Rican-American Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton recasts every white historical figure it features as a person of color – save, of course, mad King George. The show portrays Hamilton as a loud little man who “writes like he's running out of time,” and I can identify. Embarrassingly, I know all 20,520 words to this musical.
Movie: Star Wars was a big part of my childhood, having grown up with the prequels – I remember one of my most formative movie theater experiences was during Revenge of the Sith, when the audience erupted into applause as Anakin Skywalker took his first iconic breath as Darth Vader. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens “awakened” the big nerd in many this winter, and I was no exception – I want to be an X-Wing pilot when I grow up. I have compared this franchise to Shakespeare and Roman history, but honestly the real draw is how large-scale and absurd it is while being grounded in such warm concepts as spirituality, friendship, family and love. Also, who doesn't have a big crush on Han Solo? You too, boys.
Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde has to go in this matrix because it was such a formative piece of art; I read it when I was fifteen, and Oscar became my man immediately. The effects of his rich, luxurious, liberal prose can still be seen in my writing style, despite years of being trained out of it by instructors who (rightfully) understood the value of brevity better than Wilde or I. To this day, when I pick up Dorian Gray, there's something that tickles my brain, makes me utter “oo, that's good,” like I've just eaten something flavorful and complex – gourmet prosecraft. Come talk to me about Oscar Wilde for more weird poetic gushing.
Comic: Daredevil caught me off guard when the television series came on Netflix. I knew who he was – I knew the horrible Ben Affleck movie, and I had read Marvel 1602 and wondered who this blind guy was supposed to be. After watching the Netflix series, I was in love, and I needed more. I bought three volumes of Frank Miller's iconic DD run (read with a tongue firmly planted in my cheek, because Miller is Gritty™), and I continue to accumulate more Matt Murdock content from my local Collector's Corner. A self-destructive Catholic martial artist who rails violently against gentrification, a defense lawyer by day and vigilante by night, walking the tightrope of the law while permanently blindfolded - that's the overwrought, grime-coated superhero for me.
Grub Street Managing Editor
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.