Dearest Lin-Manuel Miranda,

    Hello, my name is Jeremiah Liend. I am offering this open letter through my agent, Dr. Quaddle. It acts as a means of coherently and holistically presenting a number of issues that have presented themselves as a byproduct of my ongoing theater research. As it turns out, you don't respond to your emails, tweets, or FB comments whenever I meaningfully attempt to contribute to the perpetually degenerating conversations within our broken age. I won't take a lot of your time. I have hundreds of pages of research that no one wants to read, and I find it much easier to explain myself in easily collapsed arguments than a single, rambling thesis. I will introduce myself, talk about Hamilton, and end with Disney. To begin, we were neighbors, once.

    I was born in Bemidji, Minnesota and raised and educated in and around that area. It is the first city on the Mississippi, and the only one the river flows north to. It then begins a long journey to the Gulf of Mexico, and the sea. When I die, they have been told to burn me to ash, and place me in Lake Bemidji, that I might once in my life make that journey. I also want to end up in drinking water, and make secret cannibals of those who live south of me. Ever since high school I have been a theater artist. As a learner my passion was generated through performance, and I have been given an opportunity through academic, community, and professional theater to play  some fantastic roles. Sky Masterson, Henry Higgins, and Don Quixote. Thomas Danforth, Dionysius, and Jesus. I once saw a friend writhe around on the cross in a diaper for what felt like forever, but was actually closer to an hour. When I am not creating theater, I am doing everything I can to survive. I have been a lumber mill worker, a retail associate/manager, and as a delivery driver for both pizza and corpses. Accept as fact that I have seen some weird shit, including at least one ghost. I do not need you to believe me, you can ask anyone.

    When I moved to Manhattan for school in 1999 it was into the cheapest parts of the Upper West Side, and in 2000 we began our grand adventure in Hamilton Heights. We performed, and studied, and sword fought, and partied as if there were no tomorrow. Pushing monologues and choreography into brains sharp and eager. I had no money, most times, and I would walk to school. 150 blocks most days, up hill both ways, as anyone familiar with the Columbia University depression can attest. I dropped out, before the showcase. I was months behind on rent, and ended up getting my room mates sued. All incredible guys. Incredible people. I was allowed to live without money, through the generosity and kindness of others. I don't like to talk about 9/11. I was never in any real danger. Our cable had been cut off, so my friend and I listened to Howard Stern describe the bodies showering down. How we needed to start nuking Pakistan, who were celebrating in the streets. The images came later. We scattered like dust in the wind, to home, or to war, or back to work. I went home, and then came back to Washington Heights, when we were neighbors, and then I went to other places. The point is that we are  not so different, you and I. But I, being poor, have only my dreams.

    I do not pretend to know you except to say that I know the facts. You have created a considerable imprint in our culture, and our media nexus has allowed the details of your success to spread far, and wide. I thought you were going to nail the EGOT. I have not watched Moana, yet. I recently found out that I have Melanesian ancestry, which is great. DNA is a fascinating discovery. I remain amazed at how much the same we are, while also remaining infinitely different. Have you ever heard of the Toba Catastrophy Theory? It is a generally accepted super volcanic event that devastated world populations at the time, including humans. Between 3,000 to 10,000 humans left in the world. 3,000 people is something I have seen, before. It is sad monster truck rally crowds. And from this, every human who has ever or will ever exist. Ghandi and Hitler. Cher and Mohammed. All the eventual process of a handful of scattered humans, starved and broken across our world, deciding not to give up. The Bible says that the fall of the Tower of Babel confused the tongues of humanity, but I think it was probably a super volcano. So, in addition to being artists, and performers, and dramatists, we are also 99% genetically identical. Your need for a kidney may make this important, some day.

    I have listened to Hamilton too much. I have researched it, too. I am a first generation college graduate, and McNair Scholar. Due to war, poverty, and circumstance I did not receive my B.S. in Theater Arts quite as quickly as you. University of Wisconsin River Falls may not be Wesleyan University, but it is something, to me. I am pursuing my Master of Liberal Studies at Metropolitan State University, and within the quiet research of theater, you are a blaring trumpet of change. I applaud your efforts while also analyzing the conditions under which they exist. My thesis attempts to apply a model of sustainability science to the arts, and so there are some concrete issues that I could and would explain. I won't talk about the social issues I have with Hamilton, because Annette Gordon-Reed wrote a comprehensive critical analysis for the National Council on Public History in April of last year. She also has a Pulitzer Prize. It was gained researching Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. You know? Sally? The pregnant 16 year old slave you throw under the bus with such clever pith? Environmentally I can't speak to your work, because I don't know the parameters. Economically, however, there are broader issues that are at play that could, and should be addressed.

    So, you say that it's "America's Musical" but that seems particularly ingenuous considering how incredibly economically elite you have to be to have access to it. Blown up ticket prices aside, you are assuming that the 300 or so million American people who live outside of NYC have the disposable income to fly or drive to the city, secure lodging and food in one of the most expensive cities on our planet, and manage to negotiate a seat. This is an adventure in the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. I heard of tickets for your closing performance going for $10,000. The poverty line in the US is around $12,000. There are 45,000,000 people struggling to make it above that line, so I don't think it is their musical? There are no First Peoples in the musical that I am aware of, so it is also not their musical? Probably not the Lenape, who were genocided out of Manhattan? There is this thing called postcolonialism, and I think you should look into it. Or, to put it another way: Who knew a story of American Exceptionalism could succeed among our bored bourgeois!? And I get that it is told with diversity, which is great, and uses modern language to invigorate historical interest, and that there are a lot of valuable things to be said about all of that. I'm not here for that.

    Disney. You pink eye loving butt sniffer. Motherfucking Disney. I try to use nice words, PS what IS that motherfucker doing in Hamilton? Just to F with the normals, or what? Need something to keep school group leaders on their toes? Before we get into the larger issues of appropriation YOU DON'T GET TO USE THAT WORD! IT IS MINE! MINE!!! I lent it to David Mamet in the 80s, but it belongs to an exclusive group of rappers and artists, and you don't get it, anymore. Not after Disney. Just fuck you, you know? Disney!? OK! Thanks for single handedly repairing all of the systemic problems encountering theater in the 21st century! High ho Disney AWAY! Lin rides a camel made of money bags away into the sunset. Fucking no, you do not get to go, without hearing this. Disney gets to slave children in the developing world because you're a terrible parent. This isn't a shocking new development, this it nothing new. Do us all a favor, stop tweeting on FB for a few minutes, and Google Bangladesh. Here, I'll help, in case you can't.

Image result for dhaka fire disney

    Those are victims of the 2012 Dhaka Fire. These are some of the 124 burned alive making Disney apparel in unsafe conditions. Oh but surely there would be reforms, and Disney helped out, and realized the error of their ways and ensured that these sorts of things could never happen again!

 Dhaka Savar Building Collapse.jpg

    Oh wait, the 2013 Savar building collapse which killed 1,129, the deadliest accidental structural collapse in modern history. This has nothing to do with the terrible shit that Disney does appropriating, homogenizing, and monetizing cultures that do not belong to them. This is about the slavery and bodies that Disney creates so you can dance around in a fucking cartoon musical. This is not solved. This is ongoing. This is today, and now, and you are helping the oppressors. Hey, I help the oppressors, too. Don't think I don't know that. I try not to. Christ, I tried for so long to avoid Disney, but they just keep phagocyting everything I love. First Star Wars, then Marvel. Entire universes of creativity, absorbed into the corporate blob. It is a monster, and I am apparently one of only a few people who sees the dangers it presents. Privilege allows us to consume without asking where it comes from, but that privilege isn't sustainable. It creates very real victims. But we can do better. We need to do better. We need to call it out, and leverage our talents, and refuse to get distracted and surrender to it. What I believe, and why I am so angry, is how quickly you sold out. How easily it was for you to take your trophy and leave theater holding the bill. Do you have fantasies that you have helped arts, with your work? Driving audiences to social networks and other media? You think down here on the bottom we're all just grateful you had the bravery to take the unending credit for standing on the shoulders of giants? Do you really think Biggie Smalls would like you, if he weren't looking down at us all from heaven right now? Hamilton wanted us all to speak German. Do you even speak German?!

   Finally, I want to let you know that we are in a competition. Everybody is talking about the EGOT you missed, and the PEGOT they have to create, on account of the Pulitzer, and I think if you walk away from THOSE DISNEY FUCKS and spend some time growing your soul back, your later work could revitalize theater as a sustainable cultural endeavor, and you could even get a Nobel in Literature like my homeboy Bob Dylan, and you could die a PENGOT. All of the awards could belong to you. I am trying to win a Pulitzer Prize of my own. If you don't have a play on Broadway they make you pay $50 and send in 6 copies of your script. DVD recommended, but not required. As it turns out 2015 was not a good year to start, but I am still going, Miranda. The plan is every year I write, produce, and direct a new play. Still no word about this year. I am pulling together the shattered pieces of my heart, mind, and soul onto paper and trying to send it out into the universe. I have another one in the gate, which I shamelessly link below.

    I can't even legitimately call myself a Salieri, because of the magnitudes involved. You can think of me as Salieri's fingernail, without which composing and conducting would be uncomfortable. The competition isn't even with you, you crass sell out. I am fighting Eugene O'Neil, who knew how to write a straight play. Albee was gunning for him, but even he knew commercial theater was killing it all too fast. I don't have fancy things like a director, or a team of technical specialists. What I do have is a team of theater artists that could go line for line and toe to toe with anything the Provincetown Players could hack out. I have 1,300 FB friends who actually know me, and respect my work. I have the best of women at my side, and soon to be the two most beautiful girls in the world. It is for them I rake you over these coals, because I want theater to still be around when they can enjoy it. Also because some FB troll trolled me. Also because I am so sick and tired of trying to save theater without surrendering to the hegemony. So, the record to beat is 4 PP for Ds. Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, Strange Interlude, and Long Day's Journey into Night. The road to the Nobel Prize in Literature does not intersect with Disney, friend. Good luck out there, and MacBeth. Remember you are only one PP ahead of me. Thanks, if you actually took the time to read this rambling Jeremiad from the source. It comes from a place of love, riding anger. In the end, there is only one love, and we all must share it.


Jeremiah Liend

P.A.P.P.i.D.: Post Apocalyptic Pulitzer Prize in Drama



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