Okay, this is SO not fair, but Alex stole my blog. Not about her book, but about the musical 1776! I figured since it’s Independence Day, I’d talk about my favorite musical–1776–and there Alex goes and posts a couple clips! I don’t know whether to thank her or curse her . . . but I’ll tell you, it is extremely eerie how often Alex and I are on the same wavelength. Downright scary at times . . .
I’m not a huge fan of studying history, except for American or California History. (The latter because in California, we learn about the gold rush and have mission projects, etc, from a young age–it’s a big thing in school–so I’ve always been interested in the gold rush and turn of the century California history.) (Hmm, I also really love Greek and Roman mythology, which is part history part literature. I may be one of the few people on earth who read THE ODYSSEY when I was 13 and enjoyed it . . . I also read THE ILIAD in third year Latin. I didn’t enjoy that so much, and can’t remember a damn thing about that story . . . )
When I first moved to Sacramento, a friend of mine had 1776 on tape and we watched it the night before the Fourth. I loved it! It was 1989 or 1990 when the movie came out (the original play was produced in 1969) and I’d just read PATRIOTS: The Men Who Started the American Revolution by A.J. Langguth which I greatly enjoyed because it touched on all the major events of the American Revolution, and included some interesting personal stories, but it wasn’t too “heavy”–it was very accessible. (Not as good as David McCullough’s 1776, but fun.) After I married, I took my husband to the stage production, the revival, in I believe 1997 or 1998 . . .
Anyway, 1776, a fictionalized but fairly accurate account of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, begins on May 8, 1776. (The continental congress didn’t keep good records, so much of the debate is not “official” and interpreted through the writings of those who were there. And as writers we know that POV changes everything.) The congressional custodian finds John Adams alone in the bell tower and tells him that everyone is looking for him for an important vote. Adams enquires, and the clerk says:
“Whether we should grant General Washington’s request to require that all members of the Rhode Island militia wear matching uniforms.”
Adams storms down to the floor, bursts through the doors, and says:
“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two become a law firm, and that three of more become a Congress!”
As Adams rants about the injustices of the British Crown and the cause for Independence, the Congress debates the all important issues of . . . whether to open the windows up to relieve them of the stifling Pennsylvania heat. Half the Congress wants to open the windows for fresh air; the other half wants them closed because of the flies.
Some things never change.
(The State of California is $19 billion in debt–or more–and one of the important issues brought up is whether to rescind the honor travertine has as our state rock because it has asbestos in it and–if you grind it up and use it in projects, like roads, it can cause cancer. Which is why it’s not used in roads, but that hasn’t stopped the all-important debate. I mean, it’s obviously more urgent than the fact that we have NO BUDGET. I started my job in the legislature in 1992 and my first paycheck was an I.O.U. I think we’ve had one budget on time since . . . )
One of my favorite quotes in the entire musical is when Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island comes in and the vote for debating the question of Independence is divided. He’s the deciding vote and says:
“I’ve never seen, heard, or smelled a subject that was too dangerous to talk about! Hell, yes, I’m for debating anything!”
I’ll admit, I love this musical. It’s idealized in many ways, but embodies our common foundation. We are Americans, the most free country, warts and all, and for the two hours of the musical I can believe in us.
We usually have a fourth of July party but canceled it this year. I leave tomorrow night for Thrillerfest; last week we had a big party with friends and family for my six year old’s birthday, and my daughter is at summer camp. Next year? We’ll have a big party! Today, we’ll have a quiet BBQ with family and shoot off fireworks in the driveway and watch the big fireworks from a great distance.
What are your plans for today? Comment and I’ll send one lucky winner the DVD of 1776 and any book in my backlist. 🙂
P.S. The DVD I’m sending is the “Director’s Cut” which really should be watched after the original, but I can’t find the original . . . why? Because it’s a lesson in editing. You’ll see that whoever decided to trim and edit out some scenes in the original movie production of the play were right. At least, IMHO. LESS is often MORE . . . in television, movies, plays and our own books. Kill your darlings 🙂
P.S.S. A special thanks to the men and women serving in our armed forced around the world. You all keep the Independence in Independence Day.