Excerpt for Renaissance Man - The Lin-Manuel Miranda Story An Unauthorized Biography by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Renaissance Man: The Lin-Manuel Story© Marc Shapiro 2018

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Digital ISBN: 978-1-62601-449-7

Print ISBN: 978-1-62601-448-0

First Edition May, 2018


This book is dedicated to my father, Bennie Shapiro, who was born in Lithuania and came to this country at a young age. He joined the army during World War II, was stationed in Germany and was MIA for ten days before being found. He married and had three kids, of which I was the oldest. He worked in the Los Angeles Garment District. He was a great husband and a great father. He was a straightforward, no bullshit blue-collar guy who loved his weekly poker games. The highlight of his week was when he took us to a deli in Boyle Heights for lox and bagels. He was always reading the newspaper. He took me to my very first horror film. He convinced me not to smoke at age six when he stuck a lighted cigarette in my mouth and said, “inhale.” He told me he would support me in anything that I wanted to do with my life, but if I did the same thing he did he would kick my ass. When I got kicked out of junior high school for fighting, I figured I would catch holy hell from him so I called him at work to tell him the bad news. All he wanted to know was whether I fought back. When I said yes, he said that was all he needed to know. My father died suddenly at age 40. He was gone way too soon. I miss him every day.

Table of Contents

Author’s Notes…How His Mind Works

Introduction…Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Chapter One…Once Upon a Time in America

Chapter Two…Welcome to Inwood

Chapter Three…A Prodigy in the Works

Chapter Four…Rapping on the Bus

Chapter Five…Between Two Worlds

Chapter Six…Rising Up From the Back Row

Chapter Seven…Brick Prison

Chapter Eight…Cool Cats and Garbage Cans

Chapter Nine…Life Changing

Chapter Ten…In City Dreams

Chapter Eleven…Get a Job, Get a Life

Chapter Twelve…Love and Robocalls

Chapter Thirteen…Off the Grid

Chapter Fourteen…The High Life

Chapter Fifteen…So Now What?

Chapter Sixteen…Discovering Hamilton

Chapter Seventeen…Love and Marriage

Chapter Eighteen…Chasing Hamilton

Chapter Nineteen…Going Public

Chapter Twenty…How to Make a Moana

Chapter Twenty-One…Many Miles to Go

Chapter Twenty-Two…The Power Play

Chapter Twenty-Three…Lights are Bright

Chapter Twenty-Four…I Thank You

Chapter Twenty-Five…Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Chapter Twenty-Six…Money for Something

Chapter Twenty-Seven…What Dreams May Come

Chapter Twenty-Eight…History in the Making



Author’s Notes

How His Mind Works

I read the papers. Consequently, I knew a lot about the Broadway smash Hamilton and how it was the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the new kid on the Broadway block. But I was observing from afar. I had yet to see Hamilton and thus, was forming my opinions much in the way most casual observers do, by the regularly laudatory and often fawning entertainment press. My gut told me that there was something there. Something beyond the glitz, glamour and hype.

Ultimately, it would take my five year-old granddaughter Lily to set me on the right track.

Like most five year olds, Lily has been quick to obsess with all things Moana. I’ve lost track of how many times she’s watched the movie and it seems like every time she’s at our house or in our car, the soundtrack is playing, loud and clear, on a seemingly constant loop. And through a combination of sheer repetition and the inherent, bouncy catchiness of the music, much of which was written by Miranda, I started to get the hint.

There is a whole lot to like in Miranda, a whole lot of bubbly and positive, a whole lot of spot on. Miranda’s approach to creation is a very potent mix.

There will be time for all the deep thinking and examination later. But for now, let’s just say it like it is.

Miranda is a pop culture mix-master of ideas, thought and passion. Somebody who can take our hopes and dreams and send them back to us wrapped in a bright musical bow.

Growing up, everything in Miranda’s world resonated with possibility. The years listening to his parent’s massive record collection, the countless hours spent in dark movie houses feeding off the latest Disney fantasies like The Little Mermaid, his mania for theatrical music, the live fire of theater and his immediate attraction to the lyrical power of hip hop music. Miranda took it all in and creatively spit it back out. He is like most of us who take our youthful fascinations and hope to somehow, some way make a life of it. The only difference being that Lin-Manuel Miranda did it. He’s taken everything from Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story to the latest beats from the street and turned them from passion to life as the two creative drives crossed paths on the road to greatness.

Miranda as the world-wide, much-celebrated creative force, is quite simply a creature of his influences, observations and the simplicity of the world around him. There is savvy and a gut level sense of knowledge in every bit of music and every lyric he creates, and let’s not forget a very traditional sense of right and wrong, which he has in spades. His plays and music like Hamilton, In the Heights and Bring It On: The Musical, as well as his contributions to the soundtrack of the movie Moana and even his bit of fun in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, are like fruit from a creative tree. In Miranda’s mind, even the most simple of moments are fodder for creative thought and interpretation how Miranda goes about his business is not that difficult to figure out. Quite simply, he sees his world as ripe with possibilities and he takes advantage of them on a daily basis.

Miranda is so tuned in to ideas around him that it is not surprising that even his memories and casual observations of everyday life burst with flights of fancy and a sense of lilt and storytelling depth. He has a keen eye for where he comes from, where he’s been and, perhaps most importantly, where he’s going.

Miranda was also entrenched in seemingly endless layers of influence, growing up in a world of show tunes, hip hop, rap, pop and a myriad of other musical styles. It is the security blanket he returns to quite often, refining and infusing traditional notions with the possibilities of a future wrapped up in the new and different.

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