NPR Fresh Air

Lin-Manuel Miranda On Disney, Mixtapes And Why He Won't Try To Top 'Hamilton'
NPR: Fresh Air

Lin-Manuel Miranda On Disney, Mixtapes And Why He Won’t Try To Top ‘Hamilton’ (NPR):

[…] Looking ahead, Miranda says he doesn’t feel pressure to duplicate or exceed the success of Hamilton. “If you think in terms of topping, you’re in the wrong business,” he says. “I remember getting that question after In the Heights. 'It’s your first musical and you won the Tony, how are you going to top it?’ I’m like, 'I went from broke substitute teacher to Broadway composer. I will never make a leap that big in my life again.’ ”

Interview Highlights

On what it was like to play Alexander Hamilton every night

It was an enormous challenge to do that show every night, and yet who to blame but myself? I wrote the part! And it was also the most thrilling roller coaster every night. You know, I got to fall in love, I got to win a war, I got to write words that inspired a nation.

Getting to go through that experience, it’s something I’ll never get old of, which is why I really tried to downplay my departure as much as possible, because I don’t think I’m remotely done with it.

On Donald Trump’s tweet calling for the theater to be a safe place after the Hamilton cast read a statement directed to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who attended a performance soon after the election

Here’s where I agree with the president-elect: The theater should always be a safe space. … I think one of the reasons Hamilton has been embraced by people of every stripe on the political spectrum is that theater is one of the rarest places where we still come together. You may take a totally different conclusion from Hamilton than I do, based on your ideology and your politics and your life experience, but we all sat in a room together and we watched the same thing, and that doesn’t happen anymore.

As you can see from this election, we have our own sets of facts based on who we listen to. Which news organization gets our business determines the facts that get in our head. So I think one of the things that makes theater special is, first of all, it’s one of the last places you put your phone away, and second of all it’s one of the last places where we all have a common experience together.

So to that end, I agree with [Trump’s comment]. I don’t agree with his characterization of what we did. I think anyone who sees that video sees [actor Brandon Victor Dixon] silencing the boos … from the audience itself, who … nine days after the election are still working through that thing. I can’t speak to that, but I know that Brandon quieted the boos and made a plea to lead all of us. I don’t believe there’s anything remotely resembling harassment in what we’ve done.


On the music that influenced him as a teenager

My sister is as responsible as anyone for giving me good taste in music. I remember stealing her copy of Black Sheep’s A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing and learning “Engine, engine number nine, on the New York transit line.” I think that’s probably the first rap song I really worked hard to memorize in sixth grade, but then also Naughty by Nature and Queen Latifah.

The music you love when you’re a teenager is always going to be the most important to you, and I find that it’s all over the score of Hamilton. … These are all New York, East Coast, '90s rappers, and that’s when I was a teenager. […]


To start the new year: Christoph Niemann’s charming tribute to Maurice Sendak.  Happy 2013.

It came from watching shows like ‘Seinfeld’ and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and even '30 Rock’ and just identifying with a very specific sense of humor that those shows had, but also being like, 'Wow, There are no people of color in these shows that have the same sense of humor,’ and wondering, 'Why is there this segregated humor?’

Issa Rae on her sense of humor

‘Awkward’ And 'Insecure’ Get To The Root Of Writer Issa Rae’s Humor

Photo: Ann Marie Fox/HBO

Sixty-three years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, many schools across the country either remain segregated or have re-segregated.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that when it comes to school segregation, separate is never truly equal.

“There’s never been a moment in the history of this country where black people who have been isolated from white people have gotten the same resources,” Hannah-Jones says. “They often don’t have the same level of instruction. They often don’t have strong principals. They often don’t have the same technology.”

Still, when it was time for Hannah-Jones’ daughter, Najya, to attend kindergarten, the journalist chose the public school near their home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, even though its students were almost all poor and black or Latino. Hannah-Jones later wrote about that decision in The New York Times Magazine.

For Hannah-Jones, sending Najya to the neighborhood school was a moral issue. “It is important to understand that the inequality we see, school segregation, is both structural, it is systemic, but it’s also upheld by individual choices,” she says. “As long as individual parents continue to make choices that only benefit their own children … we’re not going to see a change.”

How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By ‘Individual Choices’

Illustration: LA Johnson/NPR


Actress Carrie Fisher, beloved for her iconic role as Princess Leia, died on Tuesday at the age of 60.

She leaves behind her daughter, Billie Lourd, her brother, Todd Fisher, her mother, Debbie Reynolds — and her French bulldog, Gary.

Gary Fisher is a celebrity in his own right — he traveled widely with Fisher and was a star on Instagram and Twitter.

And when Carrie Fisher visited NPR’s studios in New York City, to talk to Fresh Air host Terry Gross, Gary came along, too.

Gross, however, was in Philadelphia. She didn’t know there was a dog in our studios. She didn’t even know that was allowed.

In the conversation that followed, it’s impossible to miss the buoyant personalities of both Fishers — Carrie and Gary.

LISTEN: Carrie Fisher, Terry Gross — And Gary The Dog

Photos: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images; Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

I watched a lot of television as a kid and the suburbs to me — that was exotic! Like, a mom and dad who lived in the same house and had jobs and cooked breakfast at the same time every morning and did laundry in a washing machine and dryer?

Gaby Hoffman on growing up in the Chelsea Hotel

‘I Never Set Out To Be An Actor,’ Says 'Transparent’ Star Gaby Hoffmann

Image: Jennifer Clasen/Amazon

The thing about Gary that’s fun to play is he knows nothing about politics, doesn’t care to know about politics, but he knows these random factoids about people. So he’ll just whisper in her ear, “His daughter’s in rehab,” or “He likes eclairs,” or “He’s a fan of Britney Spears,” or something just random, so she can have these conversation pieces, which are probably not good conversation pieces to have, but he thinks so.

UPDATED: The possibility of humans colonizing outer space may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but British astronomer Chris Impey says that if the U.S. were pumping more money into the space program, the sci-fi fantasy would be well on its way to reality.

“I think we might actually be living on the moon and Mars,” Impey tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “Maybe not many of us, but we might have our first bases there. We’d have robust commercial space activity or people routinely in orbit. America wouldn’t have had a hiatus of four years and counting when we couldn’t get astronauts into space. It would be probably quite different.”

Despite the cuts to NASA, Impey says the possibility of humans living in space is very real. And if — or when — it happens, the space settlers will face conditions that may cause them to become an entirely new species.

The Great ‘Beyond’: Contemplating Life, Sex And Elevators In Space

Photo credit: Rick Guidice/NASA Ames Research Center

Caption: Astronomer Chris Impey examines the possibilities of the universe in his new book Beyond. “I like the idea that the universe — the boundless possibility of 20 billion habitable worlds — has led to things that we can barely imagine,” he says. In the 1970s, NASA Ames conducted several space colony studies, commissioning renderings of the giant spacecraft which could house entire cities.


Hi friends,

I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself in the best way I know–with photos! I’m Molly and I’m Fresh Air’s associate producer for online media. For the last 6 months I was working with Fresh Air on a freelance basis and now I am happy to be a full-time associate producer.

I’m a longtime Fresh Air/public radio listener and enthusiast, thanks to my Chicago roots growing up with WBEZ. As a kid, my mom would say (many times) in the car that, “Terry Gross has the best job in the world.” Now that I’m here, it’s incredible to be a part of the process.

I went to Bryn Mawr (top left) a women’s college outside of Philly. There I studied urban and environmental history and developed a passion for architecture. So that might explain why many of the photo breaks are architectural.  Louis Sullivan (designer of gate detail top right) is one of my favorite architects.  In fact, my cat Sully is named for the famously cranky guy who coined the phrase “form follows function.”

The Job:  I build Fresh Air’s webpages in conjunction with Internet goddesses Nicole Cohen and Beth Novey at NPR in D.C.  Though lot of my work is with NPR staff, I’m with the remarkable Fresh Air staff in Philadelphia at WHYY, where the show is produced. One of my favorite things is listening to the chitchat before and after the interview in the live feed from the studio while Terry is recording. 

 I also run the Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr. 

Let’s see… what else? After spending quite a bit of time in Paris I became obsessed with French film noir.  If you haven’t seen Rififi, stop everything and watch it now. The cinematography is breathtaking.

Speaking of film–one of my favorite interviews of late is with director Alexander Payne. I especially admire how he peppers comedy throughout rather bleak storylines, as in Nebraska and Election.  His films capture real life in a way that is both subtle and piercing. I share a cube with associate producer Heidi Saman (who is also a talented filmmaker) and we gush about his films all the time.

Finally, thank you all for listening to the show and following the blog!  Please say hi and tell me a little bit about yourself. I’ll be here and @nprfreshair on Twitter.


(All photos are my own, except for a screenshot of noir Bob le Flambeur and Alexander Payne… I wish, that’s the Huffington Post)

The Carioca
Daniel Handler
The Carioca

Daniel Handler – The Carioca (Dec 10, 2012, on NPR Fresh Air)

Mr. Snicket’s official representative performs for Terry Gross, from NPR Fresh Air, a song that was composed for Lemony Snicket’s first book in the All The Wrong Questions-series, titled Who Could That Be At This Hour?.


When things explode
we hit the road
well it’s been a lovely visit.

But if we can decode
our secret code
it isn’t a secret, is it?

Dressed à la mode
and furbelowed
we’re working to change this planet.

But if we can decode
our secret code
it can’t be a secret, can it?

I will not do the Carioca
which is a dance that goes like this.
But if I did the Carioca
it would be heaven, it would be bliss.

I’ll never do the Carioca
which is a dance that goes like this
But if I did the Carioca
it would be heaven, it would be bliss.

Strange seeds we’ve sowed
Hard rows we’ve… hoed
So please don’t say easy does it.

We don’t agree
‘cause if we can decode
our secret code
it wasn’t a secret, was it?

Into town we rode
Our bows are stowed
And we rarely wear our hair long.

But if we can decode
their secret code
it won’t be a secret erelong.

Then we can do the Carioca
indefinitely if we like
And those who poo poo Carioca
they can all go take a hike

We go do the Carioca
which is a dance that goes like this.
And when we do the Carioca
it will be heaven, it will be bliss.

Trala trala trala trala
Latra latra latra

In Washington, D.C., just a few years ago there was a tremendous scandal about lead in the drinking water and lead even in the public schools. And one of the unfortunate things is that we do not have a testing program for lead in public schools in the water, so we don’t really know how many children are being exposed to lead in the water in their schools.
Watch on

You’ve gotta respect a guy who can play classical guitar like that. 

Milos on NPR