Illif D. Richardson was certainly an interesting figure during World War II. A radio expert and PT Boat crewman with the rank of ensign, Richardson was stationed in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked and invaded the islands. When the Japanese took over the country, he fled into the jungles and became a guerilla fighter, joining the Philippine Resistance. With his radio skills, Richardson was able to set up a secret communication network between all of the various Filipino resistance groups, and for three years he was responsible for coordinating the operations of the Philippine Resistance. In 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur awarded him for his exploits by assigning him to US Army Intelligence and awarding him the rank of Major. Interestingly, Richardson was the only US serviceman to hold officers commissions in both the US Army and US Navy simultaneously.
While working with the Filipino Resistance, Richardson took special interest in the homemade firearms produced and used by many Filipino people. Often simple people with access to few resources, they were able to cobble together crude but working firearms built from scrap metal and cast away parts. Such home gunsmithing had been a tradition in the Philippines dating back to when they revolted against the Spanish in the late 19th century, and continued during the Spanish American War and Philippine American War. Home gunsmithing is still common today. One of the most common firearm designs was the slamfire shotgun. A single shot shotgun, it had a very curious action. The barrel consisted of two tubes, an inner tube shrouded by a larger out tube. To load the user would remove the outer tube and insert a shotgun shell into it. The inner tube was mounted with a fixed firing pin, and the user would then replace the outer tube. Finally, the user would slam the outer barrel back, banging the cartridge primer against the firing pin which discharged the shell. It was a very crude system, and not a very effective combat weapon, but the Filipinos were able to successfully ambush enemy soldiers with them, thus acquiring rifles, machine guns, and grenades.
When Richardson returned to the United States, he instantly became famous, writing his memoirs and touring the country. To cash in on his fame, Richardson attempted to go into the firearms business by making replicas of the slamfire shotguns that were used by Filipino fighters. The Richardson Guerilla gun was also a slamfire shotgun, chambered in 12 gauge. While it appears that it had a trigger, its actually a safety mechanism so that any bump or jolt does not cause the primer to make contact with the firing pin, causing an accidental discharge. The trigger connected to a lever which held the barrel in place, so the use would have to hold the trigger, unlocking the barrel so that it could be “slam fired”. The Richardson shotgun was cheap to produce, and was meant to simulate the crudeness of the Filipino design. Even the stock was crudely cut and poorly finished. The Richardson Guerilla gun was a commercial flop, and few wear produced. While it was an interesting novelty, in the end it was a piece of junk, based on the designs of desperate people who threw away their slamfire guns when they acquired something better.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and star of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” thought it was the cable company calling to beg him to reconsider his recent service cancellation.
Nicole Eisenman, the artist, was in the meat section of a Fire Island grocery store, buying bacon.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the best-selling nonfiction book “Between the World and Me,” was at home in his Paris apartment when the call came.
“I wished I could be cool,” Mr. Coates said in a telephone interview. “But you just can’t be cool.”
These three were among the 24 people selected as 2015 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fellowships, which have come to be known as “genius grants,” come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years — no strings attached.
However accomplished the fellows may be, they say the MacArthur grant frees them to experiment in their work without the burden of financial pressure.
“This goes a long way toward giving artists breathing room,” Mr. Miranda said. “While ‘Hamilton’ was being written, I wrote another musical; I was on a TV show that was the lowest-rated TV show in the history of NBC; I spoke at schools; I did some corporate gigs — there’s just jobs you do because you are feeding your family.”
Mr. Miranda said he would donate some of the prize money to “organizations that I have fallen in love with,” like Graham Windham, founded in 1806 by Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth — which continues to serve needy children and families — and the Mariposa Center, which helps girls in the Dominican Republic.
“This is not all going to go to me,” he said. “This is also going to go to some of the places that have fed my soul.”
He wore a nice white shirt open just one extra button. He’s into clothes. Not in a fashion-forward way, more of an old-school, deep-quality way. His seamstress mother taught him about fabrics, what they signaled to the world. When Antrim learned last year that he’d won a $625,000 MacArthur “genius award,” his longtime friend and supporter Jonathan Franzen sent him a note saying, Finally you can afford some of the clothes you love. Meaning not that he could finally buy them — he’d been buying them — but that he could now afford them.
“There’s no magic pill for it. No ginger, no apple cider vinegar will substitute a good night of sleep,” said Miranda. “I do believe we make our worst decisions when we’re tired.”
Huffington, who has seen the musical three times, wrote about the link between Alexander Hamilton’s lifelong workaholism, lack of sleep and his fatally poor decision-making in a May story for HuffPost. In it, she wondered whether his lack of sleep influenced not just Hamilton’s decision to couple up with romantic partner Maria Reynolds, but his agreement to participate in a duel with his political enemy, Aaron Burr.
The happy flip side of the link between fatigue and poor decision making, however, is the link between relaxation and creativity. Miranda has won Tony and Grammy awards, a MacArthur Genius grant and a Pulitzer Prize for his race-bending Broadway take on the founding fathers, and he credits the inspiration for the musical to one fateful trip.
“It’s no accident that the best idea I’ve ever had in my life — perhaps maybe the best one I’ll ever have in my life — came to me on vacation,” Miranda said.
“When I picked up Ron Chernow’s biography [of Hamilton], I was at a resort in Mexico on my first vacation from ‘In The Heights,’ which I had been working seven years to bring to Broadway,” he continued. “The moment my brain got a moment’s rest, ‘Hamilton’ walked into it.”
Great to see a Puerto Rican win this award, and for such an incredible work!
“The Pulitzer is the latest of countless awards Hamilton and Miranda have won this season. The musical won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Miranda, Hamilton’s 35-year-old composer, also became the recipient of the 2015 MacArthur “Genius” Award. The musical has grossed more than $60 million at the box office and has been sold out for months, according to Fortune.“
Monastery Northwestern graduate also several major research initiatives, including the Global Health Center, Initiative for Sustainability and Energy in the North West region, and international research opportunities in the North West region. This university is home to 12 schools and colleges. The school employs a full-time teaching staff strength of 3344 which now includes the prestigious Nobel Prize, the winners of the MacArthur Fellowship, and Tony Award winners. A $ 9.8 billion endowment is the reason that the school can use more than $ 500 million for research in a given year, and why the library can hold more than five million pieces, including many magazines and microfilm. 21000 Northwestern University students and enjoy the three universities, two of which border on Lake Michigan, while the third found in Doha, Qatar. Often it seems that this is the case, and this is leading research university benefits from its proximity to the powerful neighbor, the University of Chicago. As it is well-known university to attend the 19 teams “in the framework of the ten major sports conference.
The University of Pennsylvania’s 260th Commencement ceremony will take place on Monday, May 16, 2016 in Franklin Field at 10:15 a.m., and will be preceded by student and academic processions through campus. The ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees, the awarding of honorary degrees, greetings by University officials, and remarks by the Commencement speaker, Lin-Manuel Miranda, an award-winning composer, lyricist, and performer, as well as a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award recipient.
In advance of HAMILTON opening in Chicago, Pulitzer, Emmy, Tony, Grammy, Olivier and MacArthur “Genius” Grant award-winning actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda joined Chicago Tribune Theater Critic Chris Jones to discuss his life, inspiration, and past creative works including IN THE HEIGHTS and the cultural sensation, HAMILTON.
At a time when advances in science and technology have changed our understanding of our mental and physical selves, it is easy for some to dismiss the discipline of philosophy as obsolete. Stephen Hawking, boldly, argues that philosophy is dead.
Not according to Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. Goldstein, a philosopher and novelist, studied philosophy at Barnard and then earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton University. She has written several books, won a MacArthur “Genius Award” in 1996, and taught at several universities, including Barnard, Columbia, Rutgers, and Brandeis.
Goldstein’s forthcoming book, Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, offers insight into the significant—and often invisible—progress that philosophy has made. I spoke with Goldstein about her take on the science vs. philosophy debates, how we can measure philosophy’s advances, and why an understanding of philosophy is critical to our lives today.
There is a hip-hop in Hamilton, but there are a lot of other things, too, which reassures and comforts a conventional Broadway audience while also hopefully attracting and satisfying a more diverse group of spectators (diverse in age and race and aesthetic orientation) who are less gratified by traditional Broadway balladry. There’s nods to the Beastie Boys and Biggie Smalls in here. But a lot of Sondheim and Kander and Ebb, too.
It’s not that Miranda’s isn’t an original voice. It is. Wildly. Wonderfully even. He has just been awarded a MacArthur “genius grant” and it’s hard to think of a contemporary music theater composer who deserves it more. But what’s original about his work is the fervor and fearlessness with which it borrows and recombines other genres and styles – pop, rock, jazz, operetta. He is a living iPod Shuffle. I don’t know too many other theater artists who could appropriate, with dash and conviction, TLC, 40s girl groups and Gilbert and Sullivan. All in the same song.
Do you have any feelings about Alison Bechdel winning the MacArthur genius award? I thought I remembered you saying you were a fan at some point but could be mistaken. Either way big deal for women in comics yeah?
yes. at first i was just extremely happy but then my mom saw an article about it and called me to say “so maybe making weird little autobiographical comics could amount to something after all”- she’s never before really acknowledged any kind of art/ creative pursuit of mine as more than a hobby/ something i’ll grow out of eventually/ nothing i can ever count on as a career (or even talked to me since the whole college thing) so i cried. little sad that it took bechdel winning an award that demands her medium be taken seriously to make that exchange happen, but i’m ecstatic about it either way. for both the universal and personal significance.
it’s all made me feel a bit less insecure and fervently doubtful about my own work. starting to think it’s not all as otiose as i tell myself it is. so yeah, god, everything about bechdel winning the macarthur is good. she deserves it.
"The Soul is Not a Smithy" by David Foster Wallace
Recommended by AGNI
Issue No. 91
TERENCE VELAN WOULD LATER BE DECORATED IN COMBAT IN THE WAR IN INDOCHINA, AND HAD HIS PHOTOGRAPH AND A DRAMATIC AND FLATTERING STORY ABOUT HIM IN THE DISPATCH, ALTHOUGH HIS WHEREABOUTS AFTER DISCHARGE AND RETURNING TO AMERICAN LIFE WERE NEVER ESTABLISHED BY ANYONE MIRANDA OR I EVER KNEW OF.
This is the story of how Frank Caldwell, Chris DeMatteis, Mandy Blemm and I became, in the city newspaper’s words, the 4 Unwitting Hostages, and of how our strange and special alliance and the trauma surrounding its origin bore on our subsequent lives and careers as adults later on. The repeated thrust of the Dispatch articles was that it was we four, all classified as slow or problem pupils, who had not had the presence of mind to flee the Civics classroom along with the other children, thereby creating the hostage circumstance that justified the taking of life.
David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers’ Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.
About the Guest Editor
Like so many other ventures that first saw light in the counter-culture era, AGNI (founded in 1972 by Askold Melnyczuk) set itself up as an alternative to the status quo, a fly in whatever was the going ointment. Though much has changed and evolved, and though captains and crews have grown a bit older, we like to think that the founding spirit survives. Not so much as a politics, more as a feisty eclecticism, a welcoming of spirits from all parts of the world (we prize fine translation), and as an insistent celebration of the literature that represents the thorny complexity, the complex thorniness, of making a self in a world become “hyper” in so many respects. We look for language that gets our moment, that achieves excellence through the integration of perspectives, that strikes the note of the new. Our avatar is the Vedic god of fire, our goal is literary combustion.
About Electric Literature
Electric Literature is an independent publisher working to ensure that literature remains a vibrant presence in popular culture. Electric Literature’s weekly fiction magazine, Recommended Reading, invites established authors, indie presses, and literary magazines to recommended great fiction. Once a month we feature our own recommendation of original, previously unpublished fiction, accompanied by a Single Sentence Animation. Single Sentence Animations are creative collaborations: the author chooses a favorite sentence and we commission an artist to interpret it. Stay connected with us through our eNewsletter (where you can win weekly prizes), Facebook, and Twitter, and find previous Electric Literature picks in the Recommended Reading archives.
A boy with floppy brown hair and freckled arms pedals his mountain bike toward some concrete steps outside of a high school. There are twenty-five steps, and they lead down to the teacher’s lot. The boy’s friends are waiting at the bottom to see what happens. When he reaches the first step, he leans back in his seat to keep from toppling over the handlebars. His name is Davy, and he can draw a hand perfectly. Nobody draws a hand like Davy. His art teacher wants him to apply to art schools next year. She believes one day Davy will draw not only a perfect hand but also a perfect wrist and a perfect arm and, if he is diligent, a perfect shoulder too. Beyond that she dares not hope. Necks are the most beautiful part of the female body, and no one has ever captured one as it really is.
Thomas Pierce was born and raised in South Carolina. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oxford American, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Virginia Creative Writing Program, he lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife and daughter.
About the Guest Editor
Founded in 1994 by Susan Petersen Kennedy, Riverhead Books is now well established as a publisher of bestselling literary fiction and quality nonfiction. Throughout its history, Riverhead has been dedicated to publishing extraordinary groundbreaking, unique writers. Riverhead’s books and authors have won or been finalists for Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, National Book Critic Circle Awards, MacArthur Genius Awards, Hurston Wright Legacy Awards, Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, and numerous other distinctions.