I’m thinking about emblematic images or moments to use in my account of emergent contemporary New York writing for Bryan’s and my forthcoming Cambridge Companion to the Literatures of New York City.
Here’s one from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights. Asked by the Gothamist last February to describe one experience that struck him as a classic New York moment, Miranda said this:
When I was writing the first draft of In the Heights
during my winter break I would go for walks when I got stuck for
inspiration I would take a walk around. I think I was on 181st Street
walking around. I always tell people Washington Heights is full of
music and they sort of think it’s just a line I use to plug the show.
But I swear to God when I was writing the first draft I was walking
around and I saw a Chinese delivery guy riding his bike with a boom box
strapped to the front of his bike. It wasn’t a little radio; it was a
two speaker boom box blasting music. It was like Pimp My Ride but with
a two wheeler. I always thought that was a classic New York thing: Of
course the Chinese delivery guy has got a subwoofer on his bike!
It’s an image of the confluence of cultures that’s just what I’m trying to portray in my piece for the Companion. You can read the full interview with Miranda here. I’ll be posting more suggestive moments in the days to come as a finish up the piece.