How is it "In The Heights" Really?
There's a musical known as Hamilton. You may have heard of it, won Tonys, Grammys, and Emmys plus a casual Pulitzer.
Lin Manuel Miranda is now the famed writer of that musical and has been using his time since to write okish songs and be a not-great actor and I just want to tie him to a tree on a beach until he gives me another musical but anyways-
He had a Tony winning musical before Hamilton called In The Heights, roughly based on his childhood growing up a Puerto Rican child of immigrants in a magical land known as Washington Heights.
Once Hamilton started printing money (GET IT? CUS HE WAS TREASURY SECRETARY?) all of Miranda's works were mined for potential money opportunities and the film In The Heights was created-and then delayed for 18 months because COVID.
I was lucky enough to be at that film's premiere (like with the cast and director no joke) and to have seen the film for myself. I am watching it again now with you, my dear readers, to give you a take on it as someone who actually lives IN THE HEIGHTS. It's insider baseball time here. These are my streets and this is my story too.
Background: Since I think the 30s? Maybe earlier? Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and other immigrants from island nations have been making the east and south sides of Washington Heights their home. During this time there was also a large influx of German Jews onto the west and north sides of the Heights. More Jews moved into the area in 1929 when Yeshiva University opened on the far east side of the Heights. Since then the Heights has been a relatively cheap place for those who need to live in Manhattan but can't afford anywhere real in Manhattan. It's been a haven for YU students and singles who have built their own community. Many younger white people are moving up as well as prices in Lower Manhattan rise and gentrification takes over. Much of the German Jewish population relocated to Monsey and other more suburban areas but a Yeshiva is still maintained. So I live here. Sandwiched between 18 year old YU guys and the thriving Dominican population that occupies the narrow center of Manhattan.
HEY I KNOW THAT STREET
HEY I KNOW THAT STREET
HEY I KNOW THAT STREET
This is going to get tiring quickly.
Wow his super washes the steps? Nice place.
I love the tourists who have never been north of 96th. Used to be me.
THERE IS NO ESCALATOR AT 181 ON THE A TRAIN IT'S ALL STAIRS.
But shoutout to the A train for being express, love you baby.
My eighth grade teacher told us that the lottery was a scam to keep poor people poor but my brother also went to a lottery sponsored pre school so....mixed feelings.
Usnavi, plastic bags are illegal in NYC because climate change. Duh.
"When the lights go down I blast my radio" I KNOW YOU GUYS DO I AM TRYING TO SLEEP. THERE ARE AIRBUDS.
Vanessa on the phone with an apartment company about a lease is ALL OF OUR LIVES 24/7. Ask me how many apartment companies have snuck leases out from under me if you want to see me cry.
"I hang my flag up it reminds me that I came from miles away" except the A hole on my street who hangs up his Yale flag to remind US that he went to Yale. Yes sir, you went to Yale but you can only afford a place on the same street as me sooo....
Ok now Benny is talking about where there is traffic-omg I need him on my dates WEST SIDE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND IF YOU CATCH THE LIGHTS IT'S SO TRUE.
Uh oh, here comes the true enemy GENTRIFICATION. There's a 16 Handles in Washington Heights now, CULTURE IS DEAD.
The kitchen Abuela has is 2 feet too wide. Kitchens are 4 feet wide max, what is this 6 feet bologna?
"This is my street, the smell, the faces" ok but go back to the smell. Pot/dogpoop/Dominicancooking/Chulent all mixed together. Yum.
I was also the first in my family to go to college. Well, the first of my siblings. I am also the oldest.
Just saying I got my passport picture taken right where she's singing and I look the same in my 2010 and my 2020 passport #goals.
All this waxing in the beauty studio scene is giving me PTSD. Get electrolysis girls, so much better for your skin and PERMANENT. But also all guys should have to watch this scene in chosson class so they know what we have GONE THROUGH.
Random guys telling you they love you checks out. But I still get totally flattered lol. I'm like "Me??? Aw shucks."
She opens a dumpster and there isn't a family of rats? Fake.
THE STRUGGLE OF COSIGNING AND CREDIT CHECKS AS A YOUNG PERSON.
Basically to rent an apartment in New York you need to make 40x a month's rent which for a 2 bedroom apartment could be $2,000-$3,000 so one of you needs to be making 40x$2,000 or $80,000 and most people just starting out are not making that so you need someone to sign who is making that but then they are responsible if you don't pay rent so that's scary for them and also no one under 26 has a normal credit score because we all just started paying bills so there's no credit history because during the time we should have been building a credit history we were busy doing algebra II. And basically you need parents or a fairy godmother to get an apartment and that's before giving over your entire paycheck for rent.
Pool scene-ok so there actually is this massive pool in Washington Heights a few blocks south of Yeshiva University. I have not met anyone who has used it-so you can't prove that anyone has survived using it.
Fun Fact: $96,000 is actually the price of 2 months rent if you want an apartment where the floors aren't on a slight tilt.
People being insanely double jointed is very NYC and very disgusting.
ALL ICE CREAM GUYS IN MANHATTAN ARE SELLING DRUGS THAT IS A FACT CHECK ME ON THAT.
Why else are the trucks still going at 3 am? WHY WHY WHY???
"Who would I be if I had never seen Manhattan?" So true.
HI GWB! I'VE BIKED YOU! YOU NEED WIDER BIKE LANES.
Ok now there's plot stuff in a movie with no real plot BO-RING. They do say l'Haim here which is our only Jew shout out RUDE.
And now the infamous TikTok famous club scene: No clubs in the heights have dance floors that big. Each square foot is more money. The dance floors are very very very intimate.
(Please note this is my experience passing by clubs on Shabbos and Motzei Shabbos. I never club in the Heights lol.)
No Hablo Engles is what I say when anyone talks to me.
I have never had a Washington Heights blackout thank G-D but I assume I would cross the GWB on foot like the world was ending just looking for somewhere to charge my phone. Then I would be a homeless person at a gas station in Fort Lee so I could charge my phone.
DO WE HAVE TO HAVE FIREWORKS EVERY NIGHT THOUGH??? IS IT A HAVE TO?
You would not be using your phone as a flashlight in a blackout. You need to save that battery.
The Abuela song is hands down the best done part of this movie. So Broadway. And true, no roof access in WaHi.
Shout out to Mayor Laguardia-they finally fixed Laguardia airport! It has plugs and water and toilets now!
THE TUNNEL YOU GUYS I WALK THROUGH THAT MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY IT IS NOT CLEAN OR WELL LIT OR PRETTY.
I called 911 on someone who was clearly ODing in that tunnel. It's a party. In the winter people live there. And then her journey to (spoiler alert) heaven is up the stairs I climb every day. Does that mean....I live in heaven? Am I dead? is this the afterlife?
Uh Oh. Guess I was really bad in my previous life.
By the way I got to ask the actual director of this movie that question and he said the stairs mean moving on. BUT I HAVE NOT MOVED ON I AM RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME. Is this movie lying to me???
More plot stuff, boring, don't get how it connects.
Ok so Usnavi gets Daniella to cosign on Vanessa's apartment but like, they would never give that information to Usnavi? And why didn't Vanessa shred her documents before throwing them out? And now Daniella's leaving the Heights because too expensive and going to the Bronx I hope she moved back during the Buy Dead People's Apartments Because COVID deal.
They are not lying about the NYC heat though I don't think I'd live through a blackout.
Lin-Manuel sneaking his head into the movie again LIN GO BACK TO YOUR WRITING TREE AND STOP ACTING.
Ooo this is so cute dancing on the side of the building with all the pigeon poop I'm obsessed. Raise your hand if you tried to sit on your fire escape and read and ur butt got bruised.
Nina's on the wrong train to the airport she needs to take the 1 downtown and transfer to the M60 for LGA and for Kennedy she needs to take the A to the end of the line.
Usnavi not able to open champagne is me with all wines any time of year. No joke, there is a bottle of wine in my apartment with half a cork in it that we can't get out that has been there for 3 years.
And finally-THE STAIRS!
These stairs actually exist in WaHi AND I SAW THEM FILM THIS SCENE THERE. There's a decent grocery store and a nice park and higher rents on top of those stairs. There's also an elevator that has been closed for maintenance since last Christmas.
Those stairs are basically what makes Washington Heights the Har Nof of New York. I live at the bottom of the cliff that those stairs leads to and if there's ever even a slight earthquake there are basically 3 large apartment building on stilts that will likely fall on my head. It's chill. It's Manhattan but with hiking.
"in five years when the whole city is rich folks and hipsters" don't worry Usnavi, the global pandemic fixed that issue for you.
Oh gosh Vanessa is becoming one of those people who makes clothes and sells them in the Heights and you just want to tell them that there is such thing as too many colors. Also this week I saw a lady selling bras that go on your but. I don't know where the butt nipples are and I'm scared to ask.
Aww they're a big family, everyone in the Height is a big family!
Things Lin Manuel Miranda Missed:
JEWS ON DATES
There was NOTHING about parking or parking tickets thats false.
When they turn on the fire hydrants it means that some of us are sitting in our cubicles in wet shoes for the rest of the day.
When someone on the subway acts like they know you because they're trying to get money from you
When someone on the subway acts like they know you and you realize later that you dated.
When both communities-Jewish and Dominican-agreed together to ignore the whole global pandemic thing
Getting high because everyone in your building is smoking pot at the same time.
Knowing your building is sinking into the ground
The terrifying season of lease renewals.