Review: Hear the Beat of Dancing Feet, Right in Times Square

Of all New York City’s classic attractions, a stroll through Times Square may be the one that least appeals to people who live in New York, especially at rush hour. But on Thursday evening, there was reason to brave the crowds, the noise and the invitations to take a photo with Spiderman. Danspace Project, an East Village organization housed at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, had come to Midtown.In Danspace Project at Times Square, presented with Times Square Arts through Sunday, three new works — by Laurie Berg, Luciana Achugar and Full Circle Souljahs — allow even the most jaded New Yorker’s to see the city’s commercial epicenter through fresh lenses, sometimes literally.

nyc

Full Circle Souljahs presented “Behind the Groove — Times Square Edition,” a showcase of hip-hop styles.

Before watching Ms. Berg’s enchanting “scape,” in Duffy Square at 47th Street, viewers were encouraged to grab a pair of 3D glasses. As seven dancers appeared, walking calmly through the throngs with linked hands, you could see — but only through these frames — messages printed on their vibrant patterned costumes (the work of Liliana Dirks-Goodman, Jaime Shearn Coan and the designers at Print All Over Me). Some read as subtle calls to action (“Is it a show? Show up.”), others as checks on our scattered attention (“Look again.”).

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/arts/dance/review-danspace-project-in-times-square.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fdance&action=click&contentCollection=dance&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Everyone at Afropunk looked like a damn dream Afropunk style is never missable. This year was no exception.

Personal style at major music festivals can be generally watered down and frankly, a little lame, but not at. Afropunk. Attendees of the music and arts festival, now in its thirteenth year, looked as lush and happy as ever. Flower crowns, which have been having a moment in fashion, were ever-present and larger than life. Shades of bright yellow were inescapable, and skinny shades returned sleeker and chic-er than ever. Many of the impressive looks we captured were handmade by the wearers themselves. Peep some of our favorites from the weekend below. MORE PICTURES

 

America’s Invisible Pot Addicts More and more Americans are reporting near-constant cannabis use, as legalization forges ahead.

The proliferation of retail boutiques in California did not really bother him, Evan told me, but the billboards did. Advertisements for delivery, advertisements promoting the substance for relaxation, for fun, for health. “Shop. It’s legal.” “Hello marijuana, goodbye hangover.” “It’s not a trigger,” he told me. “But it is in your face.”

When we spoke, he had been sober for a hard-fought seven weeks: seven weeks of sleepless nights, intermittent nausea, irritability, trouble focusing, and psychological turmoil. There were upsides, he said, in terms of reduced mental fog, a fatter wallet, and a growing sense of confidence that he could quit. “I don’t think it’s a ‘can’ as much as a ‘must,’” he said.

Evan, who asked that his full name not be used for fear of professional repercussions, has a self-described cannabis-use disorder. If not necessarily because of legalization, but alongside legalization, such problems are becoming more common: The share of adults with one has doubled since the early aughts, as the share of cannabis users who consume it daily or near-daily has jumped nearly 50 percent—all “in the context of increasingly permissive cannabis legislation, attitudes, and lower risk perception,” as the National Institutes of Health put it.

READ MORE: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/08/americas-invisible-pot-addicts/567886/

The Culture Isn’t Finished With ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’—and Neither Is She

lauryn_hill_5.0

Given all that has come in its wake, it is still hard to believe that Lauryn Hill released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill when she was 23 years old. True, Hill had lived plenty of lives by then, had tried on a variety of roles—straight-A student of Maplewood, New Jersey’s Columbia High School; founder of her school’s gospel choir; promising teen actress stealing scenes in Sister Act 2 and As the World Turns; sole female member of the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning group that the media dubbed “the new conscience of rap”; and of course at her most braggadocious, “Nina Simone, defecating on your microphone.” Yet somehow, none of this quite prepared people in the summer of 1998 for the monumental achievement of her first and, to date, only solo studio album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill—a collection of songs as timeless and disparate as the tough-love anthem “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the break-up dirge “Ex-Factor,” the fire-starting “Lost Ones,” and that tender ode to impending motherhood “To Zion.” When an artist makes such a massively successful, groundbreaking, and format-defining work at a precocious age—think Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein at 20 or Orson Welles directing Citizen Kane at 25—it usually inspires the less precocious members of its audience (so roughly, everyone) to feel some combination of adoration and human inferiority: What were you doing with your life when you were 20, or 25, or 23? But maybe, too, there is something inherently youthful and thus reassuringly communal about such be-all-and-end-all swings for the moon. And so I like to temper this vision of an inhumanly precocious Lauryn Hill with the more human hubris of youth. “Lucky for us, like everyone in their twenties,” writes Kierna Mayo, the woman who famously put Hill on the cover of the preview issue of Honey magazine, “Hill imagined herself wiser than she really was.”

This weekend, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill turns 20, meaning it is nearly as old as Hill was herself when she wrote and recorded it. Its success is still staggering and well documented, and well worth documenting again: It sold 422,624 copies the week it was released, which at the time set the record for highest first-week sales by a female artist. It was nominated for 10 Grammys and won five of them (the most in a single night for a female artist at the time, breaking Carole King’s 27-year-old record), including Album of the Year, an award no black woman has won since. Last year, NPR placed it at no. 2 on its list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women, just behind Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and the album was also selected to be included in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. Worldwide, it has sold more than 19 million copies. Here is a paragraph break so the haters can take a breath.

But Hill’s travails throughout the past two decades have been well documented, too. When the album celebrated its 15th birthday, five years ago, Hill was in a minimum-security Connecticut prison serving a three-month term for tax evasion. There have been lawsuits, canceled shows, and accusations about her treatment of backing musicians. But perhaps most deafening, there has been her silence. Hill has released one-off tracks here and there, and her 2002 MTV Unplugged appearance was released as a (polarizing) live album. But she never released another proper album after Miseducation, and when not performing live, Hill has spent much of the past two decades in exile from her stardom, quietly raising six children and devoting herself to various spiritual practices. She rarely gives interviews, but in 2010 she told an NPR reporter who asked why she had stopped releasing new music, “There were a number of different reasons, but partly the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it.”

And yet around that time Hill began performing again, usually not new material but versions of the classic songs off Miseducation, reworked, sped up, and rearranged sometimes to the point that they were nearly indistinguishable. These performances have been mixed (I’ve seen her twice: one show was brilliant, the other a disaster, which seems in keeping with the general ratio). There is something both compelling and a little unsettling about how she still seems to be revising, rewriting, and endlessly tweaking the Miseducation songs live, akin to the creative perfectionism that drove Kanye West to continue reworking his 2016 record, The Life of Pablo, as though the album was not fluid enough as a format to contain his creativity. The culture is certainly not finished with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and in some sense neither is she.

As a fan, I have found Hill’s refusal to make another record frustrating and at the same time deeply profound: What can be a louder and clearer message of rebellion than, in a culture bloated with noise and excess, to remain quiet when everyone demands that you speak? Hill quickly and summarily achieved nearly every major milestone in the music industry, and then she walked away from it, as if to show that success is not a proven avenue to personal fulfillment. Hill has sometimes been compared to two other prominent black artists of her generation who disappeared at the height of fame’s demands: D’Angelo (who worked with her on “Nothing Even Matters” from Miseducation) and Dave Chappelle. “Lauryn Hill said something so apt recently,” the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah mused in an interview not long after she’d written a moving essay about her search for Chappelle. “She was late for her show and people complained that she was selfish in her tardiness and she said, ‘I gave you all of my twenties.’”

What does The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill mean 20 years later? It’s a complicated question, so it is fortunate that one of hip-hop’s smartest cultural critics, Joan Morgan, has devoted an entire short book to working it out.

“Routinely lauded for its themes of self-love, empowerment, and broken-heart-bounce-backs,” Morgan writes in her incisive She Begat This: 20 Years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the record “has earned itself the rank of classic in contemporary American popular culture.” But Morgan’s book honors the record’s spirit not by adding any more height to the pedestal on which it’s already been placed, but instead interrogating it, questioning its mythology, and even bringing in some dissenting black female voices to admit they never much felt like the record spoke for them. Says the legendary critic dream hampton, “I don’t want to hear anyone say the word ‘defecate’ anywhere near Nina Simone. Ever.”

READ MORE:https://www.theringer.com/music/2018/8/24/17776882/lauryn-hill-miseducation-album-20-year-anniversary

Companies and brands often attempt to avoid taking strong public positions out of fear of alienating customers, but Nike is running straight into the political fray.

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 5.07.43 AM

Four days before a new NFL season gets underway, Nike is throwing its weight behind one of the most polarizing figures in football, and America: former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick will be one of the faces of Nike’s 30th anniversary commemoration of its iconic “Just Do It” slogan. The campaign will also feature athletes such as Serena Williams, NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and Shaquem Griffin, a rookie linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks whose left hand was amputated when he was a child.

Kaepernick tweeted out a photo from the campaign on Monday. Over a black-and-white picture of his face, a caption reads, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

In backing Kaepernick, whom the company has sponsored since 2011, Nike is making a high-stakes gamble that its customers support his protest, or at least that enough of them do. The company is also betting its brand can withstand criticism from conservative corners, including the White House.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season. That year, he began kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness about police brutality against African-Americans and other racial injustices. Dozens of other players also began joining Kaepernick, and he has grown into a symbol of dividing lines over race in America.

In 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging the league conspired to keep him out because of his protests. An arbiter last week denied the NFL’s request to throw out the grievance, allowing the case to proceed to a trial.

The protests have divided the league, often pitting a conservative white owner base against the NFL’s mostly African-American players.

The owners voted in May to approve rules that would have required players to stand on the sideline during the anthem or or remain in the locker room. Teams would be fined if players did not stand during the anthem, and the rules allowed individual teams to set their own policies.

Those rules are on hold while the league and the players’ association negotiate.

Nike’s public support of Kaepernick also risks drawing the anger of President Donald Trump.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly seized on the issue. At a rally in Alabama last year, Trump said team owners should “get that son of a bitch off the field” if a player knelt in protest of injustice during the anthem. Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game after some players knelt.

“This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” Trump told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last year, according to a sworn deposition Jones gave in connection with Kaepernick’s lawsuit.

Nike declined to comment on whether it expected Trump to criticize the company or how it would respond if he did.

The company also drew fire from Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, who called the Kaepernick campaign “pathetic,” and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who tweeted, “I guess @Nike will now focus on making knee pads for NFL.”

But many users voiced support for the brand’s decision and mocked people who claimed to be destroying their Nike products in protest, suggesting they should donate them to charity instead.

Williams said she was “especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today.”

Outspoken sports journalist Jemele Hill argued that people shouldn’t be surprised by Nike’s decision based on its history.

“Nike became Nike because it was built on the idea of rebellion,” she wrote. “This is the same company that dealt w/ the NBA banning Air Jordans. They made [Michael] Jordan the face of the company at a time when black men were considered to be a huge risk as pitch men. They aren’t new to this.”

Aretha Franklin Fans Pay Respects to the Queen of Soul During Open-Casket Visitations in Detroit

Aretha Franklin fans are saying their final goodbyes to the Queen of Soul.The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit is hosting two days of public open-casket visitations. Franklin died at age 76 of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16. On Tuesday, the first of the two days, hundreds of people, some of whom spent the night on the sidewalk to save their spots in line, showed up to pay their respects, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Franklin’s body was dressed in a red suit and crimson pumps in a gold-plated casket. Gold thread spelled out “Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul” in the casket’s lining.

“It was very moving,” Detroit resident Charlotte Smith told the Detroit Free Press. “She has a beautiful smile. … She looks serene resting as a true queen.”

“She’s the Queen,” Melissa Howard, who traveled from Austin for the event, said to the outlet. “She’s royalty. She’s worth it.” “She meant so much to so many people,” Frances Billingslea of Detroit said to the Detroit Free Press. “She’s a local talent. She was a down-home spirit. She didn’t put herself above anybody even though she was the Queen of Soul. She did so much for this community.”

Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams and Jennifer Holliday are among those who plan on attending Franklin’s ceremony, which will also include several performances from the renowned singers.

Gospel stars Marvin Sapp, the Clark Sisters and Vanessa Bell Armstrong will also be part of the program — as well as Audrey DuBois Harris and Alice McAllister Tillman.

The service, which will be held in Detroit on Aug. 31, is expected to reflect Franklin’s gospel roots and honor her dedication to the civil rights movement. As a teenager, Franklin briefly went on a countrywide tour with Martin Luther King Jr.

“I asked my dad if it would be OK if I went [on the tour with King],” Franklin recalled to The Washington Post in a 2009 interview. “He said if that’s what I wanted to do, he thought it would be OK, so I went out for a number of dates with Dr. King. Harry Belafonte came out and of course, Andrew Young was there and Jesse [Jackson] came in and out.”

The pair grew close. Like the rest of the nation, Franklin was devastated by King’s 1968 assasination in Memphis, Tenn. To honor her mentor and civil rights icon, Franklin volunteered to sing at his funeral. Now, five decades later, musicians are paying tribute to Franklin.

ARETHA FRANKLIN REMEMBERED BY MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S KIDS FOR LENDING ‘VOICE’ FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

Here’s a look at some other famous faces that are expected in the crowd at Greater Grace Temple on Aug. 31, and their special relationships with the late singer.