A tale of two covers
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant don different looks
3:30 PMThe best storyline of the NBA season, for my money, is going to be Russell Westbrook’s coming out party in Oklahoma City. Now that Kevin Durant is gone, the Southern California native can fully express himself without being in the shadow of his teammate. Of course, this will take on many forms. He might just end up as the MVP of the league because he basically doesn’t have to pass to anyone. But that’s only on the court.
Off the court, Westbrook has made his mark as a fashion icon. His game-day outfits were often the most interesting parts of watching the Thunder play last season. His style is not “I happen to employ/am friends with/related to a good stylist.” It’s more “I wear whatever tf I want because that’s what cool people do,” and we’re here for it. Durant has had his style moments, as well, for sure. The backpacks everywhere thing was something he popularized, and his sneakers have had all sorts of fire colorways for years.
But this week, both players released magazine covers with two ENTIRELY different looks. We’ll start with Westbrook.
There’s a couple of things here. First, I need that basketball. Forget the clothes. If you come to the court with a leopard skin rock, ready to ball, you are automatically the man. Secondly, let’s talk about his jewelry. That combo is solid, and as far as accessories go, it’s a far better look than something useless, like say, a watch. Also, switching up between the traditional link and the more standard fare plastic band is dope. It’s a look that says, sure, I might buy a bracelet every now and again, but you might also find me at a local music festival.
Anyways, there’s the suit, too. Personally, this is a lot. Three-piece tweed AND the tie? You can’t rock that unless it’s the dead of winter or else you’ll be sweating crazy, but his pattern game is very strong. Pocket square game could use a tad more color, but that’s just me. Point is, Westbrook is going a bit off-board here. We’re used to seeing him in slightly wackier patterns, so this boardroom forward approach is fun. After all, it is a GQ cover. His looks on the inside, in the actual story, are certainly worth checking out, too.
Now, let’s move on to Durant.
I mean, OK, pleighboi. Note the very regular basketball. And the very basic watch. And the lack of a belt. And the extra slim tank top. And the chain. If I’m being petty, this look screams, “I don’t need to be extra to be great,” which is far more fun to interpret as a direct shot at his old homey. Durant took all sorts of heat for joining the very team that last knocked him out of the playoffs, but who cares.
Let’s be clear. A friendship gone awry through team affiliation is EXACTLY the rivalry that the NBA needs. With social justice leading the way for what appears to be a groundbreaking season in the league, we will still need some on-court drama between players. To be clear, we like this Durant. But even more, we want to see Westbrook and Durant throw shots at each other personality and style-wise, never mind on the court.
Anyway, this look from Durant is him beating Westbrook at his own game. Cali Kev is ready to be great.
Daily Dose: 10/21/16
Josh Brown will not be traveling to London with the New York Giants
2:37 PMSo, Twitter’s been down for a decent part of the morning, creating a major hole in my life, if I’m being honest. Alas.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ve been to Ikea. You’ve argued over chairs, cursed at the kids running amok, and spent way more than you ever thought you would on candlesticks that go just right with that stupid thing you’ve been keeping in your living room since college, for no real reason other than it’s got a good story connected to it. But, how is it that Ikea makes money? The company sells a million things at a million prices and everything is available all over the internet-connected world. FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder explains the weird economics of Ikea.
The NFL has a huge problem on its hands with the Josh Brown situation. The New York Giants kicker was an admitted and known spousal abuser and the team signed him anyway, keeping all of the details of his personal relationship effectively secret. This matters because the league’s domestic abuse policy was clearly violated, but Brown was never suspended. Even crazier is that, for whatever reason, the Giants haven’t cut him, but he won’t be traveling with the team to London this weekend. Total mess.
Jail is a dehumanizing experience on many levels. And prison is a whole other level of subhumanity, constructed under the guise of reform. I’ve never been to either and don’t hope or plan to go in my lifetime. As a black man who comes from where I do, it’ll be an accomplishment if I achieve that goal. One of the things that being incarcerated often does is take away your ability to vote. Which, if you think about it, doesn’t make a whole ton of sense. Check out this story about a former inmate voting for the first time.
For the record, Major League II is a funnier movie than Major League. That being said, it’s worth noting that the final scene in the former is one that, if on television, I will watch every single time, no questions asked. Mainly because it features an old school radio bit with a stadium sound team employee running to grab what was known as a cart to play Wild Thing’s music after he surprisingly reboots his old persona in a playoff game. There were people who wanted to see Charlie Sheen throw out a World Series first pitch, in character. Not happening.
Coffee Break: There are media mergers and then there are MEDIA MERGERS. If this deal with AT&T and Time Warner goes through, we’ll be looking at one more powerhouse conglomerate that will control far more things than you might realize. Alas, such is the way of the world these days.
Snack Time: If you don’t know, Fat Joe has been a crazy sneakerhead for decades. He’s the guy that made licking the soles of new sneaker a thing. Anyway, he’s opening a shoe store in New York City, and it’s guaranteed to be live.
Dessert: New Chance video. Happy weekend, kiddos.
Kanye West is upset with Jay Z
And it started with a dispute over streaming music platforms
2:00 PMSo, this is awkward. Kanye West and Jay Z are apparently in a fight, and Yeezy is airing dirty laundry publicly. So-called rap battles usually involve some level of machismo, maybe someone’s girl or a couple of lyrics that one particular artist took offense to. But this feud is one that can basically only happen between these two music titans. Music-streaming services and play dates appear to be at the center of this one.
But let’s just consider for a second the possibility that this goes full nuclear. The Kardashian-West clan vs. the Knowles-Carter clan? That’s a battle that could affect the future of our pop culture universe for the rest of our lifetimes. Forget going after a guy over using a ghostwriter, West is talking about people’s children on stage. This is clearly well beyond an intrasquad beef. West is basically yelling at his neighbor in the elementary school parking lot in full view of the teachers and the kids.
OK, so a music platform beef between Tidal and Apple is affecting the way that West can do his shows. This is a legitimate concern. West is all about his live shows, it’s a huge part of his identity and his creative process. We all know what happens when that get interrupted. But calling out Jay Z is a whole other matter. These two have been partners in crime, at least in our heads, for some time. Jay Z obviously put Ye on, but Yeezy is also arguably a more influential pop culture persona, on some level, at this point.
When the two made Watch The Throne, pretty much the best buddy duo rap album ever, you felt like they were going to ascend to the hip-hop heavens together someday. The day that the Otis video dropped was one of the happiest days of my life, if only because we got to watch those two look so genuinely into their friendship.
The fact that West has a real concern about how much time the two dads’ families are spending together is very intense. I don’t pretend to know what these people do with their kids when the cameras aren’t on, but obviously West is not happy about it. Check out this rant, in which he refers to the recent incident in which his wife, Kim Kardashian, was robbed in Paris.
There’s an element of this that’s rather sad. West is an emotional guy and him expressing himself in such a vulnerable manner onstage is basically what he does. It’s probably also why Jay Z is not in the business of co-mingling family business. We’re certainly not rooting for people to dislike each other, and on some level, watching these two break up would be sad. But if this feud is genuine and not just a temporarily petty rant from West, the fallout could be nuclear.
Maybe we can get Aziz Ansari to intervene.
Derrick Rose and friends found not liable in gang rape case
Another victory for toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy
5:30 PM“Do you have an understanding as to the word consent?”
“No. But can you tell me?”
Those were the words of New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose when he was asked by lawyers in a June 17 deposition about the sexual assault case involving him, two friends and an ex-girlfriend. On Wednesday, Rose and company were found not liable of rape charges by a Los Angeles jury, one that featured two men and six women. The decision was another victory for toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy. Why? Let’s explain.
At the most basic level, Rose and his lawyers went to the most basic of defenses to get their client cleared. All of this was done openly, playing their man card, which historically, fundamentally and in practice is designed to set a higher burden of proof on women to prove they were raped. On a basic level, that is reason for pause from a decent person’s standpoint.
Off the break, Team Rose was trying to not only out the accuser’s identity, but also paint her somehow as a sexually deviant person, another notion rooted in basic forms of misogyny that is often applied in sexual assault cases as a way of rationalizing awful behavior by men. It’s the courtroom version of “she was asking for it.”
“Of special note, plaintiff is publicly portraying herself as sexual,” lawyers argued in pretrial meetings. “The production includes photos from plaintiff’s Instagram account that are sexual in nature. In these images, plaintiff is dressed in provocative attire, is in sexually suggestive poses and is in photographs indicating that she engages in sexually charged encounters with more than one man at a time. Plaintiff’s use of Twitter and other forms of social media further belies her apparent desire for anonymity.”
This is not OK on multiple levels. Putting aside the specificity of Rose and the plaintiff right now, this has nothing to do with consent. No. 1, consent can be given or taken at any time, no matter one’s history. Period. Point being, going into this ordeal legally, Rose’s lawyers were relying on one of the biggest fallacies of rape as a way to discredit the claims. The judge immediately called B.S. on that.
More importantly of note during the deposition, Rose made a statement so shocking that it cut right to the heart of what patriarchy is all about. Unless otherwise stated, the desires of a man trump (pun intended) any civil, personal or physical rights of a woman. It should be noted that a toxicologist estimated her blood alcohol content was 0.20, which is more than double the legal limit. Follow this exchange:
Q: So they just said, ‘Hey, it’s the middle of the night. Let’s go over to plaintiff’s house’ and they never gave you a reason why they wanted to go over there?’
Rose: No, but we men. You can assume.
Q: I’m sorry?
Rose: I said we men. You can assume. Like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1 a.m., there’s nothing to talk about.
Q: All right. Is there — within what you just reviewed in those text messages — is there anything within them that would lead you to believe that plaintiff wanted to have sex with you and the other two defendants on Aug. 26, 2013?
What Rose is saying is that up until the very point of actual sexual contact, all consent is presumed, assumed and given. This is rape culture. The notion that unless otherwise stated, sex is always an option on the table. It is not an opt in for you to have access to a woman’s body, she must opt out. The fact that he can’t seem to even wrap his head around that notion is precisely the kind of mindset created by toxic masculinity.
During the trial, Rose took that even further, saying that he didn’t actually think he’d done anything wrong in this situation. Which, again, is not how consent works, but is how courtrooms allow men to portray things in their favor to put a higher threshold on women to prove the truth. This is where the larger matter moves away from Rose specifically and gets into the larger problem. Never mind the fact that the NBA is apparently teaching rookies to keep used condoms.
“I took [the] claim very seriously, but a couple of things stood out immediately. The first was she didn’t go to the police. She chose to sue Rose. The second was that she waited two years to do so,” Robert Littal at BlackSportsOnline.com wrote. “I can understand that with any traumatic event it may take time to become strong enough to speak out on it, but if someone raped you and you truly wanted them to pay for their crimes, why wouldn’t you want them to be in jail?”
Littal, who reports frequently on athletes’ sex lives, went on to report that the plaintiff needed the money and thus concocted a wild story as a way to potentially draw a settlement out of Rose to make the story go away. Which, even if true, doesn’t hold water. The rule of law does not always make right, and in this case, the details of whether or not this woman was as honest as George Washington became more important than making a determination based on what both sides admitted happened.
Rose didn’t know what consent was. She was too drunk to give consent. He found a way into her home and had sex with her along with his friends. This. Was. All. Admitted. In. Court. So why did Rose walk free? In short, he’s a man. Eventually the jury felt that, because her story, she lied about all the details.
According to Deadspin: The jury initially declined to speak to reporters, but later two jurors —identifying themselves by first name only — agreed to. Jared said Jane Doe “didn’t do any of the steps to prove her own case” and “nothing added up to a correct statement.” Jared felt like Doe “was playing us,” and he believed witness Gabriel Chavez, who testified that Doe was a liar. In contrast, Jared said Rose and his friends seemed “genuine” and “honest.”
For sexual assault victims, these must be the most triggering of cases. Ones in which because a woman might not have had the instant wherewithal to follow every specific step necessary to prove something in court where the rules are stacked against her — not only does that suddenly mean it didn’t happen, but she’s also suddenly a terrible person for not being able to figure it out on her own.
After the civil trial ended, Rose posed for pictures with jurors. The judge even wished him well, saying good luck to him with the Knicks, except when they play the Los Angeles Lakers.
The specific details of Rose’s case here were obviously important to this trial. In many ways, this whole situation from a larger standpoint isn’t even about him specifically as a bad guy. If he legit thinks she lied to extort him, fair enough. If she says she was violated, understandable.
But the tactics, method and manner of the proceedings here are important. This could have been anyone. The justice system, the same one which finds way to exonerate police officers for killing unarmed citizens, isn’t suddenly fool-proof for sexual assault.
A woman who believes she was raped confronted her accusers. The accused openly admit what they did, under the guise that if she can’t prove it was wrong, then it shouldn’t matter at all. Jury sides with men. Toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Daily Dose: 10/20/16
At long last, the presidential debates are finally over
12:30 PMToday’s my mom’s birthday and I got to have dinner with her Wednesday, which was very fun. Happy birthday, Ma. Also, I did a podcast with my friend Chris Cillizza. It’s a quiz show. Give it a listen to hear me try to be smart.
Wednesday night’s debate didn’t disappoint, whatsoever. The final showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was perhaps the most revealing of all three, with the Democratic presidential nominee showing why 30 years of experience in public life is actually an advantage when it comes to politics. Who knew? UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center might prove to be the place where the Trump election truly died, when he wouldn’t even say if he’d accept the results if he lost. Here’s the top seven moments from Wednesday’s affair.
I have so much sympathy for mail workers. Particularly those with the U.S. Postal Service. I remember the first time I truly understood the concept of what we once rather crudely referred to as “going postal.” It was then that I realized that said job is probably one of the most psychologically taxing things you could ever spend your time doing. The basic reason being: The mail never stops. This week, a mail carrier in Georgia was videotaped dumping piles of letters into the woods. Very sad.
“You’re tall, you must play basketball.” Big dudes all over the globe have been dealing with that phrase forever, because, in many ways it makes sense. The rim is 10 feet tall, so if you are larger, by simple virtue of physics, you are likely to be better than a short person at putting the ball in the hole, which is the goal. Alas, such is not always the case, and it also doesn’t mean that all NBA rosters are filled with the tallest people possible. But, that being said, which team does have the tallest roster? FiveThirtyEight’s Patrick Radford investigates.
If the Cleveland Indians win the World Series, they should give LeBron James a ring. Ever since the King brought home a championship, it has felt like Cleveland has been able to shake that crappy loser feeling and people have legitimately believed in the Tribe. On Wednesday night, the Indians handled the Blue Jays, in Toronto no less, to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1997. That was a heartbreak year by the way for them. Just Google Jose Mesa, who my Cleveland buddy Paul likes to call Joe Table. Anyway, your American League pennant winner is now decided.
Coffee Break: Kanye West said a while back that he’s looking to run for president in 2020, and the way this election is going doesn’t make that seem particularly ridiculous. Guess who else might be getting into the ring? Waka Flocka Flame. And guess who his running mate is? Former pro wrestler Ric Flair. Obviously.
Snack Time: Have you ever wanted to sit around with a couple dozen of your closest friends and listen to orchestral music? No? You heathen. Anyway, next time I have a party, best believe I’m calling these folks to get it poppin’.
Dessert: Behold, the worst idea ever.
Daily Dose: 10/19/16
The first lady slays for one last state dinner
1:00 PMAs someone who’s worn Vans to White House functions on not one, but two occasions, you can imagine how happy I was to see Frank Ocean adopting my look for his trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Welcome to the club. I go lace-up, tho.
Damn, Donald, back at it again with the stunts. This time, for the third and final presidential debate, the Republican presidential nominee has reportedly decided to bring along President Barack Obama’s half-brother, which is beyond hilarious. What effect he thinks this will have on his opponent, I don’t know, but the last time I checked the president does not plan on being in the building. Trust. We fully expect this particular iteration of verbal combat to be completely absurd. And it’s in Vegas. ABC News has five storylines to watch.
Speaking of President Obama, he hosted his final state dinner Tuesday night. The first family hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini. Mario Batali cooked the food, which from the looks of the menu, sounded delicious. Perhaps most importantly, Michelle Obama looked incredible. Of course, this is not news. She slayed in The New York Times Style Magazine last week and Tuesday night, her dress was off the chain. Seriously, look at this thing. ABC News reports on the details and the dope guest list.
If you don’t care to watch the debates Wednesday night, there is another option. Of course, if you like your cartoons with a large dose of sardonic humor delivered via the wittiest children on earth, then you’re in luck! Wednesday night, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs on ABC. There’s a small part of me that loves this movie from a nostalgia standpoint, but I must admit that I don’t think I ever really understood the story when I was a kid. I’m still not sure that I do. But, it’s worth noting that the special is now 50 years old. There’s a corn maze to prove it.
It’s going to be a big season for Draymond Green, after his extremely unfortunate NBA Finals, in which he completely lost the psychological battle to LeBron James and got himself tossed from a game. Then, throw in a couple of off-court incidents, and it was awkward. Sure, there was the Olympics, so that went well, but now that we’re back to the NBA season, there’s a real question about which Draymond we’re going to get. The Warriors need him, but they also have Kevin Durant now, so … who knows. Ethan Sherwood Strauss investigates.
Coffee Break: When it comes to mental health and police work, very often things do not work well together. We’ve seen so many scenarios in which cops show up to deal with a person who is emotionally disturbed, and end up killing them. It happened again in New York City, this time with a 66-year-old woman who was naked.
Snack Time: My admiration for Janelle Monae knows few bounds. She’s one of the most well-rounded artists and thoughtful people in the entertainment world and, now, she’s trying to redefine what an Oscar contender is.
Dessert: 2 Chainz, Quavo and Gucci Mane on the same track? Yes, please.
Khloe Kardashian talks about her new clothing line
Good American is designed to expand the body positive experience
5:15 PMSay what you want about the Kardashians, when it comes to reframing what America finds acceptable, they excel. Now, Khloe Kardashian has teamed up with Emma Grede to create a new denim collection called Good American, set to be featured in Nordstrom. The two talked with the department store’s fashion blog about why it needs to exist. We need not go on about the perils of what are essentially white, Western standards and ideals of beauty that some have accused the Kardashians themselves of disrupting by stealing from black culture.
That aside, what’s clear is how social media has democratized what people decided to take seriously when it comes to the concept of what looks good. So, while it feels like every rapper who’s ever set foot in Los Angeles now has a clothing line, when it comes to women, there are still obvious holes in the market, never mind our understanding and appreciation for what we call pretty.
“We started Good American because we want women’s shopping experiences to embrace the new body ideal,” Grede said. “It’s just crazy that we still have plus sizes and are splitting up friends who go shopping together into different departments based on their size.”
Five years ago, the term “Twitter/Instagram Model” was basically considered an insult for someone who was never going to make it in the mainstream fashion industry. But, overall, it’s clear that’s sort of the whole point here. Those spaces weren’t designed for certain people, but that doesn’t mean those people don’t deserve to be seen.
Reviews are a tad mixed, but we also happen to love the name of the brand. The clothes will cost you, though.
This Jose Fernandez mural is sad, but dope
Giancarlo Stanton decided to get up for his late teammate in Brazil
As an East Coast kid of the ’90s, graffiti murals to fallen heroes are basically a thing I’ve seen all my life. They’re always sad, but the cathartic nature of their creation and existence is obvious. This week, Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was in Brazil and painted a mural with some friends to honor his fallen teammate, Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident in September.
Fernandez was 24 years old.
Daily Dose: 10/18/16
Let’s have a discussion about what the word ‘consent’ means
Derrick Rose’s situation is a real problem. The New York Knicks guard has been accused of rape, and the trial has been unfolding over the past few weeks, with some rather sordid details coming to light. That aside, beyond the so-called titillation factor is the more important concept of consent. Rose apparently has no idea what that even means, which is terrifying on a couple of levels. We all know what happens when things come down to “he said, she said” matters in a court of law. Maybe this time it’ll be different.
I can’t wait for this election to end. If for no other reason that I can stop writing about Donald Trump every day, but alas, this is where we are. Every day, the Republican presidential nominee says something else that’s just so hilariously absurd or inflammatory that it’s news. In the latest episode, The Donald insinuated that Paul Ryan has a problem with him because he’s a hater. For real, he actually said that because Ryan’s camp had the audacity to note that claiming an election is rigged sets very dangerous precedents for everyone. ABC News reports.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a thing I forget about every year until the new nominee list is released. It used to be the coolest thing in Cleveland for years until LeBron James changed that, but let’s be honest, it was never that dope anyway. Never mind the fact that the “Rock Hall” has co-opted all sorts of other genres for its apparent importance, but that’s another matter. The latest people on the ballot are Tupac, Pearl Jam and most importantly to me, Bad Brains. Here are the details.
Every once and again, an NFL team does something that you can’t really knock. The New Orleans Saints happen to be rather high on the list for this, assuming you want to just dismiss the whole “Bountygate” situation that basically ruined the franchise a couple of years back. Anyway, they decided to surprise a kid fan with an offer that I’m sure a reasonable amount of grown adults would likely jump at the chance to do. They’re making a sick kid their “hype man” for the week, which, frankly, is awesome.
Coffee Break: Azealia Banks stays in these drama streets. Look, if what she’s alleging did happen, which nobody has any real reason to believe it didn’t, then fine. But if you’re in her camp, you have to wonder why it seems like she only makes negative headlines. Let’s just hope this situation with Russell Crowe works itself out peacefully.
Snack Time: I like Murs, but I’m not sure I love Murs. I’ve always respected his game, and the way he approaches hip-hop has always been novel. And he just recently broke a world record for rapping, and the story is insane.
Dessert: I’m just going to leave this here for you. Zadie Smith makes your life better. Always.
Please let JaVale McGee make the Warriors
He’s legit one of the most entertaining players in the NBA
4:30 PMEver since JaVale McGee stepped in to the NBA in 2008, he’s been an up-and-down enigma who most people felt only really played basketball because he sort of had to. He was a lovable enough goofball, who occasionally did something sensational on the court, but was largely too much of a knucklehead to be considered an actual franchise cornerstone.
He’s bounced around the league for a variety of teams, but now, he’s tearing through the preseason with the Golden State Warriors, and for the sake of everyone, we hope he makes this team. McGee’s antics are basically the patron saint of the best segment in all of sports, “Shaqtin’ A Fool.” If he’s paired up with the best team in all of basketball, the results are destined to be glorious.
Can you imagine Stephen Curry throwing lobs to this dude? (Getting dunked on in practice by Anderson Varejao doesn’t exactly help his cause.) There’s a small part of me that’s always felt bad for McGee. He’s been getting clowned for some time on national television and, as a result, no one particularly takes him seriously. He’s legit battled injuries throughout his career, but every time he shows up with a new haircut, the immaturity comments come back, even though he’s a 28-year-old man.
He told the The San Jose Mercury News last week that it still bothers him.
Shaqtin’ a Fool became popular. McGee was its unwilling star. It morphed into a label he couldn’t shake. Strangers chided him about it in public. McGee privately seethed, most upset, he said, that it was on the league’s network.
“Fans think it’s real, like that’s real life and they think I’m a dumb person,” McGee said. “It’s just really disappointing that grown men, 50, 40-year-olds are having America’s funniest home videos of a player. And then making it a hashtag and really just trying to ruin someone’s career over basketball mistakes.”
The NBA needs more guys like McGee for more reasons than just bloopers. He’s a young man who’s happy to be where he is and looking to contribute on a squad that he genuinely gets along with. If the Warriors can find a way to make him work, it might be worth getting NBA League Pass just to watch their bench antics, never mind the actual basketball.
Long live Pierre.