‘Race to Re-Unite’ panel with Jesse Williams and U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad
1:55 PMLast Thursday in New York City, actor Jesse Williams and U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad joined The Undefeated’s Kevin Merida on a panel called “Race to Re-Unite” in conjunction with Ad Week’s Town Hall series, #AWNewYork. Over the course of an hour, the three discussed the current state of activism in America as a movement, the intersection of demonstration and sports and discussed the complexities of untangling our concepts of normalcy when it comes to race, with moderator Clinton Yates.
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Daily Dose: 9/30/16
A week from being eligible to return to playing, Josh Gordon is entering rehab
2:00 PMIt’s the last day of September, which means Halloween is right around the corner. I already know who I’ll be dressing up as this year, and I’ll give you a hint. He’s the most famous backup quarterback in the NFL.
America’s most dangerous terrorist has been dead for five years. This is part of the headline of a story I couldn’t help but click on this morning. I thought I knew who the story was about, but I was wrong. Like many of you, I figured the article was about Osama bin Laden, who has, ironically, also been dead for five years. I know that because he was shot and killed during my senior year of high school, which at the time was a major victory for the Obama administration. “America’s most dangerous terrorist,” however, is not bin Laden, but American-born al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He was killed five years ago today, but his legacy has lived on as he’s inspired many terrorist attacks in the past few years. ABC News’ Lee Ferran reports.
One can only dream to get paid after retiring like Bobby Bonilla does. Every year, on July 1, the former New York Mets player’s name comes up for one reason and one reason only: Though he hasn’t played since 2001, he’s still getting paid — and I mean PAID — by his former team. In 1999, Bonilla signed a deferred contract with the Mets that will earn him a paycheck every year until 2035. This year, he made $1.19 million on July 1. So, how did Bonilla swing (no pun intended) this deal? FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the contract in the first installment of the new Contracts video series, while The Undefeated’s Ryan Cortes explains why Bonilla should be remembered for more.
Some people know more about fun than others. One of those people is Ben Fincham, a professor at the University of Sussex in England and the author of The Sociology of Fun. His job is literally to study and analyze the art of having fun, which is weird to think about, because “fun” is such a subjective concept. There’s no question, however, that some people seem to have more fun than others. When I was in college, the football team had a “Supervisor of Morale,” who I spent a day with for a story. VICE‘s Hannah Ewens spent a day with Fincham, the man she calls the “Professor of Fun.”
Josh Gordon has finally decided to seek help. Three years ago, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver caught 87 passes for 1,600-plus yards and nine touchdowns. For many people, Gordon was destined to be one of the NFL’s next great wideouts. But since that 2013 season, Gordon has proven to fit into the the classic, heartbreaking archetype of a player who has so much talent, but can’t seem to put it all together off the field. He only played five games in 2014 because of a DWI, missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and was also suspended for the first four games of this season. Gordon was eligible to return to the field next week, but announced Thursday that he’d be entering rehab. As much as we’d all like to see him suit up again, you have to commend him for confronting his problems and getting help. ESPN’s Pat McManamon has the story.
Coffee Break: With the start of the NBA season less than a month away, it’s beginning to sink in that the Golden State Warriors, with the addition of Kevin Durant in the offseason, just might shape up to be the best shooting team of all time. Though it’s just practice footage, check out 75 seconds of Durant and Klay Thompson straight splashing jumpers.
Snack Time: Deshaun Watson vs. Lamar Jackson this weekend. Nuff said.
Daily Dose: 9/29/16
Dateline, Southern California — the protests continue
11:58 AMIf you’re in New York City on Thursday, you might want to check out this Ad Week panel I’ll be moderating with The Undefeated’s Editor-In-Chief Kevin Merida, actor/activist Jesse Williams and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
You can add “pointing a vape at an officer” to the list of things that will get you killed if you’re black in America these days. That’s what happened in a town outside of San Diego, where a woman called the police because her brother had been acting strange and she needed help. A confrontation ensued, and by the time it was done, Alfred Okwera Olango, 38, ended up dead. Per usual, the video of the aftermath is heartbreaking. She explains that she knew his behavior was a death sentence. It shouldn’t be, though. ABC News reports.
On many levels, the Olympics are a complete boondoggle. The International Olympic Committee has managed to take this racket to some of the most vibrant cities across the globe, leaving a bunch of old equipment and failed housing projects in their wake. Ask Sochi, ask Brazil. Ask Sarajevo, for crying out loud. In this latest cycle, officials in Rome pulled out of the running for the 2024 Games, because they determined it just probably wasn’t a smart move. Meanwhile, Tokyo has already been awarded the 2020 Olympics. Experts say it’ll cost the country (ahem) $30 billion. Yikes.
I fear that one day, my life will consist of me sitting in a room, being entertained only by screens. This is pretty much how I spend my days now, but at least on the other end of those screens are typically actual human beings. These days, though, you never know. Algorithms and bots control quite a few aspects of life, including, unfortunately, your news intake. But what if we used those powers for good, instead of scaring people about imminent robot takeovers? FiveThirtyEight’s Laura Hudson explains.
The Dallas Cowboys have become the real-life version of some team in HBO’s Ballers. After last week’s win against the hapless Chicago Bears, wide receiver Dez Bryant was reported as hurt with a knee injury. So, aside from annoying the heck out of fantasy football players across the country, his coach and team were a tad concerned, since he’s a key part of the team’s offense. One problem, he decided to skip treatment day. He was supposed to get an MRI that day. Um, shady. ESPN’s Todd Archer reports.
Coffee Break: If you ever wonder why people protest, why it makes sense beyond what you can understand, make sure your eyes are open enough to see everything. Check out this video of a guy in a gorilla mask harassing Black Lives Matter demonstrators on a college campus.
Snack Time: It appears that Jon Favreau will be remaking Lion King. This doesn’t bother me at all, considering that this movie was actually good. The only problem will be trying to recreate the music, which is excellent.
Dessert: Villanova is going to be looking VERY fresh on the court this season.
The Weeknd drops ‘Starboy’ video
and we now know that the old him is never coming back
The Weeknd’s new personality as a mashup between Michael Jackson and Bruce Wayne is only getting started. On Wednesday, the Toronto native dropped the first video for the title track of his new album Starboy that features Daft Punk. In it, it’s clear that the old him is definitely behind us.
For a song that’s already dripping with symbolism between the lyrics and the cover art, the video takes things to the next level. Director Grant Singer is definitely on one with his latest visual from the XO artist’s arsenal. He also brought you The Hills, I Can’t Feel My Face and Tell Your Friends. But back to the show.
It starts off with a dramatic murder of what is ostensibly the old Abęl Makkonen Tesfaye, dreads and all on one side of the table. On the other, a masked man who eventually binds and suffocates the dreadlocked character. The struggle is real, then off comes the mask. We then see the new sleeker, definitively more active Weeknd, who proceeds to violently destroy the physical awards in the dead man’s house with a shining neon cross. There appears to be nothing particularly allegorical about it. The Weeknd’s old self, and what we did to him as a star in this business, created the new him.
The new him doesn’t give a damn. That’s why he’s driving a superhero-level sports car I’ll never be able to afford that apparently turns kittens into full-blown black panthers. The games are over.
Of all the apparently deeply personal lyrics on this song, the most poignant seems to be “look what you’ve done,” in the chorus. Maybe when he first emerged in 2011 as the eerie crooner whose tales of sex, drugs and deceit, he never thought it could change him. Maybe after he found himself catching flak for dating a young supermodel, then the center of a Super Bowl ad campaign, it became too much.
It seems if you’re a Canadian artist these days, there’s only so many darling compliments you can take before you go full bad boy. But compared to Justin Bieber and Drake, what The Weeknd is doing it for the culture better than the rest. I guess he really does come alive in the falltime.
Chance The Rapper to play at White House Christmas tree lighting
It’s going to be lit, and we’re not talking about the tree
Last week, Tennessee State University’s band took to the White House’s South Lawn and as part of a medley played Chance The Rapper’s No Problem. It was a rousing rendition that left this reporter speechless, as I never thought I’d hear a band like that, playing a song like that, in a place like that. Now, come holiday time, fans can get the real thing.
Alongside singers Yolanda Williams and Kelly Clarkson, Young Chano will be performing at the White House’s annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 1. Of course, it won’t be his first time there. Remember that time he told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres about his time getting drunk there? Yeah, that was fun. The ticket lottery begins Oct. 7.
This event looks fun, but will also likely be the official end of saying “it’s lit” as Lame Twitter is going to beat that meme into the ground once, you know, the actual tree is lit, if you will. I hate that I even have to think about that bit flooding my timeline.
Anyways, if we get a Chance Christmas album out of this, we’ll all be better off.
Daily Dose: 9/28/16
Would you follow this man all the way to Mars?
11:59 AMTalked on TV on Tuesday, a bit with Lindsay Czarniak about Serena Williams’ powerful Facebook post in which she detailed a situation riding in the car with her nephew. Probably will again today, too.
Even Fox News was willing to admit that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the debate. But we don’t know if poll numbers will indicate that the GOP presidential candidate suffered from his rambling, condescending performance at Hofstra University. Judging from the amount of people who showed up to a rally outside of Orlando, Florida, the next day — on a tarmac, no less — Florida Republicans apparently aren’t that concerned. FiveThirtyEight’s politics team chats about whether or not the polls may be missing certain factors.
Let’s be clear: Whether more people are getting shot by police is not the point. The fact is that more of these encounters are being recorded, which sheds light on an increasing number of encounters that otherwise people would be forced to trust the word of authorities on. In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department just released a heartbreaking body-cam video of Terrence Sterling’s final moments. Now, in California, there’s more footage of a man shot and killed by officers after he pulled an item from his pocket and pointed it at police.
Elon Musk legitimately wants to send people to Mars. How this is even a thing still boggles my mind, but apparently people are up for it. Legit, there are relatively long lines of folks who would be willing to get on a spacecraft to a planet that they might not get to return from. The idea is that if something goes catastrophically wrong on Earth, we might have something that could be of interest to you on the red planet. I wonder how many black people have signed up. On Tuesday, SpaceX revealed the details of its plan. ABC News reports.
LeBron James is no spring chicken anymore. The man came into the league 13 years ago, and has played in the playoffs in all but three of those seasons, going to the NBA Finals nearly half of those times, never mind a couple of Olympic tournaments, as well. Point being, now that Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are out of the league, King James is likely looking at the final stretch of what’s been an incredible career in the league. It’s not over yet, but with training camp coming up, he’s certainly thinking about it. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports.
Coffee Break: We’ve got some news on the movie front. First, the film adaptation of Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis finally has a trailer, which is tremendous. Also, Jessica Williams has got things poppin’ now that she’s left The Daily Show. She’s got a new film in development, which we can’t wait for.
Snack Time: The music world is mourning the loss of Kashif, the singer and producer whose work with Whitney Houston is what he’s probably most famous for, though he also helped shape the sound of R&B for a generation. He was 56.
Dessert: Desus & Mero finally has a start date. This show is going to be completely off the chain.