We’re going back to Cuba
This time with a surfboard
7:00 AMThe ingenuity of the Cuban people never ceases to amaze me. Once beset with trade restrictions that forced people to basically work with what was already in front of them for decades, they still create and do it well. It’s no different when it comes to surfing. You’ve got to understand that not only was it nearly impossible to find surf equipment for years, it was legit illegal (and still kind of is?) because the government is leery of people paddling to freedom.
With that as the backdrop, think about what surf culture is even like in Cuba. Sure, Havana has its fair share of passers-through now that relations have been eased in many ways, but for the most part, people are straight up building boards from the random stuff they can find wherever they are. Think about that. It’s one thing to keep a car running for, say, 50 years. It’s quite another to construct an object to surf on out of leftover appliance parts.
Anyway, here’s a great story called “Riding The Waves Of Change: Surfers Push To Transform Cuba” by Corey McLean, who was on the island nation for a couple of months, making a documentary called Havana Libre about the surf scene down there.
In Havana, it is much easier than it used to be for surfers to get their hands on modern boards from tourists, but outside the city it is still nearly impossible. To this day, a young carpenter named Yoan Pablo gathers sea trash and foam that washes up on the shores of his community — a small ex-military district sitting 45 minutes by bus outside Havana called Micro X — and cobbles together Franken-boards to get him and his friends in the water. Pablo says that he has to source his resin, a key ingredient in the creation of boards, from over six hours away.
Where there’s a will, there’s a wave.
Did someone say rerun?
Because’s that’s what’s happening with the U.S. women’s 4×100-meter relay team
1:01 PMAn odd situation unfolded Thursday morning when the U.S. women’s 4×100-meter relay team dropped the baton in its semifinal heat, eliminating the team from competition in the final. Allyson Felix in particular had already been having a semi-awful week when she was beaten by a diving Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas in the 400-meter final to lose the gold medal.
Then on Thursday, after contacting a Brazilian runner, Felix had to pull a desperation move and tried to literally throw the baton to teammate English Gardner, which was unsuccessful. “I got bumped coming into the exchange zone and it completely threw me off balance,” Felix told NBC. “I tried to hold it together to get to English. Maybe if I had one more step I could’ve, but I was falling.”
— Aaron Dodson (@aardodson) August 18, 2016
They appealed and won, which means there will be a rerun. According to CNN, “The Brazilian team has now been disqualified, and the U.S. team will return to the track for a rerun at 20:00 [7 p.m. EST] local time. Racing alone, they’ll have to beat China’s time of 42.70 to qualify for the Olympic final.”
Jury of Appeal Decision
There will be a re-run for the USA at 8pm local time.
Obstructed at second exchange pic.twitter.com/leFPceLTTc
— IAAF (@iaaforg) August 18, 2016
Last year, half of this team (the two involved in the drop, no less) ran a 41.68 in the World Championships in Beijing. Speaking of which, China’s got to be sick right now. Running alone, with a grudge and a spot in the final on the line? These American girls aren’t going to mess this up, twice. Although, you never know. This stuff happens. Meanwhile, USA track fans are outchea looking like this.
Andra Day’s ‘Song Exploder’ episode
is a tremendous look into one of the music biz’s best minds
10:45 AMAndra Day is unlike anyone else in the record industry right now and Hrishikesh Hirway is that dude. The former is an R&B singer/songwriter who sounds like she’s from both the past and the future. The latter is a composer/musician whose Song Exploder podcast provides some of the most in-depth and analytical music conversations that we have in the business.
From a strict vocal standpoint, she’s been described as sounding like something between Eartha Kitt and Blu Cantrell, as in a light-skinned woman who sings with a distinct accent? Sure. But her voice is better than Kitt’s and her range artistically is far wider than Cantrell’s. She’s rocked everything from radio stations to Austin City Limits to the White House.
In the latest Song Exploder episode Monday, the two sat down to chop it up about her song Forever Mine. It’s part doo-wop, part hip-hop.
“The one thing I wanted was the mix of the old and the new. So it was kind of like, cool, let’s do this,” Day said. “I told Rob [Kleiner] that I love the Flamingos and I love the song I Only Have Eyes For You. So that was really sort of the prototype for the song.”
Alongside Rob Kleiner, who co-wrote the song with Day and produced it, they break down exactly how they constructed the melody. Kleiner, who’s worked with artists such as Cee-Lo, Kylie Minogue and Sia, is really fun to listen to as far as how he describes his process and what kind of sound he likes. Also, listening to these two vibe is rather refreshing. Make sure you listen about how they made the hook. Hip-hop group Mobb Deep also gets a shoutout, if you’re familiar with the track.
Lastly, if you want to know how Hirway constructs his podcasts, not just how artists put together their songs, check this out. If you’re not familiar with this show as a whole, you need to get on it. It’s dope.
Daily Dose: 8/18/16
Three black women make history on the track in Rio
9:49 AMWe stepped back into the “courtroom” for another edition of Locker Room Lawyer this week to discuss the NFL and that Al-Jazeera report on alleged performance-enhancing drug use. Come for the discussion, stay for Judging Cousin Aaron.
Things just got very real for two U.S. swimmers in Rio de Janeiro. What seemed like an unfortunate story involving three Olympic athletes getting robbed while out partying has now morphed into a borderline full-scale international incident, with people getting pulled off planes and passports allegedly being held by authorities. Basically, the initial story that Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte told TV host Billy Bush was a tad embellished, if you will, and other accounts didn’t quite add up. As a result, fellow Olympic swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz had some explaining to do. ABC News reports.
Don’t ever let anyone say you can’t learn something by watching it on TV. That was my motto as a younger man. Now, that’s been amended to include YouTube as well, obviously. And I don’t just mean how to fix a drainpipe or tie a bowtie. I mean larger-scale stuff. Like, I don’t know, how to become an Olympic javelin thrower. Take the case of Julius Yego, a Kenyan who can’t exactly run very far. That doesn’t really work in that nation, so when he wanted to get better as a youth in track and field, he took to the internet. VICE Sports‘ David Cox explains.
Approval ratings are such a strange concept. Imagine how they’d work in a different social context. Like say, you have to provide weekly or monthly approval ratings for your parents, your teachers or your preachers. Let’s say they were posted for the world to see, as if to shame you into winning more points down the line. It doesn’t quite work that way for the White House, but the overall setup has always been a funny one to me. FiveThirtyEight’s David Nield looks at how President Barack Obama’s ratings have jumped compared to other presidents.
If any nation takes all three medal spots on the stand in an event, there should be one big triple-sized flag, instead of three regular ones. Wednesday night that would have meant that Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin would have listened to The Star-Spangled Banner looking at just one Old Glory, as they did something never done before: They swept the 100-meter hurdles. It was a joyous scene after they made history and if you know their three backstories, it was enough to make you shed a tear. ESPN’s Bonnie D. Ford can tell it to you.
Coffee Break: Pizza box technology has been growing exponentially for the past 20 years, with things like board games on top, shape-shifting containers and the like. But this latest innovation, a box that doubles as a playable DJ setup via Bluetooth? That’s next-level dope for the kids’ next sleepover.
Snack Time: Even if you don’t particularly care about rapper Kanye West’ 21 pop-up shops blessing the globe Friday, make sure to check his website to see where they are. Because I guarantee there will be major traffic issues around each.
Dessert: Your sober reminder that for children in Syria, life is hectic.
Locker Room Lawyer, Episode 5: NFL PED accusations
Should these four players comply with the league or stay quiet and risk suspension?
3:36 PMIn Wednesday’s edition of Locker Room Lawyer, Clinton Yates and Domonique Foxworth take the case of NFL players James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal to The Undefeated courtroom.
In December 2015, Al-Jazeera America released a report titled The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers, in which an Indiana pharmacist named Charlie Sly accused five NFL players — Harrison, Clay Matthews, Peppers, Neal and Peyton Manning — of using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). After the report was released, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) came to the defense of the players and Sly has since recanted his statements.
But now, as the 2016 NFL season approaches, the league has called for the four active accused players (Manning is now retired) to cooperate with an investigation into the Al Jazeera report. If they don’t, the players will face discipline from the league, including suspension.
Domonique, who played in the league for seven seasons and then served as the president of the NFLPA, elected to take the case of the four players under investigation, stating that they have no obligation to cooperate by speaking up on the matter.
Heading into Wednesday, the Locker Room Lawyer has not lost a case. Can he continue his dominating streak in a case right up his alley of expertise?
Check out the video, and if you have any professional athlete in mind (past or present) who needs the Locker Room Lawyer’s representation, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with episode ideas. Also, check out our weekly All Day Podcast.
Carmelo Anthony is enjoying himself in Rio
while continuing his humanitarian tour
While his team’s basketball play hasn’t been particularly artful, Carmelo Anthony hasn’t let that stop him from creating art in Rio de Janeiro. The man looking to lead the U.S. men’s basketball team to the Olympic title, and his third gold medal, took a tour of the favelas this week in Brazil and blessed the people quite a bit.
Decked out in all red, he played some ball with local kids. In two minutes of play, he managed two rebounds, two assists and got beat backside for a layup. Most shockingly, he put up no shots. The video then takes an interesting turn and cuts away to a Snapchat clip of a guy painting a mural of Anthony with the caption, “Blessing the favela with a mural of myself!!!” In the clip, Anthony says, “Only other person is Michael Jackson who been up here, man.”
Well, for one, that just can’t be true. I have to believe that rapper Snoop Dogg and/or Pharrell both found a way to get murals painted for them when they were shooting the Beautiful music video back in the day. The favelas might not necessarily have been where they were on location, but I’ll bet that clout extended into the poverty-stricken zones. “The love is real in the favelas,” Anthony says in another Snapchat clip.
In all seriousness, this video is pretty impressive. But I still want to know how this mural came about. Did he roll up and just say, “I need a mural of myself, stat”? Or did an aspiring artist who recognized the New York Knicks guard ask him if he would like one dedicated to him? The streets back home in the U.S. need to know.
Either way, we love that Anthony is doing more than just sitting on the boat or running around the Olympic Village. He’s had a great summer of activism. He bailed out his team in a game it probably should have lost against Australia and now he’s genuinely reaching out to the people of the Summer Games’ host nation. For a tournament in which people have talked about and treated Brazilians like they’re diseased animals and dangerous criminals only worthy of scorn, Anthony is keeping up his streak of being a touching human.
Daily Dose: 8/17/16
Donald Trump tells a room full of white people about what black people should do
9:59 AMThis week on the podcast, we had to take things to a slightly more serious level. It was just one of those news cycles where the topics that mattered were ones that didn’t allow for too many jokes. Anyways, please do have a listen.
Donald Trump made his most ham-handed appeal to the black community yet, on Tuesday. Speaking in a basically all-white exurb of Milwaukee, the man who once publicly called for the death of the Central Park Five is suddenly trying to court black voters. The Republican presidential candidate even went so far as to connote that it is Democratic Party policies that have fostered the relationship between communities of color and the police. His campaign is going so well, by the way, that he just brought in a new manager, ABC News reports.
Remember what female gymnasts used to look like? Skinny little girls flying through the air, all while still overly appealing to classic European standards of beauty. And for what? Well, mainly because a lot of the people who controlled the coaching of the sport simply preferred that. It’s incredible what ingrained self-hate can do to the entire psychology of most disciplines. Anyways, once we figured out that skinny was bad science for good gymnastics, that all changed. VICE Sports Elle Reeve breaks down the progression.
Speaking of bodies, typically, drastic weight loss stories scare me. People start doing extreme things to change their appearance and risk their lives in unhealthy ways. But some people find a way to do it the right way and their stories can be really inspiring. Take the case of a man in Arizona, who when he went to the doctor weighing in at 600 pounds, decided to make some changes. He decided that every time he wanted to eat, he’d walk to Wal-Mart but wouldn’t consume until he got back. My man’s transformation is tremendous. Check it out.
I couldn’t care less if the U.S. men’s basketball team wins gold, after all the foolishness I have to listen to from other idiot Americans who couldn’t see their own exceptionalism if it were served to them on a hot dog. Which is not a sandwich. Anyway, for multiple reasons, this team was pretty poorly put together. Not to mention that they seem to have zero offensive sets beyond throwing a couple of off-ball screens and putting up a jumper. Win or lose, the team is not fun to watch, particularly. ESPN’s Marc Stein still has the United States atop his Olympic power rankings, though.
Coffee Break: The cavalcade of nations that is the Olympics is just one part of the fun, what with all the cool uniforms and fun outfits during the opening and closing ceremonies and so on. But there’s another obvious marker worth checking out. Who’s got the best flag?
Snack Time: If you haven’t seen the trailer for the movie Hidden Figures about the black women who were instrumental in getting Apollo 11 to the moon for NASA (among other things), check it out here. Looks great.
Dessert: We’re worried about Bishop Eddie Long, y’all. This doesn’t look right.
All Day Podcast: 8/16/16
Black hair at the Olympics, Larry Wilmore’s show canceled and jarring Nate Parker news
6:18 PMIn case you missed senior style writer Jill Hudson’s story from Monday on the backlash American gymnast Gabby Douglas has received this Olympics due to the appearance of her hair, you’ll want to check it out. Might as well read it and listen along, as it’s the first topic Hudson, host Clinton Yates and staff writer Justin Tinsley tackle on this week’s podcast.
Don’t worry. We got you, Gabby.
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The crew shifts to a discussion revolving around the upcoming film on the 1831 Nat Turner slave rebellion, titled The Birth of a Nation. Recently, the film’s director, producer and star actor Nate Parker spoke with Variety about a 1999 sexual assault case he and the film’s co-writer, Jean Celestin, were involved in during their college days at Penn State University. The news has affected whether one member of the podcast will even see the film. (After this podcast was taped, Variety reported that the accuser in the case committed suicide in 2012.)
Last on the show bill: After Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore was canceled Monday, what does this mean for black TV hosts?
Give it a listen, and if you have any feedback or show ideas, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
The NFL’s new security chief
comes straight from the nation’s capital
5:02 PMCathy Lanier will be the NFL’s new vice president of security, the league announced Tuesday, ending a months-long search that began when Jeff Miller stepped down from the job in May. Lanier, 49, has been the police chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, D.C., since 2007. Not that it should matter but her background as an officer, who rose from the rank of beat cop to lead one of the higher-profile forces in the country, is not one we’d expect to see in a leadership role in the NFL.
She was at the helm of a department that dealt with the local legalization of marijuana and actively pursued the use of body cameras for its officers when the issue was still raw after Ferguson, Missouri. There are various arguments about whether her tenure was successful locally, but as a mom who also once sued MPD for sexual harassment and won, this is about as progressive a hire as possible.
“We are excited to welcome to our team an individual of Cathy’s talent and extensive record of accomplishments,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday. “Cathy joins us with a well-deserved reputation of being a tremendous communicator, innovator and relationship builder.”
“This executive will also be the primary supervisor of investigative programs, as well as oversee event security (including the Super Bowl and international games), game integrity programs and department administration,” the NFL job description read at the time of its posting. “He/she will take the lead in assessing security issues within the league and assigning and/or identifying the correct resources as they arise.”
Which leads to an obvious question: Does Lanier plan to make the game-day experience safer? During her time in D.C., she added a more personal communicative touch to police work in neighborhoods used to viewing the cops as enemies. She routinely noted that more communication between law enforcement and residents made things safer, not less. Lanier loudly rejected zero-tolerance policing for minor offenses, as well.
All that to say, for casual fans of the NFL, the No. 1 criticism in the past 10 years about the league has been the stadium experience from a cost and a security standpoint. A light Googling in the days after an NFL weekend will net you at least a half-dozen videos of fights in the parking lot, in the stands and even in the bathrooms. Personally, it’s the reason why I stopped going to games a long time ago.
— wendy (@wowindc) August 16, 2016
Goodell’s reputation hasn’t been great recently. When it comes to how he’s dealt with players and their suspensions — even before Deflategate bored us all to tears — he had work to do on his legacy. Recently, the league’s handling of what is eventually going to be a very difficult talk about what to do about the long-term effects of concussions hasn’t exactly inspired confidence, either.
But for the people still willing to pay outrageous parking prices for the pleasure of being able to swill beer in a stadium with 75,000 of their closest friends, Lanier is the closest thing you can get to an ally.
Daily Dose: 8/16/16
Blac Chyna is officially ready to take over
9:55 AMWe’re down to one black guy on Bachelor in Paradise. Also, we need more Jorge. Come on, producers.
The dog days of summer are certainly upon us. It’s hot as blazes on the East Coast and if it weren’t for the Olympics and the presidential campaign, much of the news cycle would be incredibly slow and largely boring. The weather is so intense that beyond the disastrous floods it caused in Louisiana, it’s also apparently causing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani of all people to make ridiculous statements about the effectiveness of radical Islam. Luckily, the Obamas are above that fray, and the president is spending his vacation golfing with NBA stars. Let’s follow along in Martha’s Vineyard.
For the majority of the world’s nations, the Olympics are bad business. Never mind the situation with the International Olympic Committee, oftentimes on the ground it’s too difficult to get everything ready in time and ultimately you end up costing yourself more money than you would have spent to simply sit still. For this reason, there are theories floating that the Olympic Games should actually just go away forever. FiveThirtyEight’s Clay Dillow breaks down a study from the University of Oxford that analyzes the last six decades of Olympic budgets.
America’s favorite television family, the Kardashians, have a new program in the mix. In case you forgot, Rob Kardashian is now an item with Blac Chyna, a reality star who rose from the ranks of exotic dancer to work her way into the most famous clan in Hollywood. Their new show is called Rob and Chyna and a trailer was released Monday. The two are having a baby, of course, and in typical family fashion, their relationship is a tad volatile. Here are five things we learned from the teaser. The show debuts Sept. 11.
Whether you like it or not, the NFL season is upon us. ESPN is holding fantasy football marathons, training camp sites are coming to a close and fans are getting their hopes up. It also means the return of scandalous news stories. Remember that report from Al-Jazeera that implicated various football players, including, ahem, Peyton Manning in a wide-ranging investigation about doping? Well, that’s back. The league is saying if players still playing on rosters don’t answer for their involvement, there will be consequences. Jeremy Fowler reports.
Coffee Break: Aside from the iconic music that Mos Def and Talib Kweli made back in the ’90s with their Black Star album, there was also the imagery of the project that touched so many as well. The album art was next level and it all started with an English photographer named Eddie Otchere. Check out this interview with him about how it went.
Snack Time: I’m extremely biased when it comes to Tiny Desk concerts at NPR, but if you haven’t seen Anderson .Paak’s latest offering to the genre, we highly suggest that you get it in your life. It’s incredible.
Dessert: We love badminton. Now we love what the players do in their off time, even more.
‘The Nightly Show’ is no more
Comedy Central cancels Larry Wilmore’s show
1:05 PMThe man who called President Barack Obama “my n—-” in front of the world has lost one of his gigs. On Monday, Comedy Central announced that The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore will end Thursday, Variety reports. The show was originally billed as a replacement for The Colbert Report after host Stephen Colbert went to CBS to replace David Letterman. The Nightly Show never really caught the wave it wanted from an audience standpoint. It launched Jan. 19, 2015.
It didn’t help that Wilmore’s show was created and then almost immediately overshadowed by the departure of The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart. Presumably, the idea there was to create a line between viewers of The Daily Show and those of The Nightly Show, but that bond never really solidified for the former “senior black correspondent.” Not to mention the huge splash created when South African Trevor Noah came on as host of The Daily Show. Anyway, as a viewer, it never really felt like Wilmore’s show was a major priority for the network.
“I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and our fans to have had this opportunity. But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well,” Wilmore said in a statement.
Perhaps most disappointing is the loss of another black host and presence in a writer’s room with an upcoming national election. Last week, NBC announced that Jay Pharoah, who does the best Obama impersonation in the history of the world, would be leaving Saturday Night Live.
That said, Wilmore always has a million things going anyway, so it’s not like the writing and comedy veteran is just going to disappear. You can bet that when Issa Rae’s new HBO show Insecure launches — which he was a part of creating — your man Wilmore will be back at it again with the jokes that make white folks squirm.
Daily Dose: 8/15/16
Another fatal shooting of a black man, more unrest, this time in Milwaukee
10:46 AMSunday night at the Olympics, NBC’s Bob Costas intonated that Usain Bolt might be a more famous Jamaican than Bob Marley. Let’s be clear, that will never ever be the case, plain and simple.
Milwaukee has been burning all weekend. After a fatal police-involved shooting, the Wisconsin city has been the latest American ground zero for unrest due to what some communities feel is overly violent behavior. The protests have been particularly violent, with reports of demonstrators throwing things and setting businesses on fire. This is the part where you can expect national reporters to descend on Milwaukee, where we’ll learn a lot more about what goes down in the Badger state. ABC News reports.
In other disastrous news, Louisiana is basically underwater. They’ve gotten an insane amount of rain recently and the number of people and businesses who’ve been affected is in the tens of thousands at this point. Some of the images coming out of the region are downright breathtaking, including videos of people saving not only their neighbors, but pets, too. Watching people come together in situations like this is really the only potentially gratifying part of such an awful story. ABC News has the latest.
At this point, we’re pretty much assuming that Donald Trump will get blown out. People are jumping ship from the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign by the droves, pulling guns out on each other, and meanwhile he’s scrambling and complaining about The New York Times every day. The question is: What would that landslide victory actually look like from a voting populace standpoint? We don’t really see that many crushing defeats in national elections anymore, but FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver analyzes how that might go.
On Sunday, aside from Usain Bolt blowing everyone away, again, there was a better story. Wayde van Niekerk, a South African sprinter, dusted American Michael Johnson’s nearly two-decades-old record in the 400 meters, sort of shocking the world. Not just because of the world-record time, but also because he did it from the eighth lane, which is borderline unheard of. He surprised the announcers, his competition and the audience. But two people he didn’t surprise were his coach and his roommate. ESPN has the story.
Coffee Break: What’s LeBron James doing during the Olympics? He’s certainly not just sitting around cheering on his pals. Rapper Drake brought him out at a concert in Ohio recently, which, if you ask us, is exactly how that man should be spending his summer break.
Snack Time: Animals playing with cameras is always funny, and this clip of a squirrel getting hold of a GoPro is fantastic. Seriously, watch it. Unless you get vertigo. Then, don’t watch it.
Dessert: ICYMI, our latest edition of Locker Room Lawyer.
Let’s go to Rio
and check out some murals, aside from the Olympics
The street art in Brazil is an interesting beast. Long a more character-driven type of style, the nation that’s hosting the Summer Olympics has long been a major player on the scene. So, while you’re watching records being broken in Rio de Janeiro, take some time to look at what people are doing in the streets.
This video comes to us via Luci Westphal, who makes one-minute videos of all types that feature places around the world. Anyway, make sure to check out the abstract style of Brazil’s scene, which we’ve always been a huge fan of. Some people call it the “New York of South America,” which I think is rather pointless, comparison-wise, but if you want a deeper look into what they do down there, check it out here.