buzz

Why Is California Prosecuting a Rapper for Making an Album?

There’s really no witty or amusing way to start this piece, so I’ll get directly to the point: right now, in 2014, in America, a man is facing life in prison because he made a rap album. As per the LA Times, Brandon Duncan of San Diego, who performs under the name Tiny Doo, is allegedly a member of a gang that has been implicated in nine shootings, for which 14 members are about to stand trial. Duncan isn’t charged with participating in the shootings; instead, he’s being charged under a California state law that prohibits “willfully promot[ing], further[ing], or assist[ing] in any felonious criminal conduct by members of [a] gang.” The evidence against him? His latest album, along with “pictures on a social media page of him and several other defendants.” This is… well, there’s really no other way to say it: this is bullshit. … Read More

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Searching for Clues — and Closure — in Ian Curtis’ and Kurt Cobain’s Handwritten Archives

Ian Curtis wrote in all caps, often with a Sharpie. When he wanted to change a word in his lyrics or notes, he’d scratch out his former word choice utterly completely — as if he wanted to erase it from existence. In a lot of ways, the Joy Division leader’s handwriting seems to reflect his personality: “Ian was a very definite person,” says Jon Savage, the co-editor of So This Is Permanence, a collection of Curtis’ notebooks released last month by Chronicle Books. “If he didn’t like something, he would eventually make his displeasure shown. He was a Cancer.” … Read More

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‘Nothing Has Changed’: Searching for a Self in David Bowie’s 50 Years of Transformation

When David Bowie looks in the mirror, as he does in the cover art for his career-spanning new three-disc compilation, what does he see? And when David Bowie claims that “nothing has changed,” as he does in the title of that collection, what could he possibly mean? Obsessively as we analyze any beloved artist’s body of work, we don’t usually ask questions like this about a best-of album — even one as idiosyncratic as Nothing Has Changed. They tend to be cash-ins at worst and artless at best, package deals designed for casual listeners who don’t respect the album as an art form and just want all the “hits” in one place. … Read More

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‘The Cosby Show’ Is Too Important to Erase From TV History

When I was a kid, I watched The Cosby Show. This is not surprising information: Basically every kid, every person, that I knew — black or white, but especially black — watched The Cosby Show. Older friends had the pleasure of watching the show during its original run; I was grateful for its existence in syndication, airing 24/7. It was on Netflix for a while, and now it’s on Hulu. There is always a way to watch it. But yesterday, in the wake of the seemingly endless and horrifying rape allegations against Bill Cosby, TV Land pulled reruns of The Cosby Show. Earlier that day, Netflix pulled his stand-up special, Bill Cosby 77, which was set to air over Thanksgiving, and NBC axed his upcoming sitcom. The latter two decisions are not only understandable but absolutely necessary. The former is a bit trickier to dissect. … Read More

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New Kara Walker Video Shows ‘A Subtlety’ Was Performance Art All Along

We’ve known Kara Walker’s video follow-up to her installation piece A Subtlety, which showed at Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar Factory site this summer, was coming for a while. In a conversation with the LA Times last month, Walker revealed she’d filmed audience reactions to her monumental piece — the same audience reactions that provoked outrage in some attendees. While the full, 28-minute video premieres at Chelsea’s Sikkema Jenkins & Co. tomorrow, Walker released a five-minute preview clip today, and while tactlessness certainly makes an appearance, it’s a largely evenhanded look at the interaction between A Subtlety and its onlookers, and how those interactions became part of the art itself. … Read More

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Why Mike Nichols Was So Much More Than ‘The Graduate’

If you Google Mike Nichols today, the headlines for the top entries in the news wedge are unsurprisingly similar. “Mike Nichols, Acclaimed Director of ‘The Graduate,’ Dies at 83,” goes the New York Times. “‘Graduate’ Director Mike Nichols Dead at 83,” reports CBS News. The Hollywood Reporter: “Mike Nichols, Director of ‘The Graduate,’ Dies at 83.” And AP (via Huffington Post) writes, “Mike Nichols, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘The Graduate,’ Dies at 83.” It is, I suppose, a testament to the influence and importance of that 47-year-old movie that it’s pegged as his primary achievement; scroll past the lede and you’ll probably read about Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and perhaps that he was married to Diane Sawyer. But a look at the entirety of Nichols’ five-plus decades in show business reveals much more than that; he was an innovative and brilliant artist whose influence was and is still felt across popular culture. … Read More

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National Book Awards Go to Louise Glück, Phil Klay, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Jacqueline Woodson

On Wednesday evening, Louise Glück, Phil Klay, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Jacqueline Woodson took home the National Book Award, one of… Read More

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‘Mockingjay—Part 1′: The Somber ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of the ‘Hunger Games’ Films

The most noteworthy divergence between Mockingjay—Part 1 and its predecessors in the Hunger Games series is the somberness of its tone. It’s not that the first two pictures were exactly laugh riots — they are, after all, chronicles of bloodthirsty oligarchs demanding children murder each other for their amusement. But the (now-de rigueur) splitting of the final book of the YA franchise into two films means that this half is, by necessity, less about big action bits and more about mood, more setup than payoff. And it features some of the grimmest imagery of the series to date. It may be the franchise’s third movie, but it plays like its Empire Strikes Back. … Read More

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Can Millennial American Actors Compete With ‘Thor’s’ Chris Hemsworth, People’s Sexiest Man Alive?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — when People Magazine declares just who is the Sexiest Man Alive. This year’s choice is Chris Hemsworth, also known to anyone who loves Marvel properties and superheroes as the impossibly huge Thor, headlining his own movies and also smashing through The Avengers series. Noted gossip Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip has been running the odds all week, and her money had been on the man who fronted the breakout Marvel surprise of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Chris Pratt. … Read More

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Why So Many Women Are Accusing Bill Cosby Now, and Why They Didn’t Do It Earlier

The story of the rape allegations against Bill Cosby continues to expand and swell on a tide of considerable public support (finally!) for the alleged victims’ stories, and the sheer number of accusers. In the past two days, several more woman have stepped forward and publicly added their names to the list of accusers, which is now at 15. This new list includes, most notably, model Janice Dickinson, who also spoke of her residual trauma after the attack. … Read More

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