The 6 Degrees of Damian Lillard

It was the shot and meme that was heard around the world. Earlier this year, Portland Trailblazers’ star point guard Damian Lillard hit a series-clinching jumper from beyond the arc as time expired, advancing to the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. The shot, launched over former Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George’s outstretched hands was a big deal to seemingly everyone else on the planet, but for Lillard, it was simply business as usual. “We’re a really resilient team,” Lillard told a reporter in a post-game interview. “We knew it was ups and downs throughout the series, we just had to keep our heads right, stay focused, stay together. We stayed together and it came down to one play and we executed really well and we were able to get it done.”

This wasn’t the first time he had shattered a championship contender’s dreams and delivered defeat as a cold dish served. In May 2014, Lillard buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the ‘Blazers a 99-98 win over the Houston Rockets, clinching a 4-2 win in the first round of that season’s NBA Playoffs, Portland’s first in fourteen years. When asked about his ability to keep his composure during these pressure-packed moments, Lillard credits his big-picture outlook with keeping him poised. “It’s usually not a whole lot going through my head,” he says. “I think what allows me to be confident and just keep my cool in those situations is knowing that I put the time in to give myself a chance to be successful and to end these games and staying in shape physically and just having my mind in the right place. And also understanding that I can shoulder the success and the failure of it. Whichever one happens on that night, I know I can handle both. So I go into those situations not really concerned with the outcome.”

Selected by the Trailblazers in 2012 with the sixth overall draft pick, Portland, Oregon would be a culture shock for the average kid bred in the mean streets of East Oakland, California. But for Lillard, his collegiate tenure at Weber State in Utah, where he competed in Portland on several occasions, afforded him some familiarity with the city. “I always liked Portland,” he shares. “Because when I was in college, at Weber, we’d play Portland State every year. So when you get a chance to come to a real city like Portland where it’s like an actual downtown and stores you can go to and kind of move around, you just have a different appreciation of it when you’re playing all of these different small towns. I already kind of liked the city to begin with. Now I get to explore more. My best friend was already going to college here when I got drafted so I’ve always liked it even before I got here. When I got here and started to meet people and learn the city, move around and just being a resident here, I’ve only grown to like it more. It’s become more of a home to me over the years.”

READ More of this interview: https://www.vibe.com/featured/damian-lillard-dame-6-interview

KID CUDI & NIGO® THE ORIGINATORS

After over a decade, NIGO® and Kid Cudi have inspired many of the biggest names in music, fashion, and pop culture. But how did they do it, and what’s next? The two cultural icons get together for the first time since they met 11 years ago and open up about their beginnings, new projects, and legacy.

Kid Cudi was 20 years old when he decided to leave his hometown of Cleveland and move to New York City. He had tried college for a year, but wasn’t feeling it, and even considered joining the Navy, though that didn’t work out, either. Ultimately, he wanted to pursue music, and craved an environment where he could “grow and meet interesting people.” New York, he thought, could be that place.

So one day he bought a one-way ticket to New York, packed up his things—clothes, sneakers, the demo he made in college, and $500 in cash—and left. It wasn’t easy. He still remembers the day his mom dropped him off at the airport. “She was crying,” Cudi recalled during his TEDx talk in 2015. “She was giving me a hug at the airport and leans in and goes, ‘I can always turn back around and we can go back home. You can change your mind. Everything will be fine.’” But Cudi stuck to his guns. “I was on a mission,” he added. “It was bigger than just wanting to be a musician or do movies. It was about finally showing the world what Scott could do.”

Except things didn’t immediately pop off for him. His first few jobs in New York were in retail—at American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Dean & DeLuca. He held most of the jobs just to cover his bills and studio time. But there was one that Cudi, to this day, calls a “dream job.”

Shortly after relocating to New York, Cudi learned about A Bathing Ape, the wildly popular and exclusive Japanese brand founded by NIGO® in 1993, and fell in love with its loud graphics and bright colors. At the time, Bape’s two-story, million-dollar flagship in SoHo—the label’s first store outside of Japan, a strategic move by the designer to expand his empire internationally—had just opened in 2004. Cudi desperately wanted to work there, so he applied. And then applied again. And again. Until he finally got hired in 2008.

At the time, Cudi was so broke he didn’t have a bank account (he used his mom’s instead). And for the first few weeks on the job, he wore the same outfit every day or borrowed clothes from co-workers. It didn’t matter, though; he was just happy to be there. “I didn’t own anything [Bape] prior to being hired,” he told Hypebeast. “So it was a dream come true to be able to work at the store I dreamed of shopping in one day.”

But Cudi’s stint at Bape wouldn’t last long. The year before, while he still worked at Abercrombie & Fitch, he met Dot da Genius through a co-worker. They clicked instantly and began making music together, including what wound up being Cudi’s first single, “Day ‘N’ Nite.”

How a Hip-Hop Party Went From a Harlem Basement to Packing Barclays

Inside the rise of D’ussé Palooza.

The party continues to grow and there are plans to go global, with events in Ghana, South Africa, London and Paris.

Kameron McCullough and Nile Ivey were having a rough year.

It was December 2012, and the two friends hatched a plan to simultaneously wash away their troubles and usher in a more buoyant 2013. They settled on hosting a small game night.

Mr. Ivey, a D.J. and music blogger, had been laid off from his job at BET Networks. Mr. McCullough had been fired from his job at Condé Nast just a few months after being evicted from his apartment.

They planned to keep the invite list short, ensure that it included plenty of women and inform attendees that gaining entry required two things: a bottle of Hennessy cognac and a bucket of fried chicken.

“It’s going to be a Henny Palooza,” Mr. McCullough recalls one friend joking.

Seven years later, the event — now known as D’ussé Palooza — has grown from an East Harlem house party attended by barely 50 people to an event that drew 9,000 to Barclays Center in Brooklyn this month, while expanding to more than a dozen United States cities.

The party attracts thousands of fans every year, a group that includes professional athletes like the N.B.A. star Kevin Durant and the New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, music industry luminaries like the New York radio hosts Charlamagne Tha God and Ebro Darden, sports journalists like Bomani Jones of ESPN and Jemele Hill of The Atlantic, and the hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper.

“It’s the best party in America,” Reginald Ossé, a podcaster and onetime Source magazine editor known as Combat Jack, once declared. (Mr. Ossé died in 2017.)

The event’s new name is the product of a multimillion-dollar deal with Jay-Z, the music star and entrepreneur. Mr. McCullough, 34, and his team have entered into a rare partnership with Jay-Z’s music label, Roc Nation. As a result, the cognac brand D’ussé, which the rapper is an investor in, now sponsors the event.

Although Hennessy figured in the party’s origins and some people who attend still call it Henny Palooza, neither Mr. McCullough nor any of his colleagues has ever had any affiliation with, or the consent of, the cognac’s maker, Moët Hennessy USA corporation. READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/nyregion/dusse-palooza-barclays-center.html

Last Tax Season Was a Mess. Now’s Time to Prepare for This One.

If you didn’t change the tax withholding in your paycheck, you still have time to avoid another unpleasant surprise — or even a fine.

The first tax season under the Republican-sponsored overhaul brought an odd combination of pleasant and unpleasant surprises: lower tax burdens, but also lower refunds — and, for some, an unexpected bill.

Anyone who didn’t take a proactive approach after getting a big tax bill last time around could end up in that situation again, only worse: That filer is more likely to have to pay a penalty.

For 2019, taxpayers who didn’t generally withhold at least 90 percent of their liability from their paychecks may be required to pay a fine. That threshold is back up from 80 percent, where it was set last year as everyone adjusted to the new rules.

If you didn’t change your withholding by filling out a new W-4 form with your employer, there are still steps you can take to try to avoid the extra charge.

If a withholding calculator — like the one on the Internal Revenue Service’s website — shows you’re significantly short, you have options. There may be time to have an extra amount withheld from your final paycheck to get you over the threshold, although that will require filling out a W-4 now and another later to reverse that change. Or you can make what’s called an estimated tax payment directly to the I.R.S.

You’ll also want to think about how to handle the rest of the tax balance.

“You can start planning for that now by setting aside money in savings accounts or planning ahead for an installment agreement with the I.R.S. so you can pay over a period of time,” said Nathan Rigney, lead tax research analyst at H&R Block’s Tax Institute.

Most households did pay a bit less because of the overhaul: Individuals’ total tax liability dropped nearly 5.8 percent, or $70 billion, according to I.R.S. data on tax returns filed through July.

But it didn’t feel that way for some taxpayers. The number of refunds issued hardly budged — they were down 0.3 percent — but refunds for many were smaller. Refunds for those who earned between $100,000 and $250,000, for example, dropped by about 11 percent, according to the I.R.S.

Many people were surprised to learn that they owed the government money even if their situation hadn’t changed.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/06/your-money/taxes/income-tax-2019-tip.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard and Cast Open Up About Blindness Coaching for Apple TV+ ‘See’

Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard star in the new Apple TV+ series See, a postapocalyptic drama that takes place in a world where a virus has caused humankind to lose sight. Created by Steven Knight, it is the story of a family in jeopardy after twins are born who can see. In a blind world, the reigning Queen Kane, played by Sylvia Hoeks, is threatened by the twins’ vision and sends her army to capture them. Jason Momoa plays Baba Voss, a fierce warrior and adoptive father of the twins forced to lead his tribe into hiding after news of the twins’ birth spreads.

To ensure the show’s portrayal of blindness was accurate and respectful, cast and crewmembers who are not blind participated in a boot camp. Led by blindness coach Joe Strechay and movement coach Paradox Pollack, Momoa, Woodard and the rest of the cast went through a rigorous program to learn more about life without vision. “I wanted to make sure that the portrayals around blindness in our production were committed to respecting blindness,” explains Strechay. “There have been so many comical portrayals of blindness, and See is not one of them.” In addition to working with the actors, the production team had Apple’s full support to take the measures needed and allocate budgets to ensure every set was fully accessible, even in the heart of rural British Columbia during the dead of winter.

Director Frances Lawrence participated in blindness coaching, spending time wearing sleep shades, developing a basic understanding of echolocation and learning to trust his other four senses to understand what the actors were experiencing. “It was a little bit like learning a language,” he said. “Sight for those of us who can see is such a dominant sense that I think it makes us take for granted the other senses. We don’t feel as in tune with the other senses. I think if you talked to the other actors who went through the training, what ended up happening to them was they felt much more present and much more focused.” Momoa experimented with different techniques to sharpen his focus on his other senses, including limiting his food intake to maintain more awareness of his body. “In order to be a character who is an amazing warrior with no vision, you’ve got to be pretty in touch with your senses, which means those have to be at the highest quality,” said Momoa.

See poses the question of how valuable sight truly is. Alfre Woodard, who plays Paris, a healer and midwife, hopes the show generates deeper questions about how sight orders society. “I hope that people ask, ‘Without how we know sight, what’s the racial dynamic? What’s the sexual dynamic? The gender dynamic?”

THR sat down with Momoa, Woodard, Hoeks, Hera Hilmar, Lawrence, Knight and Strechay to explore how they approached the portrayal of blindness in See, now available on Apple TV+.

Will 'The Irishman' Netflix Debut Ding Thanksgiving Box Office?

Martin Scorsese’s high-profile mob pic may have been a boon to movie exhibitors if it had been given a traditional wide theatrical release.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro star in Netflix’s ‘The Irishman.’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

In late 2013, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street debuted to $34.2 million at the U.S. box office over the five-day Christmas Day holiday on its way to grossing $392 million globally and landing numerous top Oscar nominations.
Six years later, Scorsese’s The Irishman is bypassing a traditional theatrical release and instead will debut on Netflix on Nov. 27, the start of the lucrative Thanksgiving frame. With its pedigree, will the critically acclaimed mob pic keep consumers otherwise occupied and hurt the overall box office?
It’s a complicated question underscored by the fact that — in addition to Netflix’s continued rise — several new high-profile streamers, including Disney+ and Apple TV+, have both launched this month armed with enough original programming aimed at attracting a large subscriber base.
“You have to look at it holistically. I don’t think The Irishman will specifically cause people to stay home and away from movie theaters, but I do think it’s symbolic of a trend toward great content being available on streaming,” says Wall Street analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners.
Others disagree. “It’s not an all or nothing proposition,” says box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore, noting that families and friends spending Thanksgiving together “need to leave the house” at some point.
“Going to the movies remains a vital part of our entertainment diet,” Dergarabedian notes. “And while a major movie release on a streaming platform will certainly draw loads of viewers, this doesn’t spell doom for movie theaters or, for that matter, any other activity outside the home.”
The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), the lobbying organization for exhibitors, points to an Ernst & Young study finding that those who stream frequently are also the most frequent moviegoers. Across all demos, the January 2019 survey showed that those who visited a theater once or twice in the preceding 12 months watched an average of seven hours of streaming per week, compared with 11 hours of streaming for those who visited a theater nine or more times.
Netflix is notoriously reticent when it comes to releasing viewership data. Exceptions include El Camino, the streamer’s movie sequel to the TV hit Breaking Bad, which was viewed 25.7 million times in its first week, Oct. 11-18, the company claimed.
And, last year, the Sandra Bullock-starrer Bird Box turned into a water-cooler sensation after debuting on Netflix on Dec. 21. The streamer later reported that 45 million accounts watched the sci-fi thriller over the holidays. Some used that number to suggest that Bird Box could have grossed several hundred million dollars at the global box office.
A Barclays study disputes that assumption, putting the film’s potential box office closer to $98 million. The report stated that the vast majority of the audience “was composed of people who watched it because it was on Netflix and would not have gone to a theater.” Nor did Bird Box seem to ding the 2018 Christmas box office, which turned in strong returns, even without a Star Wars entry.
Netflix also declines to provide box office grosses for those films that get a select run in indie cinemas during awards season, such as The Irishman. Scorsese’s film, similar to the Oscar-nominated Roma last year or this year’s Marriage Story, received an exclusive run in dozens of indie cinemas prior to its debut on the service and by this weekend will be playing in more than 200 locations across the U.S.
The streamer has famously refused to adhere to the theatrical window, focusing instead on making its original programming available to its subscribers as soon as possible. In turn, most cinema chains refuse to carry Netflix titles. Scorsese and Netflix execs tried to reach a compromise with exhibitors, but those talks ultimately broke down.
“The current and growing glut of streaming titles and streaming companies needs to differentiate content for consumers and compete for filmmakers. Theatrical releases with real windows meet both needs,” says Patrick Corcoran, vp NATO.
“Streaming is disrupting the home entertainment market, not theaters,” Corcoran adds. “Transactional home video has declined domestically from $24.7 billion per year in 2004 to $10.3 billion in 2018 — a 58 percent loss of annual revenue.”
Earlier this month, NATO chairman John Fithian said Irishman would have been a boon to theaters had it been given a traditional wide release, judging by the success of Scorsese films such as Wolf of Wall Street.

Trap Kitchen Uses Food to Rewrite Compton’s Narrative | The Spirit of Conviction

Matthew McConaughey narrates the story of Trap Kitchen founders Spank and News, rival gang members who used a mutual passion for food to create a successful business in Compton. The episode highlights how the entrepreneurs are rewriting their narrative and what happens when people put their differences aside and come together for the greater good of the community.
“The Spirit of Conviction” is a weekly docu-series narrated by Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey that dives into the lives of complex individuals who are constantly creating, disrupting, and challenging norms while remaining authentic to who they are.