It’s a vision of
two Detroits that have mostly faded now — the social set born of the
American auto industry’s vast wealth and the galvanizing magic of ’60s
Motown — together in a room.
In June 1965, the Supremes, one of America’s biggest and most glamorous groups, performed at a debutante party at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe, Mich., the posh all-white enclave just northeast of the city.
It was the debutante party of Christy Cole Wilson,
and The New York Times pictures of the event tell a layered story of
two groups connected, at least for the evening, by the music of that
time and place.
The three elegant darlings of Detroit, led by the 21-year-old Diana Ross, serenade a room of finely attired guests, many of practically the same age. But between the groups were also the realities of race and class — the distance between Grosse Pointe and the Brewster projects where the Supremes grew up, 10 miles and several worlds away. The Times covered the lavish event in avid detail. “It took three days, hundreds of fresh blue irises, thousands of little Italian lights and hundreds of thousands of yellow plastic flowers to turn the club into a French garden,” the story enthused. “Whole walls had disappeared behind Austrian silk panels of gold and mirrors before the 750 guests arrived.”
Not until the
eighth paragraph did the story mention that “when they were not dancing
and being entertained by a rock ‘n’ roll group called the Supremes, the
Wilsons and their guests were polishing off 20 cases of French
champagne, attempting to create a liquor shortage (the plot failed), and
heaping their plates with food from an abundantly stocked buffet
The trio hardly needed an
identifier at that point. Between August 1964 and June 1965, the
Supremes had five No. 1 singles, including “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the
Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again,” which had gone to the top of
the charts just six days before this party. Which is exactly why Ms.
Wilson’s parents hired them.
“Everyone had very glamorous deb parties when I was growing up,” said Ms. Wilson Hofmann, 72, who now lives in Bristol, R.I.
The soul singer Gladys Knight, who will be singing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, seemed to criticize Colin Kaepernick in a statement published by Variety on Friday.
is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose refusal to stand
during “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and decision to kneel instead — to
protest police brutality has made him a divisive figure nationwide,
earning him praise from civil rights groups, but scorn from many
conservatives, including President Trump.
“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight wrote to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”
The statement continued: “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3, to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”
This is the
latest twist at the intersection of politics, sports and music that has
surrounded this year’s Super Bowl. Kaepernick is still in the middle of
an ongoing arbitration
case regarding a grievance he filed against the N.F.L. He has accused
the league’s owners of colluding to keep him out of the league after not
being signed last season.
protests during the anthems became a cultural flash point, even though
he wasn’t in the league. Other N.F.L. players began kneeling to support
Kaepernick, as did celebrities off the field. Last fall, Nike made
Kaepernick the face of a prominent advertising campaign.
year’s Super Bowl became particularly fraught because of the halftime
show. Some high-profile artists, including the rapper Cardi B, said they
would not be willing to perform, in a show of solidarity with
Kaepernick. Last year, Jay-Z rapped in one of his songs: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”
Earlier this week, the N.F.L. announced the halftime acts
would be Maroon 5 and the rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Scott’s
decision to participate, in particular, received backlash, including
from prominent African-Americans like Al Sharpton. Variety reported that
Kaepernick and Scott spoke before the announcement and described the
conversation as “cordial and respectful.” But on Wednesday, several
posts critical of Scott appeared on Kaepernick’s Twitter account.
anticipating the criticism, Scott announced on Sunday, in conjunction
with the halftime billing, that he and the league were teaming up on a
$500,000 donation to Dream Corps, a social justice group.
In the aftermath of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, listeners everywhere are rethinking their relationship with R. Kelly and his music. Music business institutions are also facing pressure to cut ties with the singer as he faces investigation and possible criminal charges for the alleged behavior outlined in the program.
Kelly’s label, RCA Records, still lists him
as being on their roster, though they have not sent out a press release
about him since October, 2016. The label has faced public pressure for
years to drop Kelly—pressure that is only ratcheting up in recent days.
As important as his future with RCA is, equally crucial is the way some people still hear R. Kelly’s music in 2019: on the radio.
The amount of airplay Kelly has received has been in a free fall since Surviving R. Kelly began. According to Billboard,
the number of all-format radio impressions of his music dropped nearly
85 percent between the first night the series aired and the Monday
following its conclusion.
This is the continuation of a longer trend: his spins fell roughly 40 percent over the course of 2018. But Surviving R. Kelly seems to have given additional momentum to the movement to get him off of radio. Stations across the U.S., from Seattle to Atlanta to Los Angeles to Savannah to Dallas, have removed R. Kelly’s entire catalog from their playlists. And iHeartMedia, which owns over 850 stations, is the subject of a new campaign to remove Kelly’s music from all of them.
The #MuteRKelly movement,
unsurprisingly, has heard plenty of similar stories from DJs—both the
radio and live performance variety. “#MuteRKelly has received countless
emails from DJs around the country who are joining us in boycotting R
Kelly’s music,” they say in a statement to Complex. “Many shared their
stories of having not played him in years, or arguing with clients about
why they wouldn’t play R Kelly despite audience requests.
“What’s more impressive to us, however, are the stories from DJs about playing R Kelly in the club and immediately being booed until they turned it off. The masses are waking up, and it’s in MASS action that we see real and lasting change.”
Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan seem to effortlessly check all the movie star boxes: Megawatt charm? Check (those smiles!). Actor clout? No problem (having Martin Scorsese and Ryan Coogler launch their respective careers can’t hurt). Lucrative blockbuster movie franchises? Yep, that too (Robbie in Suicide Squad and Jordan in Creed, with a memorable detour into Wakanda). So, as it turns out, they have a lot to talk about—and not just about fame and their good fortune. Here, as part of our annual Best Performances portfolio, Robbie, who starred in the recent palace-intrigue period drama Mary Queen of Scots, and Jordan, who returned in Creed 2 and dominated the screen in Black Panther this year, sit down with W‘s Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg to share not only how it is they make morally questionable villains like Harley Quinn and Killmonger into magnetic antiheroes, but also their totally embarrassing early email addresses, their most memorable red carpet fashion faux pas, and their frankly amazing first kiss stories.
So Michael, what’s the first album you ever bought?
Michael B. Jordan: First album? Ah, man, that’s a good one. Margot Robbie: Oh, that is a good one. Jordan: I want to say, on cassette tape… um, Usher’s My Way. Robbie: That’s a good answer. Jordan: You’re taking me back. I want to say I rode my bike to the music store that was, like, down the street.
What was the first album you ever bought, Margot?
Robbie: I think the first album I bought was, um, AFI’s Sing the Sorrow. I was in a bit of a heavy metal phase. But I think the first single I bought was Blink 182, “All the Small Things.” Jordan: Okay. So the heavy metal. Are you still in that phase or did you pass that? Robbie: Occasionally. Jordan: Occasionally? Robbie: Occasionally.
Have you ever gone through a heavy metal phase, Michael?
Jordan: I have not. Robbie: [Laughs.] Jordan: But electric guitar solos are my thing. Like, I love, the Ernie Isleys of the world, the “Who’s That Lady” solo is pretty incredible. [Michael Jackson’s] “Dirty Diana” is pretty good.
Do you play air guitar?
Jordan: Air guitar? All day. [Laughs.] Robbie: I can air guitar. That’s about the extent of my musical prowess, really.
Michael, did you box before Creed?
Jordan: I never officially boxed but karate, martial arts, and stuff like that. And then I kinda segued into boxing.
And you, Margot, have you ever boxed?
Robbie: I’ve done a bit of boxing, yeah—mainly to prepare for fight training, like stunt work. And I really, really like it. I have stupidly long arms, like, they’re too long for my body. So actually it’s kind of good when you’re boxing. Jordan: The reach is incredible. Robbie: An extra long reach. And it looks good on camera. Having long limbs on camera makes your punches— Jordan: Your punch is a little wider, yeah, yeah, yeah. She knows what she’s talking about.
What I love about both of your performances in different movies is that although you kind of play superheroes in both Suicide Squad and in Black Panther, you’re also kind of antiheroes at the same time. There’s a kind of dichotomy to the characters.
Robbie: A lovable rogue. Jordan: That’s right. I like that. I mean, those are the most interesting characters to me sometimes, like when I’m watching films that, on screen, are the ones that you can empathize with. Like, they want you to root against ’em. They want you to not like them. But somehow you can still understand where they’re coming from and that’s important.
Do you have a favorite villain? Other than Killmonger.
Jordan: Yeah, because he’s tough. I mean, honestly, it’s between [Michael] Fassbender’s Magneto and Heath Ledger’s Joker. Honestly. Those two are pretty up there for me. [To Robbie] What about you? Robbie: I’m totally stealing someone else’s answer. I’ve heard someone else say this, but I do truly think this is a genius villain: HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Jordan: Ohhh. Man. Robbie: It’s just such a cool villain. That was genius.
But it is also kind of weirdly sympathetic.
Robbie: Totally. The best villains are sympathetic.
With both these characters, you act with very little clothing on. Is it difficult to act when you are basically naked?
Robbie: Uh … Jordan: I’m always naked, actually. Robbie: Honestly, for me, as Harley at least, the more skin showing the longer it takes in hair and makeup ’cause she’s got, you know, white skin and a million tattoos. So if anything outside, god, the scenes where I don’t even have the jacket on, that’s an extra 20 minutes in the makeup trailer. Jordan: Yeah, same here. Killmonger, all the scars and stuff like that, the makeup, it took a long time to put the prosthetics on. Robbie: Yeah, you want to be more covered up.
So, Michael, what was the very first thing you ever auditioned for?
Jordan: Ooh. Robbie: Hmm. I’m trying to think of the first thing I auditioned for.
Let’s say the one you got.
Jordan: The Sopranos. I don’t know what season it was, but Tony [Soprano] was having a flashback. And I played a bully in his childhood who bullied him on the boardwalk on his way home one day.
Jordan: Yeah, I was Bully #2, I think.
Was it a speaking role?
Jordan: It was, but we were just yelling shit at him. I don’t know. I was improv-ing, actually. I was living in the moment— Robbie: (Laughs.) I was so present— Jordan: I was… Robbie: —that I now can’t remember. Jordan: … locked into Bully #2.
After videos surfaced online of Kanye West’s cut pro-Trump speech during his Saturday Night Live performance, followed by a Twitter rant calling for the 13th amendment to be abolished, a Care2 petition calling on Adidas to cut ties with the rapper spiked to 26,000 signatures.
The petition was initially created back in May after Ye spoke a slew of controversial comments on TMZ, noting in particular that slavery was a choice. “Kanye West continues to show disregard for the influence of his role as a public figure with his support of Donald Trump’s policies and his confused Twitter rants on slavery, while the rest of black America is continually marginalized and subject to unjust laws and treatment,” the petition reads. “West has a right to free speech, and he has the right to spout lies and misinformation and misplaced opinions — but Adidas should not stand idly by and, effectively, condone his behavior and revisionist history.”
West’s SNL speech, which did not make it to air followed the theme of racism in America as the rapper sported a “Make America Great Again” hat. “It’s so many times that I talk to a white person about this, and they say, ‘How could you support Trump? He’s racist.’” he announced. “Well if I was concerned about racism, I would have moved out of America a long time ago. We don’t just make our decisions off of racism. I’ma break it down to you right now: If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all they policies.”
Should a high school star be prevented from playing college basketball because his father was accused of taking a bribe?
Brian Bowen Jr. was one of the top high-school basketball players in the senior class of 2017. He grew up in Saginaw, Mich., an economically depressed Rust Belt city with one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. It is also a basketball hotbed, where players take pride in their scrappy, physical style of play. Draymond Green, an intense, sharp-elbowed All-Star with the N.B.A. champion Golden State Warriors, is among the pros who have come from Saginaw.
Bowen, however, was not hardened by either his city or its tough-edged basketball tradition. There is a sweetness about him, a shy smile, an engaging manner. He was given the nickname “Tugs” as an infant because he pulled on his mother’s hair with his tiny fingers, and that is what his family, friends, teammates and coaches have called him ever since. His mother chauffeured him around, fed him and made his schedule. Even after he reached high school, she could sometimes be seen kneeling or sitting at the bottom of the bleachers as she laced up his sneakers before a game, like a figure-skating mom tightening the laces of her child’s skates. In his free time, he liked to build elaborate Lego structures. The worst that was said about him, an only child, was that he could seem a little sheltered.
His father, Brian Bowen Sr., a former high-school player, groomed him for basketball almost from birth. When Tugs was just 9 months old and holding onto furniture for balance as he began to walk, his father made sure he alternated between his right and left hands — while rolling a ball with the opposite hand — so he would be able to dribble and shoot a basketball with both. A few years later, the family moved into a house with a basketball court in the backyard. The court was where Tugs would begin to learn the game, and as he got older, it attracted serious players in Saginaw. They came to work, not play. Brian Bowen Sr., a former police officer who had retired on medical disability, stood watch on the sideline, offering instruction and keeping the games as clean as he could.
The surface was originally concrete, but he covered it with VersaCourt, a softer synthetic material that came in sections fitted together like puzzle pieces. “He was looking ahead even back then,” his son told me last fall, the first time we talked. “If it would have stayed cement, I would have wrecked my knees, and I wouldn’t have been able to amount to anything.”
The outrageous price of a U.S. degree is unique in the world.
Before the automobile, before the Statue of Liberty, before the vast majority of contemporary colleges existed, the rising cost of higher education was shocking the American conscience: “Gentlemen have to pay for their sons in one year more than they spent themselves in the whole four years of their course,” The New York Times lamented in 1875.
Decadence was to blame, the writer argued: fancy student apartments, expensive meals, and “the mania for athletic sports.”
Today, the U.S. spends more on college than almost any other country, according to the 2018 Education at a Glance report, released this week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
All told, including the contributions of individual families and the government (in the form of student loans, grants, and other assistance), Americans spend about $30,000 per student a year—nearly twice as much as the average developed country. “The U.S. is in a class of its own,” says Andreas Schleicher, the director for education and skills at the OECD, and he does not mean this as a compliment. “Spending per student is exorbitant, and it has virtually no relationship to the value that students could possibly get in exchange.”
Only one country spends more per student, and that country is Luxembourg—where tuition is nevertheless free for students, thanks to government outlays. In fact, a third of developed countries offer college free of charge to their citizens. (And another third keep tuition very cheap—less than $2,400 a year.) The farther away you get from the United States, the more baffling it looks.
This back-to-school season, The Atlantic is investigating a classic American mystery: Why does college cost so much? And is it worth it?
At first, like the 19th-century writer of yore, I wanted to blame the curdled indulgences of campus life: fancy dormitories, climbing walls, lazy rivers, dining halls with open-fire-pit grills. And most of all—college sports. Certainly sports deserved blame.
On first glance, the new international data provide some support for this narrative. The U.S. ranks No. 1 in the world for spending on student-welfare services such as housing, meals, health care, and transportation, a category of spending that the OECD lumps together under “ancillary services.” All in all, American taxpayers and families spend about $3,370 on these services per student—more than three times the average for the developed world. One reason for this difference is that American college students are far more likely to live away from home. And living away from home is expensive, with or without a lazy river. Experts say that campuses in Canada and Europe tend to have fewer dormitories and dining halls than campuses in the U.S. “The bundle of services that an American university provides and what a French university provides are very different,” says David Feldman, an economist focused on education at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “Reasonable people can argue about whether American universities should have these kind of services, but the fact that we do does not mark American universities as inherently inefficient. It marks them as different.” READ MORE:https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/09/why-is-college-so-expensive-in-america/569884/