Eric Clapton and Van Morrison Have Their Oh, Hello Moment With ‘The Rebels’

The rock deities, who enjoyed making an anti-lockdown jam last year and now go by Slowhand & Van, have released a music video for their track “The Rebels,” which appears on Morrison’s new album, Latest Record Project Volume I. icons George St. Anyone? Eric Clapton and Van Morrison would love to see you and transport you all back to 1964. Hello, rebels? If you close your eyes and let the blues-rock riffs wash over you, it’s almost as if non-U.K. R-E-B-E-L-S? Geegland and Gil Faizon penned the lyrics for these fellow ornery septuagenarians, who lament that rebels are “hiding behind computer screens” and have no “spirit” or “soul” anymore. Do we need to spell it for you? (Yes, true fans will know that the Oh, Hello boys are obsessed with Steely Dan, but we think the comparison still stands.) Okay … we need to listen to “Cocaine” after this …

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Tags: Are you out there?

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Other Nerds Join Our Craig Jenkins in Being Recognized by Pulitzer

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by New York Magazine and Wikipedia

Not to brag, but we’re totally bragging. Cohen of The Boston GlobeLee Hockstader of The Washington Post

Editorial Cartooning (no award given)Ken Fisher, drawing as Ruben Bolling, for “Tom the Dancing Bug,” Andrews McMeel SyndicateLalo Alcaraz, Andrews McMeel SyndicateMarty Two Bulls Sr., freelance cartoonist

Breaking News PhotographyPhotography Staff of Associated PressHassan Ammar, Hussein Malla and Felipe Dana of Associated PressJoshua Irwandi, freelance photographer, National Geographic

Feature PhotographyEmilio Morenatti of Associated PressStaff of Getty ImagesTyler Hicks of The New York Times

Audio ReportingLisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public RadioStaff of National Public RadioStaffs of the Invisible Institute, Chicago; The Intercept and Topic Studios

Books, Drama & Music

FictionThe Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich (Harper)A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth, by Daniel Mason (Little, Brown and Company)Telephone, by Percival Everett (Graywolf Press)

DramaThe Hot Wing King, by Katori HallCircle Jerk, by Michael Breslin and Patrick FoleyStew, by Zora Howard

HistoryFranchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, by Marcia Chatelain (Liveright/Norton)The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. Investigative ReportingMatt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy of The Boston GlobeDake Kang and the Staff of Associated PressMargie Mason and Robin McDowell of Associated Press

Explanatory ReportingEd Yong of The AtlanticAndrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts of ReutersMegha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News, New York

Local Reporting Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay TimesJack Dolan and Brittny Mejia of the Los Angeles TimesStaff of The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C. Winners and Finalists

Journalism

Public ServiceThe New York TimesProPublicaThe Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky. The annual awards recognize achievement in journalism, books, drama, and music. National ReportingStaffs of The Marshall Project; AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, ChicagoStaff of The New York TimesStaff of The Wall Street Journal

International ReportingMegha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News, New YorkBuzzFeed News, New York, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Washington, D.C.Staff of The New York TimesStaff of The Wall Street Journal

Feature WritingNadja Drost, freelance contributor, The California Sunday MagazineMitchell S. Columbia University released the list of the 105th class of Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists on June 11. Jackson, freelance contributor, Runner’s WorldGreg Jaffe of The Washington Post

CommentaryMichael Paul Williams of the Richmond (Va.) Times-DispatchMelinda Henneberger of The Kansas City StarRoy S. Johnson of Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

CriticismWesley Morris of The New York TimesCraig Jenkins of New York MagazineMark Swed of the Los Angeles Times

Editorial WritingRobert Greene of the Los Angeles TimesAlan Wirzbicki and Rachelle G. Vulture and New York’s Craig Jenkins has been named a 2021 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Criticism “for writing on a range of popular topics, including social media, music and comedy, contending with the year’s disarray and exploring how culture and conversation can both flourish and break down online.” The New York Times’ Wesley Morris was named the winner of the category, while the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Swed was also named a finalist. Knopf)Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World, by Amy Stanley (Scribner)

PoetryPostcolonial Love Poem, by Natalie Diaz (Graywolf Press)A Treatise on Stars, by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (New Directions)In the Lateness of the World, by Carolyn Forché (Penguin Press)

General NonfictionWilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, by David Zucchino (Atlantic Monthly Press)Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, by Cathy Park Hong (One World/Random House)Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country, by Sierra Crane Murdoch (Random House)

MusicStride, by Tania León, premiered on February 13, 2020 at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City (Peermusic Classical)Data Lords, by Maria SchneiderPlace, by Ted Hearne

Special Citations

Special Awards and CitationsDarnella Frazier

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Colson Whitehead Wins Second Pulitzer Prize, A Strange Loop Wins for Drama

Aretha Franklin, Fairview Among 2019 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Tags: the United States of America, by Eric Cervini (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West, by Megan Kate Nelson (Scribner)

BiographyThe Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, by the late Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright/Norton)Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, by Heather Clark (Alfred A. Check out the full list of 2021 Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists below. Breaking News ReportingStaff of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn.Helen Branswell, Andrew Joseph and the late Sharon Begley of STAT, Boston, Mass.Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

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And on the 10th Day, Lorde Gave Us Memes

Just 1,455 days after the release of her iconic 2017 record Melodrama, our savior finally offered us what we’ve been craving: a new song, “Solar Power.” Now, reader, it’s been almost four years since we’ve tasted the brilliance located on past hits like “Green Light” or “Homemade Dynamite.” It’s hot girl summer, both here and in New Zealand, and it’s also hot meme summer — so, in honor of Lorde’s resurrection, we’re rounding up the best internet reactions to the song that, let’s be honest, probably, most definitely caused yesterday’s solar eclipse. Lorde) is going to do, it’s *capital, italicize, and bold* leave the girls gagging. The #SolarPower music video is so beautiful. Photo: YouTube

If there’s one thing Miss Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (a.k.a. pic.twitter.com/AV4iwRvNbX— 🌞solar power🌞 (@itslochlan) June 10, 2021

Omg Lorde looks so good in the solar power video 😍 pic.twitter.com/7HjPDGiHob— Rose Dommu (@rosedommu) June 10, 2021

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Lorde’s ‘Solar Power’ Was Inspired by Larry David’s Vacation Home

Tags: pic.twitter.com/HIzgNQaAMr— ✨ (@heyjaeee) June 10, 2021

me eating the sand that lorde danced on in the solar power music video pic.twitter.com/XSy5AUH1va— wiLL (@willfulchaos) June 10, 2021

Lorde releasing Solar Power then immediately taking it down pic.twitter.com/w0cbH5a5OM— Keiley Kaiser (@keileykaiser) June 10, 2021

Thank you, Lorde. Thank you @Lorde ❤️☀️ pic.twitter.com/utowDXQn84— Frank Costa (@feistyfrank) June 10, 2021

Are you wearing the —The Lorde legs? Yeah, I am pic.twitter.com/GEu91Ei1ha— Justin Randall (@imjustinrandall) June 8, 2021

Lorde releasing solar power pic.twitter.com/kbciRJQ6r0— Rose Dommu (@rosedommu) June 10, 2021

me listening me listening to lorde in to lorde in2013 2021 pic.twitter.com/LgkPs1xQUb— bibble anna(rchy)❤️‍🔥 (@dreamdamnation) June 10, 2021

pic.twitter.com/EyEHUketZ1— daniel (@6sanctuary) June 10, 2021

this that Lorde cover everyone was talking about? pic.twitter.com/teLqyusQvq— dia (@twinkologian) June 10, 2021

pic.twitter.com/XWtGKXKwZ6— wolfgang ruth (@itswolfgangruth) June 7, 2021

SHE’S BACK!!!!!!!

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Lorde’s ‘Solar Power’ Was Inspired by Larry David’s Vacation Home

After a few minutes of dripping water all over her bespoke keyboard, Lorde “just put it away and like, had a paddle board, I think.” Days later, when her hair had nearly dried, Lorde left Larry David’s Vineyard retreat and went “into the city to Jack’s,” where the two finished up the song with “all the windows open,” likely to finish the drying process. We had just been for a big swim all day.” Though she does not say explicitly that the Cazzie in question is Cazzie David (the two did chat for Interview in November 2020), I feel confident in my assumption that there are no other Cazzies in the entire world who have big swims with Lorde on Martha’s Vineyard. Lorde explains that she began writing the song while “on Martha’s Vineyard with my good friend Cazzie, staying at her house. Related

Lorde Has Risen But Only Halfway

Tags: Photo: YouTube

After four lengthy New Zealand years, Lorde finally dropped her long-awaited single “Solar Power” yesterday, as well as an accompanying music video wherein she romps around a beach in a bright-yellow two-piece with a series of dancers who appear to be cheerfully preparing for some kind of human sacrifice (Lorde?). The feather-light song and visuals are a departure for Lorde, who is usually low-key upset about teenagers and human teeth. In a new interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Lorde shared that the song was also influenced on a near-psychic level by three other unlikely sources: cicadas, whose mating calls are sampled on the track; Primal Scream’s “Loaded,” a song she’d never heard before she wrote “Solar Power” with Jack Antonoff, but which she now refers to as the “spiritual forebear” and the “original blueprint” for the single; and Larry David’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. Lorde, famously, has a lot of hair; after a “big swim” in saltwater, her head must be incredibly heavy. Yes, that’s a cucumber bong. In other words, Lorde wrote this song while in some kind of non-insignificant pain. I also feel confident in my assumption that the house in question is not Cazzie’s own, but rather, the home of her father Larry, an irascible comedian whom the Martha’s Vineyard Times has recently described as a “longtime Vineyard seasonal resident.”

Lorde goes on to explain that after her big swim, “My hair was wet, and when I came back into my room, I had made a little Yamaha DX keyboard, and I just started singing and kind of figuring this thing out.” You may be wondering why Lorde felt the need to share that her hair was wet, but this fact is actually quite pertinent to the story. In this new, butt-cheek-forward era, however, she appears to be channeling the ambient energy of Ari Aster’s Midsommar, Sheryl Crowe’s early aughts discography, George Michael’s “Freedom,” Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, Lord of the Flies, Godspell, Danny Boyle’s The Beach, Gaspar Noe’s Climax, Supergoop sunscreen, A Tribe Called Quest, Survivor, Hair, Lost, Robert De Niro doing yoga in Central Park in The Intern, The Bible, and the Free People catalogue that they mail you every month even if you don’t order it.

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We Finally Have New SZA and It’s Thanks to the Space Jam 2 Soundtrack

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Tags: The highly anticipated Space Jam sequel starring LeBron James, Don Cheadle, and the Looney Tunes gang opens in theaters on Friday, July 16, and will be available on HBO Max for 31 days. Another collaboration we wouldn’t dare dream of has teamed up for the Space Jam: A New Legacy soundtrack: SAINt JHN and SZA have dropped “Just For Me.” The R&B hitmakers are perfectly matched in the vibey track reminiscent of SZA’s 2018 Black Panther soundtrack addition “All the Stars.” Sooo, SZA hasn’t released a single since 2020’s “Good Days,” though she’s teased the TikTok famous “Bloodstain” and is featured on Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More.” Space Jam: A New Legacy’s official soundtrack also includes Lil Uzi Vert’s “Pump Up the Jam,” Cordae and Duckwrth’s “Settle the Score,” and “We Win” by Lil Baby and Kirk Franklin, produced by Just Blaze. See? Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

We don’t want to speak too soon, but when are we getting an oral history of the Space Jam soundtrack? Listen to the soundtrack when it drops on July 9. SZA and SAINt JHN. This is someone’s King Lear.

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Polo G Collabs With Nicki Minaj and Inducts Her Into His New Hall of Fame Album

The two artists have dropped their first collab, “For the Love of New York,” which dropped on June 11 along with 19 other tracks on Polo G’s third album, Hall of Fame. “I’d rather physical, emotional’s the worst pain,” she says in her verse, closing out the song by warning, “This is toxic, don’t act like it’s normal.” She’s one of a dozen artists who feature on the album, which is composed of half solo tracks and half featuring tracks. Though Polo G is a Chicago native, the track is about a girl from New York who could have his heart if he “wasn’t so heartless.” So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Nicki, who proudly reps Queens, agreed to provide the perspective of the other side of the relationship. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

They might be rapping about a failing relationship, but the love between Polo G and Nicki Minaj is all real. The other inductees into Polo G’s personal hall of fame are the Kid LAROI, Lil Durk, Lil Wayne, Scorey, G Herbo, Rod Wave, DaBaby, Young Thug, Roddy Ricch, Pop Smoke, and Fivio Foreign. Related

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Tags: Check out the full track list below.

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Love, Victor Recap: The Truth Will Set You Free

So yeah … we won’t be taking any questions at this time,” he says with a laugh before getting down, grabbing Benji’s hand, sharing their first public kiss, and walking down the hallway together. To illustrate how his own parents didn’t always accept his coming out, Benji tells Victor about the time his dad tricked him into going to a strip club and paid a female stripper to give him a lap dance. I just want to make sure that that’s something that … you want,” she says before an agitated Victor retorts, “It is,” and walks out. Email

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google
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Terms of Service apply. “Do you want to know why I’m so upset? (Part of me thinks Victor wouldn’t be the only person who would miss Felix … and I have a feeling Pilar may have a little crush on Felix now. Instead, Victor — who still isn’t ready to come out publicly — steps in and shoves the rumor-spreading teammate, causing a commotion that results in a call to his parents. (Cimino and George Sear have always had a magnetic onscreen connection, but with Victor and Benji at a new stage of their relationship, their chemistry still feels a little too toothless and will likely leave viewers wanting more. Benji tells an incredulous Victor that he ended up giving the stripper a nice tip, told her he was gay, and marched out immediately after telling his dad that nothing was ever going to change who he was. And it’s also not her fault that we broke up. I don’t want it to be a secret anymore because I’m happy about it — like really, really happy. “You’ve been a good friend to my brother, and if you can’t pay rent and had to move out, he’d really miss you,” she tells him in an unexpected but moving heart-to-heart. That prompts one of his teammates to start a nasty rumor on Creek Secrets, the school’s gossip website, that Mia had cheated on Victor and undergone a “bizarre s’mores sex ritual” at camp. We’ll tell the school when you’re ready, okay?” Benji says, when Victor bashfully asks him not to give up on him. In an attempt to get her brother’s friend to open up, Pilar says she goes outside to escape the tension between Victor and their parents and subtly asks what Felix is escaping. “So not that it’s anyone’s business, but Mia didn’t cheat on me. Although Isabel says she doesn’t “want to air our family’s dirty laundry in front of a group of strangers,” Armando insists that something needs to change because Victor is growing apart from them. • After exchanging numbers with Tyler, Mia says she is “over the high-school drama,” but I am particularly interested to see how her relationship evolves with Victor now that he has come out publicly. Feeling as if he can’t even talk to his girlfriend, Lake, about his financial struggles, Felix confides in Pilar that he and his mother are $200 short on their rent because she stopped going to work and lost her job owing to her manic depression. After spending most of his morning trying to find the perfect “coming outfit,” Victor is stopped on his way out the door by Isabel, who acknowledges that things haven’t been the same between them for a few months and reiterates that she loves him so much. Mark my words.)

The next morning, after having another unsuccessful confrontation with Mia, Victor decides to rip off the Band-Aid and come out to the entire school while standing on a chair in the middle of the hallway, making it feel almost like a press conference. As the season progresses and Victor and Benji’s relationship is tested, this connection will need to improve to make this love they have more believable — or it will fall as flat as Victor’s recent conversations with Mia.)

Meanwhile, back at the apartment complex, Pilar finds Felix doing his homework outside in the near dark. Seeing them grow back together — or further apart — will be a gripping cornerstone of this season.)

Later that night, Mia finds herself the plus-one of her high-achieving father at a university gala, where she meets a college freshman named Tyler (Daniel Croix). So when she tells him about “how unkind kids can be in high school when you’re … different,” Isabel thinks she’s doing Victor a favor, when she’s actually getting into his head. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. It’s not anyone’s fault. Maybe one day I can inspire someone to be themselves — the same way you inspired me.” As Victor and Benji walk down the hall, the camera focuses on a student named Rahim (Anthony Keyvan), who is a friend of Pilar’s and will play a major part in the rest of the season. When he meets Benji at his locker later that morning, Victor insists that he’s not stressed about telling everyone, but things fall flat the minute he tries to have his first conversation with Mia in months. “Victor, I don’t think I could give up on you … even if I wanted to. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! People are gonna hear your name — it’s the first thing they’re gonna think about. • In his latest message to Simon, Victor says, “To be honest, I don’t know how people are gonna react, and I don’t care. Tags: The truth is … I’m gay, and I’m with Benji now. To her credit, Mia — who was driven to school for the first time by a newly licensed Lake in a ride that “felt like Ford v Ferrari” — tries to take the high road, insisting “the sooner that everyone knows that Victor is with Benji, the sooner we can move past it.” But when Victor’s basketball teammates confront him about his rose-colored relationship with Mia, Victor says they broke up because … they couldn’t make it work long-distance over FaceTime. Armando and Isabel are dismayed to hear what happened, but they blame Victor’s behavior on their separation and not on his decision to come out, which only angers their son more. What he doesn’t immediately realize is that Pilar knows about his overdue rent because she inadvertently walked in on a conversation between him and his landlord earlier that morning. Without any hesitation, Pilar selflessly offers to lend him the money she earned selling mall pretzels during the summer. (We have seen this scene in so many coming-out stories over the years, but there’s something heartbreakingly honest about the way Michael Cimino and Ana Ortiz go toe-to-toe in this scene between the lines of dialogue because there’s so much that both of their characters aren’t ready to unpack. Love, Victor
Day One, Take Two

Season 2

Episode 2

Editor’s Rating

3 stars

***

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Photo: Michael Desmond/Hulu

It’s Victor’s second first day of school at Creekwood High, and he’s ready to tell everyone the truth — or so he thinks. Creek Secrets:

• While Victor is coming out to the rest of the school, Armando tells Isabel that he found a support group for parents with gay kids called PFLAG. “And once you start telling people, you know you can’t take it back. I don’t think she can stay mad at him forever, but that “You’re not my boyfriend … anymore” line felt really cold. You taught me everything I know about being brave, and who knows? With her dad once again prioritizing his work over her, Mia, pretending to be a college freshman, joins Tyler and two of his roommates for a night of wine and cheese and ranting about Victor, all while ignoring texts from the guy in question. When the same slimy teammate tries to slut-shame her during lunch, Mia is tempted to tell the truth about the breakup, but she (thankfully) decides not to out Victor. [It] is because all day, I could hear your voice in my head begging me to not tell anyone that I was gay,” Victor says to his mom before ultimately storming out when she can’t bring herself to say she supports his being gay. When his attempts to reconcile with Mia go unanswered, Victor decides to come clean to Benji while cleaning up for the night at Brasswood, explaining that he was embarrassed for letting his mom get into his head.

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Valentina Steals In the Heights With Just One Line

I remember thinking, How is this even possible to have this kind of production? girl, and I’m up and down being driven around like Miss Daisy on Lyfts and Ubers. Valentina! To go from doing a live musical to a film musical was like, Okay, I need to utilize all these training skills that I’ve learned in school for performing arts and all this training I got from Rent. I hope out of this comes nominations so we do have that representation, and we do have those awards, and we do get the spotlight — not just for a simple little moment but for more movies like this. Obviously, I’m a Latina and I love anything that’s Latino. I had an exchange with Jon Chu on Instagram. Latinas really rely on glamour, on their hoops, on their hairstyles. The director of the movie really wants you. It was so much fun. Supporting each other always, we have this secret like, “Keep going sister. For me, Latina glamour is very specific, and to have been part of a scene that has to do with glamour and beauty, I’m like, Right on! In your scene, you and Dascha Polanco work a lot off each other. All the dancers, I guess, had done these camps where they learned the choreography and had been practicing. I’m excited knowing I got to be a part of something for our cultura that’s so special. I can’t even imagine getting around by myself the way my friends that live in New York do; it’s just a whole other world. I was learning it from the choreographers, who were super-patient and lovely with me in the moment. In a call with Vulture, Valentina opened up about her excitement to be part of what is essentially the musical Avengers: Infinity War of Hollywood’s Latinos, the full fantasy that salons create, feeling validated as a nonbinary performer beyond her drag persona, and more. The idea of getting that level of budget and glamour, and for someone so major as a director — to be able to work with him takes me back to when I was a part of working on RuPaul’s show AJ and the Queen. Me, as a Mexican, being part of this production, it makes me feel really seen to be a part of something that’s for us. Then to develop it where we can kiki like homegirls and support each other as Latinos, it’s really sweet. Had you seen Crazy Rich Asians? A lot of my life consists of getting ready and getting done up. New York’s train system is super-intimidating to me. Just to know that Jon Chu thought of me was really sweet and special. What was that like? Since then, we’re always super-lovey to one another whenever we interact online. I did. When it comes to Dascha, I really got a full taste of her energy. He was like, “I was thinking a lot about it, and why don’t we just put you as Valentina, as herself?” I was like, “Oh, I love that.” It’s so validating to feel acknowledged for this persona and this name that I’ve built under Valentina. and the other half was, Yeah, bitch, you better learn it quick. You better hold yourself accountable. On top of that, a Latina salon. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

It’s her! I really got to be in the presence of a star when I got to work with her. Would you want to do this?” I was like, “Absolutely.” The idea of going from doing Rent, playing the role of Angel, going from a live musical to a film musical, was — oh my goodness, the perfect way to keep developing my skills in that realm. And how was it when you finally showed up to set? You’re finding out all the secrets to how everything works — the lighting, the PAs, the craft services. Your one line deals with complaining about Daniela and Carla’s salon moving out of Washington Heights to the Bronx and now having to take a train. Related

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Ramshackle Dreams Make In the Heights a Believable Fairytale

Tags: How familiar were you with the musical before shooting, and did you do anything special to prepare? You better be a professional and learn it in the moment! I was honored because I did hear that everybody in it was Latino. Just luxury and so much detail. They were like, “We’re going to allow you to do your own makeup,” which is something I love to do. That was a kiki. I learned so much being in the chair with her doing my hair. It’s a perfect fit that finds her alongside the other salon divas for “No Me Diga,” the musical’s upbeat number that centers on the neighborhood ladies kiki-ing about the chisme making its way around the block. Here, you aren’t. How did you first get involved with In the Heights? What I really love about the movie is the way they cast it; they wanted it to be inclusive for all Latinos. I knew ahead of time we were doing “No Me Diga,” so I was just listening to it before I went. If I could only choose one scene to be in in the movie, it’s this one, because that is my world. So I got in there with all the lead actresses — we’re in the same trailer, and they obviously had the makeup artists and I had my big ol’ setup of all the makeup that I use set out, painting my makeup and kiki-ing. I’m an L.A. That’s so great to hear, especially considering this all takes place in a salon, a space where so many people on the gender spectrum can feel at home. As as nonbinary person, to find myself in a position where I get to present myself much more truthful of who I really am and find power in my everyday self as a nonbinary person … to just feel seen beyond the character of Valentina felt very rewarding and refreshing. That woman is so charismatic; charisma just oozes out of her pores. I’m moving around, not necessarily being a character or persona but supporting the main actors and being in a chair while Dascha Polanco does my hair. So I’m going to have to be honest and say I had no clue. What was that like? I see you!” I can only dream of being able to work with her again. The director of Sex and the City [Michael Patrick King] was like, “I needed you here.” Getting to be part of this career where these huge directors are like, “Hey, I’m interested in you,” it’s amazing. I had obviously come off Rent, which was this super-major production where the pressure was super-high. I feel like the Latino narrative has been a little bit silent, just seeing the nominations recently for awards shows and the lack of Latino representation. We were just talking about the ending credits. What do you hope this movie achieves for Latinos in entertainment? I knew Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, but [my] song I had to learn pretty quick. I was only in one number, but it was all happening so fast. Mm-hmm! She might only have one line of dialogue in one scene of the movie musical, but the former Drag Race Miss Congeniality makes her time count. It was two days of filming for me. I really wish [for] this movie to be super-iconic, because I already see it that way. I’m born and raised in L.A., so public transit here is not as developed. It was such an artistic challenge that half my body was like, Oh, fuck! My management reached out to me and was like, “Hey, they want you in this movie In the Heights. With the director of Crazy Rich Asians and then to be in a Latino musical, to me it was just the opportunity of a lifetime. It just felt like everything I’d ever worked for. Having recently come off her performance as Angel in the televised musical Rent: Live, her In the Heights role gave her the opportunity to further her multi-hyphenate skills — all the while getting to experience the true glamour of a major studio film. I felt special knowing I can be a part of this industry beyond just being in the wig and being the Valentina persona. Anything that’s Latino I’m all about. When I first arrived, people know the diva! It was so much fun. It was just an overwhelming amount of glamour, joy, production, movie, Hollywood. So much of me wants many more moments like that, because it’s really the whole fantasy when you’re in a studio and it’s a set. This week, the 30-year-old entertainer makes her film debut with In the Heights, looking gorgeous as ever decked out in golden hoop earrings, orange diva shades, and thigh-high boots. I was really nervous, having no real clue of what was really going to go down but being completely open and available to whatever. All that kind of lifestyle of being on set — lights, camera, action — I live! In other roles we’ve seen you in, you’re in the full Valentina glam with the wig and everything. Being surrounded by her energy was such a reward. Did you have any actual context to this New York City geography? My role isn’t too big, but it takes place in the salon, and the whole community gets there and they kiki about the gossip of the neighborhood. I need to apply them right now! This movie is really going to help boost us up, cheer us on — it’s going to lift us up. It’s so validating, especially somebody like me as a nonbinary person — we don’t really have too much representation.

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Love, Victor Is Maturing Into a Better, Messier Version of Itself

As you might expect, Rahim and Victor’s friendship quickly develops more than just friendly frisson. The first season built its whole story line around Victor’s coming out, which, in terms of depictions of gay characters, isn’t exactly new material. Here, Love, Victor avoids tidy resolutions. (If the teens do indeed love Ford v Ferrari, please tell me, I would love that.)

The show’s creaky dialogue comes part and parcel with a lot of its other more generic impulses. He suffers from Young Adult TV Show Dialogue Syndrome, where he talks far more like a 30-something TV writer than a teenager, making references to Blackpink and his attraction to Tom Holland that feel very “How do you do, fellow teens?” Victor’s straight friend Lake (Bebe Wood) has it worse: At one point she makes a joke about Gen Z’s favorite film, Ford v Ferrari. It’s a show that seems to be in conversation with itself about the best way to tell its own story, how gay to be, how much to risk alienating a wider audience, and how much to appease them, just as its lead character is making those same calculations. Baby steps!) Yes, his parents’ dynamic gets even more complicated, though not in a plot involving adultery, but because they end up having wildly different abilities to cope with their son’s coming out. Yes, Victor does finally get to have sex, just as a newly out 17-year-old would. The cast is uniformly symmetrical, clean cut, with makeup and hairstyling that ensures they’re almost boringly attractive. What I didn’t expect was that the show would be upfront about the actual mechanics of gay sex, so accustomed have I become to gay characters who live in a miraculous universe where body parts do not chafe. In its framing, the show’s depiction of Victor’s coming out pushed against Love, Simon’s “Aw, wouldn’t it be nice to have Jennifer Garner as a supportive mom?” story line, giving him a more complicated relationship with his parents, and considering differences of race and class — but lightly, and in soft focus. There are guys on his basketball team who aren’t comfortable showering with him, and no, they don’t all suddenly learn their lesson in a single episode. While the season expands its depiction of coming out as a gay man, Love, Victor has little to say about trans or gender nonconforming queer experiences. Victor only experiments with kissing, and the season slowly builds to the moment he tells his parents he’s gay, as if the show couldn’t contain whatever complications would follow. Love, Victor has gotten better at not pulling its punches, and allowing viewers to sit with the mess that arises over those desires. In concept, it’s great to see a queer person of color as flamboyant as Rahim be a primary love interest, though he often feels like more of a character sketch than full person. Like a teen still trying to please his parents, the first version of Love, Victor looked as if it had buttoned up to survive its own production history: The first season was written and shot for Disney+, but then shuffled off to the more adult Hulu before it aired. Later in the season, the show introduces Rahim, a gay student from an Iranian Muslim family, who is more outwardly effeminate than Victor or Benji. That’s a worthwhile niche — the kids should have an approachable way to learn about coming out — but the more compelling parts of the season arise when it gets less didactic, and when Victor isn’t just a cipher through which to depict A Gay Teen, but kind of a mess of a person. So I was about as shocked as Victor, the show’s chirpy, newly out high-school protagonist, when he notices a squishy plastic cylinder lying on top of his more experienced boyfriend’s wallet when they go off to a cabin for the weekend. Illustration: Michael Desmond/ HULU

Note: There are light spoilers for Love, Victor season two below. But otherwise, Love, Victor tended to color within the lines in season one. While Isabel clams up around Benji, she’s charmed by Rahim’s knack for talking about home décor and enthusiasm for her memories of singing “Suddenly, Seymour” in high school. His relationship with his parents is more told than seen. Like the Nick Robinson–starring movie Love, Simon that preceded it, Love, Victor traded in neat, bright colors, and teachable moments, this time grafted onto the character of Victor, played by Michael Cimino, a younger student attending the same school as the movie’s protagonist (who regularly pops up in the show as Victor’s mentor in his coming-out journey). Last year, the creators told me that was a “collective decision,” because they wanted “to do a show where 16-year-olds were behaving like 16-year-olds do,” which wasn’t the right fit for Disney’s kid–and–Baby Yoda–focused platform, though Disney+ was reportedly not happy about all the things that made Love, Victor’s first season interesting: “alcohol use, marital issues, and sexual exploration.” (Never mind that the sexual exploration on the show happened more among the straights.) Even if the creators insisted that the first season was what they wanted to make, when it came out on Hulu, you could still sense how the show was written for a Disney+ audience, which is to say, one younger and less familiar with gay worlds. Even as I tried to retain some critical distance, I had to put off watching the finale for a few days because I was so worried about him hurting either Benji or Rahim. Even as the show’s storytelling acumen grows in this season, though, it still does trip on old habits. It would be wrong, however, to attribute Love, Victor’s improvement just to the fact that it can be more explicit now than it could when it was being conceived as a Disney product. Victor’s nervous, his boyfriend doesn’t realize, some misunderstandings ensue, and then, eventually, get resolved — which, not to spoil an obvious but satisfying arc, does happen. His relationship with his boyfriend Benji gets into shaky territory when he worries that he isn’t gay enough for Benji’s friends, and because Benji doesn’t get why Victor keeps trying to appease his mother, who refuses to acknowledge much about her son’s sexuality, or his boyfriend. It’s almost as if it aligns with some broader conclusion, that to tell a gay teen’s story well you do have push past the conventions of typical young-adult stories. There are no easy solutions between Isabel and her son. So I was heartened, this season, when both Victor and the show chose to be more daring. These story lines are all the better for acknowledging how much a teenager’s coming out is entangled with his sexual desires, and the way that might make those around him uncomfortable. One thing I did not expect to see in the second season of Love, Victor was a bottle of lube. Also, characters use Grindr, though not by name — it’s referred to as “one of those apps, you know which one” and it makes that one notification sound that will trigger a Pavlovian response if you do indeed know which one. That mess is what’s at the heart of this season’s main conflict, between Victor and his mother Isabel, played with quiet grace by Ana Ortiz, and it’s here that Love, Victor finds its best material. She and Victor have always been close, but she’s also deeply involved in her church, and slow to unlearn what she has been taught. By the end of the season, my concern for his well-being caught me by surprise. The needle-drops include a lot of lovely but forgettable synth pop — at one point, as all teen shows must, Love, Victor deploys a version of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.”

Even while becoming more adult on Hulu, Love, Victor is still, I imagine, aiming for an audience younger than, say, that of HBOMax’s more provocative (but also less emotionally engaging) Genera+ion, and certainly than HBO’s Euphoria. Around its edges, you could glimpse a more interesting, messier show: There was an episode where Victor ran off to New York to see some real gay city life, the breakup of his parents’ marriage over adultery, and a scene where his love interest Benji admits to drinking and driving. Love, Victor is a pathbreaking YA show in its choice of main character, but it still exhibits an urge to fit in with its peers, especially some of the lighter teen-drama fare you might find on basic cable. There’s a lot of believable tension there — Victor and Benji have a history, Victor and Rahim can relate to each other better about their families — though things can end up feeling schematic. Being a big-studio movie about a gay teen, Love, Simon burdened itself with providing neat lessons about coming out in a way that could rankle, and even though it’s grown into specificity, Love, Victor can similarly feel as if it’s trying to tutor its audiences. In its first season, Love, Victor was more of a frictionless enterprise, too. You have to include the sex, the trips to gay bars, the drinking, the Grindr, the strained feelings with some people you love, and the thrilling sparks of new feelings with people you didn’t expect too — and, yes, you have to include the lube. The show, thankfully, doesn’t let her priest off the hook, nor does it have a moment where Victor bends to accommodate her faith. Watching the show’s second season, which dropped in full today, it’s a surprise and a relief to see Love, Victor embrace the possibilities of being on Hulu. It’s a smart, believable paradox of parental acceptance. Tags: It could be didactic, with lectures from Simon to Victor from afar, and yet vague about anything to do with sexual longing, which is, after all, a key aspect of coming out. (Though when it happens for Victor, there isn’t actually a shot of anyone reaching for the lube. And yes, there are a lot more scenes where teens drink alcohol, which does add to the realism. Victor, 14 episodes into the YA series, is still a virgin, and the episode’s called “The Sex Cabin,” so I assumed I could guess the contours of the episode from there. And yet all the contradictions within Love, Victor make it a fascinating show to watch, purely on a meta level. The second season, by contrast, can explore the narrative potential of just living with a main character who is an out teen.

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Doja Cat Has a Hot Alien Summer in the ‘Need to Know’ Music Video

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Tags: Unafraid to get freaky, the music video for her new single, “Need to Know,” takes place on a night out … in space. At this rate, Doja Cat songs will be playing on the moon. But don’t worry, hoe-tivities are the same no matter the planet. The otherworldly Grimes co-stars as one of Doja Cat’s alien BFFs, so we’re assuming this takes place in a future where Elon Musk figures out the whole Mars thing. “Need to Know” — a Dr. Luke production — follows up her lead single “Kiss Me More,” featuring SZA. Both visuals feature Doja Cat playing video games, a nod to literally everyone’s pandemic pastime. We’re going out and Doja Cat is coming with when Planet Her drops June 25. We won’t sit here and act like the livestream of Doja playing Little Nightmares didn’t get us through. Not anymore. (The video also features actress Ryan Destiny, in another stroke of casting brilliance.) Doja Cat’s interplanetary exploration comes with the impending arrival of her third studio album, Planet Her.

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Sleater-Kinney Is Whatever Sleater-Kinney Says It Is

The classic lineup is a useful sorting mechanism. Photo: YouTube

Rock fans put a lot of stock in the concept of the “classic lineup,” that one world-beating arrangement of personnel responsible for a band’s most beloved output. Without a guide, we’re adrift, paddling without a rudder in the oceanic expanse of the still-growing Prince catalogue, unsure which Bowie years were most golden, smothering in Bob Dylan’s back pages. On 2019’s The Center Won’t Hold, the band embraced breezier sounds and brighter hooks, warm atmospherics and chilly electronics. To hear the band tell it, they had to escape the burden of expectations to please themselves and keep moving forward. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs; stick “Can I Go On” or “Reach Out” on anyone else’s album, and their airtight riffs and chest-beating gang vocals are a win. On the inside looking out, though, Sleater-Kinney is whatever Sleater-Kinney says it is. “Sometimes it seemed like the reaction to The Center Won’t Hold was more about us refusing to conform to a codified and static version of ourselves,” Brownstein told Vuture last month about the reception of The Center Won’t Hold and the intentions behind its follow-up, this month’s Path of Wellness. Sometimes, rock canon and the accepted wisdom about the moment where a band or artist peaked fosters a limiting notion of what musicians are capable of. It can do a disservice to a long, strange, unpredictable journey. Sleater-Kinney turned to music for respite from the political strife outside and the physical and psychological challenges of a pandemic. The caustic “Complex Female Characters” — a song about an entertainment industry that puts women on display but bristles at giving them agency — serves its message over serene, almost psychedelic grooves, eschewing spite for a simple plea: “Just do them right this time.” Path of Wellness is feel-good music for feel-bad times. If you thought Sleater-Kinney was running on empty, Wellness is Lawyers in Love, a seemingly easy-going but quietly politically potent latter-day highlight that might not please everyone but offers undisputed proof this band can still hang. Fleshing out the sound further are splashes of clavinet, bass, and organ. Path of Wellness is the smooth ride you can only truly appreciate after after a bout of turbulence. It took a few drummers to sync up with Janet Weiss, an autodidact whose stick work was every bit as lean and impressive as the dueling guitar lines overhead. The punk-rock veterans in Washington’s Sleater-Kinney met in a chance encounter during the early ’90s (recalled in loving detail in the coming Audible Original One More Hour, a collection of stories and songs tracking the outfit’s nearly 30-year evolution) at a show featuring Corin Tucker’s Heavens to Betsy — a duo whose 1994 album Calculated is a touchstone of riot grrrl, an important feminist rejoinder to the ’90s punk boys’ club that saw stars like Tucker and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna elevating women’s issues in punk rock, leaving behind seminal records like Bikini Kill’s 1993 album Pussywhipped — and attended by Carrie Brownstein, then a member of her own band, Excuse 17. “If it’s coming for us, darling,” Carrie sings in the late-album highlight “Down the Line,” “take my hand and dance me down the line.”

Here, the dust kicked up in the shakeup that The Center Won’t Hold presented has settled. Sleater-Kinney’s sound beefed up in the aughts, keeping the trio competitive with the popular blues- and garage-rock acts of that time but never conceding to commercial mandates and mainstream trends. When people sing the praises of Fleetwood Mac, they’re admiring the years where Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks showed up, and romantic tensions produced brilliant pop hits (with all due respect to the talents of founder Peter Green and notable players like Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan in the band’s early blues-rock era). It helps to direct listeners to a band’s most essential records. When the band took a decade-long hiatus to pursue other projects, like the Corin Tucker Band and Brownstein and Weiss’s supergroup Wild Flag, and struck back with the still-fierce No Cities to Love in 2015, it seemed Sleater-Kinney could play this way forever. But sometimes, rock canon and the accepted wisdom about the moment where a band or artist peaked fosters a limiting notion of what musicians are capable of. The band that seemed anxious to push itself and its audience in 2019 is just trying to stay alive and maybe have a good time along the way. For ten years, this band didn’t miss, tapping into an endless well of inspiration and never ceasing to come back out with an enticing array of rockers that managed to feel heavy without being heavy, that hit hard employing mixes that were disconcertingly unfussed and bare bones. It can quell excitement for performers who still have a lot to say. To call the album a course correction, though, is to imply that there is a preordained path this band is meant to travel. Related

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Sleater-Kinney’s New Album Was Worth the Gamble

Tags: “How do we face a moment, one that slaps across the cheek?” Corin sings in the closer “Bring Mercy.” “How did we lose our city, rifles running through our streets?” It’s hard to trace the precise point where things went left, but what will save us, in these songs’ estimations, are love, understanding, and companionship. Embellishments that might have jarred an album ago cradle Tucker and Brownstein’s riffs delicately; synth and organ lines creep up unexpectedly and unassumingly; the layers of keyboards in the chugging “Method” make it feel like some lost mid-’70s pub-rock nugget; “High in the Grass” and “Tomorrow’s Grave” revisit the chunky guitar riffs of 2005’s The Woods, while the title track and opener marries the clattering percussion of the last album’s first song to the cat-and-mouse guitar theatrics of the band’s early days. Sleater-Kinney had become something specific in our heads, something mighty but reliable and, as such, maybe a little predictable. Path of Wellness is Sleater-Kinney’s first album without Janet Weiss since 1996’s Call the Doctor, and it flouts the accepted wisdom about what happens to bands when the most beloved lineup changes. Conceptually, Wellness is a commentary on surviving unusual times, born in the midst of a divisive summer in Portland, one where nightly clashes between anti-fascist protesters and the members of the Portland Police Bureau and their admirers made national news, entering the spin cycle in a contentious presidential campaign where the incumbent sought to portray metropolitan America as a source of moral decay (the better to shore up his support with the sometimes affluent suburbanites lining his pockets). Drum duties are handled by a roster of Portland-area musicians including touring percussionist Angie Boylan. Magic happens when chemistry clicks into place. For this band, careful inroads to new wave and soul music were tantamount to apostasy, even if the attentive listener knows these musicians’ outside repertoires include pop-rock tunes, acoustic ballads, math rock, and even the occasional sorta-country song. The two became close gigging around the Pacific Northwest and cemented the bond with Sleater-Kinney, a side project that quickly became a flagship for Corin and Carrie. It wasn’t in the cards, though. The orthodoxy revolted, fearing a hard left turn as news of Weiss’s abrupt departure broke early in the record’s rollout and feeling their apprehension was warranted when they found out Sleater-Kinney had changed the recipe. When we celebrate Pink Floyd, we’re envisioning the years where Roger Waters and Syd Barrett made plush, trippy music about mental breakdowns, not the too-neat, conspicuously well-named, post-Rog ’80s nadir A Momentary Lapse of Reason; we don’t speak of Squeeze, the Velvet Underground album Doug Yule wrote after Lou Reed and John Cale left, the way we salute the proto-punk excellence of White Light/White Heat. The wolves are at our door, and it is imperative that we portray a united front. Three albums in, Sleater-Kinney’s post-hiatus arc has come into greater focus, and the point seems to be to give people the space to surprise you sometimes. As much as Path of Wellness is an examination of the notion hinted at in its title — the sense that we are all on a quest to recover some semblance of joy and peace after one of the worst years in modern history — it’s also about not counting anyone out, about weathering change in stride.

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Stevie Nicks and Maroon 5 Have the ‘Remedy’ for a New Summer Bop

We support at least three of those. We can practically feel the warm energy of a shawl cocooning us while we listen. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

An assorted list of remedies that Adam Levine suggests taking: pills, a little love, parents, memories, “giving no fucks,” and, of course, the majestic vocals of Stevie Nicks. The track appears on the band’s just-released album, JORDI, and also comes days after Nicks’s Fleetwood Mac paramour, Lindsey Buckingham, released a new divorce ballad. Related

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Tags: That’s exactly what you’ll hear in Maroon 5’s new song collaboration with Nicks, “Remedy,” which is a boppy, if not somewhat tragic, ode to wanting to find love in a temperate climate (“Walking in the sun, sun-kissed face / Just like candles in the sun, I’m breaking down”) that also features Devo-esque whip sounds.

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Migos’ Culture III Has Cardi B, Drake, Juice WRLD, and Pop Smoke

Migos
Photo: Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Bless yourself with some culture. The new Migos album is filled with hall of fame levels of talent, from Cardi B to Justin Bieber. The 19-track album boasts a posthumous collab called “Light It Up” with Pop Smoke, who was killed last year. Culture III, that is. Purse collector Drake features on a track called “Having Our Way,” Future gets critical on “Picasso,” and the late Juice WRLD is honored on “Antisocial. “Need It” with NBA Youngboy was previously released, along with “Jane (Birkin),” “Straightenin,” and “Avalanche.” The follow-up to 2018’s Culture II was preceded by solo records from each of los Migos: Quavo Huncho in October 2018, Takeoff’s The Last Rocket that November, and Offset’s Father of Four in 2019. Stock up on hi-hats, big bags, and icy wrists with Culture III below. Related

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Tags: “Feel like Beyoncé with this Birkin,” Cardi B raps in “Type Shit,” “But I’m Rowland with this Kelly.” That’s expensive wordplay.

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Broadway Is Back and Winning Late Night This Week

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Tags: 69 jokes are almost done, but hearing so many in a row was the only way to lessen the blow that the country may not reach herd immunity or free-beer status. If we don’t, then NO ONE gets free beer, which would be a shame. 1. James Corden pulled a chunk off his own set, half of Seth Meyers’s desk pieces now devolve into Wedding Crashers fanfic, and Stephen Colbert is brandishing his comfy slippers on-camera. Of course Lin-Manuel Miranda was involved in the schmaltzy song about renewed faith in the theater. The Daily Show Suggests a New Vaccination Rate for Biden

Vaccination rates in the country are falling, something that every topical late-night show covered in one way or another. I live in Los Angeles, which isn’t quite back yet, and seeing all these showbiz people breathing the same air, unmasked, gave me hope that all sorts of places can be back soon. Beyond the hosts’ general stir-craziness, the main theme of the week was cicadas. If the country reaches 70 percent vaxxed by July 4, we all get free beer. The TikTok bee beef is one of those things that’s so delicious to unpack to anyone not yet informed, and Ruffin served as a surrogate audience for the audience by saying “What?!” at the appropriate moments. interview from her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, and it brought back memories. Photo: YouTube

New York and L.A. 2. It’s the nice thing to do. In the Heights is not gonna promote itself, damnit! Aidy Bryant Recalls Touching a Snake

Aidy Bryant did her Jimmy Kimmel Live! are so close to being “fully open,” whatever that means, and the late-night girlies are LOSING IT! 4. The return of Brood X has the Biblical-apocalypse vibes we’ve come to expect from news ever since 2016. 5. She’s back. Three dumdums claimed immigrant status because they are descended from pilgrims, townies, and Hilaria Baldwin. Everyone performed their part like they were on the verge of tears all day every day, and that makes me proud to be an American. Not only did Bryant bring a giant piece of art with her baby face to the Zoom, she took Jimmy down some weird cul-de-sacs off memory lane. But only The Daily Show had the balls to suggest Joe Biden lower his vaccination-rate goal for the 4th of July. She called the moment her first taste of showbiz, and I can see why you’d want to keep up a lifestyle that lets you pet all the strip-club snakes you want. What TDS suggested was to lower that goal by one percent. Broadway Is Back on The Tonight Show

Yeah, the end of this song made me cry — you wanna fight about it? 10/10 gold-medal work. Or when her family friends, who owned a mom-and-pop strip club, let her pet the strip club’s snake. And Conan O’Brien is bringing live humans to Largo for the last weeks of his TBS show. On her Showtime series, Ziwe reminded us all that no group of people is truly indigenous to America, except the tribes indigenous to America. But when she showed off “The Ruffin” — a gymnastics move where you calmly cross the stage and sip a margarita — the segment became a standout. The Late Show sent a segment producer’s mother to research the little guys, and Seth Meyers came up with a musical during this week’s “A Closer Look” segments that would star Jason Sudeikis as Jason Cicadas. Colbert is chomping at the bit to get back in front of a live audience, counting down the sleeps before he can bask in applause in almost every segment of his show. Samantha Bee will soon be live as well, and she roped Steve Buscemi into helping her prep for the experience. Like the time she got into a fender bender with a purple PT Cruiser. Amber Ruffin Invents a New Gymnastics Move

“Amber Says What” is always a banger, but Ruffin really innovated in the space this week by (1) touching on the bee drama and (2) inventing a new gymnastics move. Ziwe Reminds Us We’re All Immigrants

When the lower third said Pat Regan’s character was named Conor O’Conor, I lol’d. It would be unconscionable for anyone else to be in that role. Well, not so much the song itself as much as the dozens of extras and Broadway luminaries all gathered together on one stage. 3. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jimmy Fallon welcoming back Broadway. But one thing is clear: New York?

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Clairo Rises in the Antonoff Power Rankings With New Album and Song

(Seriously, does Antonoff have his own hype house at this point?) Clairo has already brought the mood down at The Tonight Show last week by performing “Blouse,” a stripped-down guitar song about a lost love, and not, like, failing to use Woolite while washing a top. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Your Gen-Z fave, Clairo, has solar-powered her way into announcing her second album, Sling, by also releasing its gloomy first track, “Blouse.” You’ve perhaps already heard the Massachusetts prodigy’s 2019 breakthrough song “Sofia,” which has been all over the corners of TikTok. Related

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Tags: Pitchfork reports that the album, produced by Jack Antonoff, will be released on July 16 and also feature background vocals from her pal Lorde.

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Lisey’s Story Recap: Your No. 1 Fan

She wants to know when Lisey is coming to see Amanda, who is sliding even further into a catatonic state, looking more emaciated and exhausted than last episode. While this is happening, Amanda is visited by Scott, and she can suddenly move again back in the real world. This interesting development is quickly ignored as Lisey decides she doesn’t want to talk about Scott’s bad past, where they went, and Paul. What do you think Stephen King calls his kookiest fans? They were given the honeymoon suite and directions to a gorgeous tree that they could sit under even in the middle of the harsh weather. Why? • I like the small shovel in the aquarium at Greenlawn that’s a nod to Lisey’s weapon of choice. Now he’s sent Lisey on a fateful Bool Hunt as a final gift. I keep having to remind myself it’s him. One wonders what he considers his personal Boo’ya Moon. It’s not your ordinary abuse, as dad says he has to cut Paul to “let out the bad,” which they call a Blood Bool. They do just that, and Scott tells them that he has visions. And then he turned it up, cutting Paul on the face and threatening to lop off his ear. The gist is that Dooley thinks Scott Landon should have won all the awards, including that Nobel one, and he wants the unpublished manuscripts so that his favorite author will get the credit he deserves. Back in the real(ish) world, Jim Dooley comes back to the Landon homestead. Scott’s dad mutters and goes on in circles about his kids and letting out the bad. He leaves a threatening voice-mail and a timer strapped to a device that lights a barn on fire, pulling the cop from protecting Lisey. • Speaking of King connections, Dooley’s video reveals a few covers that look eerily similar to King book covers. And what does it have to do with Amanda? I wish the show had more interesting visual flourishes like that one. You know there must be a similar name. He writes down his visions and people pay to read them, but they come from a place that he created with his brother, Paul, called Boo’ya Moon, a place they used to escape their abusive father Andrew, and the place in which Amanda is now mentally trapped. He gained some notoriety when he smashed a pie in the face of a man who dared to write a book called The Cult of Landon. (Greenlawn security — not great.) While she’s sobbing at Boo’ya Moon, she’s cutting herself in the real world, carving into her arm: “HELP ME LISEY.” Darla finds her and understandably freaks out. Tags: The scene drags, missing the tension that the show needs to be building at this point in the season. She can’t deal with it. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. • Am I the only one who finds Michael Pitt nearly unrecognizable as the abusive Andrew Landon? One can’t help but feel like this 53-minute episode would have been condensed to about 10 or 11 minutes in the feature film and been more effective. Lisey is there not much later and tries to coax Amanda back to reality with memories and nicknames. After Darla leaves, Lisey goes to the house to look at the files again, and we see Jim Dooley looking out the window like Norman Bates watching his motel. It’s not that easy. In the first layer of flashback under the tree, Scott gets emotional talking about the death of his brother and the response creates water around them. A vicious snowstorm meant that Scott and Lisey were the only people there. No crazy driving scenes yet on Lisey’s Story, but one can dream. Landon’s Prophecy Dying looks a lot like King’s Cujo, and Night Fortress looks reminiscent of Night Watch. Lisey basically lucks into finding the cedar box that her dead husband’s “Bool Hunt” led her to, and it includes photos from the Landon honeymoon at a place called the Antlers Inn. If you’re wondering where you recognize the helpful officer Dan Boeckman from, yes, that’s Sung Kang, better known as Han Lue from the Fast and the Furious movies. Darla and Lisey have an interesting conversation about how Scott turned his refuge from abuse into a home of healing waters in his books, which feels almost confessional from King. Lisey’s Story
Under the Yum-Yum Tree

Season 1

Episode 3

Editor’s Rating

3 stars

***

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Photo: Apple TV+

While it’s beautifully shot and one can’t truly criticize this strong ensemble (except for perhaps Clive Owen’s wavering accent), the third episode of Apple TV+’s Lisey’s Story, adapted by Stephen King from his best-selling novel, succumbs to a common problem of the prestige miniseries: bloat. Scenes drag in a way that doesn’t feel like it enhances mood as much as it just fills a determined eight-episode run time. Lisey Landon senses something is wrong. Scott’s Epilogue

• Han! Email

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Terms of Service apply. Everyone back on that shore shushes Amanda. There’s a heavy focus on Scott Landon’s background and some intense developments with Amanda and Jim Dooley, but it’s almost an episode that could be skipped in terms of narrative momentum, and that’s not a good thing only three chapters into a season. Scott Landon may be gone, but people keep visiting the world he’s created, the one that he and his brother made up. Dad smacked Paul, Scott’s brother, telling Scott that he had to jump to stop the abuse. While they smoke, drink, and chat, Dooley is going through Scott’s boxes. She’s able to walk and even able to get her hands on some scissors. A voice can even be heard over Amanda’s cries that says, “You’re home.”

Lisey comes home and opens a bottle of wine just before Darla arrives, Dooley not far behind her in the yard. Save for a bit of chitchat over wine and cigarettes that ends the episode, King is really turning Darla into a two-dimensional character here, a shame given what Jennifer Jason Leigh is capable of with material that challenges her. Bet it’s a short-story collection. Suddenly, they’re almost on an island, and then transported to a magical place called Sweetheart Hill. It turns out the “Pie of Death” is a bit from a Landon book called Relics, and Lisey finds Dooley’s use of it kind of funny, but the rambling video that follows is less LOL. The key is that Scott and Paul created something called Bool Hunts to entertain each other, the prize usually being something simple like a candy bar. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! The bulk of the episode is a flashback in a flashback as Scott tells Lisey about his awful childhood, starting with an incident in which his father put him in a high window and then took away the ladder, ordering him to jump. Some clunky exposition is literally handed to Lisey in the form of a tablet of information about Jim Dooley. It’s too weird. • Lisey reveals that Scott Landon had a name for his most out-there fans: Deep Space Cowboys. What’s the power there? Lisey Landon is driving home with her trusty shovel and a police escort when her sister Darla calls.

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How the In the Heights Costumes ‘Pulled Right From the Sidewalks’

And we’ve gone from her community, which is inspirational, loud, fun, exciting.” The block is what “lights her up” and not a new apartment in a different part of the city. “We had this whole year where we were denied friends and family for our own health,” Travers notes. Picture

One of the most ambitious sequences is the “Paciencia Y Fe” performance aka “our dream ballet,” which is visually separate from the rest of the movie, and took several weekends to figure out. Travers was not only aware of how beloved this musical is, but also counted himself as a fan of the show and its costume designer, Paul Tazewell (who also designed Hamilton). I had such fun as a costume designer getting to express a similar idea through three very different sets of eyes.”

Vanessa’s Designs

Photo: Macall Polay

Getting into the head of another designer was required when conceiving Vanessa’s 12-piece fashion collection and he worked with actress Melissa Barrera to ensure it felt authentic to this character. Just shy of two years to this date in May, Travers joined Vulture on Zoom to chat about a movie he says “was definitely designed to be big and loud and seen with a bunch of people you don’t know” and he hopes audiences will see it at the movie theater “when they feel ready.” Luckily, it’s coming out under very different circumstances and with a new administration than its original release date, which shifts the perspective. It came from seeing things in the streets. I kept seeing the words NEW YORK everywhere,” he recalls, and Usnavi’s “Nueva York” T-shirt is one prominent example of how he deployed this trend. “We took a light inspiration from Pat herself, just in terms of that risk-taking and the combinations of high and low.” Daniela’s powerhouse status includes a nod to Rosie the Riveter for her biggest musical number and Travers also points out that while this character’s wide-leg leopard print pants felt like a risky move at the time, “of course, now, fashion is all about the big pant.”

Meanwhile, Carla has “much more of an Instagram sensibility” with a Nikita Dragun influence. For a film called In the Heights, this meant encouraging his team to only shop in the heights. “You get to go to work every day and be a part of something that feels much, much bigger than your part of it,” Travers says about the experience and the challenges of envisioning and executing something of this size. The designer approves every costume that goes on camera and is “big on dressing for the face.” Expanding on this, he explains, “We might have a costume that fits, but would this person really wear this? Throughout the film, costume designer Mitchell Travers offers a stylish streetwear vision while balancing the physical challenges and scale of this genre. Chu was heavily involved in this process that is a “collaboration between production design, cinematography, choreography, and costume.” Abuela Claudia’s childhood memories of Cuba and her family immigrating are the reference point for this pivotal number, but instead of a “true representation” of the 1940s, an abstract approach was taken to depict memory: “When you and I think back to our childhood, we might not remember exact details about how our parents dressed, or how the people around us were dressed, but we would remember the way they felt.”

Women wearing hats and gloves and men in a full trouser silhouette helped achieve this distillation of elements. I look around and we’re all here. “It’s always a girl who wants to have an haute couture runway show in Paris. It’s really gorgeous,” says Travers. Not only are there sequences that fill four city blocks with performers and 750 dancers in a swimming pool, but several garments also defy gravity and represent an alternative plane of existence. While he had recently moved to Brooklyn, he ventured up to Washington Heights to capture the significant changes throughout the day. “All of the costumes were the shapes of the ’40s done in various flesh [tones]. “She said, ‘Every other time I’ve been on a set, I have been the only Latina. People are singing and dancing en mass.” Finding the balance between the two was important, “I needed it to have some sort of relevance for a streetwear perspective so that it did feel current and it did feel exciting,” says Travers. It was a powerful day, I’ll remember it for a long time.”

Related

How In the Heights Pulled Off the Big Swimming-Pool Scene

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Photo: Macall Polay

“I could do those costumes for the rest of my life and still find new things to do with them,” Travers said about designing for Daniela (Daphne Rubin-Vega), Carla (Stephanie Beatriz), and Cuca (Dascha Polanco). “You go and spend some time in the neighborhood; it’s busy, it’s loud, it’s pattern, it’s excitement, it’s color, it’s not a subtle place — thank God. Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. We tried to do our best to keep it local,” says Travers. The designer covers walls with images and the director puts a Post-it on anything he lingers on or responds to. “I have a memory of talking to you, when we were shooting at a dry cleaner — I think it got cut from the movie — but I was pacing back and forth and there was horrible traffic noise,” Travers adds, referencing the last time we spoke (he was discussing the Emma Thompson comedy Late Night; his other credits include Eighth Grade, Hustlers, and Jennifer Lopez’s forthcoming Shotgun Wedding). Picture

Working on an adaptation of a mammoth Broadway show is a daunting prospect and one that would result in 135 principal costumes with a whopping additional 2200 for the background actors. That’s not this girl.” Rather than sending models down a runway, her vision would be sportswear-inspired, “This is the girl who wants to open up a boutique, who wants to have her Instagram page; that’s the fashion this girl would be interested in.” Using mixed media and recycled materials such as the pink tape, “it was about taking the remnants of something and pulling them into this new idea.”

Vanessa’s storyline also gives an opportunity to showcase how vibrant and inspirational the Heights is in comparison to where she dreams of living, “When we see downtown, I wanted it to look like a Chase Bank commercial; neutral, boring, flat, uninspiring. “It did feel like these people that I was seeing on the sidewalks.” Starting his research in the neighborhood he resided in for seven years, Travers didn’t have to approach the landscape as an outsider. And so for me, it was like a protest against what it means to be locked into one idea,” says Travers. While he was changing a couple of things on one of the background dancer’s costumes, the conversation captured the transformative experience. It’s all the girls I’ve auditioned with my whole life for the one role. We all got it.” Travers goes on to add, “To feel that energy and passion coming from this room of people just literally leaving it all on the floor — blood, sweat, tears. “And so ultimately, the message about being together and community end up hitting like a ton of bricks.” Here he talks about sartorial inspiration from Washington Heights, adapting a Broadway hit, and how costumes capture the feel-good mood. “Pat is such a fearless risk-taker when it comes to her own personal style and also her body of work is quite fearless,” Travers explains. He considered flesh or skin tone, which is often presented as one “nude” shade (i.e., white) that doesn’t reflect the Latinx community. “I wanted the costumes of the film to have a little bit of reverence for the original Broadway aesthetic, but I also wanted to pull it into our current climate,” says Travers about visualizing the material through a contemporary 2019 lens. “The way he wears his socks is from his grandfather,” Travers recalls. Chu’s big-screen musical is awash with bold print and color to usher in the hot-weather season. “And instead, I really wanted to shine a light and fully celebrate the full spectrum of that range.”

Dancing and Representation

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. “He was sending pictures to his wife, like, ‘I’m so sorry this is who I might end up becoming — this could be a haunting visual from my future.’” Travers has previously worked with Chu and the pair had an established method to visually record their conversations. So while the songs “still have such an enormous impact and are an incredible commentary on the Latinx experience today,” clothing trends have changed over the last decade. “I would find little details I thought were inspirational. And I’m like, well, we’re going to. “When Jon leaves, I get to look back at the wall and trace what captured his attention or what made him dream a little bit,” explains Travers. What if there’s a scene in which you put a floral with a stripe and a camo?” This helped it “look like it might sound.”

In some cases, Usnavi and Vanessa both wear a baseball jersey in the same scene, “to bring characters together and break those traditional costume design rules.” Another example is the same shade of green worn by Nina and Usnavi when they run into each other upon her return. Romance, ambition, and a thriving immigrant community are intrinsic to this story that includes aspiring fashion designer Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) contemplating a downtown relocation, returning college student Nina (Leslie Grace) who longs to be in the warm embrace of the familiar, and the glue who holds them together, Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz). “I want it to feel like echoes,” Chu instructed, and Travers pulled away the color to capture this feeling. There are direct little rips I pulled right from the sidewalks that I felt had a place in our film,” says Travers. Picture

Having also designed the costumes on Hustlers, Travers is “very comfortable dressing a body in motion.” Watching rehearsal videos of the choreography helped with embellishment ideas such as adding fringe to a garment if there is spinning. Dream Ballet

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Set during a heatwave, In the Heights is adapted from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical of the same name with a screenplay written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (who wrote the In the Heights book). She’s coming back to the neighborhood, Usnavi (for us) represents the neighborhood.”

Bringing Washington Heights Alive

Photo: Macall Polay

While it is set in a real place, the musical framework is “a world that isn’t quite reality, it’s heightened. As the temperatures rise in the uptown neighborhood, so does the humidity and hemlines. Picture

Let’s face it: Summer hadn’t officially kicked off until after In the Heights made its long-awaited debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 9 (it arrived in theaters and on HBO Max today, June 10), but Jon M. Rather than worry about delivering timeless looks, Travers would rather “tell the story of what it was like to be us,” and if a stage production was made today “it would be different than when I was doing it two years ago.”

“Talk about pressure, you’re gonna fit Lin for his musical,” Travers says about working alongside Miranda — whom he describes as giving him “the freedom to make it something else and something new.” The designer spoke of Miranda’s excitement during the fitting-room process, whose Piragua Guy costume is infused with references to Miranda’s grandfather. “I initially spoke with Jon about it because we’ve seen the girl who wants to be a fashion designer so many times,” recalls Travers. Breaking Style Rules

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

“As I was designing and coming up with a color palette, and the visual language of the film, I was listening to the music,” says Travers. The neighborhood might be changing, but at its heart, In the Heights is an exuberant expression of dreaming big and honoring your roots. “A costume design 101 is you shouldn’t do that. “I would be shocked if someone on my team didn’t hit every boutique store, thrift store — everything you can imagine. The streetwear-inspired sneakers, bike shorts, and crop top athletic spirit go further than “dress for likes” on social media, “there is heart in it.” Rounding out the trio is Cuca who wears a “head-to-toe [look] Monday through Sunday.” Describing this character as “unbelievably fun to dress,” he explains that if she is wearing a printed dress then her fanny pack, socks, and scrunchie will match. “And in the music, I found this really fun clash between the staccato — that rhythm of the spoken word — mixed in with these beautiful, more classic forms of music.” Mashing up two extremes and breaking costume design rules was in direct reference to how Miranda challenged musical theater norms: “What if there’s a scene in which there’s too much pattern? From Broadway to the Big Screen

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. No.” This “full and complete expression” goes beyond the “Hollywood specific version” of Latina women in the bustling salon and ensures a full spectrum from skin-tight bodycon dresses to basketball shorts paired with a sports bra. This adaptation has added a romantic dynamic between Daniela and Carla, which Travers incorporated in costumes he envisioned Carla had borrowed from Daniela’s closet — “maybe it was a windbreaker she had from 20 years ago; now it’s vintage to  Carla.” One reference point for the salon owner, he says, is Sex and the City designer Patricia Field. “There’s a lot of repetition in the visual language of the movie. Furthermore, it isn’t simply a case of throwing on a pair of jeans and sneakers for the moves choreographer Christopher Scott has conceived: “If someone is running through a fire hydrant and jumping over a taxi, you’re providing ankle support and the ability to land a backflip.”

It isn’t just onscreen that the temperature is cranked up, and Travers describes the dance-heavy nightclub shoot (which took place over two days) as “the hottest I’ve ever been.” However, the heat couldn’t dampen the celebratory mood of this electric sequence. Travers’ favorite salon squad costume moment was creating a weekend nightclub look that resulted in a strong unifying motif: “Three women in jumpsuits — no dresses — just jumpsuits going out. Bodega owner Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos) is considering leaving the tight-knit community for his ancestral Dominican Republic home, while other residents are weighing up their place in this corner of New York City.

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Mythic Quest Recap: Always a Fan

The fight continues at dinner, reaching an apex when C.W. in the backseat — and he says, “Oh, were you talking to me?” Rachel’s puzzled “yes” is pretty funny, too. But it’s just hard for me to believe the idea that Anne was some great love of C.W.’s life, even considering how much his life got derailed. • The writing credit this time goes to Humphrey Ker, who plays tall Paul. Sure, it’s a crush blown up to tragic proportions, but the episode plays it pretty straight when Ginny shows up. wasn’t alone after all in remembering that crazed prediction he made back in 1972. finally decides to confront his past — or, at the very least, flaunt his success and emasculate the guy who got the girl. Anne was on the earth a much shorter time than the other two, but she had a fruitful career and got the attention she deserved. It’s difficult to even slightly empathize with C.W. In a cruel attack, C.W. I suppose it depends on your definition. C.W.’s fame was a flash in the pan, and he faded into obscurity and solitude, only to find a new life as a video-game writer, openly appreciated by only a select few. explained that Anne couldn’t plant the dormant seeds from a slice of lemon at a bar; you need the right seed in the right conditions to blossom. She provides the closure that C.W. calls Peter a “hack” for writing 19 mediocre books in the Hammerfall Cycle and losing his “muse” when Anne died, and Peter rubs in C.W.’s wasted potential following his initial success and his “limp” sequel. Murray Abraham’s talents! Half a century later, looking out on the lemon grove that Anne always dreamed of, C.W. Mythic Quest
Peter

Season 2

Episode 7

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

****

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Photo: Patrick McElhenney

Finally, an episode that really utilizes F. He’s also married to co-creator Megan Ganz. • “Watch out for stobor” is a warning in Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Peter spent his whole life with a woman he knew was better than him at the thing he loved the most, but he was happy with their life and their family — and he eventually enjoyed a modest success with his own series. • Hurt, by the way, is great this whole episode. met as a copy editor in 1972, as depicted in “Backstory!” But the men haven’t spoken in 40 years, because C.W. Abraham has been featured in a limited capacity this season because of COVID-19 precautions, mostly showing up over video calls in small subplots, but finally he gets the showcase he deserves. • The names C.W. Murray Abraham and William Hurt won the Academy Award for Best Actor, one after the other: Abraham won for Amadeus in 1985, and Hurt won for Kiss of the Spider Woman a year later. and Peter still know each other so well, even after all these years, they can uniquely hurt each other in a way C.W.’s co-workers at Mythic Quest can’t. Did those seeds — C.W., Anne, and Peter — ever blossom? When Peter sends an apparently sincere email begging him to visit and hear his apology, though, C.W. All of that makes sense as a realistic motivator for C.W., of course, who’s nothing if not bitter and headstrong. All three of their lives have changed, and all three of them have changed as people. Hurt plays Peter, whom C.W. when he and Anne never had a real relationship to begin with. After C.W. The episode’s weakest moments come whenever Anne is invoked as the main reason for C.W.’s cruelty. The twist, of course, is that Peter didn’t write the email C.W. constantly disparaged him. mistakenly calls Rachel after initially naming her “Calpurnia”: Cassandra, California, and Calamari. But the love they all share for one another is still there. It just doesn’t mesh well with what we saw, and it’s maybe a step too far in terms of grossness. Heinlein. The episode is at its best when Anne is treated less as the third point in a love triangle and more as a kind friend who the two both miss dearly. “To the seeds that blossom,” Anne toasted. C.W. “I’ve always been a fan,” C.W. “Stobor” is “robots” spelled backwards. And he shares the screen with another legend, William Hurt. • The episode opens with its funniest moment: After Rachel’s monologue about how she’s trying to say “yes” more, the camera reveals C.W. That’s not anyone’s fault, and in no way did anybody betray C.W. and Peter finally make up when C.W. Rachel pops up occasionally as C.W.’s sounding board and a welcome source of alarmed reaction shots, a nice nod to the bond the two developed in season one’s “The Convention,” but she and Magda — Peter’s nurse — mostly stay offscreen. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. and Peter; it’s a reunion for the whole tripod, as the memory of Anne is there with them, embodied by the grove. Both characters weaponize each other’s career anxieties; C.W. wheels Peter out to the giant lemon grove that Anne started the day they moved in, and it’s a profoundly peaceful scene. Anne even remembered, years later, that C.W. Email

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Terms of Service apply. says Peter only ever got published as a favor to Anne, wherever she went. has sought for years, sharing the pride that her mother felt for him. comes inside, introduces Rachel as both his driver and his granddaughter, and meets Peter’s nurse Magda, he doesn’t get the apology he’s expecting. snoops in Peter’s desk and finds a manuscript of the 20th Hammerfall book. confesses, and Peter begins to read the final Hammerfall book aloud. Nor does Peter get the apology he’s expecting. I like the way he modulates his voice, really showing how weak and resigned Peter is most of the time. gazing at Ginny as she leaves, the spitting image of her mother, and saying good-bye. C.W. In return, Peter reveals the real reason Ginny tricked the men into reconciling: “I’m dying and my daughter is still young enough to believe that closure exists.” That admission isn’t enough to change the drunken momentum of C.W.’s anger, though, and he drives away with Rachel — only to pass out and wake up back at Peter’s house the next morning. Their relationship never read to me as a tragic romance in “Backstory!,” so it’s a little surprising to see it get so much sudden weight here. Because C.W. actually did end up shitting in Peter’s desk. It’s a nice bit of deserved vindication; C.W. — Anne was just a work crush who was nice to him but never loved him. echoes the same phrase. But I have to admit that I wasn’t moved very deeply by C.W. holds a grudge that Peter “stole the love of [his] life,” and Peter always resented C.W. Tags: once predicted the rise of video games. received; it must’ve been his daughter Ginny, trying to force her dad and his old friend to reconcile. accuses Peter of poisoning Anne against him, and Peter points out how C.W. • Honestly, didn’t love the reveal that C.W. C.W. Wildly Specific Interests

• Maybe the real Nebula was the friends we made along the way! Most of “Peter” unfolds like a play, a day in this mansion where two old men rehash old drama, stubborn in their age-old resentments. for abandoning their “tripod” and skipping Anne’s funeral. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! This isn’t just a reconciliation for C.W. • Both F.

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Love, Victor Season-Premiere Recap: Everything’s Changed

Mia apologizes for never responding and explains that she fruitlessly spent the summer trying to figure out where she fits in the world. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! With Mia returning on Sunday, Lake warns that it’s “hos before homos” — which is just one of the memorable one-liners that Wood delivers in the premiere — and that she will have to side with her best friend when school starts again. Since his mom is planning to make pollo guisado on Saturday, Victor suggests that Benji, Felix, and Lake come over for dinner before the bonfire, which would be a disarming way for Benji to step foot in the Salazar house for the first time since they started dating. Love, Victor
Perfect Summer Bubble

Season 2

Episode 1

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

****

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Photo: Patrick Wymore/ HULU

“Mom, Dad … I’m gay.”

When Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) decided to come out to his parents on the night of his first Spring Fling at Creekwood High School, he let out a major sigh of relief that could be felt as much as it could be heard. Déjame, okay?” she says before walking away from the conversation. • While he does not get as much screen time in the premiere, Adrian briefly steals the show with a one-liner that explains why he doesn’t want a new pet turtle named Heather if she can’t move from one apartment to another. Between making fruit smoothies and mocha lattes at the Brasstown Coffee Company, Victor and Benji — who are in the “perfect summer bubble” of the episode’s title — can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves, resorting to not-so-secret makeout sessions in the back room that are frequently interrupted by their friends (and fellow couple) Felix (Anthony Turpel) and Lake (Bebe Wood). Yet when she arrives, Mia sees the two couples sitting together at a distance and realizes that, as a fifth wheel, there would not be a place for her at the bonfire either, so she turns around and leaves without a word. When Isabel asks if he will ever come to terms with their son’s sexuality, Armando says, without missing a beat, “Of course. But right when you would expect Andrew to say that he fits with her, he reveals that he has been dating a girl named Lucy (Ava Capri) for the past couple of months. “On Monday, we start school, and part of me is so excited to yell from the rooftops that you’re my boyfriend, but there’s another part of me that is completely terrified,” Victor says before Benji reassures him that, as long as they lean on each other, they will be okay. While his younger sister Pilar’s (Isabella Ferreira) first instinct is to hug him and say that she loves him, Victor’s blindsided (and newly separated) parents offer little support besides a pat on the shoulder and a line of questioning that implies Victor decided — one day, out of the blue — to be gay. When Benji brings up the fact that Isabel won’t even tell Victor’s younger brother, Adrian (Mateo Fernandez), that he’s gay, a disappointed Victor says he was able to forgive his mother despite everything that she has put their family through, but now that he has come out, she can barely look at him anymore … and he worries that others might look at him differently too. I mean, you say the word and I will ditch these gays like a corporation after Pride Month,” she says, referring to the history of “rainbow-washing.”

• After returning home from the bonfire, Felix finds his single mother, Dawn (Betsy Brandt), who has manic depression, in a depressive state, and we discover that their rent is overdue. In his end-of-summer update to Simon (Nick Robinson, who reprises his role from the first season and the groundbreaking 2018 film Love, Simon), Victor says that, despite having “kind of the best summer of my life,” things have slowly come to a head with his parents. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. (Sear plays Benji with such a charming calmness, but I can’t help but wonder how him having to guide Victor on his coming-out journey will affect their relationship in the long run.)

Back at the Salazar house, Armando, who is dropping off Adrian for the night, has a tough conversation with Isabel about their indefinite separation — which they think was the right move to break the unfair “cycle of fighting and guilt-tripping” in their marriage — and about Victor being gay. “I didn’t decide it. (Cimino delivers a quiet but heart-wrenching performance in this season opener as Victor struggles to balance his budding relationship with Benji (George Sear) with the need to walk on eggshells around his parents, especially his more traditional mother.)

When the show picks up ten weeks later, not a lot has changed. (I mean, I couldn’t have been the only one who cringed when he said Benji-meister, Benjamin Button, and Ben Benito all in succession and when he called his new place Papi Palace later in the episode.)

But, Victor assures, the summer is not a complete bust. I want to be with you.” (Ouch. He’s my son, and it’s who he is. After seeing Victor and Benji kiss on the sidewalk through the kitchen window, an agitated Isabel decides to throw the entire pot of pollo guisado in the trash, tells Victor and his friends that she burned the chicken, and suggests they go out to get some pizza on her. It’s at this point that the teenagers wisely decide to leave for the bonfire — and not a moment too soon. Mia has had a really rough past couple of months.)

• In the final line of the episode, Victor tells Isabel, “Benji’s my boyfriend, and I’d like you to call him that,” reminding her that this is not just a phase in his coming-of-age. While Mia has insisted in the past that she did not see Andrew as more than an old friend, she is visibly shaken and decides to drive to Lake Lanier after receiving a last-minute invite from Lake. Creek Secrets:

• When Mia and Lake first reconnect at the end of the summer, Lake asks if it’s okay that she has been spending time with Victor and Benji and delivers another one-liner that seems almost too on the nose this Pride Month: “Queens before peens. When she goes to pick up dinner from a local Chinese restaurant, she bumps into Andrew (Mason Gooding), who sent her a mysterious care package while she was at camp. “I already miss you half the time … I don’t want to miss the turtle, too,” he tells his dad. The bonfire, while elevated by the comedic timing of Felix, sets the stage for Victor and Benji’s first onscreen private conversation and shows that the writers — who wrote a sweet but chaste first season for Disney+ before the show was moved to Hulu — will not be shying away from difficult conversations about sexuality this season. I have to … We both do.”

Seeing Armando and Isabel both struggle with Victor’s sexuality in different ways will leave plenty of room for compelling story lines this season, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see that Armando was slightly more accepting of Victor’s sexuality than Isabel, because we have seen the story of a bigoted father too many times in these coming-out stories. On the one hand, Victor’s religious mother, Isabel (Ana Ortiz), knows he is dating Benji, but she always groups him together with the rest of Victor’s friends. What Victor doesn’t anticipate, however, is just how uncomfortable his mom gets when she sees him and Benji acting like a couple. On the other, Victor’s overzealous father, Armando (James Martinez) — who has just gotten a new place of his own and seems really keen to sell the limited amount of light his new living room gets during the day — can’t stop channeling his discomfort into awful nicknames for Benji. Although the second season of Love, Victor picks up immediately where the first one left off, there is not a lot said in the immediate aftermath of Victor’s long-awaited announcement. I just am it,” he says calmly before his parents decide to call it a night, with the promise of talking about it in the morning. After Victor, Benji, and Felix finish one of their last summer shifts at Brasstown, they sit down with Lake at the café and make plans to drive to Lake Lanier on Saturday to have a bonfire. Tags: In fact, Martinez has already played a traditional father struggling with his daughter’s sexuality in the modern-day reboot of One Day at a Time, so it’s refreshing to see him take on a slightly different role this time around. Victor retorts that they should order a pizza for delivery instead, which only exacerbates everyone’s uneasiness. There’s just one complication: Mia (Rachel Hilson), Lake’s best friend and Victor’s ex-girlfriend, who has spent the summer off the grid at a summer camp in Brevard, North Carolina. (Naturally, Armando ended up getting two tanks so that the turtle could live at both apartments.)

• We eventually find out what was in the care package that Andrew sent Mia: an AOC bobblehead, a bag of candy, and a handwritten note that reads, “I miss you. As they wait for the pizza, Victor, Pilar, and Felix all try to sing Benji’s praises — insisting that Benji and Isabel share a common love for music and Billie Holiday — but Isabel reaches her breaking point when Benji calls Victor “my boyfriend.” “Victor, if I don’t feel good, I don’t feel good. Email

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Terms of Service apply. “How am I supposed to be out to all of Creekwood on Monday if I can’t have my boyfriend over for dinner?” Victor says with a doe-eyed and lovey-dovey look. Mia, meanwhile, has returned home from camp a day early and finds her father, Harold (Mekhi Phifer), and his pregnant fiancée, Veronica (Sophia Bush), knee-deep in baby prep. This explains why Felix was asking Victor if he could pick up some extra shifts at Brasstown — he needs the cash to avoid getting evicted. But as Victor comes to realize over the course of his junior year, the journey to coming out — and the perpetual fear of being outed — doesn’t exactly end when you say the two life-changing words you can never take back.

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Stream Maroon 5’s New Album of 1,000 Features, JORDI

“The loss is tragic in ways I’m still learning how to cope with. Madden took a “leave of absence” from the band after being arrested on charges of domestic violence in July of 2020. The album is dedicated to the band’s late manager, Jordan Feldstein, who died in 2017 “from a blockage of an artery in his lungs and a blood clot in his leg,” per Entertainment Weekly. We love you Jordi.”

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Adam Levine, Lead Singer of a Band, Feels Like ‘There Aren’t Any Bands Anymore’

Tags: “I’m proud to have etched his name into the history of this band that he helped build from the ground up … every step of the way. All I can do is keep him with me and honor him in the best way I know how,” Levine posted on Instagram when he revealed the JORDI cover art. brought plenty of friends to play on the album: JORDI features appearances from Megan Thee Stallion, blackbear, Stevie Nicks, Bantu, H.E.R., the late Juice WRLD, the late Nipsey Hussle, YG, Anuel AA, Tainy, Jason Derulo, and … Adam Levine? Levine & Co. Photo: 222/Interscope Records

Behold, the latest effort from the Last Band in America, Maroon 5’s JORDI. How very avant-garde. JORDI is the band’s first album without bassist Mickey Madden. The last track on the deluxe version of the album appears to be Derulo’s, featuring Levine.

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Mark Wahlberg’s Reincarnation Movie Infinite Needs a Few More Lifetimes of Work

But what makes Infinite confounding isn’t the recalling of past lives but what it opts to do with that idea, which is to use it for an off-brand riff on superpowers. Bathurst wants to end the reincarnation cycle by exterminating not only humanity but all life on earth, yet if it’s possible to be reborn as something other than human, none of the characters mentions it. Funny how much reconnecting with your past lives looks like a day in the life of a movie star, as though those are the limits of the imaginations of the major parties involved. Or, you know, you could use those lifetimes to learn how to deflect bullets with a samurai sword, which is what Mark Wahlberg’s character seems to have done in the new movie Infinite. Jason Mantzoukas shows up briefly and gloriously as a character known as the Artisan, who has devoted his Infiniteness to excess, which is indicated by his wearing eye makeup. Related

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Tags: Evan has just been a series of dashing tough guys over the eons, and Tammy and her Infinite lover are a perpetually hetero couple who keep reuniting at Angkor Wat. Infinite begins by explaining its premise via voice-over in blunt, back-of-the-book terms: There are people who can remember everything from their past lives, who call themselves Infinites; some of them, the Believers, work toward the betterment of mankind, while others, the Nihilists, look to end existence as we know it. Mark Wahlberg in Infinite. Infinite barely tries to make sense of its own timeline: A flashback to Heinrich driving desperately through Mexico City, having made off with the movie’s MacGuffin, looks like it takes place in the present day instead of closer to 1970, as Wahlberg’s age would demand. Wahlberg’s character, Evan Michaels, isn’t simply a guy who was born good at everything but just hasn’t figured it out yet; he’s the reincarnation of Heinrich Treadway (Dylan O’Brien), the Infinite who figured out how to unlock parts of his potential that allowed him to do things “that others might call paranormal, superhuman.”

Mostly, though, Infinite feels like a depressing fable about the movie industry. Evan’s journey is mostly one of self-actualization in which he does upside-down crunches and fight training and then undergoes an experimental procedure that resembles nothing so much as an elaborate dermatological treatment. Not the most dignified gambit, but it worked — at least to the point where the material could provide a nominal peg for Fuqua to assemble a string of shoot-outs and physics-free fight sequences so interchangeable they could be made modular and popped into or out of any big-budget action movie. Here, maybe a half-hour in, a character seems to confirm that by delivering, almost word for word, the same description of what’s going on. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film is based on the novel The Reincarnationist Papers. Photo: Peter Mountain/Paramount+

If reincarnation were real, and you were able to somehow hold on to your memories across lifetimes, you would experience an off-kilter version of immortality. As the villain, Bathurst, Chiwetel Ejiofor waterboards himself with gasoline and shouts all of his lines with the zest of an actor who realizes that nothing he’s doing matters. In the world of Infinite, characters don’t even appear to be reborn as anything other than the gender they’re assigned at birth. The really damning thing about this ability is that it doesn’t actually look cool. Eric Maikranz self-published the book in 2009 with an eye on getting it adapted, which readers might have gleaned from the note on its first page promising a 10 percent cut to whoever could help him get a deal. The most interesting idea in the movie is that Bathurst has created a gun that downloads an Infinite’s consciousness onto a drive, leaving that person in a digital holding pattern, unable to be reborn. Your body wouldn’t live forever, but your awareness would, accruing millennia of experiences while having to start over anew each time, seeing existence from a different perspective. All the yearning in the world for more original fare from Hollywood won’t matter if the original fare is made to look and feel like everything we’re already being bombarded with. Because it wouldn’t be easy to hold on to wealth, much less status, knowledge would be the main advantage. And that’s the thing about Infinite — it doesn’t just waste the potential of its premise; it’s actively square in its thinking about everything, up to and including matching up its two main women to fight. Author D. When a movie starts this way, it’s usually because test audiences or executives deemed its setup too confusing. But even that’s only seen in passing, a means of upping the stakes, instead of a horror to be explored. There’s cynicism all around, from Maikranz’s mercenary approach to the source material to the way the movie was sloughed off onto Paramount+ to the fact that Wahlberg, who once tried to get his teenage assault on two Vietnamese American men expunged from his record, is effectively playing an Asian man reborn in a white guy’s body. As Evan, Wahlberg is meant to be playing a man plagued by memories that he has always assumed were hallucinations, having been diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 14 after an incident of self-harm. The film makes an aesthetic gesture or two toward Buddhism, but its view of the reincarnation cycle is generally agnostic, with no sense that the way characters behave in their current lives has anything to do with the situation they’re born into next. Sophie Cookson plays Tammy, who is around largely to tangle with Bathurst’s henchwoman, a fellow blonde played by Wallis Day, in the climactic scene. But the movie and its star are so impatient with any character development that Wahlberg just feels as if he’s playing himself, tapping his watch in impatience while he waits for the moment he gets to fight drug deals with a katana forged using past-life know-how. There would be endless opportunities to learn languages, crafts, and sports; to study science, philosophy, and art; to delve into hedonism and asceticism and consider the nature of humanity.

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We Regret to Inform You That Jeffrey Toobin Has Returned to CNN

Toobin returned to the network, where he serves as chief legal analyst, on June 10, after having been put on leave in response to news that he had masturbated on-camera during an October New Yorker video call. While claiming he was “incredibly grateful” to be back on CNN, he said he thought his firing from The New Yorker was “excessive punishment.” “But look, that’s why they don’t ask the criminal to be the judge in his own case,” Toobin opined. The journalist went on to repeat the claim he gave in response to the initial news — that he’d thought his camera was turned off — while qualifying it with “That’s not a defense. He adds that he feels firing him was "excessive punishment." "But look, that's why they don't ask the criminal to be the judge in his own case." pic.twitter.com/mswiEcbBJZ— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 10, 2021

Toobin added that he spent his leave “trying to be a better person” by going to therapy, volunteering at a food bank, and apologizing to his former New Yorker colleagues. He says he's working to be a better person. This was deeply moronic and indefensible.”

—@JeffreyToobin says he was told that The New Yorker reviewed his whole career and didn't find any other instances of misconduct. Camerota noted that Toobin has “covered the bad judgment and sexual proclivities of public figures” and asked why he hadn’t learned from his coverage. Toobin made his return in an interview with Newsroom anchor Alisyn Camerota, who quoted Jay Leno to ask the question on all of our minds: “What the hell were you thinking?” “Well obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well, or very much,” Toobin answered. pic.twitter.com/XjH0B3qpMA— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 10, 2021

That so-called “Zoom dick incident” might have cost Jeffrey Toobin his New Yorker gig, but the now-infamous legal journalist still has CNN. Take it from a still-employed legal analyst, folks! —@AlisynCamerota: “You were caught masturbating on camera … to quote Jay Leno, ‘What the hell were you thinking?'” @JeffreyToobin says he “wasn’t thinking” and apologizes to his family, those on Zoom call, and CNN colleagues. Related

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Tags: “There is no defense for my conduct — the only issue is what should be the consequences,” Toobin replied.

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It’s Peter Rosenberg’s Job to Be Polarizing

I was familiar with the biggest pieces of that underground. I try to be understanding of that. Wouldn’t the proof positive that this dude sucks have come out after my being pretty aggressive in my takes about a wide range of social issues? I originally got the show in the first place, years ago, for that exact reason. Would they even want this from me? One’s four hours, and one’s four and a half. Whenever you slip up, all your worst old takes are trotted out in perpetuity. The bar to entry in hip-hop media is not where it was. It was an interview show that aired late at night across the country on Sunday. They find us curmudgeonly to a certain degree. Either you think the longtime Hot 97 personality — co-host of the weekday a.m. But I will say it’s the difference between being someone who has a fan base and being someone who everyone knows. So I was like, Instead of chasing down commercial artists to try to do music, why don’t I just do music with the artists already in my lane? You would think that people have to know who I am. Because it feels impossible, growing up the way we grew up. When people go to hear us in the morning — let’s be honest — they’re not really tuning in for the music at this point. And then it just didn’t really make very much sense. To Hot’s 97 credit, as much as I wish other stuff got supported more and I wish my own singles got supported more, for those two hours on Sundays, I have freedom. But I’m there to be a funny, polished radio jock. Even if you’re previewing a pay-per-view, you’re still operating in the world of the show. There’s no longer a presumption of good intentions. I don’t do it with takedowns of people who are undeserving. If you look back at the history of radio and all the big names who were famous for being record-breakers, going back to the Dick Clarks and Casey Kasems, they did the job until they were 80. Have the people commenting on the culture now made it their life, or are they just into hip-hop and into video games and into MMA and on a YouTube channel and just good at talking? How do you mitigate saying the wrong things when you’re talking all day? And before it was work, my hobby and life was being committed to learning, to watching, listening, and learning. So you can’t just speak and say, “Oh, this story line stinks,” because you’re operating within the story line. That’s not what I think of as my legacy in hip-hop. When Real Late started, I would go on the blogs; I would go to NahRight and 2DopeBoyz, and I would download everything that I liked. I was familiar with Griselda. That doesn’t mean I avoid it, but there are times where you’re like, This one’s not worth it. I started playing everyone’s stuff on Sunday nights. It’s “Rosenberg, I don’t know, man … Culture vulture. But I found certain things that he did to be undeniable. But the irony of it is that that’s what some people think of me. I have a problem sometimes with how they use their platform. There has been some fuss over the years about drive-time New York radio, at least before the recent commercial resurgence of the city, about Hot 97 and stations like it not having much space for local artists. But there’s a real difference between the Twitter streets and the actual street. But in real life, when you walk around, it feels like you’re just a local radio host who makes people laugh in the morning. Take it from someone who makes their living talking on the radio. Oh, 100 percent!Twitter streets remember every negative and throw it at me. He ain’t leaving.I’ve moved on. But there’s two things I would say: No. In my case, it required coming to New York and recording the radio. But when I’m working for the WWE, people don’t appreciate how hard the job of being on-air is. To Hot’s 97 credit, as much as I wish other stuff got supported more and I wish my own singles got supported more, for those two hours on Sundays, I have freedom. I’m going to lay low and think this one through. I’d be like, “Who’s this guy?”

Mark started putting me onto this underground sound, a lot of which lives on my album. Ebro has an incredibly strong personality, so if Ebro’s going hard on an issue, even if it’s a controversial subject related to race, I want to play the other side sometimes, even though [if] I was in a room with other white people, I would absolutely be making the point Ebro’s making. But a few things can be true at once. And I know people would say that about me. Because of streaming services, people end up deriding the impact of radio, but radio numbers, while they’re down from what they used to be, more people are consuming radio on a daily basis than are consuming podcasts. Well, part of that comes from feeling like our morning-show guys aren’t locals.There’s definitely an aspect of that to it. To answer your question, I’m now just connecting with artists again, getting music through them and people they know. They see the little pieces they see on the internet, and people are going to make decisions based on that. To me, if I was a bad guy, living in the time that we live in as the sort of edgy white dude on the radio, wouldn’t I have come down in 13 years? I’m talking about early Flex, the mid-to-late ’90s. Rosenberg, 41, can be both a bridge between the underground and the radio and a self-avowed sometime contrarian whose wilder moments of playing devil’s advocate turn people off, a guy just trying to make sure the good he does offsets the times he puts his foot in his mouth. It’s not that it upsets me; it worries me. That’s not what I think of as my legacy in hip-hop.”
Photo: Natalie Amrossi

Either you like Peter Rosenberg or you don’t. You had to buy music. During the pandemic, I realized I have all these artists that I’ve been supporting that I’ve been excited about over the last couple of years. I remember what you said about Chuck D.” “Culture vulture” implies swooping in to eat off of this culture while not contributing. Radio is the difference. But the bar of entry is not the same in the music, and it’s not the same on the broadcast side, either. Bob Costas. You had to buy magazines. When I started working on the music, I was making stuff that was kind of commercial. The internet knew Doja Cat. I think I still feel that way, to be honest with you. I don’t do it with inauthentic takes. “Real Late” and mix shows in general are important rungs on the ladder to success for unknown, unsigned artists. I wasn’t super-passionate about it. I use SoundCloud in the perfunctory adult, old-person way, but I don’t, like, live on SoundCloud. That is a more respectful assessment than I expected. Simultaneously, radio’s impact is also somewhat understated, just in general terms of how it operates as a medium. That was my dream, to get nights. And I don’t think you can break it by not supporting one song. In that room, for me, naturally, as a broadcaster and a person, the interesting conversation is to sort of push. But there is also a level of hypersensitivity to the point that if I say something in conversation in a group with my friends on the air, it sounds like I’m representing a view that’s different than the room I’m speaking in. But listen, not everyone’s out there focusing on my whole life. And there’s a little bit of “Who do you think you are?” Especially for me. You’re on the air most days of the week, and that’s enough time to get yourself in trouble. I don’t want to be overly judgmental. Certain people don’t like you. But the average person doesn’t. You can come up with a wacky YouTube channel or a witty Twitter profile and seemingly have more influence than people who are knowledgeable and have been in the business for a long time. So by the time I got to my mid-20s and was having conversations with Hot 97, I think there was already a feeling that while people might not know me, and I might rub some people the wrong way, it’s like, This guy is really passionate. You had to find time to watch things when they were on. As time has gone on, this skill of doing radio has now become a mix of knowing how to be entertaining and knowing how to keep your job. To be interested in and to truly care to know about hip-hop literally required work and learning. That’s my Peterpalooza concert. You can no longer be as freewheeling as you were. What goes into keeping the door open for underground artists in a business that’s run on a commercial mandate?So first of all, yeah, there is a commercial mandate. They were all into the cow song. It’s such an important question in my life that isn’t really something people think about, and it’s not relatable to most people. When I started doing “Real Late,” [music discovery] was all about blogs. The first crop of artists that I helped get on the radio, like Action Bronson and A$AP Rocky, talk about me with this real reverence that I deeply appreciate for playing their songs on Hot 97. There were things that I always felt a little iffy about with regard to Howard; I always found him problematic in a variety of ways. “I’m there to be a funny, polished radio jock. You sit there and yuck it up.” I get it. I’m sure she could pinpoint a difference in her life between when she was really big on the internet with her fans and when radio started playing her. And I love that. Not only do you have to deal with the station, whose priority is really popular records and playing them as often as possible, but on top of that, you have artists who don’t even care much about getting on the radio. Who are the broadcast heroes that made you want to get into radio? He used to have a syndicated show called Coast to Coast on Sunday nights. There’s stitch work in some cases, like adding vocal samples and scratches and things like that to make it come together as a complete song. But at the same time, the sad truth is if you’re not making people feel something, you’re not really doing your job. Jump ahead to now, and the audiences already exist, and the artists already seem popular. I worked my ass off for a very long time. You wanted this job. But I’m not gonna lie: I’m just not quite able to do that the same way in 2021 as I would have in the past. To me, if I was a bad guy, living in the time that we live in as the sort of edgy white dude on the radio, wouldn’t I have come down in 13 years? So I would say Flex. It’s completely free-form. Mark has a clothing shop, and these artists were coming by, doing freestyles in his shop. I’ve come to appreciate that Flex held on to this spot. I don’t operate in the spaces where kids are finding music. Had I been born here, that would have made me worthy of where I’ve been in the last 13 years, but since I was born in Maryland and spent my weekends listening to the radio here, that is not enough. 1, radio is not critical for having a career in music anymore; however, if you want to be, like, a straight-up superstar, then it’s critical. The artists who I’ve been around and whose careers I’ve been a part of in some way don’t think that, and the ones who didn’t like me but maybe grew to like me over time understand that I’m about more than that. “Oh God, you have to hear this.” When he was having a moment on his show, you felt that everyone was listening. I certainly don’t live on TikTok in the spaces the music is coming from. YouTube’s Next. I’ve been critical of projects in a way that wasn’t tactful. That can be enough for me to get dragged to hell. It’s not a way that I would typically consume music. Back in the day, I would have just kind of let my no-filter honesty this-is-what-I-do go for it. We all go through ebbs and flows in our passion, but right now, he certainly seems dialed in. I understand that. There was a certain effort level you had to put in. And then I started paying attention to what Mark Rosado was doing. Listen, I’m sure there were a lot of people who, with good reasons, thought, What are this guy’s credentials? I’m grateful to Mark for putting me onto people because I don’t know that I ever would’ve stumbled onto them on my own. “Well, what if this isn’t racism? I try to do that the way that’s not cheap. Related

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Tuma Basa Changed Spotify With a Playlist. They’re tuning in to get your spin. For people who aren’t necessarily familiar with the process, talk about what your role is as someone who isn’t an artist but has created an album.The most common question is “What did you do?” I get it from everyone from trolls on Twitter to my mother. Even though I do an unpaid show on Sundays playing underground music that would never get played otherwise, I understand that people still like, “What do you do every morning? You can build a large audience just by being a funny person and suddenly have people coming to you for smart industry takes that you may not necessarily have, or seeing you as a visionary voice in a business you may not necessarily fully understand. I would listen to beats and think about what artists came to mind, what inspired me when I heard the music, and sent them to the artists to see if they liked anything. So it’s just, like, it’s really weird. Smaller promoters and artists would send Mark music, and I’d get stuff cleaned for radio right away. For many, you’re either advancing the culture or you’re standing in the way of its continuing evolution. I always apologize for [my missteps]; I wish that would make people give you the benefit of the doubt. I made some progress and got a record done that I really liked that was, like, a cool, commercial record. That’s the way I think of Hot in our greatest moments historically: the greatest Angie moments; the greatest Flex moments; hopefully, some moments that we’ve had on “In the Morning” over the years, whether it was the conversation with Mister Cee or those Hot 97 moments where it feels the world is listening. Mark started actively telling the artists, “Rosenberg wants your music and is going to play your music.” Around a year and a half ago, I started getting music directly from artists again. There’s a lot of progress that’s been made that has led to people being more self-aware. You can feel the impact that you have doing radio. That is my Sunday-night show. It wasn’t gonna be “Let’s give Rosenberg his flowers. I didn’t know where to go, bro. Doja Cat would be a great example. It doesn’t mean the same thing to them. But now, the audience often finds the artists first, and hip-hop media is scrambling to figure out what they’re listening to. It’s a very weird world to be in at times, hated by both sides of people that definitively hate each other but would both agree to hate you. Now that there are playlists on streaming services attempting to operate, I would say, in a capacity that terrestrial radio stations’ rotations always have, do they feel like a looming threat on the horizon for someone working in traditional broadcasting? I do live off of hip-hop to a certain extent, and I’m super-grateful for my morning show. I’m on the Drink Champs podcast this week, and I knew I would get hate for that. We both got beat packs from producers. I enjoy my job. I have a tendency in my life to argue against whoever I’m in a space with. Tags: There is a way to get the music you want, and you don’t really need a radio to tell you what that is anymore. I have given more than I’ve gotten back financially from hip-hop. I don’t know that this would be the case anymore with a commercially successful artist. I have made light of things that I wish I hadn’t, friends I made jokes about and artists I might’ve talked about cavalierly who I really am fond of. The reasons I got reinvigorated by my show at a point where I was overwhelmed by finding new music? He’s made this his life for a really long time. Look, I know people find Ebro and me annoying. He’s been putting on for underground hip-hop for so long.” No. No one is on the fence. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. And that’s okay. Is it frustrating to you that people who don’t always know what they’re talking about have massive platforms now?I don’t have a problem with them. I get it. They forget about the fact that you’re part of the show, right? An album is much easier to do when you’re working with artists who already want to be involved with what you’re doing. If the worst things you can find about me are these missteps—

And there are some missteps. [Funkmaster] Flex was a gigantic influence. No, the importance of breaking music on radio has already been diminished. When I was in high school, it was definitely Howard Stern. You can’t make someone’s career by giving them a couple of spins on radio. And then Doja Cat gave a radio star. I spoke to him on the phone last month about piecing his album together, how he sees himself in the general scheme of hip-hop media and radio at large, and navigating the business of talking for a living without getting himself canceled. Top Shelf Premium. As time has gone on, this skill of doing radio has now become a mix of knowing how to be entertaining and knowing how to keep your job. Then I started getting into these newer underground artists, and they were inspiring me more when I did the show. People certainly want to feel like their hometowns are being represented, but this is the hip-hop I grew up on. But yeah, I have two shows. I think Ebro [Darden], at the time he hired me, thought I could be a useful way to kind of keep Hot 97 in tune with the underground. It’s a pain to have people hold on to things you’ve said for a long time. I tend to be somewhat disagreeable with the people that I am in a room with. If anyone liked something, I’d say, “Okay, what could you do to this?” It’s sort of a puzzle. But things have changed even more since I came here in 2007. They knew all of her silly internet stuff. How does it feel to have a reputation tied to bad takes from a year ago or even five or ten years ago? So for a while, I was just sort of playing new singles by artists I already knew or unpopular cuts from artists who were popular. The group is great for that conversation. Flex was a huge influence on me. Artists would also send me new music and exclusives sometimes; labels would send stuff out. I don’t say that with any bitterness or regret. That’s this album. High-profile disagreements with Nicki Minaj and Chuck D have at times overshadowed the ways he has helped to push artists like Action Bronson, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, and Danny Brown. I was familiar with the people who were really making an impact, but what I didn’t realize was that there were all these other artists. Now, that’s dead, and you’re competing against streaming services. It’s hard. tentpole “Ebro in the Morning” and the weekly mix show “Real Late” — is a dedicated, knowledgeable hip-hop head making room at terrestrial hip-hop radio for a new class of underground artists who deserve the leg up, or you see a bridge-and-tunnel “culture vulture” creating problems for himself by speaking out of station. At times, you make a good case for yourself, and at times, you don’t. The station — and in many ways, mainstream hip-hop itself — has gotten even more commercial and more pop since then. It’s a moment, not unlike the Funkmaster Flex and DJ Clue releases of the late ’90s and early aughts, where the past, present, and future of hip-hop convene. They’re looking at you to just give opinions. I had a period of being kind of … I don’t want to say bored with my late-night show — I always enjoy doing the show — but I didn’t feel particularly inspired. Everyone knows my intentions are good, so we can present a good argument here. I was waiting to hear Howard’s name.Yeah, Howard definitely is one. Nineties innovators like Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah mingle with aughts and ’10s movers and shakers like Jim Jones and Roc Marciano; longtime New York indie-rap fixtures Homeboy Sandman and Smoke DZA show out, as do more recent figures like Westside Gunn, Flee Lord, and Stove God Cooks; beat-makers Buckwild, Disco Vietnam, and others provide brash and intriguing sample chops. He’s still passionate about it. At that time, you couldn’t just type “hip-hop” on Spotify, and have a playlist come up. That’s the fun part, really, putting songs together with my friend Kenny, who mixed the album. What if we’re jumping the gun here?” And Ebro is great. I was familiar with Roc Marciano. I’m not talking for all of those minutes, obviously, but it’s an obscene amount of time to speak extemporaneously. What kind of work goes into staying up on what’s next? The process worked for me like this: I received beats from a lot of producers, some that I knew and some that were recommended to me by my friend Mark Rosado, a.k.a. To me, radio’s not the difference between make it and break it anymore. And that’s funny too, because after many years, I was like, Wait a second, why did we always think that in hip-hop you just had to go out to pasture at 40? I really wanted that job. Real Late, Rosenberg’s debut studio album, out now, mirrors the late-night show it’s named after in its flair for raw, timeless boom bap. The way things are on the internet right now, the more you say, the more you put yourself at risk of getting someone legitimately upset or making someone angry who simply has it out for you. That skill set required to do WWE really helped me everywhere. It used to be that you mustered enough support to get records in the hands of DJs and records played on radio and then radio would put you on the audience’s radar. These days, I might be more apt to be like, This isn’t an argument I need to have on the radio right now. Certainly, in the Chuck D situation, I was self-righteous, and I cared way too much about defending my company and didn’t think enough about the reverence Chuck deserves. But listen, this is what the job is. Being on Hot in the morning, I’m the only white guy on the show, and there are times when I naturally want to play foil to the groupthink in the moment. On top of that, radio’s significance is different because streaming services and the internet are more of a thing now than they were then. Hip-hop is the only genre where we insist that when you’re past 40, you need to die. It’s just more about conversation and personality now than it is about music.

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Hollywood’s Black Snitches Aren’t Telling the Whole Story

In Judas and the Black Messiah, LaKeith Stanfield’s O’Neal introduces us to the network of agents dedicated to suppressing the Black Panther Party. Years later, he gets back on his feet, revives his marriage to Franklin’s mother, Cissy (Michael Hyatt), and lands himself a job at Edgewood Shelter: a homeless shelter and community center that, unbeknownst to him at the time, is funded by his son’s CIA-backed drug money. Despite this investment in exploring how the marginalized accrue power, the film interestingly opts to redeem a Black cop who looks the other way as Queen and Slim try to evade the police, writing him as an ally to the troubled duo, while taking a working-class Black man to task for his pathologized selfishness. In real life, O’Neal himself believed he was not all that important to his handler, Roy Mitchell (played in the film by Jesse Plemons): “There was very little information that I gave him that he seemed surprised of,” O’Neal told Eyes on the Prize. Despite the show’s flair for the dramatic (read gratuitous posturing and gun violence), Snowfall, which just wrapped up its fourth season, provides far more intricate storytelling about the figure of the Black informant through the arc of Franklin’s father, Alton (Kevin Carroll). When asked about the traitorous twist at the end of her film during a screening, Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas explained that “he’s thinking of himself as an individual and has sold out the community in order for his own individual growth.” In her words, the snitch is a “victim of capitalism,” a figure so consumed by his desperation for money that he has no interest in integrity or racial allegiance. What we’ve typically seen instead are Black informants who have served as proxies for state power — wolves in sheep’s clothing within the narratives of fictional and real-life Black revolutionary figures. The novel’s protagonist, Dan Freeman, is the first Black officer in the history of the CIA, and to make up for being a token agent of the state, he takes his newly acquired intel and tactical skills to his community in Chicago to train up its working-class Black youth as freedom fighters. One might ask then, how a man without any allegiance to Hampton is cast as his disciple. For their silence, the couple are permitted to flee for Cuba, where they vow not to cause more trouble. In one of the movie’s final shots, audiences watch him count his blood money after Queen and Slim’s deaths, his gold grill shining through a knowing smirk. Masquerading as a soldier, Fletcher enters Holiday’s life on behalf of a government that encourages him to become the artist’s confidant. The film hints at the idea that there were other finks afoot — one of them, “fleeing” a murder rap, goes from Panther chapter to Panther chapter providing a pretext for government raids — but does not linger on the atmosphere of surveillance. By situating them as crucial antagonists within narratives of Black radical figures both fictional and historical, these films make a critical trade-off, choosing to highlight individuals who colluded with the state (be they coerced or incentivized) because it’s so much harder to capture the government’s seemingly endless capacity for terror. It’s a narrative betrayal of both the Black informant and their Black victims. To Fletcher’s surprise, he ends up falling for Holiday as he seeks to destroy her. And that’s always going to make for a more interesting protagonist,” he asserted. They’re two entries in a run of recent projects — including the movies Judas and the Black Messiah and The United States vs. Fletcher ironically explains his behavior in terms of community responsibility: It’s actually drugs and drug users like Holiday that threaten the future of Black people, not violent subjugation. A Black Panther driven to alcoholism after killing his own cousin for working with the FBI, Alton is a living reminder of the government’s threat to liberatory community organizing. For starters, the biblical framing of O’Neal as the conflicted Judas to Hampton’s Black Messiah falls apart upon close inspection. This decision requires that each film ask its audiences to find closure, not in the dismantling or repudiation of any particular state systems of power but in the ire we might direct toward the only arm of the state denied the protections of anonymity: lowly snitches and stooges. Tags: And just like that, a man who once killed for collusion finds himself betraying his own in the name of salvation. After all, as the film’s Panthers proclaim, “What’s a rat to a big black jungle cat?” As it turns out, the “rat” is low-hanging fruit. We regret the error. Though the film centers O’Neal, it neglects to fully contextualize his connection to Hampton’s murder. I had no idea of anything about their politics.” He went on to say that, though he had respect for Hampton, he had no allegiance to the Panthers as an organization, even after the chairman’s death. Boyd II), who gets even less backstory than Fletcher. Just as Cissy and Alton are settling into their new home, Franklin’s handler pays them a visit. “I just assumed the FBI is not the FBI for nothing, you know?” The film’s shallow fixation on O’Neal does a disservice not only to his own tragic history but also to the reality of the powers Hampton was up against. “In fact, the day I joined, I was pretty sure it was just another gang, unlike, not unlike the Blackstone Rangers, or, or the Cobras or something. Text cards at the end of the film suggest that Fletcher regretted his government work until the day he died, but there is precious little investigation into how someone with the purported desire to “protect” his community could become a tool for its destruction. As a narrative device, the Black informant is a crucial interlocutor. After falling from grace in the wake of his cousin’s murder and the dissolution of the Black Panther Party, Alton winds up homeless and destitute. Though intel arms the state, it proves futile in one man’s fight against the state’s overwhelming authority. But on TV, we find an example of how, across the span of several seasons, these sorts of narratives unfold in more complex and compelling ways. By treating the informant as a stand-in for the state, these films don’t offer new insights into state violence or the vulnerabilities it must foster to secure its informant class. Sheppard, for the way it “dramatizes, as revolutionary, the theme of African American freedom and equality being gained through a political consciousness of armed resistance.” In February, FX announced a pilot order for a Lee Daniels Spook TV series, which is now in production, with Insecure’s Y’lan Noel and MacGyver’s Lucas Till set to star. The titular spook from Sam Greenlee’s 1969 novel, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, is a double agent. When a reporter starts digging into the shelter in the show’s most recent season, her findings threaten to sow chaos. “I knew nothing of the Black Panther Party,” O’Neal once told the documentary series Eyes on the Prize. He knew what he was doing at a very young age. To explain why his film, which vows to explore the life of Fred Hampton, dedicates far more time to an agent of his assassination, Judas director Shaka King told The Atlantic that “Fred Hampton came into this world fully realized. (Casting a 29-year-old Stanfield to portray O’Neal, who was only 17 when he was coerced by the FBI, underplays why O’Neal may not have been “fully realized” yet — the government often took advantage of the vulnerable to disrupt civil-rights organizing.) In truth, conflict and confusion are the ingredients of war, neither belonging to the informant alone. Throughout the film, Fletcher manipulates others in order to complete the tasks assigned to him by white agents of greater authority. Billie Holiday renders the legacy of Lady Day, portrayed by singer Andra Day, in intimate relation to Jimmy Fletcher, an FBI agent played by Trevante Rhodes who is tasked with ending the musician’s career, as her anti-lynching ballad “Strange Fruit” threatens to raise the collective consciousness of oppressed Black Americans and complicit white Americans alike. Alton is denied even the possibility of escape — his knowledge of the government’s wrongdoing makes even his individual liberation a liability. Hoping to save his family, Alton appears on live radio to reveal the state’s hand in the drug epidemic facing his community as well as the alias of Franklin’s government contact. Daniels, the Billie Holiday director, has said the movie was inspired by a wider-sweeping book about the war on drugs, but he and screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks decided to home in on Fletcher’s entanglement with Holiday because he “wanted to just get a taste of the government,” he told United Airlines’ in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. Yet unlike Greenlee’s infamous character, a man with hidden ties to his community who intends to use his unprecedented government access for liberation, this current crop of fictional and dramatized Black informants rarely espouse those sorts of ulterior motives. The 1973* film adaptation, directed by Ivan Dixon, was subsequently yanked from theaters for its radical content — or, in the words of cinema scholar Samantha N. Billie Holiday as well as the FX series Snowfall, which has been renewed for its fifth season — that represent a growing interest in Black people enmeshed in the state’s web of surveillance. *This article originally included an incorrect year of release. The assumptions that undergird these explanations of the informants’ inclusion highlight the problem with how the Black informant is imagined within popular media. Rather, they flatten both their revolutionary heroes and their counterrevolutionary villains. “I also felt like the U.S. These films fail to name the well from which their informant’s apathy springs or the conditions under which their betrayals are bred — and in so doing, the films sabotage whatever critiques they seek to make of state power, laundering its actions through stories of intraracial disloyalty. He shows up just to lead the film’s imperiled young couple, folk heroes on the run for killing a police officer who shot Queen during a traffic stop, directly to the authorities so that he can acquire the robust bounty on their heads. In a last-ditch effort to save themselves from the state’s retaliation, Cissy and Alton promise not to spread state secrets. But when he tries to undo the damage he has caused and admits that Holiday has been framed, the FBI only tightens its leash. In the FX drama Snowfall, which tells the story of the Black 20-something drug kingpin Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), we see the generational and transnational cost of state collaboration. Selling crack on the state’s behalf — Franklin’s supplier is a CIA agent (Carter Hudson) — the young man exploits his Black South Central Los Angeles community and ultimately helps that government fund anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua. That same month, Amazon announced an upcoming Marcus Garvey biopic, with Winston Duke playing the activist, that vows to focus on the Hoover-sanctioned informant who infiltrated Garvey’s organization. Through these characters, audiences are invited to see what the revolutionaries in these stories can’t: the inner workings of the system stacked against them. I mean, you can’t make it up.”

Even the ending of 2019’s Queen & Slim hinges on the betrayal of an unnamed Black snitch (Bertrand E. Judas, a biopic of Illinois Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton (whom Daniel Kaluuya won an Oscar for portraying), largely follows the story of Bill O’Neal, the FBI collaborator who facilitated Hampton’s assassination. Adding romance to its informant plot, The United States vs. In Billie Holiday, federal agent and love interest Jimmy Fletcher is the “entry point into Holiday’s world.” Though the inclusion of these informant figures generates suspense and tension, the characters have been one-note — the informant, whether persuaded by the state or coerced, is presented as though only cowardice, greed, and/or self-righteousness could explain their actions. Whereas William O’Neal is in a conflict; he’s confused. Photo: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros. government was embodied in Jimmy Fletcher because he was one of the first Black federal agents hired to take Billie down. And yet in the season-four finale, we witness Alton in his hideaway reading The Spook Who Sat by the Door as trouble finds him. The answer lies in the director’s imagination of the informant as a figure whose intrigue outweighs the need for narrative integrity.

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The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the 2021 CMT Music Awards

Yee to the haw. Carrie Underwood’s full pivot to church music may be a bit confusing, but it’s certainly brought some huge awards-show performances. — is in the first place. LOW: Luke Bryan performs glorified karaoke. If last year’s glorious Verzuz with Patti LaBelle didn’t already prove it, Gladys Knight still has it, as she showed once again on the CMTs stage. It wasn’t a show to remember, but it was still indeed a show — something that seemed far out of reach last June. Brown, meanwhile, seemed nervous and stuck to his script; his most entertaining moment came during his closing performance of “Famous Friends” with Chris Young, which at least proved how he ended up the most-awarded artist of the night (earning Male Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year with Young). WHOA: Linda Martell gets her much-earned CMT Equal Play Award.Mickey Guyton didn’t mince words as she introduced Linda Martell, this year’s winner of the CMT Equal Play Award and the highest-charting Black woman ever in country music. That’s right, the R&B singer-songwriter performed with Chris Stapleton, leading even more people to wonder who she — sorry, H.E.R. Mickey Guyton’s “Cross Country” performance with Breland was a bit shaky (but good on the newcomer for what was hopefully the first of many big-stage performances), but 77-year-old Knight steered the set back as only she can, overflowing with energy and a glowing smile as she dueted Pips hit “Friendship Train” with Guyton. WHOA: H.E.R. Yes, that’s how. One of the most oft-tread paths to country success is music that insists it’s the real stuff, a return to country’s roots in the face of pop dilution. HIGH: Carrie Underwood and Needtobreathe take us to church. WHOA: Hailey Whitters’s (abbreviated) moment in the spotlight.One of country’s biggest critical darlings of 2020, Americana-tinged singer-songwriter Hailey Whitters was a perfect choice to kick things off at the Ram Trucks Side Stage. HIGH: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and Jon Randall perform The Marfa Tapes how it’s meant to be heard: around a campfire. Here are the highs, lows, and whoas of the 2021 CMT Music Awards. WHOA: How about these hosts? HIGH: Luke Combs once again delivers. At this point, if there’s an awards show going on, you can count on H.E.R. They didn’t bring any of the night’s major highs or lows — so, in the end, maybe they were fitting for a middling outing like the CMTs. An appearance by rising star Carly Pearce was a bright spot, but couldn’t save the opening number; the Shindellas deserved way more than ten seconds in the spotlight. LOW: This again? CMT Awards? The fact that their rendition of “Tequila Does” was prerecorded may have been disappointing, but the trio nonetheless brought the low-key, late-night vibes that make these songs sound best. “That’s how you get a party started, right?” host Kane Brown asked afterward. to be there. Now in 2021, the stars and audiences are (hopefully) vaccinated and the shows are back into their regular slots. “All of her accomplishments came in the face of the constant indignities she endured as a Black female country artist,” said Guyton, who can attest to those same struggles 50 years later. No matter how many times Luke Combs performs his beer-soaked breakup anthem “Cold As You” at awards shows, the song remains as reliable as a go-to haunt. Here’s hoping intrigued viewers check out the rollicking full version of “Fillin’ My Cup,” though (and its extremely fun video, too). Our hosts were more than a little all over the place throughout the night. HIGH: But Chris Stapleton gets things back on track. Grammys? Thomas Rhett’s new song “Country Again,” the title track off corresponding album Country Again: Side A, promises that same brand of “back to basics,” but it led him to one of the most boring performances of the night. That didn’t stop on the CMT stage, where she joined with Christian country-rockers Needtobreathe for a powerful, predictably huge performance of their duet “I Wanna Remember.”

LOW: Where are the standout speeches?Maybe the biggest sign that awards shows have returned to normal is that most of the night’s speeches involved a rattling off of requisite thank-yous without much else. And rather than paint Martell’s story rosily, Guyton reminded viewers of a sad truth. crashes yet another awards show. Kelsea Ballerini loosened up as the night went on, but the fun she had hosting didn’t translate to her melodramatic performance of “I Quit Drinking” with LANY’s Paul Klein. Surely someone will complain that it “wasn’t country,” but it’s hard for that critique to hold up when the pair brought more vocal fireworks and owned the stage better than any of the night’s other performers. WHOA: Gladys Knight delivers the most high-energy performance of the night. “Her career was cut short for just one reason: the color of her skin,” she said of Martell, who released just one album in 1970. Opening song “Like a Lady” is unremarkable country-radio filler, and singer Hillary Scott’s performance was too shaky to turn it into a moment. As an American Idol judge should be able to tell you, that’s never good. At least we could once again count on Gladys Knight, who shouted “Congratulations, Gabbyyyyy!” while “proudly” accepting on behalf of an absent Gabby Barrett. Oscars? At April’s ACM Awards, this meant a low-stakes show full of fun live performances and not much else. Unlike, say, friends and collaborators Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton, who co-helmed the recent ACM Awards, the most chemistry between Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown was the fact that they had the same initials — a fact that they made too many bits out of. Related

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The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the 2021 ACM Awards

Tags: Over 50 years later, it’s better to see her get her flowers late than never. With performance and venue restrictions on top of it all, it was hard for a show to stand out (unless it was for a bad reason, like the COVID-addled CMAs). Band-name mess aside, Lady A’s output as of late has just been a snooze, far from the emotional hits like “Need You Now” that they made their name on. Martell couldn’t attend to accept the award, but the CMTs still honored the icon with a mini-documentary on her career, featuring an interview with her (“The very first chord of the guitar, I knew it was gonna be all right,” she said, remembering being the first Black woman to play the Grand Ole Opry) along with praise from musicians like Rissi Palmer, Rhiannon Giddens, Darius Rucker, and Jennifer Nettles. Two months later, the CMT Music Awards brought more of the same, touting a collaboration-stacked bill full of country’s biggest and brightest (except for Maren Morris and Gabby Barrett, who had to drop out for personal reasons), and a few awards for music videos too. If so-called “real” country is so much better, Rhett’s performance itself should’ve made that case, too. At least Lindsey Ell’s guitar solo rocked (and reminded us that country shows need more of those). Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images for CMT

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic crowded all the major country awards shows — the Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Country Music Television Music Awards — into the fall. Luke Bryan is the Academy of Country Music’s reigning Entertainer of the Year, but you couldn’t tell from his CMT performance — a stale, sappy performance of “Down to One” that didn’t come off as much more than karaoke with a backing band. Not that the CMTs, one of the more pop-oriented of country’s awards shows, would’ve let it happen, but Chris Stapleton’s performance of “Arkansas” could’ve actually opened the show. Stapleton has a voice that can’t miss, and his band’s performance in the round was a true barn burner, complete with a pedal-steel solo. But who’s to say music like that — a diluted performance in its own way — is more authentic than country that doesn’t hit listeners over the head with worn-out lyrical signifiers? LOW: Lady A sets the bar low.

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Betty Rolls Through a Vibrant, Visceral Pandemic-Era New York

In almost all of the story lines that affect the five main characters — Indigo, Janay, Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), Honeybear (Kabrina “Moonbear” Adams), and Kirt (Nina Moran) — there are moments when people or entities that once seemed reliable betray the trust these skater girls turned women have placed in them. “The moon pulls on your balls, too, just like the tides.”

Each of the actors in Betty plays a character loosely based on themselves, but that doesn’t take away from the nuance and sensitivity they bring to their performances. Convinced that she has a mission she’s supposed to fulfill, Kirt unwittingly becomes the romantic guru to a bunch of bros who base their understanding of women, and eventually even themselves, on whatever Kirt tells them. She understands, on an instinctive level, how to record the exact rhythms of life in Manhattan and its boroughs. With their feet rooted to their boards and an ability to whoosh in any given direction, they exist as both abiders and defiers of gravity, as the visual definition of freedom. Photo: Stephanie Mei-Ling/HBO

Most people can’t fly, but the women of Betty can. The stress on everyone is more sharply felt this season. Janay takes the lead on that effort and gets frustrated when her peers are not as enthusiastic about taking direction from her as she wants them to be. “You also have a period,” Kirt earnestly explains while all these dudes hang on her every syllable. It’s also true in Betty’s second season, which arrives on Friday. Perhaps for the sake of capturing the actors’ expressions on-camera, the face coverings often dangle around the chin instead of protecting mouths and nostrils. At least it looks that way when these skateboarders glide through the streets, positioned by director and series creator Crystal Moselle in the bottom third of the frame beneath a New York City sky that stretches as far as the potential in an unpredictable evening. (Honeybear’s ensembles, from the patterns in her scarves and face masks to the signature pasties she wears over her nipples, are worthy of intense, uninterrupted study.)

But what remains most extraordinary about Betty is the way it places the viewer so viscerally in New York. Every one of these women is a low-key iconoclast with an Instagram-worthy sense of style that’s too cool for Instagram. (After a neighborhood bodega owner throws the women out of her store for not masking up properly — “Put your masks on, and get the fuck out!” — she follows up as they leave with a friendly and sincere “Love you!”)

Season two of Betty, landing at the perfect time as we begin to come out of our pandemic hidey-holes and back into the sunlight, shows us a New York where the pandemic has shaken the foundations but where objects in motion remain in motion. (And no, they shouldn’t be having a Halloween party! Dede Lovelace as Janay in Betty. The worries and intensity that come with more mature sexual relationships are an issue for more than one of the Betty posse but especially for Honeybear, whose girlfriend, Ash (Katerina Tannenbaum), persuades her to turn their partnership from couple to throuple, which sparks unanticipated feelings of insecurity. Many of the characters wear masks, although one wishes they would wear them more consistently indoors and in close proximity to others. Just like these striving, sturdy women who glide-fly down the sidewalks, this city knows that often the best thing you can do, even in stressful times, is to just keep rolling. There are references to PPE loans being denied, leases being terminated, and COVID violations in progress. In the first episode, Indigo (Ajani Russell), who’s working at a grocery store, gets into an altercation with a white customer who refuses to wear a mask, claiming she has a “medical condition.” This lady is one iPhone video away from being called out as a Karen on social media, and her behavior prompts Indigo to quit and try to make money through means that require even more moral compromises on her part. The least believable and most amusing arc belongs to Kirt, the spacey, blunt-talking stoner whose head has never been seen publicly without a backward baseball cap perched on top of it. That was the case in season one of Betty and in Moselle’s 2018 movie Skate Kitchen, which inspired this HBO series. Later in the season, Indigo reaches a breaking point at a Halloween party. Russell is especially a standout this season, projecting confidence and doubt on a dime depending on how she blinks her lashes or sips on a straw. Tags: Camille becomes a brand ambassador for a semi-upscale skater-apparel store and worries that it’s killing her authenticity. “But it’s just—”

“It’s a lot,” Janay says, finishing her sentence. But as in the real New York — and the whole world — this time, freedom comes with caveats. Access to the warehouse their community has been using as an indoor skate park gets cut off, forcing them to find a new venue. The six vibrant new episodes of Betty take place in the late summer and fall of 2020, which means the pandemic’s presence is very much felt. Indigo starts getting paid to go on dates with wealthy men and has to work harder to maintain the boundaries she sets in those encounters. Betty doesn’t necessarily condone the main characters’ sometimes casual attitude toward pandemic safety, but it doesn’t outright condemn it, either; the show’s eye stays on reality, and the reality is that these young people may very well toggle between being responsible and a little lax, especially during that pre-holiday-season period when cases were lower.) “I don’t know if it’s Breonna Taylor, COVID, or my mom,” Indigo says to Janay (Dede Lovelace). Even if you haven’t been in the city proper in months, you’ll be pulled back instantly by the way Moselle’s warm vérité style travels through parking-lot dance parties, rests on the Staten Island Ferry, and pops into bodegas.

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Jeff Daniels Will Kill It on Broadway Once Again

The Times also notes that Scott Rudin, who produced Mockingbird’s initial Broadway run, will not be involved with this production, which comes after several exposés were published about his alleged abusive and bullying behavior. Again, not to mention Lane and Broderick, but …

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Tags: Jeff Daniels has become the latest A-lister to return to Broadway after the coronavirus pandemic, with the actor set to reprise his role in To Kill a Mockingbird in the fall. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

And now, we’re going to pester the agents of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick until we get The Producers back together again. The New York Times reports that Daniels and his original co-star Celia Keenan-Bolger, who portray Atticus Finch and Scout Finch, respectively, will resume performances on October 5, 2021 and remain in their roles until January 2, 2022. In April, Rudin said he was “stepping back” from his extensive work in the Broadway League, in order “to work on my issues.” With his theatrical reprise, Daniels now joins Bruce Spingsteen as two of America’s Dads who have returned to their defining Broadway shows after the pandemic shuttered the industry for more than a year.

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‘Anti-Art Star’ David Hammons Has Made a Monumental Mark

A nearby one, made into a temporary prison to house those protesting George W. Day’s End tells us we have to recognize this. Indigenous tribes from up and down the Eastern Seaboard and further inland came seasonally to barter goods and exchange cultures, before being driven from their lands and massacred. In 1981, wearing a dashiki, he urinated on a 110-ton Richard Serra sculpture in Tribeca. This mattered. While looking at it, I see the New York that called all of us here to make our names and our fortunes, find our own tribes, create communities, hate, love, and be loved by strangers. (Both works were documented by Dawoud Bey, himself now the subject of a Whitney Museum retrospective.) Hammons has said he wanted to “get away from the redundancy of … making African American art,” to get “beyond Blackness … beyond Whiteness,” to get to “destinations unknown.” His largest public sculpture does that. The snowballs were rolled in a graduating succession of bigger to smaller and echoed all sorts of squirrely post-Minimalist geometric-sculptural discourse. Tellingly, the 2014 drawing had the words “Monument to Gordon Matta-Clark” written on it. Fifty-two feet high, it extends 325 feet toward New Jersey. On the south side, it hovers over the river on cement pilings. Tags: Back then, newspapers posted daily schedules of ships coming into and out of the ports along the shore. Hammons reminds us that all ground is sacred ground. It still draws me there. At the same time, his work commands enormous prices, and every museum in the world courts him—making Hammons both the ultimate insider and the ultimate outsider, as though Dave Chappelle or Terrence Malick had remained, even while running away from Hollywood, among the most in-demand figures there. He is formally and conceptually radical, and his career almost screams, “I won’t be a pawn in their game!” Hammons has never had a gallery, exhibits where and when he pleases, is famously diffident to the marketplace, and is hard to reach (critics often talk about waiting on street corners to meet him). In the early ’80s, escaping one relationship, I used to meet a lover here and have sex in her car along the dilapidated West Side. Give it time, and you will glean such rhetorical, obsessively quiet material and metaphysical intelligence that it resounds with monumentality and almost alien otherness. About 100 yards north of here is where, in 1914, the Carpathia docked and delivered the survivors of the Titanic. But his work speaks with such art-world formalism and conceptualism, and involves such a high degree of interpretive energy, that I imagine few outside the art world will have known who Hammons is before seeing this public sculpture. The “monument” that resulted calls forth layered histories and a rattle of shadows past. I think that some negative ozone charge of the water had me unde its sway. The spot is filled with ghosts. Day’s End rises on what, at the time of first contact, was Lenape ground, then called Turtle Island. That year, Matta-Clark, who would die at 35 three years later and was the son of the great Chilean artist Roberto Matta, illegally padlocked the doors and cut out huge sections of the floor, walls, and roof, transforming this decrepit relic of another era into a temple to the sun and an abstract sundial or Stonehenge observatory. Give this work time in the flesh, let yourself unspool, and Day’s End can transcendentalize and put a spell on you. When I found out Jackson Pollock, Alice Neel, and Beuford Delauny lived a stone’s throw from where I write, I felt their otherworldly energies enter me. I’d go and dream of places I’d never go and adventures I’d never have. You can see the New York Harbor through its frame. It was mind-fuck and fuck-you. This makes Day’s End more aurora than monument. In terms of creativity, New York has been the Florence of the Renaissance, the Rome of the Baroque. Fancy not only seeing where John Wilkes Booth, Boris Johnson, Garibaldi, Trotsky, Harvey Milk, Malcolm X, Billy the Kid, Mohammad Ali, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, and Che Guevara lived, but also artists like Vito Acconci, Florine Stettheimer, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Matthew Brady, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cher, Madonna, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Beyoncé, George Gershwin, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Berry, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Nathanael West, Edith Wharton, Stanley Kubrick, Notorious B.I.G., Barbra Streisand, Lou Reed, Groucho Marx, John Lennon, George Carlin, Diane Arbus, Andy Warhol, Liza, F. We shouldn’t be able to move through New York without feeling this strange world of desire and beholding our city of dreams. Then demons descended into the area. Famously, the piers along this stretch of the river were cruising places for the gay and trans communities who took them over in the late 1960s and early ’70s as sanctuaries of desire beyond the law. The ill-fated Lusitania (torpedoed by a German U-boat) embarked from here in 1915. He was playing with fire, playing Russian roulette with his career. That same year he threw 25 pairs of sneakers over the top of those 36-foot-tall steel plates. I now see Day’s End as an apparitional New York version of Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, a procreant piece of impractical, imaginary, almost cosmological architecture that signals incantational things. The work was brought to fruition by the Whitney Museum with the Hudson River Park Trust. I loved but didn’t know what to make of this one-man cartel and new conquistador for decades. It did me. These are shamanic vocabularies. In 1983, he sold snowballs outside Cooper Union, not 100 feet from where, in 1854, Lincoln declared slavery should not expand in the United States. The title, Day’s End, is taken from Matta-Clark’s lodestone 1975 urban installation in Pier 52. On the north, it is anchored to a peninsula of land that is soon to be a park. He described it as “anarchitecture” and said it was “a special stage in perpetual metamorphosis,” adding that he didn’t want to “create a totally new supportive field of vision, of cognition” (artists used to talk this way), but wanted to “reuse the old one, the existing framework of thought and sight.”

Erecting his own work in the same spot, naming it for and suffusing it with the memory of Matta-Clark’s, is a piece of alchemical magic that transforms Day’s End into a statue of artistic liberty, a giant monument to the proposition that New York is made of monuments and statues to those creative souls who came before: Billie Holiday, Sun Ra, Walt Whitman, Lucille Ball, Ornette Coleman, Scott Joplin, Edward Hopper, Quintan Crisp, Bill Cunningham, Agnes DeMille, Louis Armstrong, Frida Kahlo, Henry James, P.T. Hammons was making art dangerous just as the art world was launching itself into hyper-marketability. Here was a great center of commerce on the river called the Muhheakantuck, where Mohawks, Seneca, Delaware, Iroquois, and other nations came for trade, oysters, and eel. In World War II, the piers were used to deploy troops. In 1983, his visage might have struck fear into this white neighborhood or seemed that of just another crazy crackhead. By 1741, New York City had the second largest population of slaves of any city in the country, second only to Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Timothy Schenck

David Hammons’s new Day’s End is a mystic gift to New York and a permanent recognition of his artistic importance. Even longtime Hammons fans have expressed doubts on social media about this being a bland waste of $17 million and an amazing location. For a while, I lived a door down from where Charlie Parker lived! I envision it as some four-dimensional hypercube tesseract or stereoscopic time machine. Nearby, there were cattle tunnels underneath 11th and 12th Avenues. Day’s End shows Hammons, as he once said, “trying to find a new fucking vocabulary that I’m not really used to, that frightens me.” Here, these are the vocabularies of panoramic landscape, waterfront, deep history, the architecture of sublimity, weather, and an attempt to evoke past, present, and future. Jutting into the waters off Gansevoort Street, it is a memory urn, an ark of civic possibility, and a statue of artistic liberty that honors the epic creativity that has taken place in this city over centuries. Before the original pier was torn down by the city in 1979, it was used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company and, after that, as a marine transfer station, for salt storage, and for sanitation-truck parking, among other things. Think of plaques telling you that Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Langston Huges, Sun Ra, Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass, Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, Joan Rivers, Sarah Vaughn, Busby Berkeley, and Toni Morrison lived here. Scott Fitzgerald, and Grandmaster Flash. Kara Walker has written about the “Anti-Art Star who finds more promise in the dark gravitational forces of the Black Hole.” That feels like Hammons, who has compared the white-cube spaces of galleries and museums to hospitals and said that Black people see such spaces as places “for mad people, they put them in there.” He has said that “showing has never been that important to me” and calls himself an “art gangster.” In bars, vacant lots, galleries and museums, Hammons has worked with elephant dung, voodoo dolls, hair gathered from Black barber shops, basketballs, and bone. More than any other artist, Hammons, 77, a MacArthur winner, took post-Minimalism — with its heavy use of ephemeral, discardable, often found materials — and added to it racial politics and social and art-world critique. Here was a dapper black man in hat and overcoat selling goods laid out on a blanket like any homeless person. When I moved to NYC, I lived a block from where Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Robert Fulton lived. When I first saw the 2014 drawing for it, I wrote a one-word email to a Whitney curator: “Meh.” I was wrong. But the hyperlocal history goes much deeper than that. He fired the bullet — and won. Bush’s 2004 Republican National Convention, was called “Guantanamo on the Hudson.” The site is filled with spirits and messengers, castaways, mob politics, murder, and pathos. At first, however, Day’s End looks like nothing — the stainless-steel skeleton armature of Pier 52, it’s something you could pass by and think to be just what was left behind as that pier degraded and collapsed over decades of disuse. We should get fever dreams and feel the holy spirit of creativity when we walk our streets. Barnum, Hélio Oiticica, Ai Wei-Wei, Herman Melville, Marcel Duchamp, Steve Martin, and a thousand others, a million others, many millions of others.

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Super 8 Was Ahead of Its Time

project Stranger Things exploded out of Netflix and into worldwide domination. What’s more, the script is funny, but not overly so; it’s warm and even laugh-out-loud at times without being too quippy or relying on shtick. Abrams’s Super 8 Headed for Box-Office Disappointment? Set a handful of years after Super 8 but still in small-town America, Stranger Things was an homage-laden sci-fi series starring a group of misfits, all unknown, who solve an otherworldly mystery kick-started by a secretive military operation gone awry. And why? As the film draws to its emotional, dazzling climax, it’s reminiscent of E.T. Abrams on Making Star Trek in 3-D and the Super Secrecy Around Super 8

Tags: or Close Encounters of the Third Kind in ways that feel earned. Admittedly, it’s not perfect. Hey, that’s not a spoiler. It’s by turns cozy, nostalgic, spooky, and wholesome, and much like the monster at the center of it all, it just wants a little more of our love. That’s largely thanks to its familiar suburban setting and superb performances from young actors like Joel Courtney (in his first-ever role) and a mesmerizing Elle Fanning. Those who were disgruntled by the lack of a Proper View Of Cloverfield Monster (reportedly sacrificed to preserve the film’s chaotic realism) may have been less interested in another Abrams-backed creature feature so soon after. But after the year our own world just experienced in the proverbial Upside-Down, it’s time to shun the cynical and embrace the wholeheartedly optimistic. Roger Ebert gave Super 8 3 ½ stars, and it holds a ripe score of 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. For starters, the plot offers a classic setup: On an idyllic summer evening in 1979, a few AV-club-type kids making a zombie movie (on Super 8 film, oh-ho!) witness a train crash. While Abrams neither wrote nor directed Cloverfield, he was the highest-profile producer attached to the film at the time, and marketing certainly led audiences to believe that it was his work. It’s like a summer blockbuster made in a lab. In fact, by 2010, he had been obliged to clarify that the films weren’t related. The family-friendly J.J. 2008’s Cloverfield, a found-footage film produced by Abrams, was not as good about that. Super 8 has fallen out of our cultural consciousness over time, but it deserves a rewatch. J.J. Many looks, in fact. Abrams sci-fi epic, now with 20 percent more lens flares* (*citation needed), turns 10 this month, marking a full decade of its under-appreciation. Mop-top lead Courtney now appears in Netflix’s The Kissing Booth series, and the younger Fanning is a compelling (and unexpectedly offbeat!) movie star. Not even a nod for sound mixing at the Oscars? Photo: Paramount Pictures

Here are a few things that the film Super 8, released June 10, 2011, can now do: Enroll in fifth grade, exchange a tin-anniversary gift, and assert its rightful status as the most overlooked film of the decade. To be fair, we didn’t fail the movie entirely back then. And, of course, the fall after Super 8 was released, Chandler took home an Emmy for his role as Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights. Era-perfect details enhance its familiarity: The hairstyles, technology, costuming, and cars all signal a specific pocket of time, lending an intentionally Spielbergian layer to the proceedings. Finish off the movie’s astonishing visual effects with some masterful editing and set it all to a moving score and you’ve got what has to be the most overlooked film of 2011. What sells it more than anything? Related

Is J.J. How come, Chief Willoughby? On paper, it would seem like there are almost too many of them: the loss of a parent, a strained father-son relationship, beef between the local cop and the town ne’er-do-well, fishy military operations, a monster with unclear motives, the kids biking everywhere, no one listening to the kids … you know how it goes. Even AJ Michalka, who has a small but fun role, is agin releasing music again with her sister, fellow actor and musician Aly Michalka. The Demogorgon’s look even evokes the Super 8 monster’s. The friendships feel genuine and the conflicts honest, and the tension between Joe (Courtney), still missing his mother, and his father, the town deputy (Kyle Chandler), is compelling. But it all just works. It’s up to our young heroes to uncover the truth before it takes out their entire town. There are few people of color present in Super 8, which is disappointing and limiting. And society has progressed past the need for a dead mom as shorthand for childhood trauma. Fortunately, he learned from Cloverfield’s missteps and crafted a truly breathtaking dude for Super 8. So maybe audiences just weren’t ready for Super 8 in 2011. Consider that five years after Super 8 was released, the Duffer bros. It seems like the train was intentionally derailed to release something, but … what? Super 8 is streaming on Paramount+. Sure, Occam’s razor would suggest that if a film isn’t popular, it probably isn’t good. However: Isn’t it just as possible that it was ahead of its time? The genuine look at the monster. You’ve had ten years to watch it. Super 8 expertly deploys tropes that tug on the heartstrings. But the fact remains: We simply do not talk about this film enough!

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Fran Lebowitz Breaks Her Silence Over the Existence of Aliens

There’s no such thing as a person that I don’t disagree with. No, I do not. I don’t like cartoons of myself or caricatures of me. Some are artists. I don’t care about this. This very high bar for the character of entertainers — who have always been, like, not among your finest examples of the human being — it’s just not going to happen. It shouldn’t certainly be a requirement for comedians. If you think that’s love, you have bigger problems than whether or not you’re a successful comedian. There is a difference. What do you make of it?It’s definitely changing. Arguably, there are too many comedians, because we don’t place any expectations on them. So obviously if there’s no such thing as great, and everything is great and everything is important, then comedians are great artists. I think he is one of the best comedians there is. Why do people believe in this stuff? And I think partially it happened because of — well, I’m sure I’m going to get killed for this — because of the general lowering of standards. Now, you can barely say that you like someone’s T-shirt or dislike someone’s T-shirt without having half the country on top of you. You should demand more that they be better comedians. You know, we’re going to have fun criticizing something. It is making fun of things in both senses — like making fun of, which is criticizing, and making fun, as in fun. It was so funny.” I don’t like it. I didn’t know it was going to be on. There’s going to be a lot of things wrong with this person. So you can smoke there.” He had no idea you weren’t allowed to smoke there, because if you never ask if you can smoke there and you happen to be Keith Richards, no one’s going to say anything to you. Can it be argued that we should be making it harder — that we should demand more of these people, especially now that we give them such status? I do not care what happens after I die in any way, in other words. I realized probably now, being a stand-up comedian must be incredibly fraught because of all the things you’re not allowed to say. In a play in New York, if a character smokes a cigarette, it can’t be a cigarette. You like to say there are too many people who call themselves writers. Keith Richards once told me, “Oh, you can smoke.” I was going to do the Jimmy Fallon show. They do not love you. Has anyone shown you since? Do you care about legacy?Not at all. He just does it. You meant beings from outer space or whatever? I feel like I once heard if smoking is part of your performance, you are allowed to do it onstage.I saw Dave Chappelle smoke at Radio City Music Hall, where you’re not allowed to smoke, and he just does it. And then you’re in Rockefeller Center.” This happened to be around Christmastime, and it’s a nightmare. I noticed it. That would be so unlikely, since almost no one has this wisdom to impart. You know, people say, “Oh, I love it. I think he’s a wonderful comedian. Do you have to imagine some other problem coming from outer space? I do not believe in anything you have to believe in. More From This Series

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Tags: That’s just a guess on my part. I never watch myself on TV. But isn’t making it more difficult better for comedy? Like how in stand-up, the comedian might walk around the stage. I don’t care. Good One
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After Bowen Yang did an impression of you on Saturday Night Live, you said you hadn’t seen it. Do you care to see it?I don’t like it. I do not at all. Even when I was young and looked different, I still couldn’t. I know you’re not allowed to say this. You can’t do it if you’re in a play. I said, “You know, the horrible thing about the Jimmy Fallon show is how long it takes to get downstairs to smoke. What do you think of Dave Chappelle?I think he’s just fantastic. Have you paid attention to how the status of comedians has changed over the last few decades? I reached out to Bowen and asked him if there was anything about you that he was curious about for his impression, and he was wondering about your physicality when you talk. There’s a kind of comedian that I loathe, which is the kind of comedian who is very hostile to the audience, but they really want to be loved by the audience. And this is incredibly stupid. Do you feel like you talk more physically, more with your hands than you would normally?You know, I never knew I did that until I saw Public Speaking. The truth is that most comedians are entertainers. Certainly, everyone has noticed it. Apparently, it’s just something I’ve always done. You can’t do it in New York. Isn’t life on Earth bad enough? Most recently, it was her six-part Martin Scorsese–directed Netflix series, Pretend It’s a City, in which Lebowitz waxes grumpy about how everyone and everything is annoying and, worse yet, it is annoying to her, Fran Lebowitz. And I thought, What is wrong with you? And some people I know say they like it, but I believe they’re lying. No one ever said to me, “You realize that you talk with your hands?” I believe that I do it more in public because you can’t smoke anywhere. I’ve never met anyone I don’t disagree with. No. The whole idea of what a comedian is has changed. Are things not bad enough for you? Is that what you mean by “aliens”? Below, you can read an excerpt from the transcript or listen to the full episode. It was so flattering. I think that if you saw me in a place where you could smoke — like my apartment, or people’s apartments, or places I go with my friends where you can smoke — I probably would do it less. This, to me, shows a complete misunderstanding of an audience. I don’t care what they tell you; no one likes it. I love him as a comedian. He says things I don’t agree with — that’s absolutely true. But you’re never going to see me on TV or anywhere smoking, because you’re not allowed to. People have an expectation that not all, but a very significant number of, comedians will also be, like, political-policy experts — that they will also have not just political opinions but political wisdom to impart. Now, the truth is that most comedians are not artists; they’re entertainers. So it must be very difficult, very fraught for comedians. One of the reasons people look down on television was not just because it was really basically an advertising medium but also because it lived or not based on how many people liked it. Fran Lebowitz
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

For a person who hasn’t released a book since 1981, Fran Lebowitz has found a way to gain new fans doing what she does most/best: talking, be it on talk shows, at colleges, at the 92Y, or whatever the 92Y equivalent is in other cities. To me, the difference between an entertainer and an artist is: Are you mostly interested in the audience’s response? Tune in to Good One every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Because truthfully, no matter what people think, humor is making fun of things. It’s not going to turn out that this stand-up comic is the Dalai Lama. Do you agree with this?” I don’t have to agree with a comedian. Why do people care about this? There’s like a billion people going to the Christmas tree, and Keith said, “Well, why do you have to go downstairs? Do you believe in aliens?Aliens? I have nothing against this guy — who I now know who he is, because someone showed me it is this guy. That is exactly true. But you can’t demand that they’re better people is my point. There’s nothing you can do about it. I can’t stand watching myself, and I never could. So the truth is — and this has always been true, and it’s never not going to be true — if something is liked by a zillion people, it’s not that good. On Vulture’s Good One podcast, Lebowitz talks about Pretend It’s a City, comedy, and aliens. No one does. It’s like caring about what you’re going to have for dinner the day after you’re dead. No. You can’t do it. He’s really funny, and he’s really talented. This is what people do. And, you know, sometimes someone will say, “Did you know Dave Chappelle said this? You could smoke there.” I said, “No, you can’t.” He said, “You can smoke right in there.” I said, “Well, who’s going to tell you to put it out, Keith? If I’d known it was going to be on, I wouldn’t have watched it.

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