In a recent review for Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Guus Valk examined three books—The Sellout, Between the World and Me, and Loving Day—that confront race relations in America. The piece, which was accompanied by an illustration of a man in blackface, featured a headline that read: “Nigger, are you crazy?”
Last week, Jane Ward, associate professor of women’s studies at the University of California, Riverside, penetrated the internet with one of those ideas that people were maybe thinking but just weren’t saying: Male sexuality is as fluid as female sexuality and “white straight-identified men manufacture opportunities for sexual contact with other men in a remarkably wide range of settings.” These opportunities include fraternity hazing and online cruising. This sexual contact, Ward detailed, is often conducted in the interest of affirming their heterosexuality as opposed to subverting it.
This morning we were notified of Brook Stephenson’s sudden passing. A frequent contributor to Review, Brook was a tenacious writer with a generous spirit. He had a fierce love for books and worked to educate others of their power and importance in our world. Shine bright, Brook—we will miss you dearly.
It’s been one year since 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer who gunned down the unarmed black teen on August 9, 2014. Brown’s death, which came just weeks after Staten Island resident Eric Garner was choked to death by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, sparked national protests that called for, among other demands, the end of state violence upon America’s black citizenry.
Perennial Real Housewife of New York City Ramona Singer, 58, celebrated the publication of her first memoir Life on the Ramona Coaster last week with a Ramona Pinot Grigio® branded party. The event was held at Beautique, a restaurant and nightclub on the Upper East Side and the site of so much RHONYC season seven “drama.” When we arrived 30 full New York minutes late at 6:30 p.m., the scene resembled a wake: a dozen-odd people, nearly all wearing black, were quietly milling around near the entrance, ignoring a disappointing spread of crudités and two life-size portraits of an unblinking Ramona.
The success of hip-hop has radically reshaped many American art forms. This is particularly true of poetry. Although the links are sometimes drawn too hastily between the two mediums—after all, hip-hop is at its heart a popular form of entertainment, where narrative style is just one dimension of its artistic importance—hip-hop has been drastically underrated, considering how radically it has influenced American poetics.
“Tim” (Eric Wareheim) and “Eric” (Tim Heidecker) are two big-shot Hollywood bozos. They have penetrated the worlds of television, movies, and jazz singing (just to name just a few) with their perverted brand of humor that involves spoon-feeding the masses heaping servings of razzle dazzle, monkeyshines, monkeydazzle, razzle shines, as well as commentary about consumerist culture and its many absurd permutations.
Leon Neyfakh is perhaps more like his mom than he’d care to admit. The Slate staff writer and sometimes music critic’s first book, The Next Next Level (released July 7) is a kind of conjoined twin profile-memoir, with the subject—a white rap-rocker from Milwaukee, renowned for his intense live shows, named Juiceboxxx—sharing as much of the word count as the author. The connection is natural. Neyfakh’s known Juice since they were teens, when he was booking the energetic, single-minded MC for a show in a church basement, and, later, sneaking Juice into his house, fearing that his parents wouldn’t approve of his friend.
Today, July 1, marks the 1o-year anniversary of the death of Luther Vandross, who passed away in 2005 after suffering a heart attack. An unparalleled singer, songwriter, and producer, Vandross released 13 albums, recorded hundreds of songs, and won eight Grammy Awards in his lifetime. He was the rare artist who had it all: the voice, the stage presence, and countless hits. But whether you were Team Big Luther or Team Slim-Down Luther, we must all agree that no other song better captures the glory and greatness of Vandross than “A House Is Not a Home.”
“We won’t die secret deaths anymore,” begins Prior Walter in the final moment of Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about AIDS and gay love in New York City circa 1985. “The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come... You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More life. The Great Work begins.” Friday—as the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide—the US moved forward in its fight to grant equal rights to all citizens. Ever forward.
What makes a good summer read? Should it be light, briskly-paced, suitable for digestion in one hot afternoon on the nearest available beach or patio? Sure, that’s one way of looking at it, but it also feels like a waste to shield your summer self (one of the best and strongest selves) from the books you’ll carry with you long after the warm weather has worn off. So, por que no los dos?
The final line of Audre Lorde’s 1978 poem, “Sequelae,” reads: “I have died too many deaths that were not mine.” The horror that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina this week brought us nine more: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Ethel Lee Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and Rev. Sharonda Singleton. Rest peacefully.