Nicki Minaj released the lovely new video for “Pills N Potions,” featuring the L.A. rapper the Game as her man-friend. It’s a simple and colorful series of portraits that takes us through the harrowing emotional ride of a relationship with a crappy ex. She looks FANTASTIC (feeling and looking awesome is the best revenge, after all)—there are some extremely good stylistic choices here, like double braids and a furry vest. I’m also spotting pop-art effects directly imported from Björk’s “Hunter” video! If Nicki wants to take cues from Björk, I’m here for it!
In other music news, the singer (and Rookie favorite) Natasha Kmeto released a new single, “Inevitable,” to tease her forthcoming self-titled album. Though she is a formidable electronic producer, on this track she generally pares down her beats to their bones, letting her strong, soulful vocals take the lead: “When you comin’ back, baby?” she pleads. “I will love you down.” When that kind of sentiment is distilled down to such pure expression, she doesn’t need a ton of other lyrics—some harmonies and a ghost of a synth line are enough to make this SO good.
A group of teenage boys made a video about why they’re feminists, and it is awesome. They had all taken a course on feminism at their New York City high school, and their responses go to show just how far proper education can go to dispel stupid but pervasive myths like “feminists hate men.” These boys, who were all seniors when they took the class, serve as living proof that you can be a feminist if you’re a man and hold court on concepts like intersectionality, which even some older feminists are still learning about. SHOUTOUT TO ALL THESE DUDES.
This week, Ruby Dee passed away at 91 years of age. Her impact as an actress and activist through the decades cannot be overstated. In Essence magazine, actors like Kerry Washington and Paula Patton reflected on Dee’s legacy.
Dee started out at the American Negro Theater in the 1940s, where she and her peers became the first generation of black actors to really break through racial barriers. She was acclaimed for her roles in A Raisin in the Sun, Do the Right Thing, and American Gangster (for the last of which she received an Oscar nomination), and her work on television, including in the miniseries Roots. She spent the ’60s marching on Washington and fighting for civil rights and the ’80s protesting South African apartheid, and she kept on agitating and protesting till the end. Near her home in New Rochelle, New York, the head of a local radio station remembered that, in more recent years, “she would dispatch her husband, the great Ossie Davis, and I would find him in my lobby about once every 10 days with some community problem or issue or someone who needed help.”
Dee met Davis, her lifelong collaborator, partner, and soulmate, in 1945 on the set of a Broadway play. They shared 57 years together before his passing in 2005. In Life’s Essentials With Ruby Dee, a documentary their grandson Muta’Ali released in 2012, she said, “At 90, I’ve had time to realize there’s really no such thing as death. When I’m reincarnated, I hope Ossie and I continue the journey together.” Go on, Ruby and Ossie, and go forth forever.
I was BEYOND excited to find out that FKA twigs is releasing her first full-length album, LP1. And she’s announced a string of live dates in the U.S. and UK!
I’m so into this video of Grimes performing a new song, “Go,” at New York City’s Governors Ball festival. It sounds a little different from her previous stuff, and I love that she’s exploring new kinds of pop.
The Magic School Bus is coming back, via a Netflix reboot of the series! The new edition will be called The Magic School Bus 360° and premiere in 2016. HOORAY!!!!
Last week, Slate published a piece by Ruth Graham about why grown-ups who read young-adult fiction should feel embarrassed. As a 24-year-old who reads, writes about, and sells YA, I reacted to the piece the same way I do whenever anybody tells me what I should and shouldn’t like (as if all works in one genre can be painted with the same brush, as if I am not capable of critically engaging with art beyond its surface level, as if there is something wrong with wanting to engage with something on a surface level, as if pleasure for pleasure’s sake is a waste): I was bored. Like, god, do I really have to defend everything I like? I’d rather be reading.
BUT THEN! YA author/certified genius Kathleen Hale published “A Young Adult Author’s Fantastic Crusade to Defend Literature’s Most Maligned Genre.” In that piece, Hale and Graham go on an epic quest filled with vampires, teen pregnancy, and the Smiths, while discussing the merits of YA:
“Back to your article,” I said. “I think it annoyed me because you complained we live in an era of ‘read whatever you want,’ but the truth is that era has never existed, Ruth. Ever since the printing press democratized access to prose, the bourgeoisie has strived to vilify popular writing in order to elevate itself above commoners.”
In even grosser “things that shouldn’t even be issues in this day and age” news, Daniel Marc Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, still refuses to change his football team’s super racist name. In response, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation made this powerful TV spot that ran during the NBA finals. The clip links to Change the Mascot, which contains more information about why it’s necessary to get rid of racist team names and mascots, plus how you can get involved.
Are unwelcome dudes blowing up your phone? Commit this number to memory: (669) 221-6251 answers calls or texts with quotations from feminist luminary bell hooks.
TWO RAD HUMANS HANGING OUT ALERT: The writer (and, full disclosure, my friend) Rembert Browne interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson about how the latter hopes Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which he hosts, will affect its viewers, his feelings on being seen as a “black scientist” as opposed to just “a scientist,” and the ocean-based development of human eyes. I loved this whole deal.
I’m tryna wear everything from Lazy Oaf’s Space Oddity collection—especially the fuzzy rainbow jacket and clear circle skirt. PUT ME IN THESE ALIEN CLOTHES.
Do you love 1950s lounge singers and camp? Then, please, I beg of you, listen to this amazing radio drama from 1949 starring the voice of Frank Sinatra. If you need any more convincing, it’s called “MURDER EXPERTS.” Do yourself a favor and get into it.
Oh, look, even more camp, albeit of a different ilk: I love this installment of Rupaul Drives…, in which Ru interviews John Waters (aka Rookie’s favorite filthy uncle).
FINALLY: This is my favorite kind of news story. It explores the archaeologist Robert Diamond’s decades-long fight to unearth a subterranean New York City subway station, which he believes contains missing diary pages written by Abraham Lincoln’s murderer, John Wilkes Booth. Mystery, intrigue, possible lunacy/possible historical heroism: all heavily present in this wonderful article. I want to go dig up the streets!
This video, Kanye West’s New Testament, compiles audio of some of Kanye’s greatest hits and sets them against images showing the human race’s beauty, terror, majesty, and danger. It was edited by Andrew Michael Stubbs; the score was composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood; and it’s amazing. My favorite part is this Kanye quote: “My dream is every dream. I won’t be limited to one dream.”
Speaking of Yeezy (because when am I not?), this week was his birthday! Happy birth-Ye, bb! To celebrate, a Melbourne DJ called YO! MAFIA released this amazing mix of some of Kanye’s biggest hits. It’s available to download on YO! MAFIA’s Facebook page and will put a serious bounce in your step.
New York magazine’s human behavior site, Science of Us, published an excerpt of a new book called Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning that revealed useful facts on learning, teaching and studying. Can I go back to the start of my life and RELEARN EVERYTHING with this new perspective, please?
Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes gave a stunning commencement speech to Dartmouth College’s 2014 graduating class this week (it starts at about 1:41:20 in the video above). She described my exact feelings when faced with public speaking (“Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.”) and told the graduates what she called “Some Random Stuff Some Random Alum Who Runs a TV Show Thinks I Should Know Before I Graduate.” That random stuff was totally on point, and it tugged on some heartstrings I didn’t even know I had.
Gather ’round, kiddos, ’cause your granny’s got a story for you. Once upon a time there was a TV show called The Young Ones. It came out of the UK, and when it started showing on MTV in 1985, it helped introduce the whole idea of “alternative comedy” to America and was one of those things that made certain teenagers of a weird and restless bent feel less alone in this world. You: You mean like Flight of the Conchords? Me: Yes, exactly, or like Portlandia might do today. OK, I get it. Wait, you were a teenager in the 1980s? Yes, I said I was old, OK? Anyway, one of the creators and stars of the show, Rik Mayall, died on Monday, at the way-too-young age of 56. Why should I care? I’ve never even heard of this guy. I know that, but I’m about to make you care, by showing you some of Mayall’s funniest moments from The Young Ones, in which he, playing a pompous, excitable, not-very-smart anarchist called Rick who lives with three of his frenemies, made me laugh really hard way back when I was your age. Oh, I suppose you’re gonna tell me that everything was so much better back then. No, I think things are mostly a lot better now, but this was just a really funny show, OK? Look.
And here’s a lovely compilation of Rick’s more fervent outbursts:
Mayall was also in Blackadder and The New Statesman and—bonus weird fact—his movie Drop Dead Fred, from 1991, was shot in the childhood home of our own Jessica and Lauren R.! Wait, they lived together? Yeah, they’re sisters! Weird. My point is that we’ve lost a brilliant, daffy, singular man who did the invaluable thing of promising a young person that the world ahead would be full of not just hardship and boredom but also lots of surprise and joy. Are you talking about yourself here? Yes. But it wasn’t just me. Here are a few obituaries/appreciations that explain his genius much better than I ever could. OK, he does seem pretty cool. Agreed.
This week was the debut of designers’ Resort 2015 collections, aka a totally made-up excuse for designers to drive themselves crazy trying to keep up with the tremendous demand for new shit, but that doesn’t stop me from obsessively waiting for the new collections to drop! The stripey, abstract patterns by Timo Weiland make my heart flutter with love and desire, but I’m most excited by the silhouettes. I really dig the cropped button-down, the miniskirts paired with simple, the sleeveless tops, and the flirty dresses in dreamy colors.
PUBLIC SCHOOL, AHHH. I sent photos of their collection to my friend like, “Look, it’s every single thing I want to wear next year!” The clothes are so cool and laid-back, and the black, blue, and gray palette makes it look like something Lorde would wear on vacation.
Rachel Comey is never not killing it, but this collection especially slays me. The tent dresses are giving me so much life via their resemblance to art-teacher muumuus, but the collection also includes some gorgeous one-piece swimsuits. INTO IT.
I was so excited to hear the first demo of Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” which Kevin Parker, the band’s songwriter and frontman, uploaded to Soundcloud this week. I’m super secretive about my works-in-progress, so I have mad respect for artists who are willing to reveal their creative processes. Listening to the shy, stripped-down version of what’s become a multilayered psychedelic masterpiece filled me with the urge to dig out the scraps of abandoned projects from the bottom of my junk drawer. You never know what has the potential to bloom into a fantastic piece of art!
This week, Project Runway superstar Tim Gunn came out in favor of plus-size fashion in The Hollywood Reporter, saying he “would like to do a season of Project Runway where every model is larger than a size 12.” To be honest, I haven’t seen an episode of Runway in a long time—but if Tim Gunn’s dreams come true, you better believe I’ll be watching.
On Monday, an anchor believed to be 222 years old was hauled up from the depths of the Puget Sound near the coast of Washington. Historians believe it’s from the HMS Chatham, which was part of a 1792 expedition to Vancouver. It’s being shipped off to Texas A&M University, where researchers will see if they can figure out its origin.
And yesterday, Noisey published an interview with the all-teen-girl punk band Unfinished Business. So far, the band has opened for big acts like Mac Demarco and Fucked Up, which is pretty next-level for middle school kids. Their minute-long tunes about trying not to laugh when you see someone fall down the stairs make me wanna mosh for days. Catch their debut record, Mix and Mash, on June 16. ♦