I'm one part word nerd writer, one part shoe hoochie fashionista, and all parts mother of Skylar, the flighty but fabulous 14 year old who is the object of my undying affection (when she's not immersed in teen funkiness). Aside from storytelling for The Stir, I pen pieces for Essence, Ebony, Vibe, Clutch and just about anyone else who'll have me. On any given day, I find solace in Five Guys fries, Hello Kitty paraphernalia and crime TV. Love me anyway, please.
Sprite on the rocks. Oh, you thought this snarkiness was alcohol-induced?
They’re coming. Every other day, it seems, there’s a news box on Google about the impending descent of the II Brood of cicadas, those huge bugs with the bulging red eyes that emerge every 13 or 17 years, depending on where you live, to mate like maniacs, replenish their high-pitch shrieking population, and wreak all kinds of terror on humankind. Specifically me. No, it hasn’t been 17 years yet since we endured their horrifyingly disgusting presence. When we survived the last go-round in 2004, no one was splitting hairs about the possibility of different iterations of those big ol’ nasty things. But we probably should have, because that was Brood X, not expected to intrude again until 2021. Meanwhile, Brood II has been percolating underfoot and once the ground warms to a consistent 64 degrees, they’ll creep up and out and all over the place, and rob entomophobiacs of 3-4 weeks of their summer.
In the same amount of time it takes normal folks to fully process the breadth of a tragedy, you can rest assured that the ne'er–do–wells of the world are already devising a way to make money off of it. Usually it’s some kind of capitalistic outsider. But people have stepped up to generate a little money off the back of the Boston Marathon bombings, and they were actual participants. At least seven are selling their 2013 Boston Marathon medals on EBay, drawing the ire of critics who accuse them of trying to cash in on the horrific events. One seller peddles his memento like this: "2013 Official Boston Marathon Finishers Medal given only to qualified runners who finished before the bombing took place." Classy.
Some things, though great individually, make for terrible combinations. Clam chowder topped with crumbled Famous Amos cookies, for example, or a sequined bustier paired with corduroy slacks. In that same vein, the coupling of Brad Paisley, a country singer, and LL Cool J, a rapper, was fraught with inevitable awkwardness from the giddy-up. But the fruit of their partnership, a song called “Accidental Racist,” is purposely disastrous. No accidents about it. Everyone is talking about it and both artists declare they have zippo regrets about doing the little ditty. I’m trying to imagine how this debacle of a musical collaboration came about. I guess on the short list of who’s who in “safe” hip-hop, LL Cool J’s number came up and the nuevo “Ebony and Ivory” duet was born. In trying to pitty pat the state of longstanding racial tension in America, they actually work to make a mockery of it.
What a difference a year makes. In 2012, Brian Banks was fighting for his freedom. In 2013, he’s getting a second shot at his dream of playing in the NFL. It’s the ultimate Cinderfella story, and football fan or not, you can’t help but be happy for the guy. When he was 16, he was a junior in high school with a verbal deal to play for Southern Cal, his college plans all but solidified, when one of his classmates claimed that he raped her. That sent him to prison for five years. Five long, unjustifiable years. Because Banks was innocent. His accuser recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name. In May 2012, his conviction was overturned by a California court and his record was cleared. Justice righted that tremendous wrong, and that would’ve been reason enough to celebrate. (More on that levying-life-changing-false-accusations nonsense later.)
Protests flare up, snatch all the headlines for a few days, then silently fall away to make room for the next big explosion of controversy, even if it’s just to talk about a too-tight Kardashian skirt on a slow news day. The dust-up over Rick Ross’ date rape lyric has had a longer shelf life than most, however. Rightfully so. Dig this nonsense: "Put molly all in her champagne/she ain't even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/she ain't even know it," he rhymed on a track called “U.O.E.N.O.” It’s not even his song and it wouldn’t have gotten a quarter of this much attention if that line hadn’t caused such outrage. It’s nonetheless at the center of a protest organized by women’s rights org UltraViolet, who’ll will gather in front of Reebok’s flagship store in NYC to demand the company sever its endorsement deal with Ross and give his inappropriate-lyric-rappin’ tail the boot.