The English poet Francis Quarles, noted paraphrase royalty, once wrote, “The way to bliss lies not on beds of down, And he that has no cross deserves no crown.” As was more or less his M.O., and the standard run of play in seventeenth century literature, he was drawing largely from The Bible, though you could be forgiven if in a vacuum you thought he may have been discussing the rise of Stan Wawrinka, 2016 U.S. Open men’s champion.
Four sets: that’s all Stan Wawrinka needed to upend Novak Djokovic in the men’s final of the U.S. Open, which he captured in a magnificent 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 win that elicited some of the best shot-making either player has ever flashed. Once an underperforming prodigy, Wawrinka is now, against most well-meaning odds, a three-time major champion as well as, for the moment, the king of New York.
“The night is dark and full of terrors.”
That is a refrain from HBO’s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, but it applies just as well, literally and figuratively, to the premiere episode of the network’s latest eight-part miniseries The Night Of.
The episode takes place over a single night in New York City, following Naz (Riz Ahmed), the soft-spoken son of a Pakistani cab driver. Naz’s night begins like so many stories about millennials coming-of-age over the course of an evening out in the Big Apple. He breaks the rules, taking his father’s taxi without permission, meets a mysterious seductress (Sofia Black D’Elia) and even swallows some pills (probably Molly). The night culminates with Naz having sex with the hot girl.
But the night is never “fun.” There is no soundtrack of plucky indie music that swells at just the right moment. Instead, Naz awakes to find the girl dead, stabbed to death in a grizzly scene out of a Saw movie.
The Greek tragedian Sophocles is credited with having said, “There is a point at which even justice does injury.”  Sophocles was making a point about well-intentioned people making decisions on behalf of others, seemingly in the best interests of those people, but too often in ancient Greece those intentions went by the wayside due to the people making them – namely, warped, frustrated old men in positions of importance whose self-importance far outweighed the capacity with which they would be able to conduct their due diligence for the greater good.
In news abstractly related to that last part, about warped, frustrated old men and the power they recklessly wield, the New York Knicks traded for Derrick Rose on Wednesday, a move that suggests reaching for a broken jar in order to catch a lightning bolt from a storm long since passed.
Tonight, Devonté Hynes will lead his project, Blood Orange, in the second show of a stand at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater with several guests, in charitable performances for Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. Along with the matinee performance this afternoon, Hynes’ two shows at the Apollo were highly anticipated and, as such, sold out almost as quickly as a Bruce Springsteen concert. For the latter, timelessness is an accepted standard; for the former, critical acclaim has become his typical accompaniment, and the Apollo shows should stand to be something of a turning point for Hynes in terms of popular recognition, even in the face of his highly-touted collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen earlier this year, “All That,” which he co-wrote, and the Saturday Night Live appearance which followed.
Before you go jettisoning yourself into superstardom at the Apollo, however, you must prepare yourself for the endeavor. On Thursday night, in a secret show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, Hynes did just that, with an exclamation point.
Short class this week, gang. The All-Star Break interrupts an intense Western Conference playoff race, and one of its most entertaining teams just made a key hire, perhaps in a case of too little, too late. Elsewhere, Carmelo Anthony seems destined for a shutdown after the break, and the NBA is celebrating the rich history of basketball in New York City. Which borough would you take?
2013 brought many strange occurrences and changes. From the triumphant, like Jason Collins’ admission of homosexuality, to the tragic, like the Boston Marathon bombings, to the downright necessary, like Pope Francis and the charge toward universal acceptance. Toronto got some run, with Drake and Mayor Rob Ford (pictured above) giving the Ontarian capital a few things to consider aside from the Maple Leafs’ collapse and a distinct lack of Chris Bosh in recent years. It also brought a website, born of a hellish New York morning and a few text and Facebook messages, which, we hope, you have enjoyed thus far. Now, several of us discuss 2013 in its many forms. How could 2014 ever follow this performance?
Courtesy of Verbicide Magazine
To call Lou Reed a pioneer is to do a disservice to him as well as elevate other so-called “pioneers” to an undeserved status. To call him influential, the same. So few people in the history of music actually, really changed the way people listened to and created music. As the principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground, Reed did just that. He did it again as a solo artist, repeatedly re-inventing himself and ostracizing his own fan base, which made them love him all the more. He became an urban spokesman, the Bizarro Dylan whose sordid tales of debauchery, sexual ambiguity and repentance gave a window into the twisted, all-too-real world of Warhol’s New York City in the 1960s and 70s.
In the interest of full disclosure, here is a somewhat abridged account of my relationship with the Avett Brothers as a musical entity: one night in the autumn of 2008, when I was probably seventeen years old and a junior in high school, I was riding in the backseat of my friend Carrie’s blue Jeep with two of my other good friends, Justin and Morgan, around the streets and highways of South Carolina. Cycling through the tracks on a mixed CD and/or the shuffle function on her iPod (I can’t remember for certain, but I know there was a huge collection of CDs in that automobile), she landed on something that was new and exciting to me but which had become, to my admittedly much cooler friends, something of a way of life. This was the first time I heard the opening strums of “Die Die Die,” the first song on the 2007 album Emotionalism, and it tore up every Hendrix-laden notion of my personal preferences at the time. Bruce Springsteen once said of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” that it “sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind.” In the context of my own teenage taste, the same explosion happened in that Jeep.
Many Saturdays ago (because I’m horrible at timely blog posts), Rory and I decided to take advantage of the great weather and venture forth into the greatest city in the world. Living in New York means that you’re never at a loss for something to do, so we hit up the Twitter Machine to see what adventure our day could be, and BOOM.
Intrigued, we set off to Tompkins Square Park for what would prove to be an afternoon of pure bliss. We walked into the park to find . . . people doing tricks on Pogo sticks. I don’t know what I expected, but somehow, the absurdity of the afternoon swept me up, and I was cheering my heart out for “Wacky Chad,” “the Man Child,” and some kid whose name I can’t remember but was never mentioned without also mentioning that he was “all the way from Saint Petersburg, Russia!” I’ve never been one for “X-TREME” sports (I prefer the slow, steady rhythm of a baseball game), but I was completely fascinated watching these young men who clearly trained for and were passionate about X-Pogo.
After the “Big Air” qualifiers, it was time to break some world records. Yes, we actually watched people break world records. Try it sometime. Even if it’s something as ridiculous as ten guys on pogo sticks doing a backflip at the same time, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching something that’s never been done before.
I didn’t feel qualified to write about this unless I tried pogo-ing myself, so I tried it. Note: It is very difficult, I was not very good, and I sustained some large bruises in strange places. But anyway, since the internet is an asker, and I’m a giver, here is a picture of me on a pogo stick:
“The first game you got in on this court right here and played like a bum, you was a bum.” – Richard ‘Pee-Wee’ Kirkland, from NBATV’s The Doctor
From its humble beginnings as a playground for New York City’s P.S. 156, Holcombe Rucker Park has become the singular epicenter of layman basketball, particularly streetball and its derivatives, as well as a proving ground for rising stars and established legends alike. Located at the corner of 155th St. and 3rd Ave. in East Harlem, Rucker Park grew from one man’s vision of getting kids off the streets when it was opened on February 23, 1956. When Holcombe Rucker established a basketball league for the neighborhood children when he worked as a playground director in the Parks & Recreation Department for the city, he could not have anticipated the symbolism which the park attached to it would eventually carry. Perhaps no single place on earth is more closely identified with a sport than Rucker Park is with basketball, and for good reason. The people there are more passionate about basketball than most political revolutionaries, and without the unnecessary violence. Mostly. Read More