WATCH: Final Chris Cornell Video for ‘The Promise’

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When Chris Cornell was found dead on May 18, it left fans and friends in considerable shock. The Soundgarden singer had carried on a successful solo career, and had a seemingly happy family life with his wife Vicky Karayiannis and their two children – and yet the conclusion was that he had committed suicide by hanging.

His final release before his passing was “The Promise,” a powerfully soulful track about the Armenian genocide and the ongoing struggles of refugees around the world.

Said Cornell of the song, “‘The Promise’ to me is mainly about paying homage to those we lost in the Armenian Genocide, but it’s also about shining a light on more recent atrocities. The same methods used in the Armenian genocide were used to carry out crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda and right now in Syria on multiple fronts, contributing to a massive global refugee crisis. Unfortunately, the words ‘never again’ seem like just words when we recall these mass executions of the twentieth century.”

The poignant video for the song is released today, June 20 – which is, in fact, also World Refugee Day.


Why Isn’t This Muslim Teen’s Murder Being Investigated as a Hate Crime?

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Early Sunday morning, tragedy struck the Muslim community in Sterling, Virginia. It was around 3:30AM, according to Buzzfeed, that two men emerged from a car wielding baseball bats and targeted a 17-year-old Muslim girl named Nabra Hassanen and her two friends as they walked back to an all-night prayer session at the Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center. The three friends fled the scene but lost Nabra when they reunited.
Nearly twelve hours later, police found Nabra’s body beaten to death and floating in a pond and a discarded baseball bat nearby. Within hours, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres was arrested and charged him with murder in connection to the case. He had been eating at the same McDonalds restaurant the friends were at as they ate breakfast before beginning their fast at sunrise for Ramadan.

As Yufra Abdelmuid, a family friend of Nabra’s, explained of the events, “He was at the McDonald’s eating at the same time and he followed them in his car. He threw a beer bottle at them and they started running to the Bowl America parking lot nearby and he got out of his car with a bat and hit [Nabra] over the head.”
The girls had all been wearing traditional Muslim clothing called abayas that night and “definitely stood out,” Abdelmuid added. Yet, despite these details about the case, the Fairfax Police Department made a statement today announcing that the case was not being investigated as a hate crime.

What happened to Nabra is a tragedy that comes at a time of increased violence towards the Muslim community. Last month, a man murdered two people in Portland, OR, who jumped to a Muslim woman’s defense on a bus when he began shouting Islamophobic slurs at her.
Under a presidency that has tried and failed to ban Muslims from entering the country, hate crimes have skyrocketed and, last year, they jumped twenty percent. In the three-month span between Election Day and February 9th, 2017, Think Progress recorded 261 hate crimes—with 11.8% of those targeting Muslims. From January 1 to March 31, The Council on American-Islamic Relations received 1,597 reports of potential bias against Muslims.
Details are still emerging in Nabra’s case but The ADAMS Center has released a statement decrying the murder and Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring responded with a tweet stating, “The unspeakable murder in Sterling feels like an assault on our entire community. Love and respect must overcome hate.”

You can donate to Nabra’s funeral fund here.

David Lynch Foundation and Katy Perry Launch Omaze Campaign

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Katy Perry and Transcendental Meditation wouldn’t seem at first a likely duo. But the singer actually credits deep-thinking ex Russell Brand with turning her on to it.

And so it is that she has been enlisted by the David Lynch Foundation (staunch advocates of TM) for a new Omaze campaign that is sure to set fans all atwitter with excitement. For as little as a $10 donation, participants will be entered to win VIP tiks (+ flight and accommodations) to a select Katy Perry concert, plus a backstage photo shoot and makeup session with the “Firework” girl. Neato.

The winner will also receive a certificate for two for Transcendental Meditation training, meant to permanently reduce the stress of everyday contemporary existence. In fact, the DLF uses the technique to help the likes of PTSD veterans and victims of domestic violence to reach recovery. And all proceeds from the campaign will in fact go to veterans causes and at-risk kids.

Omaze, founded by Matthew Pohlson and Ryan Cummins in 2012, facilitates charitable campaigns that offer such once-in-a-lifetime experiences as this. They’ve previously worked with such celebs as George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Damon and Idris Elba, amongst others.



Women Dress Like Handmaids In Court to Protest Anti-Abortion Bill

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An Ohio Senate Committee hearing yesterday on a proposed new anti-abortion law for the state was attended by some unexpected visitors: several women dressed head to toe in blood red garb and bonnets a la The Handmaid’s Tale.

The costume is the identifying outfit of a ‘Handmaid’ in Margarat Atwood’s novel-turned-Hulu-sensation – a rare fertile woman made to carry children for their male ‘commanders.’

The Ohio Senate Bill 145, the law being discussed at yesterday’s hearing, bans ‘dilation & evacuation’ abortions, by far the most safe and common means of receiving an abortion in the second-trimester, thus criminalizing termination of a pregnancy after the first trimester. The law comes in the wake of Texas passing a similar bill that also calls for mandatory ‘fetal funerals.’

Vashitta Johnson, Field and Political Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in Dazed’s report: “Men expect women to sit back, be controlled, you know? You control our bodies, tell us what to do. I guess the significance of the Handmaids is to make them squirm in their seats.”

The Handmaids remained silent throughout the hearing, letting their costumes do the talking. Johnson continued: “You can’t do anything to kick them out. They’re not doing anything to interrupt the committee; they’re not posing a threat to anyone.”

While the court banned filming of its hearing (umm, what are they hiding?) social images of the protesting women went viral:

The Daily Show Has Opened a Presidential Twitter Library

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Image courtesy of Comedy Central

Incisively latching onto the archival value of Trump’s endless reactionary, and arguably deranged tweeting, Trevor Noah revealed on air last night that The Daily Show has gone and opened the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library. Located at 3 W. 57th St in Manhattan, it is fittingly in veritable spitting distance of Trump Tower.

Specific exhibits will include Trump vs. Trump, documenting the President’s remarkable ability to contradict his own previous statements; and The Commander-in-Tweet, where attendees can create their own immature, misguided Twitter post – just like the the Prez!

The Library, while meant to inspire a few laughs, is arguably utterly necessary – perhaps even imperative. After all, a hundred year from now, who would possibly believe it all?



BlackBook Interview: The Basquiat $110 Million+ Sale – Sotheby’s Expert David Galperin Explains

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Upon leaving the Brooklyn Museum’s landmark exhibition Basquiat in 2005, there was a keen sense of the late namesake painter being his generation’s Picasso. Surely their artistic lives started similarly (Pablo, a skint Spanish artist kicking around Paris’ Montmartre at the turn of the century; and Jean-Michel, a skint, Brooklyn-born Haitian – Puerto Rican kid trolling the downtown NYC art scene in the 80s), but ended up very differently. Indeed, Picasso achieved staggering success in his lifetime and lived to 92; Basquiat had famous friends (Madonna, Warhol), sold a lot of paintings, but died of a heroin overdose at just 27 – and very much a lost soul.

But in so many of those ephemeral ways that are difficult to explain without actually looking at the art, Jean-Michel’s work similarly managed to be both exceedingly personal, and yet somehow monumental and zeitgeist defining. Correspondingly, in the decades after his death in 1988, the value of his work rose to match the mythos. Yet few would have predicted what happened on May 18, as Sotheby’s in New York took bids on his 1982 masterpiece Untitled.

Indeed, its pre-auction estimate was $60 million (still a hefty sum) – and yet it sold to Japanese collector and e-commerce billionaire Yusaku Maezawa for $110.5 million.

Thinking that this might be a genuinely defining moment for Basquiat’s legacy, we asked Sotheby’s Vice President of Contemporary Art David Galperin to elaborate on what it meant.


Image: Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child 


The Basquiat Untitled painting sold for nearly double its pre-sale estimate. Were you particularly surprised by this?

By the time of the auction we had witnessed the phenomenal response to the painting, so certainly had an idea that there would be intense competition. The market hadn’t seen a Basquiat of this quality since this painting was last sold in 1984, so we all knew it would achieve something very special. But with a work of such rarity and singularity, it was hard to put a finger on just how high the bidding would go. At this level, in a sense, the sky was the limit.

Could you elaborate on the significance of this particular painting both on its own and within the larger context of Basquiat’s oeuvre?

I am lucky in my position to every so often encounter works of art that up your heart rate. The first time I saw this painting in the flesh it had an almost physical effect on me — the intensity of its image and complexity of its execution is practically unrivaled. I had only known it from a thumbnail reproduction in a book, and we always considered it even from that small image to be among the very best Basquiat works ever. It was painted in January 1982 – a critical moment for him, right before he exploded onto the scene with his first Annina Nosei solo show in March of that year. And it has an energy and immediacy that shows Basquiat at the height of his powers as a draftsman and colorist. He was only 21 when he painted this, and I think a major part of the magic in the work is this combination of youthful experimentation and raw energy with Basquiat’s incredible clarity, technical mastery and sophistication at such a young age.



With nearly three decades since his passing, how would you state the importance of Basquiat as an artist, apart from the market value of his work? Do you find it more defining of a cultural moment or genuinely timeless?

Basquiat’s genius was that his work was at once both timeless and also profoundly rooted in his own era. He was an artist who was as much looking to the greats of art history for inspiration as he was looking to the streets of downtown New York in the 1980s. He had an insatiable appetite. In Untitled you can see Basquiat sampling from abstract expressionists like Kline, de Kooning, and Twombly, modern masters like Picasso and Bacon, while also looking to more ancient forms of expression and primitive modes of communication. I think Basquiat’s work defines this spirit of creative revolution that made New York the center of the most important advancements in art in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Is Basquiat becoming, in a sense, the Picasso of his generation? In the hierarchy of 20th Century art?

Both Picasso and Basquiat were supernovas – they were radicals who changed the course of art history by circumventing the norms. But whereas Picasso worked prolifically for decades, Basquiat died tragically young at 27, after just seven years of painting. Picasso’s place in the art historical canon was solidified in his lifetime, while history is only now beginning to unravel the profound significance of Basquiat’s work. The record we set only reinforces to the world what many of us already knew, and what the group of extraordinary collectors dedicated to Basquiat since the 1980s have long understood. Now joining the small group of artists who have sold above the $100 million mark, alongside Picasso, Bacon, Giacometti and Warhol, Basquiat can finally hold the rightful place in art history that I think he always knew he would one day command.

Are there any other artists of Basquiat’s generation whose status you feel might be ready to be elevated in the eyes of collectors? Who might be the next surprising sale?

Basquiat was always recognized by collectors – after Annina Nosei showed him in March of 1982, the paintings were flying out of his studio so fast that they hardly had time to dry. In fact the work we sold this month was included in a Contemporary Art Evening Sale in May 1984, just two years after it was painted – a significant deal for the then-24 year old artist. So, like Basquiat in his lifetime, there are a number of artists who were in fact already celebrated and widely collected, but for whom I think we will only see increased demand for in the coming years. What’s particularly exciting for me right now is watching an overall re-evaluation of other artists who rose to prominence in the 1980s: in the same sale as the Basquiat, we also set a new world-record price for his contemporary, Keith Haring. I think we’ll see the broader market looking more closely at other important artists from this critical generation, well-known figures like David Salle, Eric Fischl, Peter Halley, Ashley Bickerton. I’m not suggesting we’ll see $100 million prices for these artists, but I do expect an exciting and long overdue commercial rediscovery.

Watch Rihanna Teach Kids in Malawi For New Doc

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You can always count on Rihanna to show up, shut down everything, and make you reconsider what you’re doing with your life. When the music icon isn’t busy slaying the Met Gala or starring in the female-centric Oceans 13, she’s heading to Malawi to save the world.

Rihanna just dropped a new short film as part of her ongoing campaign to raise awareness for education funding in developing countries that focuses on her January trip to Malawi. Together with The Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen, the singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation visited Muzu, a school in one of the poorest countries in the world. In Malawi, half of the population lives below the poverty line and daily income averages out to 90 cents a day.

In the doc, she’s seen teaching a math class, cheering on a girls’ rugby team, and observing the problems facing the kids who attend the school: a single teacher for up to 100 students; 26 kilometer treks to get to and from school; limited resources; HIV/AIDS; arranged marriages; and more. “It takes away the sense that you’ve got control over your destiny,” notes Angeline Murimirwa, the regional executive director of Camfed.

Although 70-75 percent of students in the country get into primary school, only 8 percent make it to secondary school. “It’s such a pity that they have to drop out because they are so smart, and everybody is learning together and learning at the same pace it seems,” she observes. “It’s sad that… that has to end for some of them, because they could probably do so much if they had the resources to continue and complete.”

For Rihanna, the Malawi trip is one of many humanitarian missions she’s embarked on lately. The ANTI singer has also founded a scholarship program for Carribean students to attend U.S. colleges, done work on education in over 60 developing countries, and, in February, was chosen by Harvard University as the recipient of the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic work.

Watch the film and then head to Global Citizen to learn how you can lobby your government to increase their education budgets and funding to the Global Partnership for Education to help it reach $3.1B between 2018 and 2020.

Celebrated Spanish Designer David Delfín Dies at Age 46

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Photo: @davidelfin_co on Instagram

David Delfín, the Spanish designer who co-founded the Davidelfin brand in 2001, died Saturday in Madrid due to brain cancer, Women’s Wear Daily reports.

Delfín, who’s from the town of Málaga, had been a celebrated name in the industry, and had won many international fashion awards, in cluding Spain’s 2016 National Award for Fashion Design in 2016 for “developing his own avant-garde universe.” He was also famous for his first Mercedes-Benz fashion show in Madrid in 2002, where in protest of the war in Afghanistan he covered models’ faces in sacks and put nooses around their necks.

Designer and actor Antonio Banderas, also from Málaga, took to Facebook upon learning the news, saying: “The whole Miami fashion week mourns the death” of the late designer.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also offered condolences, saying in The Washington Post’s report that Delfín “was one of the most charismatic and creative fashion designers in Spain” and “leaves an incomparable legacy.”

Delfín’s final collection had been his AW 16 line, featuring bright colors, text, and fringed scarves:

MENTIRAS AW2016 Happy B-day @dalianaharekion You

A post shared by David Delfín (@davidelfin_co) on

MENTIRAS AW2016 @xserrano9 @pablo.saez #davidelfin

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Stop The World! There is a Melancholy New Radiohead Single – ‘I Promise’ – and Video

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It’s still something of a sacred event, the introduction to the Universe of a new single by Radiohead. And much as they had come to be exalted for their wild, if sometimes baffling unpredictability, there’s one thing that has come to be a consistent element in their music: Thom Yorke is a very sad man.

The deeply melancholy new track ‘I Promise’ (and its accompanying “lonely, existential train ride” video) only serves to solidify that condition. In fact, it may remind you of 1995’s heartbreaking “Fake Plastic Trees.”

Just don’t take it to the beach.