With the release of his new album, Utopia, Scott attempted to temporarily put the pending case behind him. However, one song references the incident, which has reopen the devastating wounds for one of the Astroworld victim’s family. According to TMZ, lawyer Bob Hilliard, representing the family of the late Ezra Blount called out Scott for being insensitive.
“For an artist making his living with music, these are stunningly tone-deaf comments about this preventable tragedy that took so many lives and injured so many,” Blount told the outlet.
The stanza in question appears in Scott’s song “My Eyes,” where Scott rapped, “I replay them nights, and right by my side, all I see is a sea of people that ride with me / If they just knew what Scotty would do to jump off the stage and save him a child.”
Blount’s family believes the line is an attempt by Scott to reframe the public’s view of him. In December 2021, Scott sat down for an interview with Charlamagne Tha God to discuss the tragedy. “I went through something, and I feel like fans went through something, and people’s parents went through something, and it really hurts,” he said. “It hurts the community. It hurts the city. There’s been a lot of thoughts, a lot of feelings, a lot of grieving, and just trying to wrap my head around it.”
Since then, Scott hasn’t released any other public statement related to the 2021 Astroworld Festival.
Joaquin Phoenix has never been a typical actor. He’s an eccentric, and that eccentricity results in one rich, fascinating, unique performance after another — including that time he pretended to rebrand as a rapper, as a bit (and for a film). That does mean he has an unusual, potentially reckless way of prepping. Indeed, in the lead-up to shooting the forthcoming Napoleon, he shocked director Ridley Scott by being a little unprepared a little close to the first day of filming.
“He’ll come in, and you’re f*cking two weeks’ out, and he’ll say, ‘I don’t know what to do,’” Scott told Empire (as caught by Variety). “I’ll say, ‘What?!’ ‘I don’t know what to do.’ Oh God. I said, ‘Come in, sit down.’ We sat for 10 days, all day, talking scene by scene. In a sense, we rehearsed. Absolutely detail by detail.”
Was it worth it? Sounds like it. Scott dubbed him “the best player of damaged goods,” both for playing France’s most notorious emperor and for Gladiator, the last time they worked together. For that film, Phoenix earned his first Oscar nomination, playing the hissable, incestuous, daddy-killing, massive tongue-licking baddie who upends the life of Russell Crowe’s ripped general-turned-slave-turned-fighter Maximus.
In the same Empire piece, Phoenix gushed about reuniting with the ever-prolific Scott.
“The truth is, there was just a very nostalgic idea of working with Ridley again,” Phoenix explained. “I had such an incredible experience working with Ridley on Gladiator, and I was so young. It was my first big production. I really yearned for that experience again, or something similar. He’s approached me about other things in the past, but nothing that felt like it would be as demanding for both of us. And so I really liked the idea of jumping into something with Ridley that was going to be that.”
Alas, Phoenix, like Crowe, won’t be in Scott’s Gladiator 2, but at least there’s a good reason for that.
With that said, when I finally planned to go this summer, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d heard that LiB was something akin to Burning Man, or at least influenced by it, but I didn’t know much about the music, the vibe, or the setting. I’d hardly even glanced at the lineup until I was in a rental car headed north.
That was ~ to some degree ~ by design. So much of travel is measuring your impressions against the impressions of others that the act of going anywhere is often relegated to seeing things and deciding if you agree or disagree with what you’ve heard about them. Traveling without any information allows me to make impressions for myself without vetting them against what I’ve been told. Besides, it’s a music festival next to a lake? It’s not like a lack of prep could really hurt much.
The lakeside location — and the chance to bask in the water at the heat of the day, rinse off a night of dancing first thing in the morning, and lounge on inflatables which were shared freely by all — turned out to be a huge perk. The most uncool thing about Burning Man is clearly all the dust and the general lack of water, so I’m always glad when Burn-inspired fests remedy that error. But while Buena Vista Lake, near Bakersfield, proved an ideal setting, what impressed me far more was the general approach and philosophy of the Lightning in a Bottle team, which I’ve tried to break down (as I see it) in bullets below:
My biggest conclusion about Lightning in a Bottle is that it’s tough to pin down. That’s also what I liked most about it. I know it’s my literal job to clarify travel experiences for others, but LiB was just so wiley that I struggle to encapsulate it. It was chaotic in a way that I’ve always loved. One minute you might be watching a Diplo set that was at once awesome and something of a known entity and then suddenly you break off from the crowds and you’re at a puppet theater. Or a full 80s-era living room installed in the middle of a junkyard where people sit on couches and stare at old busted TVs (I can confirm that with so much stimulus, this activity was quite alluring).
In the same vein, the whole vibe was anti-cookie cutter. Nothing was basic and, as a result, the flow of things was sort of hard to figure out. At Coachella, you very clearly know what is paid for by the festival (free once you’ve entered) and what is part of the festival’s economy (food, drinks, merch, etc.). Besides those two elements well… there’s really nothing else. But at LiB I really had no idea what was supplied by the festival, what was created by fellow festival-goers, what was commerce-related, and what was free. And I quickly learned not to care. Did the festival pay for a man to walk around the grounds putting on ornate bubble shows or was he simply eager to share this talent? It didn’t matter. If something cost money, people would tell you. Otherwise, it was best to assume it was all just free, good old-fashioned fun. I remember one night walking along at 4 am and passing a glow light vendor and there were literally hundreds of people practicing glow lights around the booth and for a second I thought “Wow, he’s a brilliant marketer to have all these people showing off his glow lights!” then I wondered if maybe they all had just purchased glow lights and gotten inspired to play with them. And then, finally, I realized that me thinking about it at all was cerebral in a way that wasted time and energy — so instead I just sat back and admired the glowing chaos around me. And that’s when I was able to actually savor how cool it looks when a hundred people play with glow lights next to each other.
I guess this sort of ladders up to the other bits I’ve mentioned, but the Lightning in a Bottle emphasis on user experience was really high. I remember seeing a slackline and a cornhole next to the main stage and thinking, “I love that with Diplo and Sofi Tukker and Toby Nwigwe, and so many others on the bill, someone was like ‘GUYS DON’T FORGET TO ADD SLACK LINES!’” The philosophy of LiB seems to be: “add anything that can offer one iota more enjoyment” and I love that. The very thought is intriguing and shows a tremendous amount of care for guests. Plus, late one night I saw a woman race up to the slack lines on a bike, leap off as if she was rushing to drag babies out of a burning building, and slackline alone for a few minutes. At which point, I thought “I’m so glad those slack lines were there!”
Okay, I guess all of those ideas sort of meld together. But they also sort of emphasize LiB’s frenetic, maximalist nature — which also made room, amidst all the clowns and chaos, for self-improvement. In the course of a few days, I attended yoga workshops, psychedelic speeches, and a “rose petal ceremony” that was 1) exactly what it sounds like, a very serious ceremony starring tens of thousands of rose petals, and 2) deeply emotionally affecting for reasons I can’t quite manage to explain. In short, Lightning in a Bottle was a cosmic gumbo. At one point I saw a dominatrix play a folk music set that sort of blended airy guitar tunes seamlessly with BDSM. Later that night, I came upon six or seven people performing improv comedy with puppets (as if improv comedy needed another layer added to make it slightly less accessible to viewers) and even though the show itself didn’t quite work, there was an energy present that I really liked. The puppeteers, who were playing to just a few people (and had been positioned against headlining acts) seemed to sense that they, too, were a necessary part of this festival which, as I mentioned, featured Diplo — one of the largest musical acts on earth.
That’s so cool to me — a creative tent with room for so much variety underneath. A festival that contains close to as many multitudes as its attendees.
“There’s been so many iterations of this, having evolved from some rave kids off in the woods, and it’s always evolving,” says DoLab/ LiB co-founder Dede Flemming when I speak to him at the festival about its Grand Canyon-wide expanse of programming. “So there’s never a feeling of coasting — we’re always pushing to find new experiences and curate new moments.”
The thrill of discovery that Flemming has is palpable at Lightning in a Bottle. On the fest’s closing night, I saw Toby Nwigwe absolutely crush in a set that felt the most like a Coachella headliner (with the only difference being that, having been to both, I can certainly say that LiB had vastly fewer cellphones waggling during performances — my takeaway being that people were there for the experience and not just to humble-brag about the experience via Instagram). It was my favorite standalone performance of the festival because Nwigwe and his crew just have such a spectacular flair for the dramatic without too much reliance on tech. But as I walked away from that show I came upon a blackjack table that was absolutely loaded with people — where the wager was nothing and the rewards were trinkets and pieces of ephemera from decades long past (like old Nintendo cartridges or warped editions of LOOK magazine).
I’ve never, in all my years of festival going, seen an event hit such a wide range of notes — from the spectacular to the random to the fantastical to the intentionally odd.
“You do, at times, see people not at their best,” Flemming said to me, when I asked about being the creator of so many people’s biggest, wildest, and weirdest experiences for the year. “There’s always those ‘it’s 3am, can someone help you back to your tent?’ moments. But for the most part, you see people online and on social media talking about ‘take me back to LiB.’ When they finally get here and you look at the joy they feel and you’re not jaded about it, and you let it really sink in — it’s this incredibly proud moment. Because you’re making one big art piece and the people are a vital part of that.”
At four AM on the last night of the festival — after Nwigwe and the puppeteers — I saw a man in a Bane/ Goatse mask and all-black leather crossing paths with a woman in a cream-colored kimono who I’d witnessed earlier in the weekend absolutely owning the role of a priestess the aforementioned rose petal ceremony. The image was striking and represented the festival at its most hippy and hardcore at once. Between those poles, I had seen so many varieties of style and music and vibe and even (forgive me) energy.
But everything — all of it — managed to co-exist because the festival itself made room. Coachella doesn’t have that sort of range.
It struck me that while “LiB” is the event’s acronym, those same letters are the beginning of a word that most accurately pinpoints what I witnessed over the course of my time there — liberation. What I saw is people at their most free. Free to be overly sexual or whimsical or ethereal. Free to be even unique, truly unique, in infinite ways. As someone who feels that liberation in all its forms is one of the highest callings of humanity, I loved coming to this conclusion.
And I’m so glad that in our rapidly homogenizing world, places like this exist.
“Barbenheimer” fever has not only lit up the box office. It’s also lit up social media. For months, people simply couldn’t believe that two very different movies were being released on the same day — despite this once being a very, very common thing for decades and decades. But not everyone thinks all the memes are funny, and for a very good reason.
As per Deadline, Warner Bros. Japan issued a statement lamenting that the Barbie Twitter account, part of the Warner Bros. Discovery fold, has been reacting favorably to some of the Barbenheimer memes. One such memes finds Margot Robbie’s Barbie Photoshopped alongside Cillian Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer amidst an atomic bomb explosion. The Barbie account replied, “It’s going to be a summer to remember.”
Those at Warner Bros. Japan (very understandably) don’t think jokes about mushroom clouds decimating Hiroshima and Nagasaki are very funny.
“We consider it extremely regrettable that the official account of the American headquarters for the movie ‘Barbie’ reacted to the social media postings of ‘Barbenheimer’ fans,” the translated statement reads. “We take this situation very seriously. We are asking the U.S. headquarters to take appropriate action. We apologize to those who were offended by this series of inconsiderate reactions. Warner Bros Japan.”
The statement went viral, as did the hashtag “#NoBarbenheimer.”
Oppenheimer has not yet been released in Japan, but if it does get a release date it may be a tricky sell. It should be noted that the latest from Christopher Nolan is by no means funny nor does it handle the issue lightly. Like most Nolan films, it contains no jokes. Nolan has not exactly shared in all the “Barbenheimer” revelry.
Shocking news has arrived from TMZ, which first reported that Angus Cloud, who portrayed drug-dealing Fezco “Fez” O’Neill on Euphoria died at age 25 while staying at his family’s home in Oakland, California. His cause of death has not been revealed, although TMZ published a family statement, which suggests that the actor had a rough time following his father’s death:
The actor’s family tells us … “It is with the heaviest heart that we had to say goodbye to an incredible human today. As an artist, a friend, a brother and a son, Angus was special to all of us in so many ways.”
They continue, “Last week he buried his father and intensely struggled with this loss. The only comfort we have is knowing Angus is now reunited with his dad, who was his best friend. Angus was open about his battle with mental health and we hope that his passing can be a reminder to others that they are not alone and should not fight this on their own in silence.”
Ron DeSantis has been polling way, way behind Donald Trump ever since he formally entered the race, and it somehow keeps getting even worse. On Monday, The New York Timespublished the results of a new poll, which found that the Florida governor — who’s typically been trailing in the 20s — is now down by 37. What is Trump’s secret? Maybe it’s all those indictments he’s been collecting like Beanie Babies, which has done the opposite of turn off many voters. Now a DeSantis ally thinks he should jump on that bandwagon.
As per Yahoo!, GOP representative Thomas Massie, an old pal of DeSantis, joked — or maybe not really? — that maybe DeSantis should commit some crimes to get in the good graces of the American people.
“I’ve said we gotta figure out, we got to find some judge in Florida that’ll indict DeSantis quick, to close this indictment gap,” Massie told McClatchyDC last week. “It’s a truism that anytime someone is being persecuted, their camp rallies to their defense.”
But Massie’s still Team Meatball Ron, who he argues is nimbly threading that needle between running against Trump but not being for throwing his butt in the clink.
“I think Ron’s taken the right path, which is to be sympathetic to the former president’s plight,” Massie said. But when asked what DeSantis can do to reclaim his lost momentum, he was a little vague.
“He’s made some changes,” Massie explained. “[He’s] on the ground a lot more in Iowa, it seems to me. And also he made the decision not to go in front of the legacy, mainstream media, and do the long-form open interviews on camera. But now he’s doing that. I think those are the right decisions.”
Over the weekend, DeSantis suffered what looked like a medium-sized brain fart when a reporter pointed out that he was down 30 points from Trump in the key state of Iowa. Little did he know Monday would bring even worse news. Maybe now’s the time to worm his way back into the hearts of GOP voters by mishandling some classified government documents.
A mom who admitted she packs her 2-year-old a meal when they go out to dinner has started an interesting debate on TikTok about restaurant etiquette and how it applies to young children.
The video posted by Ohio mom, Karlie Smith (unbreakablemomma on TikTok), has received nearly 600,000 views and has over 1,850 comments.
“Call me cheap, call me whatever, but if we’re going out to a restaurant, I’m packing my kid a meal,” Smith, 21, said in her post. “I do this for many reasons. On Friday nights, my family and I get together, and tonight, we’re getting food out. My son is not getting food out.”
“For one, you want me to pay $6.99 for chicken tenders and fries that my son is going to throw half of it on the floor? You’re crazy,” she continued. “Also, whatever I pack is probably going to be healthier than what the restaurant has anyways.”
Smith’s example of a $6.99 kids’ meal is generous. In some parts of the country, a kids’ meal will set you back a lot more than that.
In the video, Smith demonstrated what she prepared for her son’s meal that day: a sandwich filled with peanut butter and jelly, banana slices, cubed cheddar cheese and a chocolate-flavored Lara bar, all neatly organized in a plastic container.
Smith added that when they get to the restaurant, her child can begin to eat immediately without having to wait for a server to take their order and the kitchen to prepare the food.
“I can just hand him this and let him go to town,” she said. “Also, my child is not opinionated. He does not care what he eats; he just wants to eat.”
The mother of two created quite a stir on TikTok after posting the video, with some people shaming her for bringing outside food into a restaurant. Many felt she wasn’t being fair by taking a seat without buying a meal, while others thought the restaurant was a good place for a child to learn patience. Others felt she wasn’t being fair by eating a restaurant-cooked meal while her child ate food from home.
“$6.99 is not a outrageous price. Eating out is definitely a experience a child deserves while everyone eats out,” Suki commented.
“It is sooo important that they learn patience at that age. The same two-year-old who doesn’t learn that becomes a screaming five-year-old,” Heth added.
“Someone once told me if u can’t afford to let your kid get whatever meal they want at a restaurant, u shouldn’t be eating out,” Kiana stated.
“You are paying for the seat at the table, not just the food. The price of the food to the restaurant is a tiny part of it,” LiverpoolLilac wrote.
However, many people felt for Smith and thought she was doing the right thing for her child and finances.
“This is a great idea and I will be using it! Why would I buy a 2-year-old a meal they won’t eat? People need to stop harassing you,” Katy Brown wrote.
“This is great cause restaurant food is rarely healthy for kids. Always chicken tenders and grilled cheese or corn dogs etc, and fries fries fries,” Luna added.
“This is so smart, my kids always waste out food & always eat what I make so thanks for this tip!” Ceryna said.
After the video was bombarded with comments, Smith told Today.com that, as a former server, she always leaves a tip that compensates for the food brought from home and cleans up the table.
Smith put out a follow-up video where she had some fun with the negative comments she received on the video.
Being the brand-new humans that they are, babies aren’t experts in anything, right?
Eh, not so fast.
However unconscious they are of their own expertise, babies are arguably experts at learning, We grown-ups tend to complicate the learning process with a whole host of emotional and psychological complexities—negative thinking, unrealistic expectations, shame, embarrassment— which cause us to give up when learning a new skill gets hard.
But babies? Babies just learn, without all of that baggage. And there’s a lot we can learn by observing them.
Case in point: This baby trying to eat a strawberry with a spoon.
In a video shared by Dan Wuori, Ph.D.,Senior Director of Early Learning at the Hunt Insitute, we see a baby in a high chair with a plate full of food, a spoon and fork. She picks up her spoon with a slice of strawberry on it and tries to put it in her mouth. But the strawberry falls off the spoon before it gets there.
She puts the spoon down, puts the strawberry slice back on it, then tries again. Again, the strawberry falls off before it reaches her mouth.
Then the same thing again. And again. And if we just look at her end goal—eating a strawberry with her spoon—she fails at it again and again. But she’s learning. Watch how her patient persistence and perseverance pays off:
Now, she could have just picked up the strawberry with her fingers and saved herself from failing over and over again. But she was on a self-driven mission to use the tool she’s seen the big humans use.
And rather than get frustrated and give up after it wasn’t working, she kept at it. Without speaking a word, she says with her actions that she’s determined and confident that she can do it. She hasn’t learned yet that failure is frustrating or embarrassing. All failure is to her is a stage of the learning process.
It’s also notable that the parent just watched (and giggled a bit) rather than intervening or coaching her. Some things are best learned by trial and error or just repeated practice, and often outside feedback can hinder that process more than help it. Even praise or cheering her on could have made the feat more about making Mom happy than about accomplishing the feat itself.
Good lessons to remember when we are learning something new. Be patient and confident. Don’t let frustration or embarrassment get in the way. Keep trying. Don’t give up.
Actor Paul Reubens, best known for creating the iconic character of Pee-Wee Herman, died on July 30, 2023, at the age of 70. His death shocked many as he kept his six-year battle with cancer a secret.
Pee-Wee Herman ranks among television and film history’s most popular and imaginative children’s characters. In a world where many of Hollywood’s ideas are recycled, the Pee-Wee character was unlike any that came before or after.
He had the signature look of a red bow tie, drainpipe pants and a flat-top hairdo. He was part man, part child, and he lived a life of pure whimsy and kindness. But, occasionally, when driven to anger, he could become maniacal, like a kid throwing a tantrum. As we learned in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” never mess with Pee-Wee’s bike.
“…he was more than a kid-show host, or a pop-culture oddity, or a tongue-in-cheek, time-warped fusion of Pinky Lee and the bratty kid next door. He was all of these at once. Anarchic, creative, obnoxious, and liberating, Pee-wee appealed to all sorts: to kids and to parents; to mainstream stars like David Letterman, and to maverick artists like Batman director Tim Burton and Playhouse designer Gary Panter. Pee-wee struck a chord with any perplexed soul who has ever echoed his famous cry, ‘I know you are, but what am I?’”
Reubens left a final note to fans that was shared on Instagram.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years. I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”
The Pee-Wee Herman character began as the star of a show for adults that played at midnight at the Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles in 1981 and later became an HBO special. In the character’s first full-length theatrical film, 1985’s “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” directed by Tim Burton, Reubens played a kid-friendly version of the character. The surprise hit film would lead to a sequel, “Big Top Pee-Wee” (1988), and a critically acclaimed children’s TV show, “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” which ran from 1986 to 1990.
“Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” earned 22 Emmy awards during that run, with Reubens being nominated for 14.
After an incident at a Sarasota, Florida, adult theater on Friday, July 26, 1991, Reuben’s image as a children’s TV host was tarnished, and CBS pulled all reruns of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” However, public opinion was decidedly pro-Reubens, with surveys showing that 9 out of 10 Americans supported him in the scandal.
Reubens reappeared as Pee-Wee at the MTV Movie Awards later that year, where he bravely poked fun at the controversy.
The scandal led Reubens to reinvent himself as a character actor, and he had scene-stealing roles in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Blow, “ Batman Returns,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “30 Rock.”
He revived the Pee-Wee character for a successful Broadway run in 2010 and a final film, “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday,” for Netflix in 2016. “Big Holiday” was a success with critics and fans, earning an 80% rating on “Rotten Tomatoes.”
“Last night we said farewell to Paul Reubens, an iconic American actor, comedian, writer, and producer whose beloved character Pee-Wee Herman delighted generations of children and adults with his positivity, whimsy and belief in the importance of kindness,” his reps wrote on Instagram. “Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit. A gifted and prolific talent, he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and in our hearts as a treasured friend and man of remarkable character and generosity of spirit.”
Over the weekend, noted breaking news reporter Trae Young sent out a tweet that said he’d heard rumblings that Kendrick Perkins had gotten tossed from a kids AAU game in Las Vegas after picking up double technicals arguing with referees.
Word on the street is @KendrickPerkins getting double techs in kids AAU games?? .. I don’t blame you fam, had to leave Vegas early because of the same reason
On Monday, the good folks at the NBA Today were able to scrounge up the video of that event and pressed Perk on what happened that got him tossed. Perk explained that he wanted an explanation for why one of the kids on his team got tossed and couldn’t get it, so he just kept going until he got ejected. The best part of the video of Perkins’ explanation is how much joy it brings Brian Windhorst.
Perk immediately calling for the tournament director is even funnier than him just getting run from a children’s basketball game. He needed to go straight to the top — and still got told he needed to stand to the side for the rest of the game. While a very funny video, just generally parents and coaches in kids sports need to take some deep breaths and lower the expectations for officials working those games. I understand its a tournament and the money spent to be there and all of that, but not a lot of that is going towards officiating. There are gonna be mistakes when folks are making $15 an hour (maybe) to referee a kid’s basketball game, and we probably don’t need to go full Gregg Popovich on them, even though it is very frustrating.
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