The Shape Of Wudder: Pop Culture Love and Hate From March's First Seven Days
Greetings, Ladies & Gentlemen of Wudder World…
Now that you had a few days to absorb the nearly War and Peace-length Flock of Eagles Super Bowl Winning Season in Review, we return from that dream with a few new hot takes on the sports, movies, TV, and music scene, from the first week of March 2018.
The outpouring of love over Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar on Sunday, in a Digital Animated Short category no one cared about before, has been curious for sure.
It’s brought many likely suspects you’d suspect out: Laker Fans, members of the sports media starved for entertainment tie-ins, Shaq, seemingly all of ESPN as the network is in pre-production on a forthcoming Kobe basketball show, and more.
But what actually happened and what does it really mean?
Let’s review, shall we?
Upon retirement in 2015, after spending his final three seasons in Los Angeles as a salary-cap albatross and marketing symbol of past Laker glories, Kobe wrote a cringeworthy, self-serving ‘poem’ in the Players Tribune called “Dear Basketball”.
The title alone gives me that same awkward feeling, and FOH laugh, as his Fake ‘Tensity Face in the later #24 era used to do. I still can’t read it straight thru.
But Ol’ Kob commissioned Disney Legend Glenn Keane (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin), along with Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark composer extraordinaire John Williams, to put some prestige around Kobe’s dramatic reading of his poetically pedestrian self-tribute.
The Academy, an organization filled with Laker Fans and starfuckers, who likely pay the Animated Short Film category as much mind as you do (quick, name a single past winner without Googling), voted to turn garbage into a statuette plated with gold Sunday night.
Kobe used the platform of his acceptance speech to belatedly soft-shoe into the LeBron/Laura Ingram fray, while alluding to Fox News being racist.
Fox News then in turn fired up their propaganda cultural war machine, to take some air/online time to remind folks that Kobe Bryant is an accused rapist.
*Cool Hand Luke voice*
What we've got here is...
A rare case of two broken clocks being right, while keeping time on the other.
"Word to (suing) Ya (own) Mutha."
But settle down, Ye Irrational Citizens of Kobestan, or Bron Haters looking for any small opening to gain entrance into the MJ convo with LeGOAT.
This does nothing to bolster Kobe’s basketball legacy, nor illuminate a new post-retirement creative path, any more than “Muse Cage” did.
Be happy with what you’ve got: one MVP, two Finals MVPs (even while shooting 6-for-24 in Game 7 of The Finals), probably a Top 20 player of all-time, likely #2 shooting guard of all-time, and easily the best #MeToo two-guard ever.
The best show on television, FX's Atlanta (Thursdays, 10 PM EST), returned March 1st.
This followed an incredibly long layoff between the last time we saw a new episode, way back on November 1st of 20SickDream, when it ran away with the “best new TV show” title, in the annual “Something In The Wudder's Best & Worst Pop-Culture Clash” wrap-up.
It went on to win a Golden Globe for “Best Television Series–Musical or Comedy” in January of 2017.
But forget the Hollywood Foreign Press, you heard it here first.
Since then, Atlanta’s co-creator/star Donald Glover has been a little busy.
There was a concert tour under his ‘Childish Gambino’ musical-alter-ego moniker, in support of “Awaken, My Love!” (Lucky #13 on “Streaming Consciously’s Sixteen Sweetest Albums of 20SickDream”), his first top-shelf album project, a surprising bit of cosmic slop which dropped a month after Atlanta’s first season ended.
Glover also needed some time off to portray Young Lando Calrissian, in the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Critically acclaimed funk homages, or blockbuster space-westerns aside, Atlanta is the creative outlet sending Glover’s legacy into hyperdrive.
Not only Glover, or his Princeton dropout ATLien character Earnest “Earn” Marks, but this amazing cast, many of which we might’ve never gotten to see otherwise:
-Brian Tyree Henry, as Earn’s cousin, aspiring trap-rapper Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles.
-Zazie Beetz as Vanessa “Van” Keefer, Earn’s on-again/off-again girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, Lottie.
-And especially Lakeith Stanfield as Darius, Paper Boi’s road dawg, a preternatural mystic, and one of the best characters to bless the small screen in some time.
The opening scene of Atlanta’s sophomore salvo, dubbed “Robbin Season” features absolutely none of them, but does so in a manner no one watching will soon forget.
In addition to stellar character development and acting, the overhead landscapes and trippy cinematography by Hiro Murai, writing team led by Glover’s brother Stephen, and musical supervision of Jen Malone are executed with laser-like precision.
Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already, and go binge-watch the first FX season.
That's 10 episodes at approximately 20-22 gone-too-soon minutes a piece.
Or hop on board a little late rather than never to catch Episode 2 of Season Two on Thursday 3/8 at 10 PM. Most of the series’ episodes function as stand-alone works as well, so this early into Season 2, you may be able to come in cold and still be good to go.
Season Two, "Robbin Season"
Episode One, “Alligator Man”
Six-Word Summation: Did Dis Dude Just Do Dis?
Most Memorable Scene: The aforementioned cold open.
Most Memorable Line: “No, that's not it. What I'm scared of is being you. You know, someone everyone knew was smart, but ended up being a know-it-all fuck-up jay that just let shit happen to him."-Earn to Uncle Willy
Best Darius Moment: Blasting Death Grips while driving Earn to see his P.O.
Viral Allusion: Florida Man
Best Cameo: Katt Williams?!?!
Episode MVP: See Best Cameo Winner
Best Use of Music: “Hey Love” by The Delfonics
Quibbles-n-Bits: No true objections, but if forced to list something, the moodier mid-section can’t match the power of the episode’s open or close.
Episode Wudder Weight: 9.5 out of 10
Five New Songs in Current Rotation:
Who: Anderson .Paak
What: “Til It’s Over”
Why: Because it’s the first official song (non-soundtrack/feature/collab) by Anderson .Paak since his 2016 MVP campaign. That’s reason enough to get plenty of initial burn. Admittedly, the Spike Jonze-directed and FKA Twigs dance-number in the video, while doubling as a longform ad for Apple felt a bit odd, but it's 2018. Cupertino's corporate office surely funded the contributions of all involved. As for the song, still processing, but it’s got potential.
Who: The Breeders
What: “Wait In The Car”
Why: Does the world make effortlessly badass rock chicks like Kim Deal anymore? I refuse to see the reunited Pixies without her in the fold, but am glad she & her twin sister Kelly have gotten the original lineup of The Breeders back in the studio for the first time since their 1993 smash Last Splash. The resulting album, All Nerve, came out Friday. There’s a few candidates to choose from, but start with this spiky, two-minute rocker. It checks some of our favorite Breeder boxes, most notably the sisterly harmonies, Deal’s frenetic guitar and the tongue-and-cheeky humor: “Consider I…always struggle with the right words…meow, meow, me-meow, me-meow”. Kim Deal remains a cool cat, 30 years into a legendary career.
Who: Nipsey Hussle & YG
What: “Last Time That I Checc’d”
Why: This single’s been out for a little while now, but Nip & YG’s first collab since the prophetic “F.D.T.” in Summer 2016, sounds like the hardest rap record of 2018 thus far. South LA native Nipsey Hussle’s first major label album, Victory Lap, came out two weeks ago, greatly overshadowed by Black Panther mania. But if rather than Wakanda, you want rugged, raw-uncut LA gangsta music? Accept no substitute then these two. As a longtime LA resident, it also didn’t hurt watching cars ride down Artesia Boulevard, while on its hook hearing a vocal sample of Ric Flair’s “Woo!”.
What: “Flower of the Universe”
Why: Well, “currently in rotation”, might be a bit misleading. The first new song in seven years from musical royalty, Helen Folsade Adu aka Sade Adu aka SADE, recorded for the A Wrinkle in Time soundtrack, was released in file form by the song’s producer (longtime Common, Kanye and Jay-Z Collaborator No I.D.) on Twitter two days ago. So, it was cool for a few hours of repeated listening, until the powers that be decided enough was enough. If you didn’t catch it then, I guess you’ll have to wait a little bit longer. No I.D. may wanna take that time to tweak his drum sounds a bit, but Sade’s voice, lyrics, plus melody sound perfect.
Who: Swae Lee (of Rae Sremmurd)
What: “Hurt To Look”
Why: While Migos gets Rolling Stone covers, Golden Globe speech shout-outs, SNL performance slots and way too much praise for a new 120-minute album that sounded like one long damn song, the two brothers in Rae Sremmurd have been making entirely new sounds each time out. Here’s the latest example from the younger, more talented member of the fraternal duo, Swae Lee. Compare “No Flex Zone” on the debut, to “Black Beatles” on SremmLife2, to whatever this is. Eventually, maybe the world will stop underestimating these kids.
Five Old Cuts Undergoing Re-Appreciation:
Pink Floyd-“The Nile Song”
Six-Word Summation: Rawest Rock Song Floyd Ever Played.
Aimee Mann-“Save Me”
Six-Word Summation: Greatest Song Aimee Mann Ever Made.
A Tribe Called Quest-“Youthful Expression”
Six-Word Summation: Most Underrated Song on Tribe’s Debut
Miles Davis/Quincy Jones-“Here Comes The Honey Man (Live at Montreaux)”
Six-Word Summation: Miles Scares Quincy, Even While Dead.
Notorious B.I.G.-“Playa Hater”
Six-Word Summation: “Alligator Man” Provides Life After Death.