Spike Lee Talks 'She's Gotta Have It,' 'BlacKkKlansman,' Brooklyn Gentrification

Just days before veteran director Spike Lee would win his first competitive Oscar for the acclaimed biographical crime drama BlackKkKlansman, Hollywood’s most outspoken, singular, and at times maddeningly mercurial visionary was in a surprisingly philosophical mood. This, of course, goes against type for the button-pushing filmmaker who took on Hollywood’s majority white establishment and beat them on his own terms with such bold and unapologetically black statements as School Daze (1988), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), 4 Little Girls (1997), and He Got Game (1998).

So, on a crisp February morning, Fort Greene, Brooklyn’s uncompromising 5’6” Superman was seemingly at peace at his own Fortress of Solitude—the instantly recognizable 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks townhouse, which doubles for a production headquarters and unofficial retrospective of all things Spike Lee and beyond, from classic movie posters to memorabilia.

“[It’s] an Academy Awards campaign,” the 62-year-old auteur said, describing the minefield-like run-up to his euphoric Best Adapted Screenplay triumph alongside Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. “That’s like you’re a politician. There’s a lot of similarities. A lot of selfies. The days of Woody Allen wouldn’t even show up and still getting an Oscar, that doesn’t happen anymore. People want to see you.”

Breaking through with the sobering retelling of the 2014 Ron Stallworth memoir Black Klansman, an absurd but true-to-life story about the first Colorado Springs black police detective who infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, may not have made up for Lee’s past side-eye worthy Academy Awards snubs. But damn it, it felt good. Following a brief string of missteps between 2013 and 2015 (Oldboy, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Chi-Raq), Spike Lee’s epic comeback was complete.

But what do you do after you finally achieve much deserved Oscar reverence? How do you follow up delivering one of the most memorable speeches of the event’s 91-year existence, passionately extolling the meaning of the win on Black History Month as you praise your beloved grandmother, the daughter of a slave, who put you through Morehouse College and NYU grad film school with 50 years of social security checks? What’s next after capping it all off with a heartfelt call to arms to vote in the upcoming pivotal 2020 presidential election (“Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing…you know I had to get that in there!”), which managed to piss off Trump and his MAGA hordes?

“I’m on a plane to Thailand to shoot the next film,” said Lee of his next project, a Netflix war drama titled Da 5 Bloods, starring the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, along with acting vets Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., and Giancarlo Esposito. “What did Jay-Z say? On to the next.”

But that’s later on down the line. More pressing is the May 24 release of Season 2 of Lee’s Netflix hit She’s Gotta Have It, the sexually audacious series based on his provocative debut black and white romantic dramedy from 1986.

When we last left our ambitious, bold, polyamorous Brooklynite artist Nola Darling, played with joyful ease by DeWanda Wise, she was hosting an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with her three lovers: the smile-inducing Afro-Puerto Rican man child Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos), the serious (and still married) Jamie Overstreet (Lyric Bent) and laughably vain biracial photographer Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony).

There’s an existential discussion on Nola’s flip of the male-dominated “player” trope; a holy sh*t artwork reveal (a painting displaying the penises of all three men…awkward); and a surreal dance sequence to Prince’s 1985 majestic, joyous pop gem “Raspberry Beret.”

This next go around, however, Lee raises the stakes. Nola’s romantic relationship with stunning business owner and mother Opal Gilstrap (Ilfenesh Hadera) has entered the leaving-my-toothbrush-at-your-crib phase, which has our free-spirited heroine freaking out. Meanwhile, Mars, kicked out of the apartment by his sister, is forced to finally grow up.

Jamie has to deal with the painful aftermath of his divorce, Greer is still Greer, and Nola D is blindsided by the political and corporate realities of the art world. She’s struggling to hold on to her artistic integrity as well as her bond with girlfriends Shemekka Epps (Chyna Layne) and Clorinda Bradford (Margot Bingham) under the racial and class backdrop of Brooklyn gentrification.

It’s all a wonderful, intense and, at times, cringe-worthy mess. Spike wouldn’t have it any other way. “Our goal is to have five seasons,” Lee laughed. “So in order to achieve that goal, you gotta mix it up. You have to let it be interesting. [Nola] is trying to navigate life. To me that makes her a much more interesting character because she’s not perfect.”

But Lee isn’t content with just revisiting the indelible characters that launched a 30-plus-year cinematic journey that has been both prophetic (his 2000 criminally-underrated satire Bamboozled, an unfiltered reckoning of white America’s blackface obsessions) and unpredictable (the riveting 2006 heist thriller Inside Man, which diverged from his blueprint but still stands as the highest grossing flick of his career with more than $184 million worldwide). He is also embracing the new.

He is the producer of protégé Stefon Bristol’s intriguing time-traveling sci-fi Netflix drama See You Yesterday (May 17), which follows two high school science prodigies who attempt to stop the murder of an unarmed black man by police. All this and Lee still finds time to keep an eye out for the future prospects of his beloved New York Knicks.

“If certain things happen we are going to rocking like the old days at the Garden,’ he said, flashing an optimistic smile. “We got room for two cap players. We are going to have a chance to get the top pick Zion [Williams] from Duke.”

And there’s more. Spike Lee can’t stop, won’t stop.

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Frank Ocean Establishes PrEP+ Party In New York City

Frank Ocean has launched a queer nightclub party in New York City titled PrEP+, Pitchfork reports. The party is named after the HIV preventative drug, pre-exposure prophylaxis, which debuted in 2012. Its theme highlights the AIDS epidemic of the '80s and '90s, showcasing what nightlife would've been like if the medication existed then.

PrEP is formed in conjunction with Frank’s "Blonded" brand. The party was also made possible by the popular queer magazine, Gay Letter.

According to the publication's Instagram account, the event will take place tonight (October 17) and will be the first in a series of parties. For those interested in attending, tickets have reportedly been distributed and the location will be announced later today.

 

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This Thursday night a new party from @blonded called PrEP+ in NYC. PrEP+ is the first in a series of nights; an ongoing safe space made to bring people together and dance. PrEP+ will welcome globally celebrated DJs. The night is named PrEP+ as an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) -- which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs for those who are not infected but are at high risk -- had been invented in that era. Ticket links have been distributed and the venue will be announced to ticket-holders on the evening of the night. Club hours are 10pm-late. House rules: No photos or videos are allowed Consent is mandatory Zero tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism or any form or discrimination The dance floor is for dancing www.blonded.co

A post shared by GAYLETTER 🌈 (@gayletter) on Oct 16, 2019 at 5:28pm PDT

In other Frank Ocean news, he's reportedly working on an album that will showcase the classic electronic techno sounds of Detroit and Chicago with a French influence.

 

 

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Dave East Speaks On Collaborative Project With Nipsey Hussle

In a recent interview with Revolt TV, Harlem rapper Dave East revealed that he and Nipsey Hussle were working on a project before his untimely death. East said he first met Hussle through their gang affiliation so their relationship was deeper than rap.

"I’m from the [Rolling] 30s [Harlem Crips]," East said. "That’s how we met. I love Nip to death and I’m going to put on for Nip until my death."

In addition to this collaborative project, East is also working on releasing his major-label debut album, Survival, where he tributed a song to Hussle.

"I went mad personal and I wrapped it up with a tribute to my boy," he said about the album’s finishing touch. "Once I said what I said to Nip, I was like, ‘We’re good.’"

According to East, the album nearly approached full-length territory. “We were six songs in," East said. "We were planning a tour and all of that. F**k rap. I’m going to keep it 100. That was my ni**a. Anything we did together or anytime I had to be around that ni**a, I cherish it.”

“It’s wack he went out like that. That ni**a’s a king. Kings ain’t supposed to go out like that. But, that’s the world we’re living in,” he continued. “It’s wack he went out like that, but it sharpened me and a million other ni**as up. He went out like a G."

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Patrick Day stands in his corner before his fight against Elvin Ayala during their junior middleweight fight at Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2018 in New York City
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Boxer Patrick Day Dies From Traumatic Brain Injury After Knockout

On Wednesday (Oct. 16), junior middleweight boxer Patrick Day died from traumatic brain injuries set on by a recent knockout, ESPN reports. During Saturday's bout against Charles Conwell (Oct. 12), Day suffered a trio of destructive blows to the head in the tenth round after enduring previous hits in the fourth and eighth rounds. He fell into a coma while being treated at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Born in Freeport, New York, the 27-year-old not only had pursuits inside of the ring but also on the outside. Day obtained a bachelor's degree in health and wellness from Kaplan University, adding to his associate degree from Nassau Community College for nutrition. In 2006, he embarked on his professional boxing career, taking home the New York Golden Gloves six years later.

"On behalf of Patrick's family, team, and those closest to him, we are grateful for the prayers, expressions of support and outpouring of love for Pat that have been so obvious since his injury," promoter Lou DiBella said in a statement to ESPN. "He was a son, brother, and good friend to many. Pat's kindness, positivity, and generosity of spirit made a lasting impression with everyone he met."

Conwell took to his social media accounts to share his condolences and expressed remorse for how the match ended. "If I could take it all back I would no one deserves for this to happen to them," he wrote. "I replay the fight over and over in my head thinking what if this never happened and why did it happen to you." The undefeated boxer noted he entertained thoughts of quitting boxing but believes Day would want him to continue on in the sport.

 

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This is my last time speaking on the situation because of this being a sensitive topic not only for his family and friends but for myself and the sport of boxing. Dear Patrick Day, I never meant for this to happen to you. All I ever wanted to do was win. If I could take it all back I would no one deserves for this to happen to them. I replay the fight over and over in my head thinking what if this never happened and why did it happen to you. I can’t stop thinking about it myself I prayed for you so many times and shedded so many tears because I couldn’t even imagine how my family and friends would feel. I see you everywhere I go and all I hear is wonderful things about you. I thought about quitting boxing but I know that’s not what you would want I know that you were a fighter at heart so I decided not to but to fight and win a world title because that’s what you wanted and thats what I want so I’ll use you as motivation every day and make sure I always leave it all in the ring every time. #ChampPatrickDay With Compassion, Charles Conwell

A post shared by Boxings Best Kept Secret 🤫 (@charlesconwell) on Oct 14, 2019 at 3:54pm PDT

The boxing community swiftly expressed their thoughts and prayers for Day's family.

RIP young King Patrick Day All Day! 🙏❤️

— Amanda Serrano 🇵🇷 (@Serranosisters) October 17, 2019

Our deepest condolences to the family, friends and the team of Patrick Day. Rest In Peace Pat.

— Gennadiy Golovkin (@GGGBoxing) October 17, 2019

Another tragic day in our beloved sport. RIP Patrick Day pic.twitter.com/M23grCjHD3

— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) October 17, 2019

A truly heartbreaking situation...

RIP #PatrickDay & thoughts go out to all his loved ones 🙏 - rest easy champ 💔 pic.twitter.com/QmvEWrhBeF

— iFL TV™ (@IFLTV) October 17, 2019

R.I.P. to Patrick Day. 27 years old, he had his whole life ahead of him. Rest easy Champ 🖤✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/KW4eEdLeor

— Ashley Theophane (@AshleyTheophane) October 16, 2019

Another sad day for the boxing world. Our sincere condolences to the family of Patrick Day 🙏 pic.twitter.com/AlaaTKhuPe

— MayweatherPromotions (@MayweatherPromo) October 16, 2019

Devastated to hear the news of the passing of Patrick Day.I met him for the first time last Thursday,what a charming young man with a dream and a smile that lit up the room.Our deepest prayers are with his family, his trainer Joe Higgins,Charles Conwell and promoter Lou DiBella🙏

— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) October 16, 2019

Keep lifting up my brother #PatrickDay we need non stop prayers! For him, his family, and the boxing community. This kid is such a blessing and doesn’t deserve this. I haven’t prayed, cried, or tweeted in so long #LetsGoChamp pic.twitter.com/q4Pmmx2b2H

— Magic Marcus Willis (@MagicMarcusW) October 16, 2019

Rest In Peace.

Patrick Day was always kind, happy and an exceptional good man who was outstandingly passionate about boxing. We will always remember you for all of that. pic.twitter.com/v506g26nmX

— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) October 16, 2019

Damn man, Rest easy Patrick Day. Prayers to your friends and family

— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) October 16, 2019

The last North American boxer to die from brain injuries following a match was Kevin Payne in March 2006 after a surgery to treat the impact. According to the NCBI, 20 percent of pro boxers suffer Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury (CTBI). The condition is similar to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which has been a recurring topic in sports like football and hockey.

"While we already know that boxing and other combat sports are linked to brain damage, little is known about how this process develops and who may be on the path to developing CTE," said Dr. Charles Bernick, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic said in an American Academy of Neurology, per CBS News.

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