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West Africa’s Most Daring Designer

On Saturday night in Lagos, Nigeria, women are restless with anticipation. On the mainland, where slums built atop landfills run into middle-class housing estates, a young hair stylist is putting on makeup and taming her mane of extensions, getting ready to meet her older boyfriend for drinks. On the island in the city’s center, where wealth and political power are concentrated, a twentysomething ad executive in a clingy dress is going with her friends to a club; if she doesn’t find a man she likes, she’ll text a friend, who…

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Culture 

Jimmy Kimmel’s Rise as a Reluctant Health-Care Crusader

Back during the George W. Bush Administration, when Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” was being heralded, and in some corners derided, as the place where “young people got their news,” Stewart himself would always bristle. If that were true, he’d joke, then the country was really screwed. Behind the joke was a deeper point, in which Stewart recognized his own significance. The responsibility of informing the public shouldn’t have fallen to comedians, but, if it had, it was surely more an indictment of the traditional news media than it was evidence…

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The True Story Behind Billie Jean King's Victorious “Battle of the Sexes”

“I underestimated you” were the first words former Wimbledon winner Bobby Riggs said to the tennis champion Billie Jean King in 1973 after she defeated him in front of 90 million viewers worldwide. It’s a serious mistake for any athlete to underestimate their opponent in any match in any sport, let alone when she’s the number one ranked female player and you’re playing in your own drummed-up spectacle of a match, the Battle of the Sexes. In the context of the fierce debate surrounding gender roles—then and now—his words serve…

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Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” Has a Muse Problem

There are lots of spoilers in this post. Woe to the woman Darren Aronofsky casts in his next movie. What fresh tortures will he devise for her? In “Requiem for a Dream,” Ellen Burstyn got her brain fried on amphetamines and electroshock, and Jennifer Connelly was sexually abased by sleazy corporate bros. As Nina Sayers, the ballerina in “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman peeled off her own fingernails, impaled herself on broken glass, and was sexually abased by Vincent Cassel. Now, in “Mother!,” Jennifer Lawrence is not doomed by drugs or…

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How U.S. and German Art Experts Are Teaming Up to Solve Nazi-Era Mysteries

A few years ago, some 21st-century digital housekeeping helped Karen Daly solve one of the 20th-century mysteries behind a 17th-century painting. Daly, the registrar for exhibitions and coordinator of provenance research at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, was going through data files as the VMFA was getting ready to launch a new website, which would include a new system for managing museum records and databases. She had been reviewing documents for items in the museum’s permanent collection and was intrigued by what she found for Battle on…

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Darren Aronofsky Says “Mother!” Is About Climate Change, But He’s Wrong

I wrote earlier this week about “Mother!,” Darren Aronofsky’s new film, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, describing it as the story of an artist who, in his vanity, makes his partner’s life hell. Then, in several interviews, Aronofsky and Lawrence (they’re also a couple in real life) told the public what the movie is really about. On Collider, Aronofsky was quoted as saying that “the structure of the film was the Bible, using that as a way of discussing how humans have lived here on Earth. . . ….

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Culture 

The ABA Was Short-Lived, but Its Impact on Basketball Is Eternal

The basketball is scuffed and scruffy, its provenance unknown, its rotating tricolors, when in motion, creating a mesmerizing pinwheel effect. This sacred relic—an official game ball used by the late, lamented American Basketball Association—reposes behind glass at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. It came to symbolize the ABA, a renegade professional league that ditched the traditional brown ball almost as an act of youthful defiance. The ABA was launched exactly 50 years ago when 11 owners ponied up franchise fees of at…

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