Prince and Failure to the Next Generation

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Rather shocking news last week when it came out that Prince had passed away at the age of 57.  The man was an artist at the true sense of the word.  He not only wrote some of the greatest pop songs over the last 35 years, but could play over 20 instruments like a genius and was an innovator of both fashion and culture.  He wasn’t only respected by people, but almost revered for the way he carried himself in a mysterious fashion.  The below clip of him joining in with a group of famous musicians to play ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ at the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction honoring George Harrison couldn’t be more ‘Prince’.  He comes in half way through the song and rips out a bombastic solo that goes on for minutes and minutes while the rest of the people on stage just stare at him wondering what is next.  Then at the end, he simply throws his guitar up in the air and we never see where it lands, just one more mystery of the man.

While the man died far to young and was an incredible artist, it couldn’t be more disappointing when the news came out that he never took the time to put together a will.  In my humble opinion, it is an extremely selfish act.  While Prince didn’t have any children, he had two brothers and sister, and six half brothers and sisters.  His estate is worth somewhere between $150M-$300M, but now it will all have to go into probate and who knows where those assets will go?  The stories are coming out that people have been trying to get Prince to finalize a will or a trust for years, but he never actually pulled the trigger.  Death is difficult for everyone.  I have a good friend whose father passed away two weeks ago.  The man had cancer, but passed away right after his first chemo treatment.  He had previously told his family that all of his affairs were buttoned up.  My friend not only had to deal with the sudden loss of her father, but now is dealing with no will or last testament, a $25K tax bill from the IRS, lines of credits at two banks, four cars, two boats, the list goes on and on.  It breaks my heart to see her emotions change from horrific shock and grief to anger over the endless amount of work she is forced to undertake to get her father’s estate in order.

You don’t need to be one of the most famous musicians in history to put together a will or trust.  While nobody wants to think about death, you are doing a true disservice to your family by not taking care of your affairs.  It isn’t terribly time consuming either, you could go to a website like LegalZoom where the plans start at $69.  There really aren’t too many excuses out there to not take ownership of your affairs, so your family isn’t dealing with it when you are gone.  For someone like Prince who was an innovator in every sense of the word, it is a real shame that he couldn’t take the time to be sure his assets were protected for the next generation.

-Victor Mandalawi

Another Case of Internet Fame Gone Bad

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In December, I wrote about a woman who claimed to have defended a Walmart cashier when they were being verbally assaulted by a customer.  She ended up finding out that the young cashier’s Mother committed suicide in the morning, but that he still came to work in the afternoon.  She helped him out with some money and then posted a YouTube video about it.  The video ended up receiving over 40 million views, but unfortunately for her, Walmart was able to prove that her entire story was fake.  The problem is that the second part of the story (about being fake) is never reported on as much as the original.  It looks as if we are experiencing a similar story this week.

An openly gay Pastor in Austin, Texas went to social media to post a video showing a cake that he had ordered from Whole Food’s flagship store in Austin was decorated with a gay slur.  With all of the controversy around recent legislation passed in both Mississippi and South Carolina, against the LGBT community, to say this is a hot button topic would be a major understatement.  Pastor Jordan Brown shows photos of the cake on the video, as well as a shot of the receipt and showing that the box is still sealed.   The video is posted below, but please not that it contains offensive language.

 

Without question, the video looks more than bad on the surface.  To write a slur like that is reprehensible.  Brown immediately hired a lawyer, filed suit, and the video was put up on the law firm’s YouTube page and has already received well over 400,000 views.  Needless to say, social media hit hard against Whole Foods for allowing something like this to happen.

It only took 24 hours for the story to take a strange twist.  Whole Foods immediately filed a suit of their own against both Brown and his attorney.  They have posted surveillance video of Pastor Brown checking out of the store and the scanning code seal on the cake is located at the top of the box, and not the bottom of the box where it is shown in his video.  Also, the top of the cake box was completely see through, so if there was such a vile saying, Brown would have seen it as well as the cashier.  The bakery staff of course was torn up being accused of something so terrible, but Whole Foods came to their rescue with a perfect statement and posted a great photo of the team saying what the cake originally said, “Love Wins”

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What on earth would possibly cause someone to fabricate a story such as this?  It is difficult to wrap your head around why a stunt like this would be good for anyone.  Whole Food should be commended for standing behind their staff and praising the LGBT community.  I just sincerely hope that the real outcome of this story is promoted as much as the initial salacious headlines, which ended up being 100% untrue.

-Victor Mandalawi

Long Flights and O.J.

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Last week I had to travel out to the West Coast for a few meetings.  The wi-fi on the plane was basically non existent, and I had a connection, thus I had quite a bit of time on my hands.  I managed to watch two movies, as well as the entire ten episode series of The People v. O.J. Simpson.  I had managed to not be too interested in the show, even though critics seemed to have given it high marks and plenty of people have been discussing it.  My logic was basically that I lived it, I don’t need to spend ten hours watching a movie about it.

Well, after binging and watching the entire series, I was more than pleasantly surprised.  The casting was fun, and they did a nice job of telling the story in a compelling matter.  As I thought about making that show, it had to have been difficult to create a ten hour series when just about everyone watching knows exactly what happens, but they did a nice job.  In reality, the whole thing was like a trip down memory lane, whether it was the story, the music, or some of the actors, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, David Schwimmer & John Travolta.

I was in high school when these events took place, and of course I don’t have the same perspective now as I did 20 plus years ago, so it was amazing to see what huge case this was from a race relations standpoint in our country.  Of course, I knew who O.J. Simpson was, and that the DNA facts of the case showed that it had to be him as the killer, but did not recall just how terrible the Los Angeles Police Department was to the Black community.  That portion of the story was more than eye opening.  The day that the verdict was announced, this country was on eggshells to see how people would react.

It brought me to think if the O.J. trial was the most racially divisive moment in my lifetime?  It would have to be either the Simpson trial, or the brutal beating of Rodney King just two years earlier.  What is disgusting is that the LAPD, were integral to each of those instances.  With each generation, we make positive strides bringing races together.  Watching that show covering events that took place 20 years should help us to be grateful for how far we have come.

There are plenty of millennials who weren’t old enough to truly remember what the O.J. Simpson trial was all about and what type of role race played in the circus around the trial.  Since spending the time to watch the series, I have recommended it to many of my younger friends and co-workers.  I just decided to tell them ‘Ross’ from the Friends reruns is the Dad of the Kardashians and that sold them right there!

In all seriousness, sometimes we have to take a step back and look at our mistakes as a society and figure out how to learn from them.  The O.J. Simpson case and the corresponding series is a great learning tool for us to why racial equality is so important to our country moving forward.

-Victor Mandalawi

Following Sports Is No Longer Just the Games

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I spent last week on a wonderful Spring Break across Texas with family.  As we were getting ready in the morning in various hotel rooms across the state each morning, my nephew required that SportsCenter be on the television at all times.  It is a great time of year in the sports cycle.  You had the run up to Opening Day in Major League Baseball, the Final Four Men’s Basketball tournament, and getting ready for Masters week.  Right now is arguably the best time of year for sports.  All of that said, I couldn’t help but notice that SportsCenter preferred to spend the vast majority of their time talking about LeBron James ‘subtweeting’ his teammates, and Lakers rookie, D’Angelo Williams taking a video of his teammate Nick Young, better known as ‘Swaggy P’ confessing of infidelities he committed while dating music star Iggy Azalea, and the video going out on SnapChat.  Go ahead and reread that sentence.  Can you even fathom something like that being written ten years ago?

The way sports are now covered varies so greatly from days gone by.  Thirty years ago, the beat reports traveled with the teams, went to dinner with them, protected their personal lives, and built relationships.  Around the time of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls ascension, in the early 1990s, that started to change a bit.  The Bulls were as close to ‘rock stars’ as we saw in sports, and they were covered that way.  Rumors started coming out about Jordan’s gambling issues, infidelities, and the floodgates were opened to attacking an athlete’s private life whenever possible.

It should be noted that athlete’s shouldn’t be held above anyone else in society.  In reality, their private lives are fair game for the media to cover, and I’m sure those salacious stories sold newspapers and magazines in the 1990s and 2000s, but should it really factor in on what we think of our favorite teams?  A massive precedent may have just been set last month on what is deemed news for celebrities and athletes when a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $140M in damages after Gawker published an edited leaked sex tape of Hogan online.

The social media revolution over the last 8-10 years has opened up a rather interesting pandora’s box for both celebrities and athletes.  They do longer need the media to get their points across.  Tiger Woods almost exclusively uses his website or his social media accounts for any announcements he has to make.  The media is no longer a necessity, but it now creates a sizable amount of confusion as to exactly what the athletes are trying to say.  Take a look at the below tweets from LeBron James and teammate Kyrie Irving.

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It sure looks like they are using Twitter to send cryptic messages to each other, but is this considered news?  It sure received plenty of coverage online and on television.

When you look at the D’Angelo Russell situation, it is even more murky.  First off, we would have NEVER heard of anything like this happening 20 years ago.  However, when it is said that the entire Lakers team is ignoring Russell and won’t even sit with him at breakfast, you would have to admit that it is effecting the way the team is playing.  Therefore, it seems the media has to cover the situation.  We are in a strange time though when there is more coverage of things that take place off the court/field than on.  Finding a solution somewhere in the middle is not going to be easy, but when you have a ten year old nephew who is obsessed with sports having to watch a ten minute segment on someone admitting to cheating on their fiance’ via SnapChat, it makes me want to get up and change the channel.

-Victor Mandalawi