IMG_0881.JPG

 

Haut Takes is a weekly newsletter. Alexis Haut is an educator, writer and podcast producer based in Crown Heights. She spent seven years teaching, leading and coaching basketball in middle schools in Brooklyn and Newark before independently producing her first podcast series New York, I Love You But You’ve Changed in 2018. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She writes about (mostly Drake) lyrics, politics, pop culture and the intersection of the three

Some Things Never Seem to F**king Work: A reflection in two playlists and a few other things

Some Things Never Seem to F**king Work: A reflection in two playlists and a few other things

Hey Hey.

I'm frustrated with a number of life's things right now. No more details provided for general readership at this time. Just know I'll be fine. 

At the bottom of a deep emotional spiral, I do a few things: aggressively exercise (an inherited Haut trait passed down through the generations), text/ call/ FaceTime/ visit my very best gal pals and sister, drink wine, anxiously make lists and spreadsheets in the middle of the night, forgo the subway to take very long walks around NYC and listen to TONS of music. 

Below I share with you the songs that get me through, in two parts. The first is for when you just want to be IN it, the second is for when you're ready to pull yourself the fuck OUT of it. Each playlist is linked, contains 40 songs and is potently powerful (IMO). Hope they help if you find yourself in a similar situation. 

So thanks to these artists (especially Nicki, Drake, Sampha, Frank, Tribe, Ri and SZA who all have multiple entries) and their words (some lyrics are quoted below, some are directly relevant to my life, some aren't. Don't read too much into it.) and to my friends (Alison, Sean, Kate, Katie, Alex, Elle, Hailey, Linds, Sally, Erin) who cooked for me, drank and ruminated with me, watched New Girl repeats, answered my texts/ calls, let me sleep in their beds and in a very nice way told me to pick myself up and get my shit back together. I love you all, MUAH.

Playlist 1: when shit is hard, part I: the low

  1. I Lied, Nicki Minaj: This is what I gotta do to keep me from falling/ stalling the truth/ who knew what you'd do, if I let you in?/ my mama ain't raise no fool/ I am not your usual typical type/ Who would protect me if I never hide?
  2. The Crying Game, Nicki Minaj + Jesse Ware
  3. Buy a Heart, Nicki Minaj + Meek Mill (pre-break up)
  4. Good Guy, Frank Ocean
  5. Love Galore, SZA + Travis Scott
  6. Garden (Say it Like Dat), SZA
  7. 20 Something, SZA: How could it be?/ 20 something, all alone still/ not a thing in my name/ ain't got nothin'/ runnin' from love/ only know fear/ that's me, Ms 20 something
  8. Timmy's Prayer, Sampha: I'm waiting 'cause I fucked up
  9. Happens, Sampha: She said I can't let this happen/ no, I can't let this happen again
  10. Saint Pablo, Kanye West + Sampha: You're lookin' at the church in the night sky/ and you wonder where is God in your night life
  11. FML, Kanye West
  12. FourFiveSeconds, Rihanna: I think I've had enough/ I might get a little drunk/ I say what's on my mind/ I might do a little time/ cause all of my kindness is taken for weakness
  13. Wednesday Night Interlude, Drake + PARTYNEXTDOOR: fuck it, I'm just glad you called
  14. Now and Forever, Drake
  15. Feel No Ways, Drake
  16. Redemption, Drake
  17. Faithful, Drake + PImp C + dvsn
  18. Buried Alive Interlude, Kendrick Lamar (Take Care): And it didn't help 'cause it made me even more rude and impatient
  19. Shot for me, Drake
  20. Too Much, Drake +Sampha
  21. Higher, Rihanna
  22. Runaway, Kanye West + Pusha T: And I always find, yeah, I always find something wrong/  you've been putting up with my shit just way too long/ I'm so gifted at finding what I don't like the most
  23. Street Lights, Kanye West: I know my destination/ I'm just not there in the streets
  24. 911/ Mr. Lonely, Tyler the Creator + Frank OceanThey say the loudest in the room is weak/ that's what they assume, but I disagree/ I say the loudest in the room is prolly the loneliest one in the room (that's me)
  25. Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work, Solange: SOME THINGS NEVER SEEM TO FUCKING WORK
  26. Swim Good, Frank Ocean
  27. Biking (solo), Frank Ocean
  28. Chanel, Frank Ocean
  29. River, Leon Bridges
  30. Writer in the Dark, Lorde
  31. Because the Night, Patti Smith
  32. Stressed Out, A Tribe Called Quest + Consequence+ Faith EvansI really know how it feels to be stressed out, stressed out/ when you're face to face with your adversity
  33. Lost, Frank Ocean
  34. Bad Religion, Frank Ocean
  35. Weathered, Jack Garrett: So keep me young and call my bluffs/ and help me out when you say, you say/ there's no room for doubt
  36. Start A Fire, Lil' Wayne + Christina Milian
  37. Saved, Khalid
  38. Island, Wet
  39. Praying, Kesha: 'cause you brought the flames and put me through hell/ I had to learn how to fight for myself/ and we both know all the truth I could tell/ I'l just say this as I wish you farewell
  40. Ultralight Beam, Kanye West + Chance the Rapper

Playlist 2: when shit is hard, part ii: the come up

  1. God, Kendrick Lamar: This what God Feel like/ laughin' to the bank like a-ha
  2. Comin Out Strong, Future + The Weeknd
  3. All We Got, Chance the Rapper + Kanye West + Chicago Children's Choir
  4. Ice Melts, Drake + Young Thug
  5. Forgot About Dre, Dr. Dre + Eminem: Nowadays, everybody wanna talk/ like they got somethin' to say/ but nothin' comes out when they move their lips/ just a bunch of gibberish
  6. No Frauds, Nicki Minaj + Drake + Lil' Wayne
  7. Who Dat Boy, Tyler, the Creator + A$AP Rocky
  8. By Design, Kid Cudi + Andre Benjamin
  9. None of Your Business, Salt n' Pepa: opinions are like assholes and everybody's got one
  10. Threatening Nature, Ab-Soul
  11. 6 God, Drake
  12. Never Be Like You, Flume + Kai
  13. Needed Me, Rihanna
  14. Justfayu-Lion Babe Remix, Kamau + No Wyld: I did it justfayu and you just don't care
  15. Rih-Flex, The-Dream
  16. Want Some More, Nicki Minaj: Every time I end up getting it, want-want-want some more
  17. Monster, Kanye + Jay + Rick Ross + NICKI
  18. Survivor, Destiny's Child: Thought I couldn't breathe without you, I'm inhaling/ You thought I couldn't see without you, perfect vision
  19. ***Flawless, Beyonce + Chimamanda Adiche
  20. Best Thing I Never Had, Beyonce
  21. Feeling Myself, Nicki Minaj + Beyonce: Male or female it makes no difference/ I stop the world, world stop/ carry on
  22. Bodak Yellow, Cardi B
  23. Charged Up, Drake
  24. Keeping it Moving, A Tribe Called Quest: Keep it movin, yeah yeah, to the K.I.M
  25. International Players Anthem, UGK + Outkast
  26. Can't Tell Me Nothing, Kanye West: Excuse me, was you saying something? Uh, uh you can't tell me nothing.
  27. Check Yo' Self- Remix, Ice Cube
  28. Who's That Girl?, Eve
  29. Lookin' Ass, Nicki Minaj + Young Money
  30. Beware, Big Sean + Jhene Aiko
  31. Follow Us, Big Boi +Vonnegutt
  32. The Seed (2.0), The Roots
  33. G.O.M.D, J.Cole
  34. Flawless Remix, Beyonce + Nicki
  35. I Don't Fuck With You, Big Sean + E-40
  36. Bitter Raps, Boogie
  37. Company, Drake + Travis Scott
  38. Yeah, I Said it, Rihanna: yeah, I said it, man, fuck a title
  39. Desperado, Rihanna
  40. All Me, Drake: Came up, that's all me, stay true, that's all me/ no help, that's all me/ ALL ME FOR REAL
mug.jpeg

In case you were wondering... I do, in fact, own this mug. It houses all my lipsticks.


In this week's issue: The Aziz Ansari "clusterfuck" has me all sorts of confused. The best of what I've read/ watched in the past seven days and a list of 4 seemingly innocuous things that make me cry on sight.


I. Does having mixed feelings about Aziz Ansari make me a bad feminist? Asking for a friend.

Nah, I am totally asking for myself. I'm also not really asking to receive an answer, more so as a general hypothetical. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, over the weekend the feminist blog Babe published an account of a woman who went on a date with Aziz last year. Using a pseudonym, "Grace" tells of going out to dinner with Aziz, then going back to his apartment where he made clumsy sexual advances after she nonverbally made it clear that she was not interested while deflecting interest by saying "I don't want it to feel forced." The next day, he texted her to say he had fun. She informed him that she was incredibly uncomfortable, he apologized saying he mistook it as consensual. The entire account and text messages are in the link.

This is a hard one. In full disclosure, I am a huge Aziz fan. I love Master of None. I have watched all of his stand up specials. I have read Modern Romance. I have seen him speak in person, twice. I find his commentary on dating amongst millennials to be incredibly relatable. I have definitely bought into the idea that he is an adorable, harmless, hapless friend of women. I viewed him as the Franco antidote during last week's Golden Globes. I thought his wearing of the Time's Up pin was earned. But in an effort to be objective, I am going to TRY to push that aside. 

What Aziz did was undoubtedly creepy, and gross, and wrong- and I'm sure he has done something similar to other women. But was it assault? I don't know. He is a man who received an incredible amount of praise and recognition incredibly quickly, so using his power for sexual coercion is not out of the realm of possibility.

Unfortunately, what was described in Grace's story is very similar to a number of sexual experiences I and most of my female friends have had. I remember them as uncomfortable and annoying, but on the spectrum of sexual trauma they rank towards the bottom. And while I never want to downplay any stress Grace experienced after this encounter, reading this account is undeniably stressful for other women. It forces us to reconsider uncomfortable sexual experiences through the purview of assault. Stories we may have buried years ago resurface and ask us to toy with taking on the identity of being a survivor of assault. In an op-ed for the New York Times, published yesterday, Bari Weiss said the following: "I’m apparently the victim of sexual assault. And if you’re a sexually active woman in the 21st century, chances are that you are, too."

Sex is undoubtedly stacked against women. We are not taught that it is something women should enjoy or ask for, but rather that it is something to tolerate and submit to. Many men are taught the same thing. This manifests as the belief that if they are just a little bit more aggressive, things will go their way. And usually they do, because again- women submit. Our narrative of sexual dynamic is incredibly warped, and the Aziz/ Grace interaction is definitely defined by it. But since this story has been lumped into the #metoo wave, the conversation is not about how to fix legal but sketchy sexual encounters- but rather about whether or not Aziz is a sexual assailant. Jill Filipovic puts it really well in an op-ed in The Guardian, published today:

"It seems to have been reported only because there was a celebrity name attached, and not even because the celebrity broke the law or leveraged his power to do wrong, but because he was sexist and sexually entitled – while despicable, that’s shaky grounds for broadcasting an individual’s sexual play-by-play.
 
As a result, we’re arguing about whether Aziz Ansari is a sexual assailant, and missing the more relevant conversation about sex, male entitlement and misogyny in the bedroom."

I wholeheartedly agree that we should be talking about this, but not in the same conversation as the illegal activity of the Weinstein's, Russell Simmons and Donald Trump's of the world. This is a conversation about sexism in sexual encounters where our societal idea of consent is incredibly nebulous. It can be used to reframe our definition of consent and pleasure, specifically to teach men how to recognize enthusiastic/affirmative consent as the only option and for women to feel empowered to walk away when it is a possibility. I am in no way excusing what Aziz did, it was shitty, but our society's incomplete sexual education serves as an explanation. I guess I am trying to say that based on this one account, Aziz does not seem like a sexual deviant but rather a product of our society's general disrespect for women.

My greatest fear is that the #metoo moment is an incredibly fragile one. In an ideal world, it would lead to a revolution of sexuality- but the opposition is strong. There are a number of people who want to see it fail in the face of what they consider female hysteria. Grace is not hysterical, she is justified in her anger- but maybe we need a new category for stories like hers (and many of ours).

P.S. Fingers crossed a a slew of Aziz related stories don't storm social media as soon as I hit publish on this newsletter. If that does become the case, see you soon. 


II. Five great things I watched and read this week:

  • SMILF: I signed up for a free week of Showtime and watched all 8 episodes in one day. This show was HYPED on every feminist media outlet I subscribe to. And it sure does live up. Frankie Shaw is the show's runner, writer and star. It is based off a short film of the same name Shaw wrote in 2015. She plays Bridgette Bird, a single mother in her 20s living in South Boston just trying to get by. Bridge is an endearing mess who is stuck in a never ending cycle of struggle. She "makes herself a commodity" in more ways than one (not as a prostitute, I know where your minds are going) to feed her son Larry (yes, Larry Bird). The show also stars Rosie O'Donnell as Bridge's bipolar mother and Connie Britton as her delusional boss. The show is raw, funny and pro-women. One of the show's key storylines is the healthy, supportive relationship between Bridge and Nelson, Larry's father's new girlfriend. In a more cliche world, this would quickly turn catty- it never does. Last plug, Bridge is also obsessed with and good at basketball, a lady after my own heart. 
  • 50 Years Later, It Feels Familiar: How America Fractured in 1968: Jacey Fortin and Maggie Astor, NY Times, 1/15/2018: Many Journalists have drawn comparisons between our current culture and that of 1968. Both are characterized by civil unrest, political stupidity and social revolution. This interactive from the NYT reimagines the events of 1968 as facilitated by today's current technology- think a lot of push alerts about the Vietnam War and the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. King.
  • Yesterday was MLK Day. It has been 50 years since his assassination, and this artist will NOT whitewash his legacy, Mic, 1/16/2018: MLK has always been a palatable civil rights hero in mainstream America. He is often associated only with the sunshine and rainbows messaging of his I Have a Dream speech and a quote where he literally references the "arc of the moral universe". These are beautiful pieces of prose, but they are an incomplete picture. Dr. King was righteously, passionately angry about the white moderate's failure to embrace non-violent protest. We choose not to remember that publicly, as his anger makes us uncomfortable. It sours the image of a peaceful orator struck down in his prime. To attempt to rectify this revisionist history, an artist named Daniel Rarela imposed quotes (in Barbara Kruger's, since coopted by Supreme, FUTURA BOLD white lettering on red background) from King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" over black and white images of King and others protesting, peacefully.  
  • Two Profiles of Ladies I love: Serena Williams as interviewed by Rob Haskell in Vogue, and photographed by Mario Testino in what will likely be his last Vogue cover shoot as Conde Nast has cut ties since sexual misconduct allegations surfaced last week. And Fabulous Glossier founder, Emily Weiss as profiled by Amy Larocca in NY Mag.
  • Optimism is Exhausting, Mari Andrew, Medium, 12/17/17: Agreed, girl. I'm tired. But it can be done:
"This year, I observed truly optimistic people: They are not naive; in fact, they usually know the darkest, murkiest corners of life. They are called 'strong' simply because they wake up, and they are called 'positive' because of their discipline to remain hopeful. They make dance music even while they’re terrified for their own safety. They keep democracy flourishing through their investigative writing. They’re still calling their senators about gun control, 18 years after Columbine. They donate. They volunteered in Puerto Rico. They filled the blood banks of Manchester. They celebrated in Australia. They stood in line to vote Danica Roem and Ravi Bhalla into office. And they’re probably so tired."

III. List of the Week: Four (mostly innocuous) things that make me cry on sight:

  1. An 80+ year old man or woman walking alone down the sidewalk
  2. The closeup of Rihanna's face in the FourFiveSeconds video where she herself is just FED UP
  3. Pigeon pose in yoga class when just the right song is playing
  4. The scene in the Mars Landing episode of New Girl when Jess and Nick break up (ok, not innocuous at all)

mlk.jpg

All of Rarela's images can be found on his Twitter.

HAUT OUT

January Was My November: How a Tyler, The Creator song led to some serious personal reflection

January Was My November: How a Tyler, The Creator song led to some serious personal reflection

I Have Some Thoughts on the Golden Globes

I Have Some Thoughts on the Golden Globes