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On the Unexpected Feelings of Longing Brought On by Paparazzi Shots of Mask-less Celebrities in London

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On July 4, Chris Evans and Lily James were photographed leaving a party at a private club in London, and then again entering the same hotel. They were dressed to the nines—she in heels, a red dress, and an overcoat; he in a crisp suit, no tie. Neither was wearing a mask. The pictures, published in the Daily Mail on Monday, were a portal to another time, one when a paparazzi stalk could lead to breaking news of a potential budding romance like this one. A time before sticking close to home was the order of the day for celebrities and laypeople alike.

The next time a photographer saw them, days later, they were walking in daylight with handkerchiefs tied around their heads, perhaps with the new knowledge that they could be tailed. Hers was light blue. His was Patriots merch. In fact his whole ensemble was Boston-themed—from the Red Sox hat down to that style of long-sleeve baseball tee that the city of Boston requires men who work out to wear. It is as if, for a moment, they are cosplaying what it is like to be in America, where you simply gotta wear a mask.

As of this week, the U.S. has been averaging around 50,000 new cases a day. Los Angeles, where the stars live, has become a hotspot, and mask-wearing is compulsory. And it’s funny, because something has to be: scrolling through the photos in People’s Star Tracks, a photo gallery populated with celebrities living their lives in the wild, one can almost always guess where the stars are based solely on whether or not they are covering up. The most subtle flex is to be anywhere but here, in the U.S., where the virus is out of hand and politics makes it virtually impossible to do anything about it. And the biggest tell as to a person’s location in paparazzi photos has swiftly become whether they do or do not accessorize their face.

Guess which of the subjects in this list, culled from People, are wearing masks: “Penny Lancaster and Rod Stewart are all dressed up while leaving Annabel’s club in London on Saturday.” Or “Luke Evans shows off his enviable physique on Thursday while vacationing in Ibiza.” And “Lily-Rose Depp brings the style on Monday during a walk around Paris.” As well as “Liam Hemsworth and girlfriend Gabriella Brooks head out for lunch with family and friends on Friday in Byron Bay, Australia.” The answer is none of them! None of them are wearing masks!

Meanwhile, when “pregnant Sophie Turner covers her bump in pink on Monday while out in Los Angeles,” she is wearing a mask. And when Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez took a “bike ride around The Hamptons, New York,” they too “mask up.”

It’s not a decisive calculus. Sometimes celebrities in L.A. don’t wear masks too (see: Zachary Quinto. But celebrities in London and elsewhere outside of the U.S. appear like they don’t always need them while “stepping out,” in the Daily Mail vernacular, which is curious. It’s not that Great Britain handled its coronavirus response perfectly. There was the whole “herd immunity” false start. The U.K. has still been averaging 1,700 infections a day, per the Office for National Statistics, and has suffered deaths in the tens of thousands. But they have experienced a downward trend (the decline of people testing positive is possibly leveling off, according to ONS data), whereas graphs of new reported cases in the U.S. trend ever upward. A U.K. passport is welcome elsewhere in the European Union. A U.S. one is not.

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Boys State Is an Enthralling Doc About How the Kids Are (and Aren’t) All Right

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René Otero in the documentary Boys State

René Otero in the documentary Boys State.
Photo: Apple TV+

Midway through Boys State, Robert MacDougall confesses that, despite having just given a speech insisting that babies are being killed before they have a chance in the world, he isn’t actually anti-abortion. Robert, a strapping 18-year-old with the luxuriant mane of a Richard Linklater protagonist and the undented self-assurance of someone who’s gotten everything he’s wanted so far in life, is running for office in the mock government program he’s participating in. And he’s out to win — which, for him, means trading in his personal beliefs for ones that will play better with what he perceives his audience to be. “This is a very, very conservative group we have here,” he informs the camera in the aside of a private interview. “My stance on abortion would not line up well with the guys out there, so I chose to pick a new stance.” “That’s politics!” he declares, and then, with an uncharacteristic flicker of doubt, he amends that with “… I think.”

Boys State, an enormously engaging documentary from Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, might be described as a movie about 1,100 teenagers all trying to figure out what politics is. Set in Austin, it observes the Texas iteration of an annual event the American Legion has organized around the country since the 1930s. It’s divided by gender, and one of the reasons McBaine and Moss didn’t opt for Girls State instead is that, in 2017, Texas Boys State made national headlines by voting that the state should secede — a decision that one Statesmen (as they’re called) speculates started as a stunt and somehow escalated into an actuality. It’s the kind of call you might expect for a bunch of bored, hormonal kids shut up in conference rooms and government buildings for a week. Then again, you could just as easily apply that description of what happened to the most recent presidential election. The boys of Boys State might be a teeming temporary community just as likely to make dick jokes and drop into push-up competitions as to talk policy and campaign on their own behalf, but the filmmakers needn’t stretch to make their subjects feel like a reflection of the American political id.

Those subjects have the capacity to surprise, though. The 2018 Texas Statesmen skew white and, as Robert observes, conservative, but maybe not as much as they used to, and McBaine and Moss put their thumb on the scale by focusing on a quad of participants that reflect a more diverse experience. Robert is the most familiar type, the popular kid trying to coast on charisma into a win for governor, the top position in the program. His main opponent in the primaries — the participants are randomly sorted into two parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists, and tasked with creating platforms — is Steven Garza, a solemn progressive whose mother was undocumented and who transforms when he’s called upon to speak in front of an audience. The chairperson of their party, the Nationalists, is René Otero, an amusingly acerbic liberal who recently moved from Chicago, and who muses that he “can be a delegate for black people here.” On the Federalist side is the relentless Ben Feinstein, who owns a Ronald Reagan action figure and who sees his success, as someone with two amputated legs, as proof of the work ethic he believes the country is built on. He sets out to run for governor himself, but when that doesn’t work out, pivots to being the power behind the throne, working on behalf of a candidate everyone admiringly compares to Ben Shapiro.

Boys State belongs to that realm of documentaries, like Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom and Cheer, that take their structure and draw their suspense from the competitions they chronicle. It’s a subgenre that tends toward the crowd-pleasing and, sometimes, the cute, especially when its subjects are young people playing at supposedly adult activities. Boys State definitely gets its kicks out of footage of kids at a Capitol building podium proposing “the relocation of all Prius drivers to the state of Oklahoma.” But McBaine and Moss are the team behind 2014’s The Overnighters, a wrenching film about the North Dakota oil boom, and they’re interested in something beyond the contrast of adolescent faces and grown-up topics — or, for that matter, serving up simple optimism about Gen Z when taking in these young men at the cusps of their political lives.

They find it in Ben and Steven, and the opposing schools of thought they embody when it comes to how to approach an election. Ben opts for an unapologetic “shock and awe” strategy that involves a social-media blitz and a bad-faith accusation of bias against René. Steven runs a heartbreakingly earnest, on-the-level campaign that includes a lot of one-on-one conversations and speaking frankly about his support of divisive issues. What happens when they collide is a reminder that these teenagers aren’t removed from the current climate, even if most of them aren’t old enough to vote yet. They’re just as buffeted about by uncertain facts and shows of confidence, by tribalism and attempts to reach across the table as anyone else. And that, Robert? That’s politics.

*A version of this article appears in the August 17, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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Dexter Lumis Pulled From WWE NXT “Takeover: XXX” Ladder Match, More Changes Announced

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WWE NXT General Manager William Regal has announced a big shake-up for the list of competitors in the Ladder Match for the vacant NXT North American Title at the upcoming “Takeover: XXX” event.

Regal announced tonight that Dexter Lumis has been pulled from the five-man Ladder Match due to an ankle injury. It was then announced that in two weeks, the Superstars who were not pinned or submitted in the previous Triple Threat qualifiers will meet in two singles matches. The winners of those matches will earn the final two spots in the Ladder Match.

Bronson Reed and Damian Priest are already confirmed for the Ladder Match. Next week’s NXT show will feature another Triple Threat qualifier with Kushida vs. Cameron Grimes vs. a mystery opponent.

Then in two weeks, there will be two singles matches with Johnny Gargano, Finn Balor, Ridge Holland and whoever isn’t pinned or submitted in next week’s Triple Threat (Kushida vs. Grimes vs. mystery man).

The winners of the two singles matches on August 19 will join Reed, Priest and Kushida or Grimes or the mystery man at Takeover.

WWE announced on Twitter tonight: “Unfortunately, due to injury, @DexterLumis has been removed from the #NorthAmericanTitle #LadderMatch. Therefore, in two weeks on #WWENXT, there will be two one-on-one matches between the Superstars who were not pinned or submitted in their respective #TripleThreat Matches.”

The 30th NXT Takeover event is scheduled for Saturday, August 22, during WWE SummerSlam Weekend. It will likely take place at the NXT Arena on the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. Below is the current card:

NXT Title Match
Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee (c)
[Rumored Match]

NXT Women’s Title Match
Dakota Kai vs. Io Shirai (c)

Ladder Match for the Vacant NXT North American Title
Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Kushida or Cameron Grimes or Mystery Opponent vs. 2 Superstars TBD (Finn Balor or Johnny Gargano or Ridge Holland or TBD)

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What Is ‘(Un)well’ Essential Oils Advocate Dr. Zielinski Doing Now?

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Netflix has become a go-to source for bingeable docuseries’, and the latest release from the streaming service focuses on trends in wellness. (Un)Well is a six episode series about the various treatments, fads, and potential cures that are gaining traction — from the usage of essential oils, to the benefits of breast milk, to whether or not extreme fasting is beneficial. 

Dr. Zielinski is one of the professionals shown in the first episode, which centers around essential oils and aromatherapy. 

Who is Dr. Z from ‘(Un)Well’?

While the beginning of Episode 1, which is aptly entitled “Essential Oils,” focused on using the liquids for healing in hospitals, Dr. Eric Zielinski (aka Dr. Z) has a different approach. The Kennesaw, Ga. based chiropractor and entrepreneur offers a masterclass and books through his website, NaturalLivingFamily.com. According to Dr. Z, the lessons, which users pay for, provide insight into how the oils work and what they can be used for. The most expensive online class is $77. 

Per the blog’s website, Dr. Z believes that people can achieve “true Biblical health” by focusing on seven specific areas in life. These include “spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial, occupational, and social” health.

He said that he and his wife Sabrina Zielinski, who also goes by Mama Z, have made seven figures from their business. 

Dr. Z said that he began to benefit from essential oils after struggling with depression and addiction issues in his teens and early twenties.

“When I was just about 23 years old, I had a spiritual revelation … I became a Christian,” he said. “Within a moment, the addiction, the depression, the anxiety, the suicidal thoughts all went away … I’m a living miracle.”  

Source: Netflix

While turning to religion helped Dr. Z with his mental health, he said that his physical ailments were persisting. That’s when he turned to essential oils, and he’s been using them in his life for nearly 20 years. 

“We use essential oils throughout the day. It’s just happiness in a bottle,” Eric said on (Un)Well. “It’s just become a culture that we’ve created here.”

On the show, Dr. Z discussed how he used oils on his young children, Esther, Isaiah, Elijah, and Bella. The family has diffusers, which pump oils throughout the house, and they have integrated them into their soaps, lotions, and food.

While people have said that it can be dangerous to ingest essential oils, Dr. Z said that he doesn’t believe that to be true. Other experts featured on the series disagreed with Dr. Z’s sentiments. 

Where is Dr. Zielinski from ‘(Un)Well’ now?

Following his appearance on the docuseries, Dr. Z is still operating his website and blog. His official Facebook page has more than 213,000 followers. He often posts about home remedies for various seasonal ailments and life stressors, in addition to Biblical verses. 

unwellnetflixessentialoils-1597264417337.png
Source: Netflix

His most recent posts have clarified that he is “pro-choice” regarding mask wearing for the coronavirus pandemic, and “that the solutions for 99% of all health issues can be found in nature and can be remedied by lifestyle choices: diet, exercise, stress management, prayer/meditation, using natural therapies like essential oils.” 

Though users cannot buy essential oils directly from Dr. Z’s website, he does provide instructions on how to mix them through his books and on his site. 

(Un)Well is available to stream on Netflix now. 

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