Debra Goddard, a woman from West London, bought a glass ring at a boot sale back in 1986 for merely $13. For 33 years, she believed it to be pretty much worthless, until she had to sell a lot of her belongings when her mother lost all her money due to a relative’s fraud. It was then when Debra found out that the ring had a 26.27-carat diamond. “When I went to the jeweler, he nearly fainted and said, ‘Do you know what this is? It’s a diamond.’ I sat up all night looking at it, wondering what to do,” Debra told the media. The woman brought the ring to an auction and earned a whopping $607,900. Debra revealed that she spent most of her money on her mother, as she believed “it’s karma for the bad things that happened and my mum being robbed of everything.” She revealed that she’s taken her mom to “holidays in Barbados, see Tom Jones, Celine Dion in Vegas and bought a fur coat.”
Spice Girl and solo artist Melanie C has released a new track and music video titled “Fearless” (video above), featuring U.K. rapper and rising star Nadia Rose.
The track is from Melanie C’s self-titled eighth studio album, which will release Oct. 2 and includes the lead single “In And Out Of Love.”
The album release will be accompanied by four global livestream events titled ‘Color and Light’ that will feature Melanie C with a full band performing tracks from the album and previews from her upcoming U.K. and European tour that is currently scheduled for April and May 2021.
“Meeting Nadia was kismet,” said Melanie C, whose real name is Melanie Chisholm. “I’d seen her on Kathy Burke’s documentary series on women [Channel 4’s ‘Kathy Burke’s All Woman’] and fallen in love with her attitude. As female artists, we have to be fearless. I love this girl.”
Rose said, “It’s no secret that I’m a super Spice Girls fan so this whole experience has been very surreal. Melanie C is an incredible human being; creating with her has been nothing short of perfect. [This is a] feel-good song that makes you feel great.”
‘Fearless’ is Rose’s first collaboration since her “First Class” EP, which featured the singles “Higher,” and “Bad N Boujee.” Her 2016 track “Skwod” was a major hit, winning her a MOBO and a place on the BBC Sound of 2017 shortlist.
Most recently, Melanie C performed under lockdown for “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” She has sold more than 105 million records, including 85 million as part of the Spice Girls. She has won three World Music Awards, five Brit Awards, three American Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, eight Billboard special awards, three MTV Europe Music Awards and 10 ASCAP awards.
Why Defunding the Police Starts With Stopping School Police
For better or worse, spoken-word performer, poet, and musician Gil Scott-Heron was wrong when he wrote that “the revolution will not be televised” in 1971. As a Black woman who works as a public defender — representing children and young adults charged with crimes and who have experienced the normalized violence of American policing — I have been unable to stomach watching the videos of killings by police, of people who look like me and my clients, under the color of law. At the same time, I see how these videos have galvanized a nation to say enough is enough.
We are finally imagining a world fundamentally different than the one we live in now. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech in 1967: “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” If Black lives truly matter, now is the time to defund the police. By removing funding from police departments, we will limit police contact with the public, and with it limit opportunities to inflict violence on Black and Brown communities. Defunding the police will free up state and federal funds to invest in community-based resources, like housing, food security, mental health services, and violence interrupters.
Defunding the police is rooted in prison and police abolitionist theory pioneered by Black woman leaders like Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore for years. The killings of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Andres Guardado, and countless others at the hands of the police have pushed the conversation around defunding police into the mainstream. What I see every day in my work is not the sharp pain of a shocking killing in police custody caught on video, but the steady throbbing pain caused by regular and systemic police violence in Black and Brown communities. Police violence doesn’t just look like the shooting captured by a bystander: it looks like the humiliation of being stopped, frisked, and handcuffed just for walking with a group of Black friends. It looks like being screamed at and shoved up against your car for not answering a question fast enough. It looks like being pistol whipped for asking, “Why are you stopping me?” And for the children I represent in court, it looks like the intimidation of police officers roaming school hallways, infringing on students’ ability to learn and feel safe.
How Is Defunding the Police Connected to School Policing?
The only resource that police have to offer in a school setting is the ability to react, arrest, and use force and violence to control the people around them, even when those people are children.
When I first began as a juvenile public defender in Prince George’s County, a Maryland suburb just east of Washington DC, I was shocked by the number of clients my colleagues and I represented whose cases stemmed from school-based arrests. More surprising were the “crimes” for which children were being prosecuted: “second degree assaults” that were regular schoolyard fights, or “robberies” that were the teasing and bullying that I recognized from when I was in school. I was confused. Why did this regular schoolyard behavior lead to the prosecution of my clients? What was so new and different about their behavior that they ended up in court instead of the principal’s office? The answer was the presence of police officers, euphemistically called school resource officers or SROs, whose mere presence leads to increased criminalization of behavior that is part of typical adolescent development. Why is this the case? Because the only resource that police have to offer in a school setting is the ability to react, arrest, and use force and violence to control the people around them, even when those people are children.
Every day, I see how the mere presence of police officers in schools directly contributes to the funneling of Black and Brown children to the courts, or the school-to-prison pipeline. Numerous studies have shown that the presence of police officers in schools leads to “increased rates of exclusionary discipline and the criminalization of relatively trivial student behavior” because school police “are not trained as educators, but as sworn law enforcement officers with the authority to arrest people.”
A resource guide compiled by the campaign Dignity in Schools includes alarming statistics about how the presence of police in schools leads to the criminalization of behavior that not only is part of typical adolescent development, but also is low-level conduct that does not warrant intervention by a court. One survey compared 13 schools with a school police and 15 schools without one, and found that schools with police had nearly five times the number of arrests for disorderly conduct as schools without police. Additionally, in New York City in 2012, 70 percent of arrests in public schools were for misdemeanors and four percent for even lesser violations, according to the NYPD’s own reporting.
It should not be surprising that Black students are overrepresented in school-based arrests. In Prince George’s County where I represent children, during the 2017-2018 school year, school police conducted 350 arrests in our public schools, 301 of those arrests involved Black children. Black students only comprise 58 percent of the school district’s overall enrollment, yet 86 percent of the school-based arrests. This is not because Black children are inherently more criminal; it is because policing even in the school setting replicates racial bias that is inherent in all policing.
The mere presence of an armed, uniformed officer changes the learning setting and escalates simple disagreements, contributing to a culture of criminalization and antagonism in schools.
For my clients, this goes beyond statistics. The mere presence of an armed, uniformed officer changes the learning setting and escalates simple disagreements, contributing to a culture of criminalization and antagonism in schools. The place where our children spend most of their days, where they are supposed to be able to grow and thrive and learn independence and how to critically engage with the world, suddenly turns into a caged institution where Black children feel like they are treated like animals by armed and unarmed school police. I have witnessed school staff saying that unless we’re on the “front lines” with them, we can’t understand why police must be present in schools. But children are not enemy combatants who need to be neutralized, they are growing people who make mistakes and can learn effective tools to work through them.
Removing school police is just one piece of defunding the police and dismantling the carceral state. We have created a system where we over-rely on police, defaulting to them in situations where they have no expertise. In an analysis of public police data in The New York Times, officers in Sacramento, New Orleans, and Montgomery County, MD, spend only four percent of their time responding to calls for violent crimes. These officers instead spend half of their time responding to traffic and noncriminal calls. What does this look like in practice? When a person is experiencing housing insecurity and sleeping in a vacant home, a neighbor may call the police to say that someone is trespassing. The only tool the police have is to handcuff that person, arrest them, and take them to a cage. The police’s involvement in that person’s life only punishes survival, and does nothing to change the material conditions impacting that person’s life.
What About Police Reform?
The knee-jerk response I often see from those against defunding the police is that we should instead reform it. But time and again, we have been shown that reform and checks and balances within the existing police structure will not work. For example, body cameras were initially lauded as the great accountability tool to finally shed light on the police’s actions. Yet when David McAtee was killed by the police in Louisville, KY, in May, none of the officers had activated their body-worn cameras, against clearly stated department policy. As a public defender, I have reviewed footage from these cameras where officers selectively mute or turn off their devices during critical parts of their interactions with my clients and investigations. There are rarely consequences from police departments, judges, or prosecutors when individual officers subvert these accountability tools.
Another popular rebuttal is that police just need more training. But this is insufficient for two different reasons. First, training cannot undo the violent roots of policing. As Mariame Kaba noted in her phenomenal opinion piece in The New York Times “Yes, We Literally Mean Abolish the Police,” policing in the US was born out of slave patrols, quelling labor strikes, and suppressing “marginalized populations to protect the status quo.” It is antithetical to say that police can be taught appropriate ways to deescalate confrontations with citizens or assist in mental health interventions when at their essence, police are taught and legally allowed to use force to get citizens to bend to their will. Counselors, psychologists, restorative justice practitioners, and social workers receive years of training in their respective fields. We cannot expect a few hours of training to undo the essence of American policing.
In order for training around issues like implicit bias or deescalation to be impactful, those being trained have to be receptive to it.
Second, in order for training around issues like implicit bias or deescalation to be impactful, those being trained have to be receptive to it. But privately, individual officers resist these types of trainings, just as they have for additional accountability tools. Recently, ACLU of Maryland released an expert report about allegations of systemic racial bias in the Prince George’s County Police Department. The report details numerous instances of racial bias by white police officers that went unchecked by department leadership. It’s littered with examples of violent racism in the police force, such as officers dressing a dummy used to practice baton strikes in an Afro wig and blackface, or exchanging racially derogatory texts while referencing “bringing back public hangings” and “getting rid of the animals.” But most damningly, during an implicit bias training, a group of white police officers walked out in protest. What this report and others make clear is that we cannot reform an entity that simply refuses to be reformed.
What Does Defunding the Police Look Like?
The only reasonable resolution to stop the sustained abuse and violence directed toward communities of color by the police is to start by defunding the police. Ralikh Hayes, Deputy Director of Organizing Black, was recently quoted by Jaisal Noor in Baltimore Beat, saying, “The movement is aimed at creating a world where public safety is not defined by police and crime but how communities use their resources to care for each other.” Take a look at the police budget in your city or county.
Prince George’s County spent $531 million on the arrest, incarceration, and prosecution of people. Imagine if we redirected that half a billion dollars toward resources and interventions that support people instead of funneling them into prisons and jails.
In fiscal year 2020, Prince George’s County spent $531 million on the arrest, incarceration, and prosecution of people. Imagine if we redirected that half a billion dollars toward resources and interventions that support people instead of funneling them into prisons and jails to maintain the status quo? Or let’s think smaller. In fiscal year 2021, the Prince George’s County Board of Education has proposed spending over $17 million on unarmed school police and security, in addition to the over $4 million spent by local police to fund armed police in schools. This includes an additional $1 million to place more unarmed school police and security personnel in middle schools. Comparatively, the budget provides for no new nurses or school psychologists, and only one additional guidance counselor for a school district that serves over 130,000 students. What if that $1 million for more school police had gone toward expanding on the restorative justice programming available in Prince George’s County Public Schools? What if it went toward increasing school counselors and psychologists available to meet the mental health needs of our students? What if we imagined solving challenges with love and support instead of suppression and arrests?
Kaba said it best: “As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the idea that we solve problems by policing and caging people that many cannot imagine anything other than prisons and the police as solutions to violence and harm. People like me who want to abolish prisons and police, however, have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation.”
What Can I Do to Help Defund the Police?
I will leave you with resources about defunding the police and abolition (a list compiled by my friend Josh Aiken, a current J.D./Ph.D. student in history and African-American studies at Yale University and former Policy Fellow at the Prison Policy Initiative). We can never stop learning and growing; that is how we will truly build the nourishing, safe, and secure world that we all deserve.
Michele Hall works as a public defender in Prince George’s County, MD. The views expressed in this piece are her own.
20 Fateful Times People Happened Across Random Things That Turned Out To Be Worth A Fortune
You know that awesome feeling when you find a dollar in the pocket of your old coat? Well, this is just that, except the finds that you’re about to read about are worth a little bit more than a dollar. From people who found trash on the side of the road that wound up being worth thousands, to inherited goods that were way more valuable than originally thought, these 20 stories are all about luck.
It really makes you think whether you should go thrift shopping or even dumpster diving because apparently, you never know what treasure is hiding there (check out our posts about fascinating finds in thrift stores to get the idea.) But before you do that, scroll down below to read about these 20 lucky people whose old items (found, bought, or inherited) turned out to be worth a fortune. In addition to this, drop us a comment about whether you ever came across something highly valuable in places you didn’t expect to!
Back in 2007, one Californian man was barely getting by on disability checks after losing his leg in a car accident. “I had kids to take care of, no money. Nothing saved up or nothing like that,” Loren Krytzer looked back on that time. Around the same time, he inherited an old blanket after his grandmother died, which nobody in his family wanted. “I don’t want that, that dirty old thing,” he recalled his sister saying. One night, in 2011, Loren was watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow in which one man was shocked to find out that his First Phase Navajo blanket was actually worth around half a million dollars. The appraiser then explained that such textiles were super expensive even in their own era. “I paused it and I went and got the blanket and I’m sitting there holding it. … I’m lining up the lines on the TV with the blanket, seeing if they match,” Loren recalls. And he realized that they were nearly identical. Soon enough, Loren Krytzer walked into the California auction room unemployed, broke, and depressed, to walk out a millionaire—the old Navajo blanket from the 1800s that nobody in his family wanted turned out to be worth $1.5 million.
In 1776, 500 copies of the Declaration of Independence were printed and only 23 copies were known to still exist before 1989. That same year, one man in Philadelphia bought an old painting at a flea market for $4 because he liked its frame. After it broke, the man discovered a document that appeared to be a copy of the Declaration of Independence tucked away between the canvas and its backing. Later on, the document was sold for $2.42 million at an auction.
One scrap metal entrepreneur bought a golden egg for about $14,000, hoping he could make some profit when reselling the piece due to its precious metal content. Turns out, the scrap metal dealer found one of the eight missing Faberge imperial eggs at a flea market in the American Midwest.
The dealer began to suspect he had something truly rare after reading an article online about an imperial Faberge Easter egg made for Russian royalty. He contacted Kieran McCarthy of Wartski, who specializes in Russian artifacts, who confirmed that the egg was in fact genuine and negotiated its sale to a collector.
Both the buyer and seller of the Faberge Easter egg wanted to remain anonymous, and the price of the rare piece was also not disclosed. However, experts guess that the egg is worth somewhere up to $20 million.
When one fisherman’s anchor got stuck on what he thought was a rock during a storm, he took it with him as a good luck charm. The man found it back in 2006 in Palawan Island, Philippines and kept the 2-foot-long rock for 10 years at his house before it caught on fire and had to be cleared out. In 2016, he took the rock to a local tourism office in Puerto Princesca, where it was verified that the rock was actually a giant clam. Measuring at 1 foot wide and 2.2 feet long, the 34 kg giant pearl was said to be worth $100 million.
For years, one man in Edmore, Michigan used this 22.5-pound hunk of iron as a doorstop on his farm. When he bought the farm back in the late ’80s, the previous owner told him that the iron chunk was in fact a meteorite from the ’30s. Only 30 years later did the farmer contact a geology professor from Central Michigan University to take a look at the rock, which was later confirmed to be an actual meteorite. The professor, Mona Sirbescu, later told USA Today: “The story goes that it was collected immediately after they witnessed the big boom and the actual meteorite was dug out from a crater.” She told the media that the story was passed down orally, with no eyewitnesses to verify it. Now, the meteorite that was named “Edmore” is known to be the sixth-largest to be found in Michigan and is worth $100K.
Bought at an auction and kept in a cupboard for years, this small painting turned out to be worth almost half a million dollars. The postcard-sized painting was bought for merely 30 pounds (around $38) in the British city of Canterbury in the early 2000s. It depicts a 19th-century landscape, and has a faint signature on its back. The signature was what prompted its owner to show the painting to an antiques dealer and forgeries expert. “Our investigation confirms this thing has passed through a number of hands over the years and it’s never been sold—it’s a fresh-to-the-market, sweet little item,” the expert Curtis Dowling told Reuters. As it turned out, the landscape was painted by the 19th-century artist John Constable and is worth around $400,000.
One elderly woman in Compiègne, France was about to sell her house, so she invited an auctioneer to assess the value of her belongings. The expert Philomène Wolf had a week to determine whether anything was worth saving before going into the dumpster. The auctioneer quickly noticed a small painting hanging above the hot plate in the kitchen. As it later turned out, the painting dates back to the 13th century and is a work of an Italian artist, Cimabue. Known as “Christ Mocked,” the masterpiece comes from a series of only 11 paintings depicting Jesus’ crucifixion. The house owner said that she’d had it so long she could not remember when or where she got the painting. “Christ Mocked,” which the French woman believed to be just an “old religious icon from Russia,” turned out to be worth somewhere from $4 million to $6.6 million.
In the 1970s, a woman who was a keen plate collector bought a plate in Rhode Island for under $100. The plate looked pretty, so she hung it on the wall of her kitchen. For years, it has been sitting above the stove, as “all of [the] kids loved the smiley face.” Around 2010, the woman went into a gallery and saw a plate that looked similar to the one above her stove. She told someone in the gallery that she had something nearly identical in her kitchen. The woman recalled on a TV show: “The guy sort of gasped and said, ‘Over your stove?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I have a plate collection.’ He said, ‘Do you know what you have?'” Apparently, she did not. What she did have was, in fact, a genuine work of Picasso from 1955. When she went to Antiques Roadshow, she learned that the plate could be worth somewhere from $10,000 to $15,000. “That’s fabulous,” the woman then said. See, it does pay off to collect things!
Back in 2015, a woman dropped off an old Apple computer at a recycling center in Silicon Valley. She found it inside boxes of electronics that she had cleaned out of her garage after her husband passed away. Victor Gichun, the vice president of the Clean Bay Area, said that the mystery woman didn’t want a tax receipt and didn’t leave any contact information. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the workers of the recycling center opened the boxes only to discover an Apple I computer inside.
As the media then reported, it was one of only about 200 first-generation desktop computers assembled by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne in 1976. The recycling firm sold the computer for $200,000 to a private collector. The company gives 50 percent of items sold back to the original owner and wanted to do the same this time, but the woman who dropped off the valuable item was impossible to trace.
Back in 2015, an unsuspecting man bought a photo in an antique shop in Freemont, CA for $2. As it later turned out, the picture featured the notorious Billy the Kid and members of the Lincoln County gang playing croquet together. Being only the second confirmed photo of the infamous thief of the 19th century, the 1878 photo was valued upwards of $5 million. “Billy the Kid is incredibly famous,” David McCarthy, a senior numismatist at Kagin’s (a company that specializes in Western Americana and rare coins) told ABC News. “[But] he wasn’t shooting people all the time. He had friends he cared about. He had women he chased. It (the photograph) opens up the idea about the humanity of a character like Billy the Kid.”
One woman inherited jewels from her great aunt, who was a wife of a congressman back in the 1920s. As they were examined on the TV show Antiques Roadshow back in 1998, the experts realized that she had a dual-diamond pendant that was worth $12,000, and a diamond and ruby ring worth $80,000. Moreover, a diamond bracelet with rubies was worth a whopping $165,000. In 2013, experts from the show told the media that the value of the items has increased since the first time the episode aired in 1998. By today’s values, the pieces are worth somewhere around $400,000.
In 2010, a woman from San Diego went to Antiques Roadshow. She brought in a satchel her great-grandfather, who was a lieutenant in the Army, had received from the Cherokee in 1846. The bag was a thank-you gift from a Cherokee warrior, who wanted to thank the said great-grandfather for being kind to his people. The woman had a letter from her great-grandfather to prove it, while the satchel itself was authenticated by an expert in tribal arts. “The bag itself probably dates to the 1820s. I think this bag, in its present condition, if it did not have this very important document that tracks its history across the country, would be about $25,000,” then said the appraiser Ted Trotta. With the document and restauration (that would cost up to $8000), the piece would be worth somewhere closer to $100,000. However, in 2013, the restored value of the bag went up to $145,000!
Five years ago, a woman brought in a set of old baseball memorabilia she had found in a desk drawer to Antiques Roadshow. The woman said she had inherited the collection from her great-great-grandmother who owned a boarding house in Boston in the mid-19th century. The collection comprised cards for Boston Red Stockings players and a letter signed and addressed to the said great-great-grandmother. “To see them all in one group like that,” the executive producer of the show then said. “None of the experts associated with Roadshow have ever seen them all in one place that way.” When the big moment of the show came when the appraisers announced the worth of the collection, the woman was overwhelmed with emotion. $1 million! That’s how much the baseball memorabilia was actually worth. The woman was understandably ecstatic, as she had assumed it would be worth no more than $5-10 thousand.
Back in 2011, Thea Jourdan went to a secondhand shop and bought herself a brooch. “I had bought it from a junk shop for £20, so I knew it was just flashy old tat,” she told the Daily Mail. Oh, how wrong she was. As it later turned out, the stone on the brooch was a topaz weighing 20 carats. And it was surrounded by 27 diamonds. Its color—a rare fiery pink known as Imperial—was once exclusively reserved for Russian royalty. The appraiser informed Thea that the actual worth of the brooch was close to £4,000. “As my discovery proves, you never know when you might stumble across a valuable gem,” Thea then told the media. Who are we to disagree?
One Arizona resident was visiting a Phoenix Goodwill back in 2015 in search of a used push golf cart. There, he came across a variety of old watches. One of them attracted his attention—he noticed a $5.99 watch with a dial that read “LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm.” Coincidentally, the man was a watch collector who had a particular interest in vintage watches. He realized that the watch might be worth way more than $5.99, but wasn’t sure about its exact value. Therefore, he decided to take it to an authorized retailer in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was there that the man discovered that the timepiece was a rare 1959 LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm, one of the first watches ever to feature an alarm used by divers. Quickly enough, after sharing his find on a “Vintage Watches” Facebook page, the man was overwhelmed by emails from collectors from all around the world, eager to buy the LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm. Eventually, he sold it for $35,000. Not a bad profit from something that you got for merely $5.99, right?
A woman bought a small painting in a flea market in West Virginia back in late 2009 because she liked its frame. Along with a box of trinkets, she paid $7 for it. Marcia Fuqua, the buyer, was unaware that the oil painting was valuable and stored it in a garbage bag for two and a half years. It was only when her mother, who’s an art teacher and painter, urged her in 2012 to get the painting appraised. Marcia took the painting to an auction house, where it was verified that it was an authentic Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Painted in 1879 in the impressionist style and named “Paysage Bords de Seine” (“Landscape on the Banks of the Seine”), the painting turned out to be worth somewhere between $75,000 to $100,000. However, after media reported the story, Baltimore Museum of Art came forward saying that the painting was stolen from them. The Federal Bureau of Investigation then took custody of it. As it later turned out, it was stolen from the museum in November 1951, and no one is sure how it got to West Virginia. The court ruled that Marcia Fuqua had no ownership rights of the painting, given that a property title cannot be transferred if it resulted from a theft.
“Holy smokes, that was a pretty good day!” We’d surely say the same if we discovered a violin among some trash by the side of the road in San Antonio, Texas, which would later turn out to be a 1922 Giuseppe Pedrazzini violin. This was precisely what happened to one Texan. He first took the instrument to a dealer in San Antonio to authenticate it and assess its value. “My wife has a violin that belonged to her grandfather and we thought that we could use it for parts to repair it,” the finder explained. Initially, he was offered $1000 for the violin. But when Peter Shaw of Houston dealers Amati Violin Shop appraised the violin for an episode of the PBS show Antiques Roadshow, the numbers were a tad different. As he explained, once cleaned and restored, the instrument could be worth as much as $50,000.
The unknowingly valuable hoard of brass doorknobs and other goods had been stored in a basement for 40 years before one English carpenter went to buy them. Brian Cairns thought the ornate items would be worth £60,000 in scrap. When, upon closer inspection, Brian realized that the brass goods might be vintage, he sent them for experts to evaluate. The haul that included thousands of brass doorknobs and knockers, handles, light switches, ornate wall brackets, chandeliers and bowler hat stands, have been identified as an Italian vintage made by Valli and Columbo. All dating back at least 65 years, they have been valued at a whopping £2M. “These are items that you would never have thought you would have the chance to buy. I think I was just lucky,” Brian told the media back in 2015.
One businessman from England was rummaging through a garage sale in Las Vegas when he came across some $5 sketches. One of them was a depiction of the singer Rudy Vallee, who was famous back in the 1930s. Andy Fields, the businessman, purchased the sketches from a man who claimed they were his aunt’s, who used to watch over Andy Warhol as a child. Carrying on with his business, the man didn’t think much about it until he reframed the picture. On the back of it, he found a signature—as you guessed it, it was none other than that of the famous Andy Warhol. The sketch shows pre-Pop Art Warhol’s style, and could possibly have been made when the artist was merely 10-11 years old. A valuer told Andy Fields the sketch could be worth somewhere around $2 million, but the businessman didn’t want to sell it just yet.
Lulu Wang speaks on Ron Howard’s choice to direct Lang Lang film
It was only mere months ago when Hollywood at large claimed it would be better about letting marginalized voices shape their own stories. To its credit, we at least saw some movement in the world of television when multiple animated shows recast their Black characters with Black voice actors. But in the film industry, studios remain almost willfully behind the curve for the sake of working with prolific white male directors. Ron Howard, for instance, recently agreed to direct a biopic about Lang Lang, an accomplished Chinese concert pianist. The film will be based on Lang’s memoir, Journey of a Thousand Miles, for AGC Studios and Image Entertainment. Considering that Lang’s story is heavily impacted by his lived cultural experiences as a Chinese man, a film about his life should ideally include prominent involvement from creators that harbor intimate knowledge of (or, you know, have also lived) that experience. Instead, Howard will direct alongside producer Brian Grazer and Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, who will pen the screenplay.
Chinese American director, writer, and classically trained pianist Lulu Wang, who won the Independent Spirit Award for her film The Farewell, was one of many who criticized the choice to tap Howard to helm this specific story. On Tuesday, she tweeted the original announcement from The Hollywood Reporter. “As a classically-trained pianist born in China, I believe it’s impossible to tell Lang Lang’s story without an intimate understanding of Chinese culture + the impact of the Cultural Revolution on artists & intellectuals + the effects of Western imperialism,” Wang commented. “Just saying.”
Anyone able to spot the parallels between Wang and Lang’s lives might agree that she would have been the better choice to direct, but she makes it clear in the follow-up tweets that she has no interest in doing so: “I’m not saying this because I want to direct this movie. I do not. I just don’t think these are the artists to grapple w/ the cultural specificities of Northeast China where Lang Lang (and my family) are from. Or w/ the cultural aspect of the physical violence in his upbringing.” She goes on to reference Disney’s recently released live-action remake of Mulan, a film that has garnered its share of criticism for everything from some of its stylistic choices to Disney’s decision to thank Chinese government agencies for allowing them to film in the region.
Though none of the involved creators have commented on the backlash, Grazer and Howard’s carefully worded statement to THR seemingly anticipates dissent to some degree by framing Lang’s story as “universal”: “Lang Lang’s story is one of determination, passion, sacrifice, and finding the inner strength to beat the odds. This film is a bridge between two cultures that share universal truths about the gauntlets we face in the pursuit of greatness.”
Look, it’s totally possible that this movie could turn out just fine, especially with Lang himself consulting as one of the executive producers. But while some growing pains and aspirations can certainly be universal, some things speak to a very specific experience, and it’s ok—preferred, even—to acknowledge that behind the camera.
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