After the incident that went on at work a while ago, you’ve been on edge. Today, you just want to go to work and then go back home. The day goes by pretty quickly, and before you know it, you’re hanging up your white apron and walking out the door. You stop abruptly, noticing the man, Cisco, you think, across the street. If he’s here, that’s gotta mean…
“Hello, love.” Barry smirks, shoulder pressed against the brick wall of the diner. His thumb plays with the gray and red ring on his index finger and he takes his other hand out of his black pants pocket. “How was work?” he asks, casually slipping his arm above your waist, pulling you into his gray button down.
You gulp, nervously toying with the end of your pastel green dress. “Fine.” you mumble, avoiding his eyes. Opening your mouth, you tilt your head, hair swaying to one side. “Why are you here?” you question timidly, biting your own tongue. Why did you just say that?
The mob boss continues walking down the street, gold necklace thumping against his pale collarbone in the process. Quickly, he glances at Cisco, nodding curtly, before turning his attention to you. “I told you,” he muses, waving his hand around for emphasis, “You are under the Flash’s protection now. So, I need to make sure you’re safe, understand?” You nod. “Good.” he says as a sleek blue car shows up. “Now, get in.”
Deciding not to anger him, you climb into the car, staring wide eyed at the two bulky men in the front seat. Barry slides in next to you, closing the door and signaling for his boys to go. He gazes at you, sucking on his lip for a moment; probably trying to weed out what he should and should not tell you. “Someone knows about you…and they will do anything to make my boys and I fall.” he stops, popping his lips, “Including take lives of the innocent, or, in this case, you. Therefore, I’m bringing you somewhere safe.” he informs, glancing out the window while he fiddles with the blue jewel ring on his ring finger.
You scrunch your eyebrows together in confusion. This is insane! “Why are they after me?” you wonder, leaning towards him. Were they spying on you right now? Is it because you know what went on during the meeting? Did you stare at a guy the wrong way?
A sigh falls off his pink lips and he sits up straighter, holding his hand up by his head, long fingers outstretched, showing off all his different rings. “My father believed in five things after being sent to prison. Life was just eating,” he curls his index finger in his palm, “shitting, drinking,” he does the same to his middle and ring finger, “fucking and fighting.” he ends with a closed fist, eyes attached to it. “Through the years, I learned to believe that too… up until I met you a few days ago.” he pauses and you suck in a breath. “In this game, I shouldn’t have anyone as valuable as you are.” he shakes his head, eyelashes fluttering toward you.
Coughing, you play with your hair nervously, scooting closer to him. You cautiously place your hand on his thigh, eyes boring into his. “I understand.” you nod, “Where are we headed though? What about my job? My pets? I-”
“To my place.” he mutters curtly, glaring out the window as the car spins into a long driveway. His jaw clenches, fingers flexing into fists. “I’ve had all your things brought over while you were at work.” he informs, adam’s apple bobbing up and down under his gray dress shirt and gold necklace.
Your back hits the seat of the chair. “Wow.” you breathe…
Censorship, Art and Beating Self-Obsession with @madonna
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The album cover is a stark black-and-white image, with one of the world’s most famous faces in the center, tied up in a black cord. Madonna (@madonna) — porcelain skin, lipstick, blonde hair strewn about — ready to face the world as she always has: authentically and with no apologies. In January, that cord caused an uproar, when she began posting images of it wrapped around civil rights leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. Many deemed it culturally insensitive — nothing more than a ploy to promote her new album, Rebel Heart. She later apologized while also clarifying her position, one she echoes two months later, on the 10th floor of Sotheby’s auction house in New York City.
“There are a lot of layers to the meaning of the black [cord],” says the 56-year-old pop goddess, while sporting a black and gray dress, fingerless gloves and a shiny gold grill attached to the front of her teeth. “On one hand you could say it’s an artist tied up in a bow, in a package. Another aspect is, it’s the restriction, or, say, the resistance that all artists — real artists — have to go through and fight for. You’re always fighting for something when you’re an artist, to have your voice heard in a certain way without people tampering with it, censoring it, editing it. And it’s getting harder and harder to have a pure voice.”
For three decades, Madonna has paved the way on the acceptance of counterculture. But at a time when humanity has made great strides on gay rights, ageism and sexism, we still live in an era that, to her, seems to be moving backward as well; where artists are no longer allowed to speak as freely or be the provocateurs they once were. Not that that stops Madonna herself from being one. She speaks her mind and knows how to handle resulting controversies better than any pop star in history. Though there was one recent incident she wasn’t prepared for.
At the end of 2014, a man allegedly broke into her computer and turned it into a sieve, leaking a year-and-half’s worth of songwriting from Rebel Heart — which hadn’t even been announced yet — to the public, along with private, unreleased photos even the artist herself hadn’t seen. Madonna went ahead and finished six tracks, releasing them just before Christmas. That makes the release of this record a bit more anxiety-filled than her previous 12 studio efforts.
“I am in a kind of mild state of panic,” she says, just days before the record’s (official) release. “It’s a little bit nerve-racking — more than usual — simply because there were so many leaks. Leaks of the demos, leaks of the masters — it was kind of like having my clothes ripped off of me on the street whether I like it or not. It was a violation — a serious violation in many ways.”
Initially, Madonna’s new album, Rebel Heart, was supposed to be split into two discs: one with a more personal, introspective side, and one that featured party anthems. Instead, it’s a 19-song mishmash of both themes, from the bass-thumping “Bitch I’m Madonna” to the media critique and martyrdom of “Joan of Arc.” The latter is the one getting much of the attention, specifically the track’s opening line: “Each time they take a photograph / I lose a part I can’t get back / I want to hide / This is the part where I detach.”
Another song, the titular “Rebel Heart,” deals with her egotism: “I’ve spent some time as a narcissist … Outgrown my past and I’ve shed my skin / Letting it go and I’ll start again, start again.”
“I think I was pretty self-obsessed until I had children,” she says, about the lyric. “I think most artists are. Being a mother brings up so many different emotions. But I don’t think it stopped me from saying what I want to say or doing what I want to do.”
Clearly not. Madonna is still going to be Madonna. She’s still going to speak her mind and be bizarre and unique, like using a sock puppet to promote her upcoming world tour. (According to her, she met the sock in Bucharest. “She approached me. She just showed up in my hotel room.”)
She’s also going to sing songs about oral sex and love and narcissism, and call herself a freedom fighter. Most importantly, she says, she’s still going to pray before her albums come out. This time, those prayers are making sure the rest of the Rebel Heart release and world tour go smoothly. As she says, “Fingers crossed. Legs crossed. Toes crossed. Socks crossed. Grills on.”