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kottke.org posts about Madonna

Tupac Shakur’s Break-Up Letter to Madonna

posted by Tim Carmody   Mar 01, 2019

Tupac's Apology to Madonna.png

Tupac Shakur and Madonna dated briefly in 1994. According to Tupac’s brother Mopreme, the relationship began when Madonna passed Tupac a note during a press day for Above the Rim. The two of them broke up sometime before Tupac was shot on November 30, 1994 as part of a robbery at the Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan. Shortly after he was shot, Tupac was convicted of three counts of molestation as part of a sexual abuse case brought against him in 1993.

While in jail, Tupac wrote a letter to Madonna. This letter appears to have been sold at auction by Madonna’s former friend, art dealer Darlene Lutz, in 2018, after Madonna lost a legal fight to have it returned to her and keep it from being sold. Exactly what became of the letter is unknown.

It’s a remarkable letter, although parts of it have been blurred out by the auction house. The Independent focuses on the fact that Tupac was concerned about being seen publicly dating a white woman:

Can u understand that? For you to be seen with a black man wouldn’t in any way jeopardise your career. If anything it would make you seem that much more open & exciting. But for me at least in my previous perception, I felt due to my ‘image’ I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was. I never meant to hurt you.

Tupac was also upset by an interview that Madonna gave where she said, “I’m off to rehabilitate all the rappers and basketball players.”

“Those words cut me deep seeing how I had never known you to be with any rappers besides myself,” Tupac writes in the letter. “It was at this moment out of hurt & a natural instinct to strike back and defend my heart & ego that I said a lot of things.”

In her note on the letter, “Please Do Say Forgive Me,” Chandra Steele focuses instead on the nature and quality of Tupac’s apology.

Celebrities are separated from us by our perception of their godlike attainment of what we’re supposed to want: fame and money and sex. But when Tupac refers to their relationship, he uses words of humanity and humility. “I haven’t been the kind of friend I know I am capable of being” is how he frames the apology. It’s an empathy that some never access within themselves, no matter how many classes they take in unlocking their chakras. Later he tells Madonna, “I offer my friendship once again, this time much stronger and focused.” …

What’s more remarkable than what’s written is what isn’t. Tupac does not overstep the bounds of being an ex-lover. He does not push a selfish agenda. He has the wisdom to balance what he wants with what is warranted after leaving sans explanation. He does not burden her by asking for her forgiveness.

And then there are Tupac’s closing words:

I Don’t Know How you feel
About visiting me But if you
could find it in your Heart
I would love to speak face to face
with you. It’s funny but this experience has taught me
to Not take time 4 granted. [heart]

Madonna has a DNA sterilisation team

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 25, 2012

This seems apocryphal but I’m gonna go with it anyway: Madonna has a cleanup team sweep her tour dressing rooms after shows for bits of hair, skin, and spit the singer might have left behind so that fans cannot get ahold of her DNA.

Concert promoter Alvaro Ramos, who is overseeing the Portuguese leg of Madonna’s MDNA tour, told Britain’s Daily Mirror: “We have to take extreme care, like I have never seen for any other artist.

“We cannot even look at the dressing room after it is ready, or even open the door.”

MDNA = Madonna’s DNA?

Madonna on magazine covers, 1983-2011

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 27, 2011

You can see the evolution of Madonna’s look in this collection of magazine covers…one per year for the last 28 years.

Madonna magazine covers

Her first cover appeared just a month after Amy Winehouse was born. (via ★janelle)

Bad celebrity tippers

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 16, 2011

Parsing a handful of different bad celebrity tipper lists, the folks at Short Order create a top 10 list of celebs who must have never worked in the service industry. Madonna, celebrating her 53rd birthday today, is #2. From what I could tell, here are the lists they used (Caution: Here be slide shows):Glamorati, The Frisky, Stained Apron, Zimbio, and Love to Know.

All this reminded me of the story of Shaq leaving $160 for a $20 tab, then ordering a Sprite on his way out and paying $40 for it. This is also the story where Shaq was talking about the people from Twitteronia.

Madonnaspeak

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2010

Madonna uses a surprising number of cliches and figures of speech in this interview (conducted by Gus Van Sant).

his Girl Friday
talks the talk
walks the walk
lots of ways to skin the cat
he’s got a fire under his ass
a bee in his bonnet
a trip down memory lane
turn my lemons into lemonade
clotheshorses
so far, so good
reinvent the wheel

The interview itself may not be worth looking at unless you’re already a Madonna, GVS, or cliche fan.

Approaching the uncanny valley from the other direction

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2008

Fashion photo retouching (i.e. high-brow Photoshopping) gets the New Yorker treatment with this story on retoucher Pascal Dangin, one of the best in the business.

In the March issue of Vogue Dangin tweaked a hundred and forty-four images: a hundred and seven advertisements (Estée Lauder, Gucci, Dior, etc.), thirty-six fashion pictures, and the cover, featuring Drew Barrymore. To keep track of his clients, he assigns three-letter rubrics, like airport codes. Click on the current-jobs menu on his computer: AFR (Air France), AMX (American Express), BAL (Balenciaga), DSN (Disney), LUV (Louis Vuitton), TFY (Tiffany & Co.), VIC (Victoria’s Secret).

The article touches too briefly on the tension between reality and what ends up in the magazines and advertisements. As Errol Morris points out on his photography blog, it is often difficult to find truth in even the most vérité of photographs. Even so, the truth seems to be completely absent from Madonna’s recent photo spread in Vanity Fair that was retouched by Dangin, especially this one in which a 50-year-old Madonna looks like a recent college graduate who’s never lifted a weight in her life.

The uncanny valley comes into play here, which we usually think of in terms of robots, cartoon characters, and other pseudo anthropomorphic characters attempting and failing to look sufficiently human and therefore appearing creepy and scary. With an increasing amount of photo retouching, postproduction in film, plastic surgery, and increasingly effective makeup & skin care products, we’re being bombarded with a growing amount of imagery featuring people who don’t appear naturally human. People who appear often in media (film & tv stars, models, cable news anchors & reporters, miscellaneous celebrities, etc.) are creeping down into the uncanny valley to meet up with characters from The Polar Express. I don’t know about you but a middle-aged Madonna made to look 24 gives me the heebie-jeebies. Perhaps the familar uncanny valley graph needs revision:

New Uncanny Valley

Photoshop contest results: unretouched celebrity photos. Love the Botox-less Madonna.

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2005

Photoshop contest results: unretouched celebrity photos. Love the Botox-less Madonna.