Kevin Durant’s New Headspace – A Fake Death in Romancelandia

 

Kevin Durant’s New Headspace – A Fake Death in Romancelandia

 

Dear Reader,

Today the TextileFuture Editorial Team sugests only two features for your reading.

The first feature is about Kevin Durant and his life.

The second item gives you an insight of a A Fake Death in Romancelandia

The first feature was firstly published in the Wall Street Journal and the second item in the New York Times, and we proudly publish both in the TextileFuture Newsletter today.

Both allow you to find facts and figures and captions of real persons. We wish you a pleasant reading.

Please don’t forget to return next Tuesday for the next issue of TextileFuture’s Newsletter. Why don’t you subscribe to the totally free of cost Newsletter and it will be dispatched to your mailbox directly.

The TextileFuture Editorial Team wishes you the best possible success for all your undertakings!

 

 

Here starts the first feature:

 

The Nets new star is focused on his recovery and elated to be coming to Brooklyn—so can everyone stop worrying about whether or not he’s happy? “We talk about mental health a lot. We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans.”

By guest author J.R. Moehringer from the Wall Street Journal.

Sept. 10, 2019

 

And he was already a thinker. “I’ve always been on a search,” he says.

mes to executives, media, fans.”

“Some days I hate the NBA,” Kevin Durant says wearily.

He’s facedown on a padded table, wearing dark workout shorts, a weathered gray DMX T-shirt, a Washington Redskins fleece draped over his shoulders. A physical therapist leans over him, wafting circulation-boosting lasers up and down his surgically repaired right calf.

“Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” he says. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”

Since June 10, when Durant crumpled to the floor with a ruptured Achilles, halting Game 5 of the NBA Finals and casting a pall over the rest of the series, it’s been The Question: Will the two-time Finals MVP, 2014 league MVP, four-time scoring leader, ever be the same? But listen to him for just a few minutes: He won’t. He’s already a different person.

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The change is more than cosmetic, more than simply leaving the Golden State Warriors and signing a four-year USD 164 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. It’s more than dropping his longtime number, 35, which possessed enormous symbolism. (A beloved youth coach and mentor was shot and killed at 35 years old.) The change feels elemental, as if Durant’s brush with basketball mortality made him see how fast it all might go away, how fast it will go away (he turns 31 this month), and it scared him, or matured him, or made him think.

And he was already a thinker. “I’ve always been on a search,” he says.

Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

 

Producer Brian Grazer, a creative partner, says Durant is one of the most original, idiosyncratic minds you’re likely to meet in the world of sports. Grazer recalls a talk Durant gave at a Google retreat in Sicily. During the Q&A someone asked what made Durant so great. Coolly, Durant replied: “Paranoia.”

But all this is guesswork, and Durant hates the way people are forever guessing about his psyche, which is another reason he hates the NBA. So here’s another guess: Maybe he’s not changed, or not merely changed—maybe he’s also dead tired. He sounds tired, looks tired, with good reason. His 12-year NBA career has featured outsize doses of drama, scandal, injuries, gutting losses, fierce beefs, dramatic exits, emotional returns, burner accounts. Even his most devoted fans (Mom and Dad) say the ruptured Achilles and the yearlong layoff it will likely require might be a blessing.

In every sense of the word, the man needs to heal.

The healing starts here, in this USD 24 million neo-brutalist mansion nailed to the side of a cliff above Beverly Hills. Level with the tops of the Santa Monica Mountains, eye-to-eye with the raptors that surf the swirly updrafts, this will be the setting for Phase One of Durant’s rebuild.

But all this is guesswork, and Durant hates the way people are forever guessing about his psyche, which is another reason he hates the NBA. So here’s another guess: Maybe he’s not changed, or not merely changed—maybe he’s also dead tired. He sounds tired, looks tired, with good reason. His 12-year NBA career has featured outsize doses of drama, scandal, injuries, gutting losses, fierce beefs, dramatic exits, emotional returns, burner accounts. Even his most devoted fans (Mom and Dad) say the ruptured Achilles and the yearlong layoff it will likely require might be a blessing.

In every sense of the word, the man needs to heal.

The healing starts here, in this USD 24 million neo-brutalist mansion nailed to the side of a cliff above Beverly Hills. Level with the tops of the Santa Monica Mountains, eye-to-eye with the raptors that surf the swirly updrafts, this will be the setting for Phase One of Durant’s rebuild.

MOVING ON “I’ve always been on a search,” says Durant, who in July signed a four-year USD 164 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. Of his time with the Warriors, he says, “I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted. As time went on, I started to realize I’m just different from the rest of the guys.” Nike jersey, USD 110, nike​.com Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

In some ways the place is mega-normal, just another stately pleasure dome of superstardom (seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms; rent: USD 90,000 a month). But at moments there’s a weird vibe. The house feels like a chrysalis, or a crypt, depending on your point of view, and not simply because the front door is a giant sliding slab of stone. Whatever comes next for Durant—a compromised skill set, a comeback for the ages—it will be determined largely by what happens within these concrete walls, inside these unaccountably dark rooms, and this inescapable truth can really throw off the feng shui. Even the man installing the special low-resistance treadmill in the living room looks a little tense.

Team Durant’s plan is for him to hole up here all summer, then transition to his new home in New York City soon after Labor Day. He’s flying east tonight to look at a few places. Friends have urged him to consider Manhattan, but Dumbo, he thinks, might be more his speed. He wants high ceilings, a sick view, proximity to the Nets practice gym. He lives for a gym, prides himself on rolling out of bed straight into practice. “I don’t wear matching clothes…I don’t wash my face, I don’t brush my hair. I just come in there and go to work.”

LUCKY SEVEN Durant, who was on crutches for weeks after his injury, chose to wear No. 7 for the Nets because it represents completion in the Bible (God rested on the seventh day, after creating Heaven and Earth).Nike jersey, USD 110, and shorts, USD 100, nike​.com Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

This morning, however, the only plan he cares about is the rehab plan. He’s laser focused on this laser. Somehow he even tunes out the blaring big-screen TV across the room. While his friends stretch out on big leather couches, watching White Boy Rick, discussing the plot twists, Durant stretches out on the table, subdued, quiet. This is the flip side of his hatred for the NBA: an almost pious devotion to the game itself and anything that can help him play it at the highest level.

“Without basketball,” he says flatly, “I wouldn’t have done much on earth.” Wouldn’t have traveled the world, or met politicians, entrepreneurs, moguls, rappers, each of whom adds to his store of knowledge and advances his search. “I wouldn’t have seen stuff that I’ve seen, compared to my friends I grew up with. Wouldn’t have gone to India. Or Hawaii.”

His words are suddenly punctuated by bone-shuddering gunshots in surround sound. Someone in White Boy Rick’s world is never going to Mumbai.

The physical therapist, Dave Hancock, cuts the laser, repositions Durant. He rubs around the eight-inch surgical scar on the back of Durant’s calf, kneading the soft tissue to increase blood flow and improve collagen formation. He then manipulates other muscles and tendons in the lower leg to keep them engaged and energized.

Next, Hancock slips Durant’s leg into a boot and sends him outside, into a walled backyard. On metal crutches that look like medieval jousting lances, Durant does a circuit, paces before an outdoor bar decorated with the logo of his new team. Just shy of 7 feet, without a shred of fat, he always traverses earth differently from other humans. (“You can feel his height,” Grazer says.) But with crutches and a boot, his halting-flowing stride is a jarring mix of fragility and athletic grace. Like a baby deer performing the Martha Graham technique.

THE BROOKLYN WAY Durant’s free agency decision this time did not require endless deliberations. After reviewing options again with his manager, he simply said, “All right. Well. I’m going with Brooklyn.” Durant’s own clothing and jewelry and David Yurman chain, USD 3500, David Yurman, 114 Prince Street, New York Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

After the gingerly constitutional it’s time to slide into the infinity pool for one-minute cardio bursts. The infinity pool overlooks…infinity. Durant, however, shows no interest in the view. After easing into the silver-blue water he begins kicking, paddling, maneuvering a rubber ball. When he flags, Hancock nudges. Again. The 45-minute regimen leaves them both gasping.

Hancock hands Durant a basketball (black, Nets logo) and tells him to shoot. The hoop is at the far end of the pool. Floating backward, standing flamingo-style, talking, not talking, looking, not looking, no matter: Swish. Swish. Swish.

Grazer says he once asked Durant what it’s like to choke in a big game. I’ve never choked, Durant said. Everyone chokes, Grazer said. “[Durant] says, ‘I will always shoot the ball—choking is not shooting the ball. If I miss, it’s not my fault. It’s the environment. Or someone else’s fault.’ At first that sounded arrogant. But if you think about it, it makes sense. Choking is not shooting.”

Cardio over, summer sun directly overhead, Durant moves into the dark coolness of the house. A chef brings him a plate. Crispy black cod, parsnip-and-potato purée, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted fennel, followed by crème brûlée topped with fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Durant takes two bites, sets the plate aside. He burrows into the couch recently abandoned by his friends. He has only a short time to rest and regroup. This morning’s regimen will be followed by another this afternoon. Two sessions, every day except Sunday, all summer.

Nike jersey, USD 110, and shorts, USD 100, nike​.com Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

Another athlete might complain about the monotony, says Hancock, who’s worked privately with Odell Beckham Jr., David Beckham, Daniel Craig, U2. But Durant attacks it with an all-consuming fire, which Hancock calls the hallmark of an elite athlete.

In fact, for Durant, rehab began nanoseconds after the injury. He heard the tendon pop, felt the leg turn to lead, knew exactly what lay ahead. He stayed cool, collected, even back in the locker room, surrounded by teammates and executives looking like mourners at his wake. Only when doctors started talking blood clots and other bad outcomes did Durant’s mind go “to a crazy place.”

His phone went crazy too. Calls and texts from everywhere. (Barack Obama: Speedy recovery.) Among the first was his mother, Wanda Durant, whom he immortalized as “the real MVP” in his 2014 MVP acceptance speech. She was watching the game at home in Maryland, in the house Durant bought her. She stepped out of the room for a moment, and when she came back she saw her phone fluttering. Fifteen texts?

She looked at the first. It was from a friend. It just said: Oh no.

Frantic, she rewound the game, pressed pause, put her face close to the screen, looked deep into her son’s frozen eyes, trying to see how bad it was.

It was bad.

She cried when he answered the phone. He told her it was OK, because that’s what the son of a single mother says. She said she was on her way, she’d be on a plane that night. He said no. The next day would be soon enough.

MAN IN FULL Laurene Powell Jobs, who helped Durant establish an educational program in Maryland near where he grew up, calls him “a deeply integrated individual.” Louis Vuitton jacket, USD 4150, select Louis Vuitton stores, Ralph Lauren turtleneck, USD 550, ralphlauren​.com and Durant’s own pants and accessories. Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

She was at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery 48 hours later, the last face he saw as they wheeled him into the operating room and one of the first he saw when he woke from the anesthesia. She then followed him to a suite at the Four Seasons, where she did all the things he couldn’t do for himself. “He was in the tub,” Wanda says, “and I was washing him, and we were talking, making sure his leg didn’t get wet and the bandage stayed dry, and he said: ‘Mom, it feels good to have you take care of me.’ And it just—”

She stops, overcome with emotion.

The moment was especially sweet because not long ago mother and son were on the outs. Wanda had been handling Durant’s financial affairs since he broke into the league, but in 2014 he decided to take control. It caused a rift, which took months, Durant says, to heal.

After several days Wanda went home, and Durant moved to a temporary apartment in SoHo. His father came. (Wayne Pratt wasn’t present for most of Durant’s childhood, but he’s now part of Durant’s small inner circle.) They ate vegetarian takeout, watched The Black Godfather, spent a whole afternoon together without once mentioning basketball, even though the NBA’s free agency period was days away. The basketball world was breathlessly waiting to hear which team Durant would choose, and Durant’s father was breathless too. But Durant was determined to keep his own counsel.

Durant’s own clothing. Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

A far cry from three years ago, says Rich Kleiman, Durant’s manager, business partner and close friend. In the summer of 2016 he and Durant rented a palatial estate on Further Lane in the Hamptons and welcomed a procession of lobbying delegations from various teams, including a party of four stars from Golden State. This time around, shortly before the start of free agency, Kleiman met Durant for lunch at Cipriani, a chic restaurant in SoHo, and gave him one last overview of all the teams and all his options. Durant said: “All right. Well. I’m going with Brooklyn.” Just like that.

Kleiman was taken aback: For real? Yes, Durant said. End of discussion.

(Looking back on both free-agency crossroads, Kleiman laughs. “The Hamptons and Cipriani? How bougie can you get?”)

Durant says his decision-making process was as simple on the inside as it looked from the outside. Brooklyn was the right fit; he just knew. He didn’t even speak to the Nets before his decision, he says. He didn’t need a PowerPoint. He’s always felt big love as a visiting player at Barclays Center, he says, and he wondered what it might be like if he were on the home team. Plus, the Nets offered the opportunity to join his “best friend in the league,” Kyrie Irving.

Of course, Durant says, he was conflicted about leaving the Bay Area. “I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted,” he says. “But I’ll never be one of those guys. I didn’t get drafted there.… Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there. So me? Shit, how you going to rehabilitate me? What you going to teach me? How can you alter anything in my basketball life? I got an MVP already. I got scoring titles.”

That he stood out, stood apart from the group, felt preordained.

BACK TO FRONT “Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” Durant says. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game.” Durant’s own clothing and jewelry and David Yurman chain, USD 3500, David Yurman, 114 Prince Street, New York. Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

“As time went on,” he says, “I started to realize I’m just different from the rest of the guys. It’s not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it’s like nobody could get a full acceptance of me there.”

He scoffs at rumors that his public disagreement with Green, in the final moments of a game last November, was determinative. (Durant scolded Green for not passing him the ball; Green then berated Durant, repeatedly calling him a bitch.) It was “a bullshit argument,” he says, “that meant nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were good before it. We were great.”

And great, he insists, after.

But there was also this: From a strictly competitive, strategic standpoint, Durant had come to fear that Golden State had hit a ceiling.

“The motion offense we run in Golden State, it only works to a certain point,” he says. “We can totally rely on only our system for maybe the first two rounds. Then the next two rounds we’re going to have to mix in individual play. We’ve got to throw teams off, because they’re smarter in that round of playoffs. So now I had to dive into my bag, deep, to create stuff on my own, off the dribble, isos, pick-and-rolls, more so than let the offense create my points for me.” He wanted to go someplace where he’d be free to hone that sort of improvisational game throughout the regular season.

His tenure in the Bay Area was great, he says, but because of media speculation, fan anxiety, “it didn’t feel as great as it could have been.”

HEAD SPACE “We talk about mental health a lot,” Durant says. “We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans.” Nike jersey, USD 110, and shorts, USD 100, nike​.com Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

A small detail, perhaps telling: He hasn’t been back to the Bay Area since June, since the injury, and he has no plans to return. His staff cleaned out his apartment in San Francisco, packed up the furniture, the memorabilia, including the MVP trophies that sat on the mantel. He doesn’t know when he’ll return again.

Meaningful? Merely logistical? People want to know. Desperately. Durant knows they want to know. Breakups represent change, and change represents death—naturally people obsess. Some still need clarity on Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, the Beatles. What the hell did Yoko do?

Durant has a Ph.D. in this phenomenon. When he left the Oklahoma City Thunder for Golden State, reaction was intense. Overnight he went from icon to traitor. The memory still pains him.

“People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for sale signs around my neighborhood,” he recalls. “People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names.”

“People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for sale signs around my neighborhood,” he recalls. “People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names.”

The two-time NBA Finals MVP, 2014 League MVP and four-time scoring leader wears his number for the Brooklyn Nets. Nike jersey, USD 110, and shorts, USD 100, nike​.com. Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

At his first game in Oklahoma City as a visitor—February 2017—fans yowled for blood and brandished cupcakes, because Durant was supposedly soft. “Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena,” he says. “And just the organization, the trainers and equipment managers, those dudes is pissed off at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a team and went to play with another team?”

His mother recalls one particularly appalling piece of video: a Thunder fan firing bullets into a No. 35 jersey. Bullets—after she and Durant and half his extended family relocated to Oklahoma, after they embraced the community, after Durant gave a million dollars to tornado victims.

“I’ll never be attached to that city again because of that,” Durant says. “I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That shit must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”

Though fans in Toronto roared with pleasure and glee the moment he ruptured his Achilles, he doesn’t view that behaviour in the same light. On the contrary, it tickled him. Torontonians knew he was playing the best basketball of his life. “They was terrified that I was on the floor,” he says, suppressing a smile. “You could feel it the second I walked out there.”

Does this same largesse extend to Toronto’s über booster, Drake, who trash-talked the Warriors and practically ran the floor on every fast break, thus irking half a continent? It does, it does. “That’s my brother. I view him as, like, blood.” If you get upset about how Drake roots for his hometown team, he adds, “You need to re-evaluate yourself.”

Durant’s own clothing and jewelry, David Yurman chain, USD 3500, David Yurman, 114 Prince Street, New York. . Hair, Eric Adams; grooming, Tasha Reiko Brown; manicure, Ashlie Johnson. Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

No, what Durant doesn’t like, what unnerves him, is when raw hatred poses as fandom. “We talk about mental health a lot. We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans.”

As with the ruptured Achilles, however, the bitter parting with Oklahoma City brought hidden boons. “It made me realize how big this whole shit is,” he says. The “shit,” he says, is “the machine,” a great big invisible generator of narratives, programmed by the powers that be to gin up controversy, conflict, whatever keeps people dialed in. He’s learned—he’s learning—to free himself from the machine, to separate the game he loves from the noise and nonsense surrounding it.

Though he can sound stressed when discussing this stuff, though he can look downhearted, beard askew, doleful eyes fixed on the ground, Durant wants people to know he’s happy. More, he wants them to please for the love of God stop asking if he’s happy.

“Without basketball I wouldn’t have done much on earth…. I wouldn’t have seen stuff that I’ve seen.” — Kevin Durant

Maybe it’s a function of his introversion. Maybe it’s his resting facial expression,

Maybe it’s a function of his introversion. Maybe it’s his resting facial expression, which is that of a man who just found a parking ticket on his windshield. Whatever the reason, observers often think Durant is bummed, or numb, when in fact he’s just pleasantly idling in neutral. “People are always like, Are you happy? It’s like, Yo, what the f— does that mean right now?… That was the whole thing this year: Is KD happy where he is?”

Such a highly personal question, he complains. More, an unanswerable question. And whenever he tries to answer it, earnestly, honestly, no one’s satisfied, which makes them unhappy, which then makes him unhappy.

Indeed, right after he announced his deal with Brooklyn, a typical story dominated one or two news cycles. Warriors execs, behind the scenes, supposedly saying Durant wasn’t happy enough after winning two titles: Nothing’s good enough for this guy. 

False, Durant says. “It’s very rare in our lives when we envision and picture something and it comes together the perfect way you envision it. [Winning a title] was the only time in my life that happened, and that summer was the most exhilarating time. Every day I woke up I just felt so good about myself, so good about life.… That was a defining moment in my life—not just my basketball life.”

This is the one thing that doesn’t change about Durant. He still tries earnestly, honestly to correct the record, give real answers, put the truth out there. He doesn’t measure his words, doesn’t care if he says it wrong or contradicts himself. (Case in point: He’s spoken forgivingly about Oklahoma City in the past. But he’s not feeling that right now, and he’s not the least bit concerned if the paradox throws you.)

What matters more than continuity, more than happiness, more than titles—more than anything—is the search. Durant is one of the few NBA players who speaks of the game as a vehicle for gaining wisdom.

The rapper Q-Tip recently sent Durant an old black-and-white clip of Bruce Lee, which Durant devoured. Lee put it so beautifully, telling an interviewer about the secret of martial arts. “All types of knowledge,” Lee says, “ultimately mean self-knowledge.” The more you know about martial arts, the more you know about yourself, and the more you can then express yourself with your body—especially in “combat.” On any given night he has things to express. Angry things, scary things, joyful things, about his story.

He grew up in the roughest parts of Prince George’s County, Maryland. No money, no father. Lost a cherished aunt and a coach at a tender age. Lost friends to gun violence. Survived a bare, lonely two-room apartment, just his mom and brother, and now inhabits this ridiculous American schloss. Every step of that remarkable journey has left a mark, reshaped his soul. He wants to tell you how, wants to tell the world, and he does so with his beautiful game, a sui generis hybrid of length and strength, violence and accuracy and grace.

Laurene Powell Jobs, who helped Durant establish a multimillion-dollar program in Prince George’s County to help college-bound kids ready themselves—scholastically, emotionally, financially—says Durant is “a deeply integrated individual,” which makes him rare among all people, let alone celebrities. Integrated people, she says, “keep all the knowledge of their experience and bring it to their current awareness.… They use it as a source of knowledge, of power, and want to effect change that’s informed by their experience.”

If basketball isn’t available, Durant finds expression through other means. Photography, music, art. He dabbles, or dives deep, depending. But he’s discovered a true passion for business. He seeks out founders, leaders, CEOs and applies what he learns from them to the empire he’s building with Kleiman. Under the rubric of 35 Ventures—headquartered in New York City, staff of 15—they manage Durant’s lucrative endorsement deals, oversee an equity partnership with luxury audio company Master & Dynamic and create an eclectic investment portfolio (technology, hospitality, media) tailored to their shared interests.

They also generate a lot of content. Just this year they produced a documentary about the San Quentin Warriors, a hoops team inside the maximum security prison; launched a six-episode series on ESPN called The Boardroom about the business of sports, along with related digital shorts; and began filming a scripted show called Swagger, loosely based on Durant’s days playing youth basketball, with Grazer as a co-producer.

Through the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation they also help groups that take innovative approaches to fighting homelessness and easing hunger, and they do dazzling refurbishments of basketball courts in low-income neighborhoods around the world.

Above all, Durant expresses himself through social media. Instagram is one of his main portals to the world. It’s an introvert’s utopia, he says, a place to engage with people from a safe distance. Never mind the grief it’s caused him in the past. (In recent years, at times using fake accounts, he’s clashed with online critics, including at least one who still had a curfew.) He checks his direct messages twice daily, and though they number in the hundreds, he methodically works his way through, chatting with all sorts of folks about all sorts of subjects. Recently he conducted a two-week-long dialogue with a total stranger, a young man who detailed his many struggles and mental woes, ad nauseam, all of which Durant found fascinating.

He’ll also talk shop with anyone. The other day a middle school student reached out. “She’s like, I started to play at the free throw line, but I’m not very comfortable there, so I don’t really know what to do when I get inside the zone. It was such a nice-ass question. She blew my mind.”

He often parachutes into young people’s comments, doles out praise, congratulates them on a great game, a big win, “just encouraging them, letting them know they’re nice, and keep going. That shit does a lot for me. That’s why I like the Gram. A lot of young grass-roots basketball players, I build relationships through Instagram, so when we see each other it’s love.”

He recalls having a drink with E-40, rapper, philosopher, who claims authorship of several everyday phrases, including “You feel me?” E-40 made a toast: I’m not above you, I’m not below you—I’m right beside you. “I’m like, That’s the approach I take with everybody!”

“People are always like, are you happy? That was the whole thing this year: Is KD happy where he is?” — Durant

Maybe that utopian vision of the world will now come true. Maybe Durant’s unfiltered dialogue with humanity will reach new levels of intimacy and respect and mutual understanding. Just as the injury changed Durant, or accelerated changes already in process, maybe it will alter public perception. The knocks—that he was soft, that introvert was a fancy word for selfish—seemed to evaporate the moment he gave up his body for Golden State. Starting Game 5 with a strained calf, risking and then incurring catastrophic injury, seemed to instantly restore the hero status he enjoyed early in his career.

Or maybe the machine has other plans for his narrative.

It’s almost time for the afternoon session with Hancock. First, though, a quick interview with a film crew making a documentary about basketball in Prince George’s County. Time suddenly seems like the infinity pool. No edges, no horizon. Talking about the past, working on the future, hobbled in an uncertain present.

Durant says he’s decided to wear No. 7 in Brooklyn because it stands for completion in the Bible. (God rested on the seventh day after creating Heaven and Earth.) Clearly the completion of his career is on his mind. In which case, what next?

Kids, he says, maybe.

How many?

He throws out numbers. Maybe five. Maybe one.

First he needs to find a woman who can handle this crazy life.

He used to think that wasn’t such a tall order. But, as with so many things, his thinking on that has evolved.

“I thought this life was pretty simple,” he says. “But it’s not as simple as I thought it was.”

www.wsj.com

 

 

 

This is the beginning of the second item:

A Fake Death in Romancelandia

Susan Meachen, a romance novelist in Tennessee, has faced questions from police about faking her own death online.Credit…Jessica Tezak for The New York Times

 

A Tennessee homemaker entered the online world of romance writers and it became, in her words, “an addiction.” Things went downhill from there.

By guest author Ellen Barry from the New York Times. Ellen Barry covers mental health. She has served as The Times’s Boston bureau chief, London-based chief international correspondent and bureau chief in Moscow and New Delhi. She was part of a team that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

Published Jan. 16, 2023 Updated Jan. 18, 2023

Late Monday morning, two police officers drove up a gravel driveway to a mobile home in Benton, Tenn., a tiny town in the foothills of the southern Appalachians, to question Susan Meachen, a 47-year-old homemaker and author of romance novels.

She had been expecting them. For a week, she had been the focus of a scandal within the online subculture of self-published romance writers, part of the literary world sometimes known as “Romancelandia.”

The police wanted to talk to Ms. Meachen about faking her own death. In the fall of 2020, a post announcing she had died had appeared on her Facebook page, where she had often described her struggles with mental health and complained of poor treatment at the hands of other writers.

The post, apparently written by her daughter, led many to assume she had died by suicide. It sent fans and writers into a spiral of grief and introspection, wondering how their sisterhood had turned so poisonous.

But she wasn’t dead. Two weeks ago, to the shock of her online community, Ms. Meachen returned to her page to say she was back and now “in a good place,” and ready to resume writing under her own name. She playfully concluded: “Let the fun begin.”

Other writers, seeing this, were not in the mood for fun. Describing deep feelings of betrayal, they have called for her to be prosecuted for fraud, alleging that she faked her death to sell books or solicit cash donations. They have reported her to the F.B.I. cybercrimes unit and the local sheriff and vowed to shun her and her work. Some have questioned whether she exists in real life.

Ms. Meachen does exist. In a series of interviews, she said the online community had become a treacherous place for a person in her mental state, as she struggled to manage a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

“I think it’s a very dangerous mix-up, especially if you have a mental illness,” she said. “I would log on and get in, and at some point in the day my two worlds would collide, and it would be hard to differentiate between book world and the real world. It was like they would sandwich together.”

A text message from Ms. Meachen to Samantha A. Cole, another romance writer in her Facebook group.Credit…via Facebook

When she was first introduced to “the book world,” as she calls it, she was alone at home for long stretches while her husband, a long-haul truck driver, traversed the country.

She read romance novels, sometimes plowing through more than one a day. She had always been a reader, despite dropping out of school in the ninth grade to marry. The online romance community was a revelation to her, “like an escape, a timeout, a break from everyday reality,” she said.

Over time, though, it began to feel more like quicksand. Over the next three years, she self-published 14 novels and maintained a near-constant social media presence. She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a disease characterized by periods of manic activity that can alternate with deep depression.

The book world made her disorder worse, she said. Writing often sent her into a manic state, and conflicts on the fan pages left her seething. She knew she should walk away, and she tried. But she said it was “an addiction”; every time she tried to log off for good, her phone would ping.

Dead people don’t post

Romance writers’ groups can be fizzy, exhilarating places. There is sexy cover art. There is snappy industry jargon, like HEA (Happily Ever After), Dubcon (dubious consent) and Reverse Harem (a female protagonist with multiple male love interests.)

At their best, the groups are a fountain of support for “indie” authors, who self-publish their work and help each other with covers and marketing, which is known as “pimping.” At their worst, they can be “epicenters of nonstop drama,” said Sarah Wendell, the co-founder of the romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Ms. Meachen’s fan page, The Ward — a humorous reference to a psychiatric hospital — went in that direction. She complained bitterly about colleagues who, she said, she had helped but had failed to help her in return, and threatened to leave the indie world.

“Every day it got to the point I’d rather be dead than to deal with the industry and the people who swear they are friends,” she wrote in September of 2020. “I’ve had some dog eat dog jobs in my life but this one is by far the most vicious with the least amount of money.”

Ms. Meachen lives in the tiny town of Benton in the Appalachian foothills in southeastern Tennessee.Credit…Jessica Tezak for The New York Times

She described her psychiatric treatment and alluded to past suicide attempts.

“Dear Scary people in my head, I truly understand we’ve been doing your story for over a year,” she wrote. “Waking me up with muscles screaming at me to get up and finish does not motivate me.”

Ms. Meachen’s psychiatrist, Dr. Niansen Liu, confirmed, with her permission, that she is under his treatment for bipolar disorder and that she has been prescribed medications for anxiety, depression and psychosis. He would not comment further on her case.

Her online friends worried about her, and some reached out to express their concern, but there was a limit to what they could do, said Kimberly Grell, who became friendly with her through writing groups.

“She was becoming pretty chaotic,” Ms. Grell said. “It just seemed like every problem that surfaced with her she was in the middle of, and it turned to where she was the victim of it all.”

She sympathised with Ms. Meachen’s frustration, though, as it became clear that she might not be able to earn money with her writing.

“A lot of people get into this type of business thinking they’re going to make their millions, like Stephen King or James Patterson,” said Ms. Grell, who exited the romance industry last year to sell beaded jewelry. “The reality is, it’s a money pit. You are literally tossing your money into a pit hoping someone will find you.”

Ms. Meachen’s husband, Troy, said he came to see the “book world” as a danger to his wife’s welfare.

When she sent out samples of her work to other authors, the responses she got were often “really brutal,” he said. When writing, he said, she had periods of mania and psychosis; sometimes, he would come home and “she would talk like a character from a book, like she was the individual she was writing.”

He worried that it was too dangerous to leave her alone during the day. “It got to the point where it was like, enough is enough,” he said, comparing the community’s effect on her to a whirlpool. “She was going round and round,” he said, “and the bottom was just right there.”

This reached a climax in the fall of 2020, according to Mr. and Ms. Meachen and their 22-year-old daughter, who described the episode on the condition that her name not be used.

It had been a rough few weeks. In August, someone had called police because they feared she would harm herself. On September 10, Mr. Meachen was away, hauling a shipment of chemicals. Their daughter stopped by to check on her mother, and found her semiconscious.

Ms. Meachen had taken a large dose of Xanax, enough to make her “like a limp noodle,” and was “not cognitive or responsive,” Mr. Meachen said. He instructed their daughter to announce her death online, he said.

“I told them that she is dead to the indie world, the internet, because we had to stop her, period,” he said. “She could not stop it on her own. And, even to this day, I’ll take 100 percent of the blame, the accolades, whatever you want to call it.”

The post on Meachen’s page said she had died two days earlier. “Author Susan Meachen left this world behind Tuesday night for bigger and better things,” it said. “Please leave us alone we have no desire in this messed-up industry.”

A follow-up post appeared on Oct. 23. “Sorry thought everyone on this page knew my mom passed away,” it said. “Dead people don’t post on social media.”

Ms. Meachen and her husband of 27 years, Troy. He said he came to see the “book world” as a danger to his wife’s welfare.Credit…via Susan Meachen

 

‘I feel majorly gaslit’

The news of Ms. Meachen’s death radiated out through the fan pages. Ms. Meachen was well known in the community, and had often reached out to new authors, volunteering to provide cover art or help with marketing.

“Susan, I will never, ever forget how kind you were to me,” wrote Sai Marie Johnson, 38, the author of “Embers of Ecstasy,” at the time.

“I only wish you would have known I would have talked you through the night, I’d have defended you against your bullies,” she wrote. “I will do everything I can to make a difference so your death is not in vain.”

Ms. Johnson, who lives in Oregon, was so upset that she reached out to Ms. Meachen’s daughter online and offered to edit her mother’s last book for free, as a tribute. But the damage had been done, she said: Over the months that followed, many members, disgusted by the “Mean Girl”-ness of it all, migrated out of the community or deleted their accounts.

“It caused a huge shift in this community,” Ms. Johnson said. “There was a lot of drama, but this was the tidal wave. Nobody before had gotten so abused that they wanted to commit suicide.”

The subject receded, replaced by other dramas, until Jan. 2, when Ms. Meachen reappeared on her fan page with the news that she was alive.

Ms. Meachen did not see it as a particularly big deal. Eager to resume writing under her own name, she had been considering such a move for about a year, she said. She sat down at the computer, she said, and “hit enter before I could talk myself out of it.”

“I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not,” the post read. “There’s going to be tons of questions and a lot of people leaving the group I’d guess. But my family did what they thought was best for me and I can’t fault them for it.”

For the first few hours, the response was muted. Then, as she put it, “all hell broke loose.” Her post was widely shared by Samantha A. Cole, a romance writer from the suburbs of New York City, along with a seething commentary.

“I was horrified, stunned, livid, and felt like I’d been kicked in the gut and the chest at the same time,” wrote Ms. Cole, who previously worked as a police officer, and asked to be identified by her pen name to avoid the notice of people she had arrested.

More than anything, Ms. Cole said, she was hurt. She had gone into a “major funk” for months over Ms. Meachen’s death, worried that she had not been a good friend. Worse, in the recriminations that followed, Ms. Cole was accused on one fan page of bullying Ms. Meachen, something both women said was untrue.

Ms. Cole, who describes herself as “naturally suspicious,” set about documenting Ms. Meachen’s false claims in a series of screen shots and DMs.

She provided screenshots showing that Ms. Meachen had appealed to the group for financial help in medical emergencies and noted that she returned to the fan page under a new identity, T.N. Steele, effectively eavesdropping on her own mourners.

“It was important to me because the people that had grieved for her death for so long had a right to know that the whole thing was a hoax,” Ms. Cole said. “That’s what led me to do this, my anger and the sense of betrayal. I needed a way to vent.”

Many authors who are angry say it is because they know so many people struggling with mental illness themselves, and that it is despicable to falsify suicide for any reason.

“I feel majorly gaslit,” said Ms. Johnson, who, last week, filed a report about the incident to the cybercrimes unit of the F.B.I. She added, “It doesn’t seem like she is apologetic, and she is trying to cast blame on people, trying to get them to accept that she had a mental illness.”

As the scandal drew the attention of mainstream media outlets to the romance industry, many of its senior figures drew a weary sigh.

“I do not think it is going to help the romance industry’s persona of being a bunch of overly emotional women,” said Clair Brett, the president of the Romance Writers of America.

A twinge of remorse

Ms. Meachen watched from Benton while the online backlash made headlines in Greece and Britain and France; reporters from various countries were appearing in her DMs, which stressed her out.

This meant, among other things, that her real-life neighbors might read her novels, which fall on the racier end of the genre’s spectrum. For years, she has carefully separated her two identities — the romance writer and the homebody — but now they were smashing together.

She had not heard again from the police and sounded confident that she would not face charges, saying the family had not received substantial donations after her online death announcement; she had offered the detectives access to her bank accounts to prove it. She did admit feeling remorse for the fans who had grieved her loss.

“I’m sorry for their mourning, but from a legal standpoint, I did nothing wrong,” she said. “Morally, I might have done something wrong. But legally, there’s nothing wrong.”

If Ms. Meachen was on the edges of a literary world before, she is now cast out of it. Her fan page has gone silent. Her inbox is full of angry messages from former friends. Looking back on the whole story, she said she regrets it all, starting with entering the romance groups.

“It wasn’t good for me,” she said. “No, it wasn’t. I wish I had never met the book industry whatsoever.”

She has set aside her plans to resume writing fiction, for now, to deal with more immediate concerns. Someone is impersonating her on social media, issuing comments about the scandal, she said, and hoax Susans were bouncing around the internet saying God knows what.

“That’s what’s so funny about it,” her husband said. “You can be anybody you want to be on the internet.”

www.nytimes.com

 

 

 

Newsletter of last Week

Hailey Bieber’s Next Move – The hard luxury resale race heats up – Fashion’s Weirdest Year? Why 2022 Saw Paint Cans as Handbags, and Worse https://textile-future.com/archives/102853

 

Highlights of News of last Week, for your conenience, please just click on the item.

 

Acquisition

Autoneum takes over the automotive business of Borgers Group https://textile-future.com/archives/103100

Mergers: EU Commission clears acquisition of DEM and HPM by Advent  https://textile-future.com/archives/103168

Associations

AATCC Call for Abstracts https://textile-future.com/archives/102793

Textile Association (India) Awards Ramkumar Honorary Membership https://textile-future.com/archives/102797

Australia

Can Australia Escape a Recession? https://textile-future.com/archives/102987

Blockbuster Biopictures

Arts/Film:The Man Behind Hollywood’s Blockbuster Biopics https://textile-future.com/archives/103061

Broken Promises

Broken Promises  https://textile-future.com/archives/103080

China

Amid crises, China returns to Davos https://textile-future.com/archives/103640

Climate

Climate Start-up Removes Carbon From Open Air in Industry  https://textile-future.com/archives/103435

Companies

Boohoo to cut jobs at London office https://textile-future.com/archives/103198

Frasers Group to relaunch Missguided in House of Fraser stores this Spring https://textile-future.com/archives/103212

Nestlé: Have a paper-wrapped break with KitKat https://textile-future.com/archives/103227

Bossard Group: Sales financial year and fourth quarter 2022 – New records in a challenging environment https://textile-future.com/archives/103252

Burberry preliminary Results https://textile-future.com/archives/103580

BASF: While white and black still win, chromatic colours gain market share around the globe https://textile-future.com/archives/103586

VF Corporation Announces Third Quarter Fiscal 2023 Earnings and Conference Call Date https://textile-future.com/archives/103622

CES 2023

CES 2023’s Most Innovative Assistive Tech: Jabra, Whispp and More https://textile-future.com/archives/103086

Data

EU Sparkling wine exports grew 29 % in 2021 https://textile-future.com/archives/102890

Major drop in extra-EU imports of fireworks  https://textile-future.com/archives/102898

Average annual inflation of +2.8 % in 2022 in Switzerland https://textile-future.com/archives/102905

Housing costs make up 25 % of EU household expenditure https://textile-future.com/archives/102908

Austria led production and trade in skis in 2021and EU https://textile-future.com/archives/102978

EU-registered aircraft: 121 deaths in the EU in 2021 https://textile-future.com/archives/103114

EU Nights booked online up 9 % in the Summer of 2022 https://textile-future.com/archives/103120

Rents up by 18 %, house prices by 49 % since 2010 https://textile-future.com/archives/103160

Ukrainians granted temporary protection in EU in November 2022   https://textile-future.com/archives/103222

EU Agricultural annual prices in 2022 – first estimates  https://textile-future.com/archives/103278

Income inequality across Europe in 2021  https://textile-future.com/archives/103331

Predominantly EU rural regions experience depopulation  8

European Statistical Recovery Dashboard: January 2023 edition https://textile-future.com/archives/103508

Excess mortality in EU dropped to 6.7 % in November 2022 https://textile-future.com/archives/103518

22 % of EU energy consumed in 2021 came from renewables https://textile-future.com/archives/103673

Detergent

A Fresh Spin on Standard Laundry Detergent https://textile-future.com/archives/103183

Events

Trio of textile fairs rescheduled by three weeks to end of March https://textile-future.com/archives/102754

McKinsey: That’s a wrap: CES 2023 concludes in Las Vegas https://textile-future.com/archives/103045

CES 2023’s Most Innovative Assistive Tech: Jabra, Whispp and More  https://textile-future.com/archives/103086

SHIMA SEIKI to Exhibit at Pitti Filati 92 https://textile-future.com/archives/103545

ATG: Information Security & Cryptography – Fundamentals and Applications   June 12−14, 2023 Zurich, Switzerland Lecturers: Prof. David Basin, ETH Zurich Prof. Ueli Maurer, ETH Zurich  https://textile-future.com/archives/103654

Etiquette

The Etiquette Guru Who Broke Up With a Boyfriend Over  https://textile-future.com/archives/103052

EU

EU welcomes access to US subsidy scheme for commercial vehicles  https://textile-future.com/archives/102746

Euro and Schengen: Croatia joins the Euro and Schengen areas https://textile-future.com/archives/102751

Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU https://textile-future.com/archives/102915

COLLEGE MEETING: The European Commission appoints a new Head of Representation in Sweden https://textile-future.com/archives/103490

Events

McKinsey: That’s a wrap: CES 2023 concludes in Las Vegas https://textile-future.com/archives/103045

CES 2023’s Most Innovative Assistive Tech: Jabra, Whispp and More https://textile-future.com/archives/103086

Trade show success in growth market and Interiew: Insights into a key market  https://textile-future.com/archives/103597

Food

17 Foods You Should Buy When They’re on Sale https://textile-future.com/archives/103629

Hollywood

Pat Boone Is the Last of the Hollywood Squares https://textile-future.com/archives/102621

IMF

Launch of the IMF’s new book “South Asia’s Path to Resilient Growth” & Media Briefing with Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Sayeh https://textile-future.com/archives/102925

India

India’s Middle Class Needs Free Trade https://textile-future.com/archives/103003

Looking back

Good morning. Today, we bring you a special edition of the Briefing looking back at 2022 https://textile-future.com/archives/102642

McKinsey 

McKinsey: Economic Outlook in turbulent times 2022 December https://textile-future.com/archives/102677

Per https://textile-future.com/archives/103340spectives and research for the investing industry https://textile-future.com/archives/103049

ITMA

Terrot: 2023 is all about ITMA https://textile-future.com/archives/103659

Nasa

NASA’s Breakthrough 2022: Artemis, 3D Printed Spacesuits and New Metal Alloys https://textile-future.com/archives/102764

New Products

BASF’s offerings at Cosmet’Agora 2023 spotlight holistic and responsible beauty  https://textile-future.com/archives/103148

Ice Ice Baby! Sustainably packaged with Styropor® Ccycled™ by BASF https://textile-future.com/archives/103340

ExxonMobil awards BASF Durasorb™ Cryo-HRU with technology qualification for LNG pre-treatment https://textile-future.com/archives/103514

New York City

The 212: The New York Bakery Where Frank Sinatra Liked to Buy Pastries https://textile-future.com/archives/102830

Personalities

Vivienne Westwood, Priestess of Punk, Has Died https://textile-future.com/archives/102758

Barbara Walters, Pioneering TV Journalist, Dies at Age 93  https://textile-future.com/archives/102821

ICAC Business Development Manager Caroline Taco Named Executive Director Ad Interim https://textile-future.com/archives/102959

Markus Richter Takes Charge of WACKER’s Corporate Communications

https://textile-future.com/archives/103152

New Managing Director for Monforts https://textile-future.com/archives/103233

DyStar Announces Leadership Changes https://textile-future.com/archives/103257

Achim Sties appointed new Senior Vice President of BASF plastic additives  https://textile-future.com/archives/103266

Pamela Anderson Doesn’t Need Redemption, She’s Just Fine https://textile-future.com/archives/103417

Research

Funding approved: Two more technology transfer centres for Switzerland https://textile-future.com/archives/103095

Retailing

Joules owed nearly GBP 114 million when it plunged into administration https://textile-future.com/archives/102813

Sainsbury’s has record Christmas as it upgrades profits https://textile-future.com/archives/103188

JD Sports upgrades profit outlook after bumper Christmas  https://textile-future.com/archives/103206

Royals

Face Forward: The State of Kate https://textile-future.com/archives/103373

Russia

A shake-up in Russia’s military  https://textile-future.com/archives/103312

Science

PSI: Further optimising car brakes https://textile-future.com/archives/102804

Swiss Empa New report on global ozone layer – Ozone layer recovery on track and helping curb global warming  https://textile-future.com/archives/103172

Shelly Palmer’s Blog

Shelly Palmer’s Blog: THINK ABOUT THIS  https://textile-future.com/archives/102673

ShellyPalmer THINK ABOUT THIS   https://textile-future.com/archives/103389

Spin-Offs

GE’s Spinoff Deserves Healthy Scepticism https://textile-future.com/archives/103073

Sustainability

Sustainability: The year fashion finally faced its social impact https://textile-future.com/archives/102780

Renfro Brands Taps TrusTrace as its Traceability Provider to Accelerate Sustainable Transformation https://textile-future.com/archives/103178

TotalEnergies joins NEXTLOOPP to accelerate the development of food-grade recycled polymers https://textile-future.com/archives/103291

Devan launches Purissimo® NTL, a full biobased, biodegradable allergen control technology https://textile-future.com/archives/103297

Sweden

Swedish mining firm LKAB finds Europe’s largest rare earth deposit https://textile-future.com/archives/103381

USA

Subway Explores Sale That Could Value Sandwich Chain at More Than USD 10 billion  https://textile-future.com/archives/103286

Nelson Peltz Plans Proxy Fight Against Disney https://textile-future.com/archives/103305

Big Tech Stops Doing Stupid Stuff https://textile-future.com/archives/103407

A Lecturer Showed a Painting of the Prophet Muhammad. She Lost Her Job  https://textile-future.com/archives/103442

Missouri State Lawmakers Revise Their Dress Code for Women  https://textile-future.com/archives/103455

Yellen Calls on Congress to Raise Debt Limit https://textile-future.com/archives/103462

Webinar

WIPO: The Situation of Authors And Composers in the European Music Streaming Market and the Role of Accurate Metadata Allocation and Proper Reporting (Webinar January 18, 2023) https://textile-future.com/archives/102956

WEF 2023

Swiss Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter at 2023 WEF Annual Meeting

Programme of members of the Swiss Federal Council attending the WEF Annual Meeting 2023 WEF https://textile-future.com/archives/103353

At Davos, Mood Is Somber as Many CEOs Question Economic Outlook  https://textile-future.com/archives/103644

Talks conducted by the President of the Swiss Confederation in Davos focused on security https://textile-future.com/archives/103668

WTO

WTO: Germany gives EUR 2.85 million to support safe agriculture trade in developing countries https://textile-future.com/archives/103247