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Nigerian artist creates rotting exhibit as coronavirus warning

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Nigerian artist creates rotting exhibit as coronavirus warning

LAGOS – Nigerian artist Olufela Omokeko carefully arranges fresh peppers on wooden boards hanging in a bare room. Instead of providing spice in a meal, he wants them to encourage people to obey measures that will stop the spread of the coronavirus.

His pieces, comprising of red, yellow and green peppers mounted on boards and tomatoes hanging from nets, will rot during the lifespan of the exhibition in Lagos. The decay reflects the food wasted during lockdowns last year, said the 30-year-old artist.

“I created this art space as a reflection of the scarcity… and numerous challenges that we experienced at the early stage of the pandemic,” Omokeko said.

Lockdowns were imposed from late March until early May last year in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and the capital, Abuja. The restrictions, coupled with a ban on nationwide interstate travel, disrupted supply chains which led to widespread hunger, while food rotted in fields or at depots.

“I don’t want us to go back to that stage again and my only advice is for the masses to use their face masks just to avoid another lockdown,” he said.

He fears authorities may enforce more restrictions as the country grapples with a second wave of COVID-19 infections that has seen the number of cases rise sharply in recent weeks.

Public health officials have repeatedly warned that Nigerians are failing to heed guidance on observing social distancing and wearing masks. Many opt to wear masks around their chin, rather than over their mouth and nose.

Omokeko hopes the sight of his rotting peppers, oozing liquids and giving off a pungent smell, will provide a visceral warning of what may happen if safety advice is ignored.

“I’m not wasting this material,” he said. “I’m using it to raise the consciousness of the masses.”

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D’Angelo sounds off on ‘Soho Karen’ at Verzuz Apollo event

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D'Angelo sounds off on 'Soho Karen' at Verzuz Apollo event

D’Angelo may have done the very first solo Verzuz — I mean, who would want to battle him? — but he brought in a very special guest musician to kick off his performance at the Apollo on Saturday night.

That would be Keyon Harrold, the veteran trumpeter and member of D’Angelo’s band whose 14-year-old black son, Keyon Harrold Jr., was falsely accused of stealing an iPhone from a white woman at the Arlo Hotel in Soho last September.

No explanation was needed as this went down live at the Apollo Theater — the mecca for African-American artists. This was a moment — as Black History Month draws to a close — to remind you of how far we still have to go, with this distinguished musician, Harrold, introduced with a “very, very dear friend of mine” by the four-time Grammy winner on the most historic of black music stages.

As he continued to introduce “my brother, a great musician,” it was very clear that this was a moment that the reclusive star was taking to reintroduce himself to the masses by showing the humanity that exists in all of us — including the father of a 14-year-old kid who was allegedly assaulted by 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto, nicknamed “Soho Karen,” for doing nothing wrong. 

Before even singing a note, D’Angelo had already made a statement.

Then they launched into what appeared to be a song in progress, with D’Angelo declaring that “love is a thing that makes the world go ’round.” And as Harrold vibed out on his horn with the neo-soul man on the keys — Lena Waithe very accurately described it as MTV “ ‘Unplugged’  vibes,” in the comments — it was a moment that dissolved any “Verzuz” between people.

The battle, it seems, was over before it ever really began in this latest installment of the Verzuz series that has been one  of the most popular virtual series to come out of the COVID era.

As D’Angelo was about an hour late to take the stage around 10 p.m. at the Apollo, DJ Scratch kept the people and the party hype, with a who’s who of African-American artists —  including Common, Timbaland, Snoop Dogg and Babyface — in attendance.

But although this Verzuz had been billed as “D’Angelo & Friends,” he wasn’t really throwing down tracks against anyone else. It was all about him.

And who could argue with that? Just seeing D’Angelo — rocking a tan hat and matching do-rag to go with his faux-fur black coat — was enough of a gift for the fans who have been waiting since he last dropped his “Black Messiah” album in the final days of 2014.

And D did deliver on bringing out a few “Friends”: Redman and Method Man showed up to drop rhymes on “Left & Right,” from D’Angelo’s 2000 masterpiece “Voodoo.” And two-time Grammy winner H.E.R. turned up to do the Lauryn Hill part of “Nothing Even Matters,” from the 1998 classic “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

But in the end, this didn’t feel like a true Verzuz, with no one for D’Angelo to really battle. The obvious choice would have been Maxwell. Just as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott went diva to diva in an early Verzuz last year, it would have been great to see D’Angelo put his best up against his top neo-soul-man competition.

Still, it’s hard to argue with anything that leaves you feeling all of the “Brown Sugar” sweetness on a COVID Saturday night. 

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Can a job application fail due to bad grammar or spelling errors?

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Can a job application fail due to bad grammar or spelling errors?

If I find typos in a letter or resume, I immediately disqualify the candidate from consideration. Is that too harsh?

If you can’t write a typo-free note for an important correspondence such as to a prospective employer, then they will likely disqualify you from consideration, assuming they caught the error. I would — unless you are someone I really want to hire and it was a debatable grammatical mistake or a minor spelling error. Sadly, poor writing and editing are common, forcing the bar lower. I would definitely bring it to the candidate’s attention to see their reaction and hope it would prevent him or her from making that mistake again.

Last week’s column about the merits of sending thank-you notes after an interview sparked a great e-mail debate. I want to thank you for such great feedback and your additional questions, which I will attempt to answer here.

Most of you seem to disagree with my position that you should be disqualified from consideration if you don’t send a thank-you note after an interview. One reader said that I am “a dinosaur.” Well, “Jurassic Park” is a great movie and if I were a dinosaur I’d like to be a T. Rex.

Another said that it was evidence of my “narcissism” that I disqualified applicants for not sending me a note. What are you trying to say? That it isn’t all about me? Puh-lease! Actually, it truly isn’t about me, but the character and emotional intelligence of the candidate, particularly if they are experienced. To those who asked if I am a “pretend HR executive,” no, but I do like to pretend that I am a really good singer.

As for answers to the less personal questions, yes, thank-you notes can be sent via e-mail. They should be used to amplify the strengths that you discussed in the interview as well as your interest in the position. I do agree that it is rude for employers to ghost applicants, as some of you pointed out, and courtesy does indeed go both ways. So thank you for writing and keep those opinions coming.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com.

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What you can’t do at New York wedding receptions amid COVID

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What you can't do at New York wedding receptions amid COVID

Bring your COVID-19 test results, a face mask and a tape measure to the next wedding reception you attend.

New York’s strict new rules for weddings and catered events, which take effect March 15, will allow up to 150 people to gather — but not too closely and only for guests with a negative coronavirus test result or completion of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Guests can only dance — masks on — with members of their own immediate party/household/family who are seated together and then only in “designated and clearly marked areas or zones that are assigned to them.”

The zones are to be at least 36 square feet and six feet apart from any other dancing areas or zones, the rules say.

And don’t even think about busting a move with someone in another zone.

Guests “cannot enter, use, or otherwise visit other dancing areas or zones,” the state says.

It’s OK for “select attendees” to join the bride and groom when they take their first dance “so long as they maintain six feet of separation from other attendees throughout the dance.”

The band can play, but only if at least 12 feet away from guests or separated by a barrier.

And guests must keep their masks on unless they are eating. They cannot eat or drink “if members of different parties/households/families are within six feet.”

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