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LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

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Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Fix ya face!

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

Every year at the family reunion, some little cousin or nephew tries to get slick. And yeah, they’re faster than you, especially after that potato salad hits. But this year, you’re gonna have something they won’t: a slingshot-catapult combo that gives you the effective range of a gotdamn surface-to-air missile. Thanks, science!

Next time a family gerbil dies, don’t just flush it; use the occasion as an opportunity to get educational. Pull that rodent’s tiny arms through the ear loops— securely, lest the dearly departed go out like Wile E. Coyote — and toss it out a second-floor window to…


Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

The Official NBA Hair Power Ranking 2021

Forget the playoff race; this is the only power ranking that matters

Last July, the NBA set up shop in Orlando to close out the 2019–2020 season in an isolated zone at Walt Disney World. Within that bubble, the 22 teams competing for a championship had a wealth of amenities at their disposal, from fishing and films to bowling and boating. But while the coronavirus forced the rest of us to self-groom our quarantine hair situations, the bubble ballers enjoyed one of the most clutch perks of all: not one, not two, but three on-campus barbershops, all open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Even still, watching the tournament-style bubble games…


Branded gear and questionable collabs used to make brands seem desperate—now it’s making them cash

We’re used to taking unlimited Ls on Jordan reissues. We’re used to Supreme drops getting botted and cleaned out within minutes. But we didn’t expect other brands to get in on the action — let alone find success with it. Over on our sibling pub MARKER, Adam Bluestein dives into what he calls “Merchmageddon”: a world in which companies responded to the pandemic by unleashing a damn torrent of branded gear and goods. Think Dunkin’ allover-print joggers; Ca$h App brand streetwear; Chicken McNugget-shaped pillows.

Are these the exact kind of things that would have made companies a laughingstock just a…


The Only Black Guy in the Office

Am I the only one having withdrawals from wearing my fall fashion work wardrobe?

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

I don’t know about you, but head-to-toe loungewear has officially lost its appeal. The home office perks of all-day PJs, pantless video calls (no Toobin), and sporting the same sweatshirt three days straight don’t hit like they used to now that cooler temperatures have become the norm. Autumn, my friends, is where I thrive. I don’t love fall only because of the balmy weather and omnipresence of pumpkin spice (don’t knock it ’til you try it) — it’s also the season when I get my best ’fits off. And I’m bummed that I’m missing out on it this year.

Even…


Covid-19 made me go to war with my former idol

A photo of the author, Marcus Dowling, next to an archival photo of Elvis Presley
A photo of the author, Marcus Dowling, next to an archival photo of Elvis Presley
Photo illustration, sources: Marcus Dowling; Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

Let’s face it: Every Black person has at least one White icon they idolize.

Elvis Aron Presley doesn’t mean shit to most of my Black friends, but he does to me. Instead of falling in love with White rock and “blue-eyed soul” icons like so many of them did, I was excited by the reckless behavior of country music’s White male stars. Elvis’ sound and style perfectly blended equal parts Marlboro Man, Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy persona, pop-rock idol, and soul superstar.

When I was a child, my mother told me Elvis was “much less of a redneck asshole than…


As with so many other men, the quest for personal style charts a long and twisting path through my life

Isaach De Bankolé at the 66th San Sebastian International Film Festival in 2018. Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

I’ve watched the movie Limits of Control maybe 15 times since it premiered in 2009. In Jim Jarmusch’s zen-meets-travelogue-meets-hit-man feature, Isaach De Bankolé strolls through Spain in sharply tailored earth-tone suits and shirts that mirror the dusty elegance of Madrid and Seville. In Jarmusch’s own words, the film is “an action movie with no action.” De Bankolé spends the movie’s 116 minutes listening to a crew of international stars (and one naked temptress) spew stories and philosophy over cups of espresso.

As its 42% rating on Rotten Tomato suggests, Limits of Control is not a film for most folks. …


Fall has arrived, which means it’s time to pull out what is potentially the most dangerous item in your wardrobe: sweatpants! In a recent Dear Level column, “A Woman’s Case…


Dear Level

I don’t want my man being ogled in the streets!

Illustration: Olivia Fields

When I was in college, my boyfriend would often attempt to veto my outfits before I went out with friends. His main issue was crop tops. He’d yank down my shirt to reach the top of my jeans. (It was the ’90s — Aaliyah’s Tommy Hilfiger ads had us all rocking baggy jeans with peekaboo waistlines.)

It wasn’t that he didn’t like my body. Quite the opposite, actually. (A moment of silence for my long-ago six-pack.) It was that he didn’t want anyone else to like my body. Which meant no one else should see it.

“Why do you always…


The Ultimate Guide to Black Men’s Hair

A note from LEVEL’s editor-in-chief

You were supposed to be reading this at the end of March with a fresh cut. Your hair was supposed to be unmatched like Snoop seconds after a deep conditioner. Then Covid-19 hit, and our collection of stories celebrating hair didn’t feel all that appropriate. How do you celebrate hair when the barbers and shops can’t operate for the foreseeable future?

Then an incredible thing started to happen. You started leaning into your hair journeys. Puff gave into his gray beard. Ray Allen proudly showed off his George Jefferson natural state. And DJ Khaled, a man who certainly doesn’t skimp…

LEVEL

Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

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