Wandering Eye: Why being on a major might not be the best for Young Moose, Naval facial hair from back in the day, and more

The staff of the U.S. Naval Academy's U.S. Naval Institute, which, from its headquarters overlooking the Severn River in Annapolis, has been serving as a forum for sea-power discussions since 1873, yesterday published a totally cool history of facial hair and grooming among squids. The parade of archival images, accompanied by succinct explanations of the rationales for and controversies over rule changes over the decades, amounts to a collection of men's-style porn, and is a welcome break from the Institute's regular fare about advances and concerns in naval-warfare technology and strategy. Scroll down to the old photo of current U.S. Navy secretary Ray Mabus, sporting a scraggly full beard and a wild-eyed, bespectacled look that makes it seem like he may have dabbled in acid back in the day. (Van Smith)


Our recent coverage of street-rap hero Young Moose, whose rap videos have been used as evidence against him, didn't have time to address one important, if a little bit inside-baseball element of Moose's come-up: The prospect of a rap career is a bit iffy for Moose. Sure, he is clearly charismatic enough and already has the songcraft to "make it," but being any kind of rapper from anywhere in the country on a major label in 2014 is a dicey proposition. The labels are full-stop invested in pop these days; they have no time for street rap. Just consider the strange case of Los (technically he goes by King Los these days), who is, right now, Baltimore's most visible rapper. This week Los signed to RCA Records and good for him, though it isn't exactly a cause for celebration because Los has run through the major label system a few times already. I documented Los' label situation back in April ("Local hero Los leaves Bad Boy Records (again), but that's a good thing") when he left Bad Boy Records, Puff Daddy's legendary rap label. That was Los' second time on the label (he was signed in 2005-2008; also back in 2002, he was on a Bad Boy-related MTV reality show) and he left because they weren't really doing much for him. He was seeing the results of his free mixtape releases (separate from the label) and a lengthy tour, but Bad Boy wasn't raising his profile or getting him on the radio or doing any of the things a major label is supposed to do. Strangely, the executive producer of Los' project for his new label RCA is Puff Daddy, the guy who signed him to Bad Boy. It all begs the question as to what a major label even does for an internet-savvy, streets-courting rapper such as Los or Young Moose. Is signing to a label just a nice boost in publicity and cash infusion and nothing more? A major label debut in 2015 is being promised by RCA (the first single, 'Only One Me,' was released in conjunction with the signing) but we're not going to hold our breath. (Brandon Soderberg)


The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released a report this week noting that the U.S. has wasted $7 billion trying to stop Afghans from growing opium poppies. As the WaPo's Wonkblog reports, poppy production increased about 50 percent just from 2012 to 2013. There are maps and charts. All of this was predictable, and predicted. Vanda Felbab-Brown, an expert at the Brookings Institute, stated the obvious: In a country ravaged by war which has virtually no economy outside of the military, theft of aid, and graft, poppy cultivation is gonna happen: "'20 to 30 percent of Afghanistan's economy is linked to opium poppy,' she said. 'That's enormous.' By contrast, at the height of the cocaine boom in Colombia, roughly 3 to 5 percent of that economy depended on cocaine." The SIGAR report is linked in the blog post. It's an interesting 13 pages. More interesting is what it doesn't do, which is trace the routes and means by which all that sweet, sweet precursor gets out of Afghanistan . . . and back to Charm City, where people love them some hay-ron. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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