What Robin Thicke learned from his father about women

Thicke's interview in the US version of Elle magazine reveals choice tidbits such as his father's advice: “I know she’s pretty, but you stared at her and followed her across the room. What if there’s a prettier girl sitting two tables away?"

This article originally appeared on the New Republic website

I’ll admit it: I’ve been resisting disliking Robin Thicke. I know a lot of people consider the “I know you want it” chorus of his big hit, “Blurred Lines,” nothing short of a call to rape—and I have to say, the phrase “tried to domesticate you” makes me pretty queasy—but I could never understand what people heard that they thought was so much worse than—nay, even as bad as—the pop music norm. The un-self-serious, frankly goofy music video helped redeem the song for me. Plus, I think it’s fun to dance to—so sue me.

But I’m done. I officially realize that Robin Thicke is just as gross a specimen of American maleness as you’ve all been telling me he is for months. The deciding factor is the interview with him that US Elle published Thursday, and which you should read if you think you ate some bad shellfish and need to throw up.

Here are his five most nauseating answers: 

1. What did [your father, Growing Pains star Alan Thicke] tell you not to do [with women]?

We were on vacation and some pretty girl walked by. I started ogling her like a 12-year-old boy, and he said, “I know she’s pretty, but you stared at her and followed her across the room. What if there’s a prettier girl sitting two tables away? Now she’s not going to feel special. She’ll say, ‘You look at all the girls like that.’ You’ve gotta play it cool so you don’t look like you're desperate.”

2. You told Howard Stern that you lost your virginity at 13. Is there anything you’d do differently?

Make it last longer than 30 seconds.

3. Was she someone you cared about?

Yeah, I can’t comment on who it was. But I got it out of the way, let’s just say.

4. The unrated music video for “Blurred Lines” features balloon letters that spell out Robin Thicke Has a Big Dick. You also give your manhood a shout-out in “Give It 2 U.” I’m sorry, but how big is this thing?

In “Give It 2 U,” it’s more a comment of swagger. Like, I’m big-dick swingin’. … Listen, compared to my son, I’m packing. If I’m next to LeBron James? It’s probably not quite as impressive.

5. Do you listen to your own music in the bedroom?

Yes. In fact, [my wife, Paula Patton] likes to do it more than ever now. Sometimes she’ll even play groupie for me.

This article originally appeared on the New Republic website

Good with the ladies, or a total skeez? You decide. Image: Getty
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How wine crosses national boundaries

With a glass of wine, and a bit of imagination, wine can take us anywhere.

Wine offers many pleasures, one of which is effortless movement. You can visit places that make the wines you love, but you can also sip yourself to where these grapes once grew, or use a mind-expanding mouthful to conjure somewhere unrelated but more appropriate to your mood. Chablis, say, need not transport you to damp and landlocked Burgundy, even if the vines flourish there, not when those stony white wines suit sun, sea and shellfish so well.

Still, I’d never been to Istria – a triangle of land across the Adriatic from the upper calf of Italy’s boot – either in vino or in veritas, until I tried a selection of wines from Pacta Connect, a Brighton-based, wine-importing couple obsessed with Central and Eastern Europe. 

The tapas restaurant Poco on Broadway Market in east London has fiercely ecological credentials – it uses lots of locally sourced and sustainably grown food and the space is a former bike shop – but this fierceness doesn’t extend to entirely virtuous wine-buying, thank goodness. I’m all for saving the planet: waggle the eco-spear too hard, however, and I’ll be forced to drink nothing but English wine. Trying each other’s wines, like learning each other’s customs, is vital to understanding: there’s no point improving the atmosphere if we all just sit around inhaling our own CO2 at home.

The world is full of wine and it is our duty to drink variously in the name of peace and co-operation – which are not gifts that have frequently been bestowed on Istria. I have sought enlightenment from Anna, the Culinary Anthropologist. A cookery teacher and part-time Istrian, she has a house on the peninsula and a PhD in progress on its gastronomy. So now, I know that Istria is a peninsula, even if its borders are debated – a result of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy all wanting a piece of its fertile red soil and Mediterranean climate.

From ancient Romans to independence-seeking Croatians in the early 1990s, all sorts of people have churned up the vineyards, which hasn’t stopped the Istrians making wine; political troubles may even have added to the impetus. A strawberry-ish, slightly sparkling Slovenian rosé got on splendidly with plump Greek olives and English bean hummus, topped with pickled tarragon and thyme-like za’atar herbs from the Syrian-Lebanese mountains. A perfumed white called Sivi Pinot by the same winemaker, Miha Batič, from Slovenian Istria’s Vipava Valley, was excellent with kale in lemon juice: an unlikely meeting of the Adriatic, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Sivi Pinot is another name for Pinot Grigio, which seems fair enough: as long as we can raise our glasses and agree to differ, names should be no problem.

But sometimes we can’t. The other Slovenian winemaker on the menu, Uroš Klabjan, lives three kilometres from the Italian city of Trieste, where his Malvazija Istarska would be called Malvasia Istriana. Either way, it is fresh and slightly apricot-like, and goes dangerously well with nothing at all: I see why this is Istria’s most popular white grape. His Refošk, an intense red, is also good but there is a complicated argument over when Refošk should be called Teran. Like battles over parts of the Balkans, these wrangles seem incomprehensible to many of us, but it’s sobering to think that wine can reflect the less pleasant aspects of cross-cultural contact. Intolerance and jingoism don’t taste any better than they sound.

We finish with Gerzinić’s Yellow Muskat and rhubarb parfait: Croatian dessert wine from an ancient grape found around the world, with an English plant transformed by a French name. There’s nothing sweeter than international co-operation. Except, perhaps, armchair travel.

Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 23 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Divided Britain