Saturday, October 24, 2020

Peyton Manning Loves Football

By Peter King

"Season deux of “Peyton’s Places,” the quirky and fun Peyton Manning/NFL Films history project that started last year (he wore Joe Namath’s famous fur coat, and recreated a publicity stunt of the old Giants by throwing a pass to Cris Carter from the top of a Manhattan skyscraper, among other shows), continues with 15 new episodes on ESPN+, running from late November to February. The pandemic scotched a few of the shows Manning would have liked to do, but he was able to safely travel enough to get some good new shows. “It’s a history project that became a passion project,” Manning told me. “There’s so many fascinating things about football history that people just don’t know.”

Such as these, from season two:

• There used to be cars on stadium fields; the Steelers had them at Three Rivers Stadium back in the glory days. Sponsors would pay to have their cars shown on the field. Manning interviews Lynn Swann with the same model car he won for being Super Bowl MVP—an AMC Pacer. If you’re not of a certain age, you don’t know what that is. But it’s not luxurious."

• Manning went to West Point with former president Bill Clinton to discuss the birth of the forward pass in 1913. “Teddy Roosevelt actually fought to legalize the forward pass,” Manning said. ”President Clinton talked about Roosevelt and his impact on football. He really studied the football aspect going into our meeting.”

• At Oakland Tech High in California, hometown hero Marshawn Lynch taught Manning how to drive the injury cart, which Lynch did at Cal late in a 2006 victory. That ride became known as “Ghost-riding the whip.” Lynch, reclusive except on commercials, also went deep with Manning on a few things—the geometry of running, why he dissed the press, the Beastquake run, how growing up in Oakland made him who he is.

• At Thomas Edison’s Lab in West Orange, N.J., Manning got to see the first football game film ever shot, the 1903 Princeton-Yale game. Edison invented the camera used to shoot the game. Ron Jaworski watched with Manning in the same room Edison watched that film 117 years ago, and Jaworski, a film nerd of the highest degree, talked about the history of film study.

• Manning played Madden with the first victim of the Madden Curse, running back Garrison Hearst.

“None of it’s possible without NFL Films,” Manning said. “They’ve got film of everything. They’ve got Teddy Roosevelt and footage of the early forward pass. Amazing. I love football. You love football. NFL Films really loves football.”

We spend a lot of time in our business figuring out when Manning will take a job running a franchise, or being some network’s jillion-dollar lead game analyst. But think of the life he has now: He gets to do a fun series like this, he gets to be at most every one of his kids’ events (school and sports) he wants to see at home in Colorado, he gets to live as normal a life as he wants, and he’s only 44. Plenty of time to do whatever he wants.

Signal Founder on Life and Time

By Anna Wiener "

"Regulation remains a threat to Signal, although, Marlinspike said, “you can never get rid of cryptography. Sets of equations are everywhere. There’s no way for everyone in the world to unsee that, or to unknow it.” He seemed unfazed by the prospect that, if end-to-end encrypted communication does catch on more widely, Signal might someday become obsolete. “If we’ve pushed the envelope as far as we can go and the things we develop become as ubiquitous as possible, we could all focus on other things,” he said. As we walked around Venice, I tried to ask him about what those other things might be. His answers were a little vague. He is not interested in retiring, or relaxing; he still fears routine. “I’ve always been much better at doing than being,” he told me later. Referring to Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise,” he explained that he has always seen himself more as a “personage” than as a “personality.” He mentioned, casually, that he is curious about life-extension research, because he believes the world would look different if people had more time to explore their interests, learn new skills, build expertise, and experiment. “I dread the minute hand hitting the top of the dial every hour,” he said. “I feel like I have less time than I used to. When you’re really young, no doors have really closed.”

Whenever I asked Marlinspike what he had been up to, the answer was the same: “Work, work, work.” Wang, describing Marlinspike’s “masochistic anarchist workaholism,” told me, “I think the anarchy world rewards self-motivation, initiative, and experimentation. You oddly acquire a lot of skills that are useful, whether it’s graphic design or programming. There’s a strong work ethic, and a weird kind of anti-capitalist entrepreneurialism.” Reinhard said, of Marlinspike, “He is an incredibly efficient time manager, and he approaches his leisure in exactly the same way. Almost all of his adventures require, like, six months of planning—and he has the patience for it.”"

Chernobyl Paradise

"Marlinspike moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles in 2018, in part to work on a side project with friends—an ecological restoration “experience” intended to mitigate the depletion of coastal kelp forests. Participants would spend three days earning their scuba certifications, then paddle out to nearshore ecosystems, exploring the kelp forests and planting spores. The project, Marlinspike said, was “at the confluence of a few things that I’m interested in, like ocean ecology, climate change, potential climate-change remediation.” Marlinspike’s close friend, who was also involved, said that the goal was for participants to be transformed: “What is the future of the world? Who are people in positions where they can change that future? How do we have those people do something that is going to change their world view, that might then change what they want to do?” The project fell through earlier this year, partly because of the pandemic but also because it is notoriously difficult to grow kelp from seed, and possibly illegal to plant it in the ocean at one’s leisure.

During our conversations, Marlinspike avoided making declarative statements about his plans and frequently declined requests to put seemingly innocuous information on the record. When I returned to his personal writing, I felt almost taunted by its attention to detail. I was particularly drawn to a blog post about a bicycle trip he took last year with friends through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the eighteen-mile radius around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Ukraine, which was evacuated on April 27, 1986. (Access to the area, which is variously radioactive, is limited to maintenance crews, scientists, and scheduled guided tours.) Aided by a cheap compass, dust masks, and dosimeters, they slept in an abandoned apartment, surrounded by aging domestic detritus, and wandered through the buildings of Pripyat, the former factory town, at night. The Exclusion Zone was “paradise, but a paradise you can’t enjoy,” he wrote. “The experience is full of tensions. . . . You have to be careful about where you sit, what you eat, how you eat it, what you touch; which is—ironically—why it exists. The reason it’s so beautiful and so peaceful is precisely because we can’t consume it. Like, perhaps, all real paradises everywhere.”"


Chernobyl (June 2019)

Notorious B.I.G.'s Crown Sells for $595,000

"The crown — sold by photographer Barron Claiborne, who shot the iconic Rap Pages cover just three days before Biggie’s March 9th, 1997 death — well exceeded its pre-auction estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. The item was autographed by both the rapper and the photographer and included three prints from the photoshoot.

“This crown is a novelty item; I bought it at a place on Broadway called Gordon’s,” Claiborne told the New York Post. “Without Biggie, the crown would not be worth [six figures]. I only paid six bucks for it.”

As Sotheby’s noted of the item, the famed image of B.I.G. almost didn’t happen, as Bad Boy Records head Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs complained that the cheap crown would make Biggie look like “the Burger King.” “Biggie was open to the idea, resulting in one of the most recognizable images in hip-hop culture and one of the most famous hip-hop portraits ever taken,” Sotheby’s said."

Sunday, October 4, 2020