Tag Archives: profiles

Patrice O’Neal profile

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc has a great profile in NY Mag of the comic Patrice O'Neal who passed away last year. It was hard to find a representative paragraph, so this will do. Just read it.

O’Neal’s work fought back not by running from the stereotypes but by refashioning them and trying them on, to see what fit—and what didn’t—and he coaxed his audiences to do the same. Could women really deny that they wore sexy clothing at work to turn men on? Didn’t all men have “rape-y” thoughts? O’Neal was determined that his comedy be something scary and exciting that he and the audience were creating together—they wouldn’t be able to pretend they hadn’t been a part of it afterward.


Neil deGrasse Tyson Playboy profile by Carl Zimmer

Cool profile of astrophysicist extraordinaire Neil deGrasse Tyson in Playboy by Carl Zimmer (not linked to Playboy). One thing I didn't know about Tyson was he was the first to say Pluto was not a planet.

Tyson’s demotion of Pluto only came to the public’s attention when Kenneth Chang, a New York Times reporter, noticed there were only eight planets featured at the Rose Center. When Chang asked other astronomers to comment, they called the decision absurd. Letters of protest poured into the museum. But Tyson held firm, and in the years that followed, astronomers discovered other icy bodies at the edge of the solar system that were even bigger than Pluto. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union decided to classify it as a dwarf planet.

Mindy Kaling profile

Mindy Kaling is awesome. Here she is getting the NY Times Magazine treatment

Kaling would most likely find both the Fey and Ephron comparisons facile, irritated as she is by the media’s tendency to define funny women in relation to one another, as if they’re all competing in a game of musical chairs. A recent “E! Online” poll incensed Kaling by asking, on the hundredth anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth, which of three red-haired young actresses is the next Ball.


“They’re saying that the essence of Lucille Ball was in the color of her hair,” Kaling said. “Was Conan O’Brien like, ‘I’m a redhead!’? Maybe this isn’t exactly the right person, but they would never think the Lucille Ball essence could have been transferred into a man like, like Sacha Baron Cohen. Or they’d never be like: ‘Who’s the next Peter Sellers? Is it Steve Carell? Or is it Danny McBride? Now, let’s pit them against each other and talk about both of their weaknesses, because there can only be one.’ ”



2 other profiles. 1 and 2.

Jack Dorsey profile

In this Vanity Fair profile of Twitter/Square founder Jack Dorsey, he's described as extremely focused ("Dorsey is unusually good at staying focused"), but then it also describes the year he spent learning botanical illustration, the year he spent becoming certified in massage therapy, his interest in fashion design, and his long time interest in transportation logistics. It seems kind of contradictory to me, but really what's being described is the ability to focus intensely on what's interesting at the moment. Not a bad thing, just different than extreme focus.

1985 Steve Jobs interview in Playboy

This 1985 Playboy interview with "Steven" Jobs is long, but fascinating. It's from 25 years ago! This was a time where the "mouse" had to be explained to the readers because most people wouldn't know what it was. ("a "mouse" (a small rolling box with a button on it)"). I pulled out a lot of excerpts I thought were interesting:

The Apple offices in 1985, the forerunner for dotcom offices later on:
"The Apple offices are clearly not like most places of employment. Video games abound, ping-pong tables are in use, speakers blare out music ranging from The Rolling Stones to Windham Hill jazz. Conference rooms are named after Da Vinci and Picasso, and snack-room refrigerators are stocked with fresh carrot, apple and orange juice. (The Mac team alone spends $100,000 on fresh juice per year.)


On Andy Warhol and Keith Haring using the first Macintosh that Jobs had brought to a birthday party for a 9 year old:

Two other party guests wandered into the room and looked over Jobs's shoulder. 'Hmmm,' said the first, Andy Warhol. 'What is this? Look at this, Keith. This is incredible!' The second guest, Keith Haring, the graffiti artist whose work now commands huge prices, went over. Warhol and Haring asked to take a turn at the Mac, and as I walked away, Warhol had just sat down to manipulate the mouse. 'My God!' he was saying, 'I drew a circle!'


On why Jobs was more interested in talking to the 9 year old than the celebrity artists (emphasis mine):
"But more revealing was the scene after the party. Well after the other guests had gone, Jobs stayed to tutor the boy on the fine points of using the Mac. Later, I asked him why he had seemed happier with the boy than with the two famous artists. His answer seemed unrehearsed to me: 'Older people sit down and ask, "What is it?" but the boy asks, "What can I do with it?"'"


On what technology the computer compares to:
The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We're just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people—as remarkable as the telephone.


On pricing:

PLAYBOY: Aside from some of the recurrent criticisms—that the mouse is inefficient, that the Macintosh screen is only black and white—the most serious charge is that Apple overprices its products. Do you care to answer any or all?

JOBS: We've done studies that prove that the mouse is faster than traditional ways of moving through data or applications. Someday we may be able to build a color screen for a reasonable price. As to overpricing, the start-up of a new product makes it more expensive than it will be later. The more we can produce, the lower the price will get——

PLAYBOY: That's what critics charge you with: hooking the enthusiasts with premium prices, then turning around and lowering your prices to catch the rest of the market.

JOBS: That's simply untrue. As soon as we can lower prices, we do. It's true that our computers are less expensive today than they were a few years ago, or even last year. But that's also true of the IBM PC. Our goal is to get computers out to tens of millions of people, and the cheaper we can make them, the easier it's going to be to do that. I'd love it if Macintosh cost $1000.


On the iPhone:
JOBS: The developments will be in making the products more and more portable, networking them, getting out laser printers, getting out shared data bases, getting out more communications ability, maybe the merging of the telephone and the personal computer.


The big villain in this article is IBM. It's sort of jarring that Microsoft isn't mentioned once:
All these things show that it really is coming down to just Apple and IBM. If, for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years. Once IBM gains control of a market sector, they almost always stop innovation. They prevent innovation from happening.


On AT&T:

PLAYBOY: Which brings us full circle to your latest milestones, the Mac and your protracted shoot-out with IBM. In this Interview, you've repeatedly sounded as if there really are only two of you left in the field. But although the two of you account for something like 60 percent of the market, can you just write off the other 40 percent—the Radio Shacks, DECs, Epsons, et al.—as insignificant? More important, are you ignoring your potentially biggest rival, A.T.&T.?

JOBS: A.T.&T.. is absolutely going to be in the business. There is a major transformation in the company that's taking place right now. A.T.&T. is changing from a subsidized and regulated service-oriented company to a free-market, competitive-marketing technology company. A.T.&T.'s products per se have never been of the highest quality. All you have to do is go look at their telephones. They're somewhat of an embarrassment. But they do possess great technology in their research labs. Their challenge is to learn how to commercialize that technology. Also, they have to learn about consumer marketing. I think that they will do both of those things, but it's going to take them years.


Via Longreads

Brian Burke’s Advocacy

Brian Burke is a big name in NHL. His son's recent death in car accident, soon after coming out, has turned him in to a very powerful advocate for gay athletes:
Mostly, though, he doesn't want to believe he's the worst possible person for the job that Brendan started, but he knows it's true. He's built a career on not blowing sunshine up his own ass and pretending he's good at something he's not. He knows that everything he needs now, to carry this water for Brendan, he doesn't have. Brendan had it, the poise and natural charm, the easy passage between two worlds. Brendan was perfect for the job. Brendan went first. Now he has to go second.


The Spotted Pig in The New Yorker

The New Yorker recently profiled The Spotted Pig chef April Bloomfield and among other things discussed what it takes to work for her:

If David Chang’s band of renegades are the Red Sox of the New York restaurant world, Bloomfield’s cooks are the Yankees, square and conscientious. When I asked her what kind of people she likes to hire, she replied, “Nobody weird. Nobody with dreadlocks.” She paused a minute, and added, “Well, no white guys with dreadlocks.” Her cooks wear black pants and black shoes. “People with chile peppers on their chef pants shouldn’t be allowed in the kitchen.”


I also thought this was interesting, about why a restaurant would want a farm. Status symbol.

They both want a farm, where they can grow vegetables and raise livestock for use in their restaurants. A farm is attractive for two reasons. The first is that Bloomfield can’t always procure the calibre of ingredients she wants, since many of the city’s top suppliers are beholden to more established chefs. “They get all funny,” Bloomfield said. “I’m not Daniel Boulud.” The second is that a farm, in the hyper-competitive New York restaurant world, is a sign of clout and longevity, the breadbasket of an empire. Bloomfield and Friedman have been looking at land in New Paltz and Wassaic.

“Pop-culture Houdini”

In the latest issue of Fast Company, there's a profile of Alex Bogusky, the advertising genius behind some of your favorite viral campaigns of the last campaign. Bogusky, not surprisingly, didn't like the the profile and annotated the article on his Posterous. This is the one of the better uses of the internet, publicly responding to exactly what you don't like in an article. On the other hand, I can't tell if the original article or the response makes me want to throw up more. The profile makes Bogusky come off as something of a douche, and the annotations makes him come off as a defensive douche. Maybe he's nice in person.

Alec Baldwin Profile

James Wolcott profiles Alec Baldwin. It's a good read, but nothing new, though I'm interested because Baldwin's career is so interesting. He's absolutely killing TV right now on 30 Rock, after killing Saturday Night Live all those years. He's been great in a couple good movies (as Wolcott notes), but doesn't have a big role in an important movie. How will we think about him in 20 years?

Oh, by the way, he's talking about retiring after 30 Rock...
So perhaps the smoke signals he’s sending up about retiring aren’t a bluff. But I can’t help but think that if he gets the chance to work with Meryl Streep again he won’t say no. That would be like turning down dessert, and he’s a cat who can’t resist cream.