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Gay Talese and 'Frank Sinatra Has a Cold'

Gay Talese's classic 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra with annotations from the author:

"The room cracked with the clack of billiard balls. There were about a dozen spectators in the room, most of them young men who were watching Leo Durocher shoot against two other aspiring hustlers who were not very good. This private drinking club has among its membership many actors, directors, writers, models, nearly all of them a good deal younger than Sinatra or Durocher and much more casual in the way they dress for the evening. Many of the young women, their long hair flowing loosely below their shoulders, wore tight, fanny-fitting Jax pants and very expensive sweaters; and a few of the young men wore blue or green velour shirts with high collars and narrow tight pants, and Italian loafers. Do you have a photographic memory?-eg I go over stuff so much, and go over it again and again and again, that I can remember it forever, almost.-gt A couple of years ago, you told Chris Jones, 'I don’t take notes in front of people.'-eg Right.-gt So what techniques to do you use to remember such a complicated scene or extended dialogue? You’re describing — in great detail — movement, wardrobe and the location of the various parties. This strikes me as something that would be difficult to capture even in real time.-eg Every night, if I don’t sneak notes in during the day going to the bathroom or something — which I do — I go home and before I go to sleep I write down notes from the whole day, what’s in my mind.-gt"
AUTHOR:Elon Green
PUBLISHED: Oct. 8, 2013
LENGTH: 97 minutes (24432 words)

The Flight from Dallas

Inside Air Force One moments after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963:

"2:02 P.M.

"Judge Hughes has been found. She is on her way.

"In the passenger cabin, Stoughton, the White House photographer, approaches Liz Carpenter and Marie Fehmer. He is sweating and ashen. 'You must go in and tell the president,' he says, still trying to catch his breath, 'that this is a history-making moment, and while it seems tasteless, I am here to make a picture if he cares to have it. And I think we should have it.'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7829 words)

When 772 Pitches Isn't Enough

Via Travelreads: Chris Jones on the unique culture of Japanese baseball and 16-year-old pitching phenom Tomohiro Anraku, seen as "a real-life Sidd Finch, his story so impossible that he's been spoken about only in whispers or exclamations":

"There has been talk in America that Anraku's arm had been destroyed weeks earlier, in April, stripped of its powers at Koshien -- a high school tournament that happens twice a year in Japan, in spring and in summer. Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa and one of the West's principal translators of Japanese culture, has a hard time capturing the meaning of Koshien, first held in 1915. 'It's like the Super Bowl and the World Series rolled into one,' he says. 'It's the closest thing Japan has to a national festival.' In the spring, 32 teams from across the country arrive at Koshien, the name of a beautiful stadium near Kobe but also the de facto title of the tournament that's played there. (In the summer, 49 teams participate, one from each of Japan's 47 diverse prefectures, plus an additional team from Tokyo and Hokkaido.) They meet in a frantic series of single-elimination games until a champion emerges. At any one time, 60% of Japan's TV sets will be tuned in to the drama. More than 45,000 fans will be packed into the stadium, and if the games are especially good, many of those fans will be weeping.

"'It's not just baseball,' says Masato Yoshii, who pitched in two Koshiens long before he joined the New York Mets. 'It's something else. It's something more.'"
PUBLISHED: July 24, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5986 words)

Longreads Best of 2012: Esquire's Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a writer for Esquire and ESPN and the winner of two National Magazine Awards.

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 11, 2012
LENGTH: 2 minutes (648 words)

The Honor System

[Not single-page] The magician Teller (of Penn & Teller) discovers a copycat has taken a trick that he's been performing since 1975:

"When Teller filed his lawsuit, it made news: ROGUE MAGICIAN IS EXPOSING OUR SECRETS!!! read the TMZ headline. Teller did not like the coverage. The publicity might have sold more tickets to the show, but it misunderstood his purpose. Most of the stories suggested that he was suing Bakardy to protect the secret of his trick, the method. 'The method doesn't matter,' Teller says. He has performed Shadows over the years with three different methods, seeking perfection. The first involved a web of fishing line that took a painfully long time to set up; the second version required rigid, uncomfortable choreography; the third, today's version, he has never revealed. Bakardy, who said that he had seen Penn & Teller's show, almost certainly didn't use Teller's present method. He knew only the idea and the effect it had on the audience. He felt the crackle that runs through the otherwise silent theater when Teller wields his knife; he saw that some people start to cry, little soft sobs in the dark; he heard that some people make strange noises and other people try to make noises and fail. What Bakardy stole from Teller wasn't a secret. Bakardy stole something that everybody who has ever seen Shadows already knows."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2012
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6243 words)

The Strange Thing About Bruce Jenner

One of the greatest athletes of all time faded into the background while his wife and daughters became reality TV stars:

"Fathers suffer a curse, and Bruce Jenner knows this curse better than most: The day you become a father, you stop being who you were. In the eyes of your children, your life began when theirs did.

"The strange thing about Jenner, now that he's sixty-two years old: It's not just his glorious past that has disappeared. It's as though all of him, every previous incarnation of him, has been flooded out of view: by the fame of his adopted family — his third wife, the former-and-sometimes-still Kris Kardashian, her son, Rob, and her collection of daughters, Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie, the last two also Jenner's — by the glib demands of reality-TV story lines, by dubious plastic surgery and eyebrows plucked to oblivion. Even in his own home, that familiar Spanish castle with the fountain splashing out front, you have to look hard to find those few traces of his existence. ('My mom's house,' Kim calls it.) All of the photographs are of the children; all of the memorabilia and props are the product of their successes, not his. There is no red singlet in a frame; his gold medal is nowhere to be found. For the most part, Bruce Jenner, Olympian, has been banished to the garage."
PUBLISHED: May 20, 2012
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3339 words)

Not All Smurfs and Sunshine: Profile of Esquire's Chris Jones

“I wanted to do right by Joey,” Chris Jones now says of "The Things That Carried Him" which Esquire published in May 2008. In 17,000 words, he told the story of one soldier’s return home, structured backward from his funeral to the moment an IED broke his body. He sprinkled details—a girl in a flowered dress and the two yellow ribbons tied to a tree on Elm Street—that act as emotional cues and lend lyricism to the writing. The piece won the 2009 National Magazine Award for feature writing.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 16, 2010
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4062 words)

TV's Crowning Moment of Awesome

In thirty-eight years, The Price is Right never had a contestant guess the exact value of prizes in the Showcase showdown. Until Terry Kniess outsmarted everyone — and changed everything.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 1, 2010
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5085 words)

Roger Ebert: The Essential Man

It has been nearly four years since Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw and his ability to speak. Now television's most famous movie critic is rarely seen and never heard, but his words have never stopped.
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2010
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6633 words)