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Playboy Interview: Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Things don’t just flow out of your brain. It’s not like, Hey, I’m brilliant. Show up, paper right here, bam, another banger. No—you sit and you struggle with yourself and you stop cutting your hair. I’m not cutting my hair right now. You stop shaving, like I’m not shaving right now. You remember that you can fail. I’ve failed several times. The fact that everybody else don’t see that don’t give me the right to not see it.”

More: Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Longform Podcast

Playboy Interview: Martin Luther King Jr.

Shortly after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, King sat for what would be the longest interview he ever gave to the press.

  1. “A strong man must be militant as well as moderate. He must be a realist as well as an idealist. If I am to merit the trust invested in me by some of my race, I must be both of these things.”

  2. “One cannot be in my position, looked to by some for guidance, without being constantly reminded of the awesomeness of its responsibility. I live with one deep concern: Am I making the right decisions?”

Playboy Interview: Frank Sinatra

“I don’t know what other singers feel when they articulate lyrics, but being an 18-karat manic-depressive and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an overacute capacity for sadness as well as elation. I know what the cat who wrote the song is trying to say. I’ve been there—and back. I guess the audience feels it along with me. They can’t help it. Sentimentality, after all, is an emotion common to all humanity.”

Playboy Interview: Snoop Dogg

"If I had been a straight-A student my whole life and had rapped about Jesus coming back to save us all, I wouldn’t get no media. The motherfuckers wouldn’t give a fuck about me. But since I’m telling the truth, and been through what I’m stressing and know what I’m talking about, I’m a threat."

Playboy Interview: Steven Jobs

Steve Jobs, age 29.

"It’s often the same with any new, revolutionary thing. People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s a rare person who etches grooves that are other than a specific way of looking at things, a specific way of questioning things. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare."

Playboy Interview: David Fincher

“It was offensive to me on a certain level that when Saw and those other movies came out, people said, “Well, torture porn really started with Seven.” Fuck you. There’s enough pervy shit going on in Seven that I don’t have to get on my high horse to defend its artistic sensibilities.”

Late Night

Recounting an appearance on Letterman.

Close up, he looked depressingly young. At most, 35. He congratulated me on the series' renewal, the Emmy nomination, and said my network had handled my unexpected pregnancy well on the show's third year, arranging to have me seen only behind waist-high visual impediments for 13 straight episodes.

"That was fun," I said sarcastically. I laughed dryly.

"Big, big fun," Letterman said, and the audience laughed.