Categories
Art NFT

Don’t Own a Superman First Edition? Grab a Stan Lee NFT

It cost just 10 cents when it came out in 1938. It sold in April this year for $3.25 million. The mint condition comic book, found in a pile of 1930s movie magazines, was just one of 100 issues of Action Comics#1 known to have survived. The comic includes the first appearance of Superman and explains the superhero’s origins. The sale netted its owner a cool million dollars profit just three years after they’d bought it. 

Comic book investing is well-established. Anyone with a box of old magazines gathering dust in the attic hopes that buried in there somewhere is a mint condition of the first Batman story or the initial appearance of Spider-Man. But as comics migrate to the online world, those opportunities have become rarer. You can’t put a downloaded first edition on Comixology up for auction, no matter how quickly you grabbed it or how well you’ve kept it.

Some collectors hoping to turn their comic book appreciation into profit are now looking to digital solutions to monetize their digital habits. 

A new auction of Stan Lee NFTs is showing the way.

https://mintable.app/stanleelegacy

The auction of the Stan Lee Legacy Collection, held by NFT marketplace Mintable, includes fine art, pop art and NFTs. Lee chose the works with painter Rob Prior over a period of two years, and signed each of the images. Buyers will be able to purchase both the 1/1 original, massive paintings and their digital tokens. 

The paintings have titles such as “The Infinity Gauntlet”, “Introducing Stan Lee: Master of Magic”, and “I Am Iron Man”. Stan Lee appears in all of them: wielding the Infinity Gauntlet; dressed as Sorcerer Supreme; taking off Iron Man’s helmet. Lee’s request to be painted on to the covers of his creations is a nod to his love of his own cameo appearances in the Marvel films. 

https://mintable.app/stanleelegacy
STUDIOPRIOR

The auction also includes art by Stan Lee’s friend, photographer and producer Jonathan Bolerjack. The sale will take place on August 6, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which supports childhood literacy. An hour before it begins, a fourth Stan Lee painting will be revealed during a special livestream of the Bad Crypto Podcast. It really will be unique.

Buyers who participate in the auction will be able to pick up a number of benefits. They’ll be purchasing attractive artworks by two well-known artists, both of whom were close to Stan Lee, the leading figure in American comics. Prior has worked for brands including Marvel, D.C. and Image Comics, as well as on Star Wars: The Force AwakensTerminatorDeep Space 9 and Game of Thrones. Each year he paints in front of an audience of more than 250,000. 

They’ll also be buying images of Stan Lee himself. In addition to the inclusion of Prior’s paintings, Bolerjack will be contributing photographs and videos of Stan Lee’s private moments. The founder of Marvel Comics has become an icon since he started making cameos in movies of his superheroes. Buyers will be able to own a unique, signed image of him, and photos of him in his last years. 

But they’ll also be able to make an investment that they can keep and transfer digitally. Each NFT links to one of the images, ensuring that for the first time, comic book fans will be able to own both an endorsed Stan Lee work and sell a digital version. It’s a watershed moment for NFTs, art and pop culture.

Few people had a better vision of the future than Stan Lee. Mintable’s Stan Lee Legacy Collection auction brings a future even he didn’t foresee.

Categories
Sports Strength

Four Players to Watch in the 2021 NBA Draft

Like the front page of a newspaper (remember those?), the NBA Draft packs the most important action at the top. Broadly speaking, the expected value and importance of a pick declines as the draft recedes into its later stage—if a player is chosen with the 24th pick, there’s a reason that 23 players were selected ahead of him.

Still, what makes this year’s edition so fascinating is its relative flatness. Sure, the likes of Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley are considered franchise-changing players, but there’s surprisingly little difference this year between the eighth and 38th picks. More than perhaps any other year, teams will have to navigate a minefield of hidden sleepers and busts, hoping that they can provide an environment where players can actualize their potential. Below, the best draft picks to keep an eye on—after the jump.

Usman Garuba

Across all sports, chicks dig the long ball. As such, Usman Garuba’s game is remarkably unsexy. Although the 19-year-old forward is a defensive genius, Garuba has been largely unappreciated because his offensive skillset doesn’t really exist in any practical sense; he has shown flickers of three-point shooting and short-roll passing during his time with Real Madrid (arguably the best team outside of the NBA), but those are largely theoretical for now.

Still, Garuba is undoubtedly worth a lottery pick because he’s the best defensive prospect in this year’s draft and just about any other year’s too. Standing 6’8” with a 7’2 wingspan, Garuba plays with a coiled, focused aggression, rotating so quickly, it’s as though he materialized from the ether to contest a shot or corral a drive. He’s the rare teenager who plays defense on both an intellectual and physical level—most players with his positional intelligence developed it as a way to compensate for athletic shortcomings; most big men with his quickness and explosiveness don’t need to develop his foresight. Thanks to his defensive excellence, Garuba has been a productive pro player in Europe for the last three seasons and will be an even more successful one in America for the next decade. 

Jalen Johnson

According to a certain crotchety class of the college basketball intelligentsia, Jalen Johnson is evidence of everything that’s wrong with kids these days: after only 13 games at Duke, he abandoned his teammates and Coach K to pursue personal glory. Plus, he was expelled from IMG Academy in January of his senior year of high school. To detractors, he’s selfish, a quitter, a bad egg. Really, he’s none of those things—he left IMG because he was allegedly caught smoking weed (the horror) and he left a very bad Duke team so he could rehab a foot injury and prepare for the draft.

Unfortunately, this nonsense has eclipsed the one undeniable truth about Johnson: he’s a stupendous player. In terms of pure talent, he’s conservatively one of the seven best prospects in this class, even if his draft position reflects otherwise. He’s a big, powerful athlete who can dominate the rim on both sides of the floor; he’s dynamic in transition, creating quick, easy offense; he dribbles and passes with grace that belies his size. Aside from a wonky jump shot and a defensive intensity that fluctuates like cryptocurrency, Johnson is what a modern power forward should be. 

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland

If, like figure skating, basketball awarded extra points for degrees of difficulty, “Bones” Hyland would be one of the greatest scorers alive. Instead, he’ll have to settle for just being one of the best scorers in this draft class. A 6’3” guard from VCU, Hyland is the draft’s best and most daring shooter, averaging 19.5 points and making 37 percent of his eight three-point attempts per game during his sophomore season. While he doesn’t have the highest three-point percentage, Hyland is unique in that he can maintain remarkable accuracy even on a hearty helping of astoundingly hard unassisted attempts—it’s one thing to drain open looks when you’re standing still in the corner and another thing entirely to splash contested shots off the dribble from so far away that even your defender daps you up.

Accordingly, it’s hard to imagine any scenario where Hyland isn’t at least a useful player, even if he cannot overcome his weaknesses; he may never put on enough weight to become a true deterrent to burlier guards or muster the required playmaking oomph to be a full-time point guard in the NBA, but his elite, versatile shooting at once guarantees a high baseline level of goodness while also heralding the possibility of future stardom. But aside from any hazy armchair augury of how his talents will translate to the next level, Hyland is ultimately a prospect to watch out for simply because he’s so much fun to watch. 

Vrenz Bleijenbergh

Okay, let’s get weird with it. Vrenz Bleijenbergh is a Belgian 6’11″ point guard/shooting guard/small forward/power forward/center who plays like he learned to play basketball from YouTube mixtapes. Conventional wisdom says that 6’11″ players aren’t supposed to toss 30-foot lobs with one hand or dribble between the legs for a stepback three; Bleijenbergh laughs in conventional wisdom’s face.

Playing for the Antwerp Giants in last year’s EuroCup (basketball’s equivalent to soccer’s Europa League), he averaged 9.4 points (on 7.6 shots), 3.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game, demonstrating that he’s a legitimate player and not some freakshow novelty act. Despite his rare and obvious talents, though, he hasn’t gained much traction in mainstream draft coverage—ESPN projects him to go undrafted and other prominent mock drafts have him no higher than 48th. Granted, there are genuine mechanical concerns—namely that he looks like Flat Stanley and he’s so tall that his dribble is high enough for a medium-sized child to comfortably walk under—but, like, come on: what he’s doing is almost without precedent. It’s a mystery whether Bleijenbergh’s mind-expanding psychedelic stylings are compatible with NBA stardom or even NBA mediocrity, but either way, investing in him is a trip worth taking.   

Categories
Art NFT

GHXSTS x Cool Cats: How Two NFT Artists Raised Over $120k for Charity

Disclaimer: While I am not officially affiliated with either artist’s projects, I do own some related NFT assets, and they can be viewed here. And, of course, this article does not constitute formal financial advice.

When the auction ended on Saturday afternoon, the highest bid was 54.48 ETH (~$123k USD), and clon couldn’t believe it. He’d just gotten off the phone with his parents to tell them how happy he was. “My mind was blown,” he said. “Never did I think I’d be able to create something with someone that could all be given to charity.”

https://opensea.io/assets/cxllabs
GHXSTS x Cool Cats

The piece, titled, “GHXSTS x Cool Cats,” was the first collaborative artwork by GxngYxng and clon, two popular NFT artists. Using “The Giving Block,” a platform that enables cryptocurrency donations to nonprofits, they split the money three ways between Hope For Paws, Animal Equality and the Rainforest Foundation Fund. “We want to make sure the impact we’re making on the earth is a positive impact,” clon said.

Both GxngYxng and clon have enjoyed a meteoric rise to success in the NFT world this year. GxngYxng—best known for his “Ghxsts” (pronounced Ghosts), a series of 1/1 hand-drawn works described as lost souls looking for a home—entered the NFT space full-time after quitting a job in animation two months ago.

clon, similarly, was a freelance motion designer who decided to revive his decade-old “blue cat” illustration after seeing a poster on his wall that reminded him of the generative avatar projects currently popular in the NFT space. With the help of longtime friend “ELU,” he teamed up with developers “Lynqoid” and “xtremetom” to create “Cool Cats NFT.”

GxngYxng and clon’s individual projects have now seen sales totaling over 3.1k ETH and 6.1k ETH on the secondary market, respectively.

The decision for them to collaborate was an easy one. GxngYxng had reached out to clon about a collaboration after Cool Cats NFT launched, and as soon as clon heard about his work, he replied enthusiastically. “I think our styles are different, but there are enough similarities where they would mesh,” clon said.

The two artists passed sketches back and forth, made adjustments, and a “Cxllab” of four artworks, including the auction piece, was born.

For both artists, the charity component was a way of paying their recent successes forward. “Outside of collaborating with someone I look up to, to have the opportunity to give back was what made this project so important to me,” GxngYxng told ONE37pm. “Having quit my job and becoming an unemployed artist a few months ago, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to donate such a large sum.”

“The feeling of ‘your art can’t do anything’ to ‘your art can help so many people’ is priceless,” clon added.

“Sighduck,” the winner of the auction, had decided the large purchase would pay off. “These two projects are two of the hottest, and the community around them seems really strong. So I’m confident from an investment standpoint. And even if not for investment, I think it’s just a great piece of work,” he told ONE37pm.

He added that the charity component was important to him. “There’s so much capital flowing through NFTs right now, so that’s always a good thing.”

In the NFT space, donations to charity are commonplace. “Bored Ape Yacht Club,” an NFT mainstay featuring programmatically generated primates, also recently used The Giving Block to donate over $300k to various animal charities, including Orangutan Outreach and Friends of Bonobos. Because these charitable donations are made on the blockchain, anyone can confirm that the transactions are legitimate.

“It’d be great to continue to work with these foundations. They’re really nice people. Maybe I could draw something for them,” clon said.

When the auction entered into its final minutes, a user in the Cool Cats Discord server wrote, “And to think if clon had actually given up on blue cat, this all would have never happened.”

He replied, “I’ve thought about that every single day of cool cats.”

Categories
NFT Sports

DraftKings Takes a Swing at NFTs

Over the past few months, the entire world has been trying to wrap its head around NFTs. Projects like Axie Infinity have exploded onto the scene, challenging gamers, developers and every parent to expand their perception of what video games can be. With everyone from Epic Games to your grandma talking about NFTs, let’s talk about one company that’s diving in. Now a few companies have sprung up ready to take on the new applications and possibilities that NFTs have created. Some companies have different angles, different levels of interest, and some may even have products coming soon that’ll blow us away when they’re announced. 

There’s one that may take the crown for “Holy Crap This is Big” moment of Summer 2021. To borrow a big rumor from college sports: this is the NFT market equivalent of long-time BIG 12 members Texas and Oklahoma going to the South Eastern Conference. 

Enter DraftKings. 

THE DraftKings has recently announced its plans to have a marketplace centered around sports and entertainment-themed digital collectibles. 

The US-based daily sports betting firm is a juggernaut in the daily fantasy sports industry. One can hardly watch a half-hour of ESPN without at least 2-3 Draftkings commercials appearing on screen. Besides boasting the status of being the official daily fantasy partner for the PGA, NFL, MLB and UFC, among others, they also rank #1 in terms of web traffic for the Fantasy Sports category.

They have over 760,000 visitors a day to their website—according to Alexa estimates—and that’s not even counting how much daily traffic their mobile app generates. Over the past 30 days, they have had over 200,000 downloads across their 3 biggest apps. 

Okay, you might be saying: “We get it, they get a lot of eyeballs, what makes their marketplace so cool?” 

They have inked a deal with the Tom Brady co-founded NFT project, Autograph, to have exclusive distribution for NFTS on their platform that feature some prominent stars in the world of sports. You might recognize a few of them.

Cold Hard Cash

While you can’t pay with paper money on the site, the NFT marketplace will offer something that seems like a no-brainer to its sports-obsessed American audience. The buying, reselling and trading on the platform will be conducted in USD. That means there will be no difficult onramp of trying to teach users how ETH works, gas fees and all the other headaches that come along with education on traditional crypto/NFT transfers. If you’re not getting excited about the potential of this, you may want to check your pulse. Imagine an NFT drop for big sports moments from Tom Brady’s career as millions of people chase the drop and try to resell it. Through Draftkings, this will be possible all while using money people already have in this ecosystem that they use for daily fantasy sports or have won from their tournaments.

The new Draftkings platform means that we will have an NFT Marketplace with the following: 

  • It will be housed on a website and app(s) with an existing user base of a million or more daily users. 
  • It will feature exclusive NFT distribution for top athletes like Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods—among others. 
  • There will be a trading economy that is based on USD, so there’ll be no difficulty curve related to teaching users how gas fees and/or how ETH works.

They are aiming to go live later this summer as people are still learning this tech. 

I do not want to speculate too much as to what we can expect from the app, but I’m excited to see something that’s less niche than the standard NFT market has been in the past. I won’t go out on a limb and say that this is something that could rival the Axie Infinity market in terms of volume, however, I can only imagine what other products will have to be created to compete with something like this. 

GAME ON!

Categories
Art NFT

Weird Whales: How a 12-Year-Old Coded His Own NFTs and Made $160k Overnight

Disclaimer: While I am not officially affiliated with the Weird Whales project, I currently own three of them. My NFT assets can and will always be publicly visible on my OpenSea profile here. And of course, this article does not constitute formal financial advice.

Benyamin Ahmed is not spending summer vacation like his classmates. 

On Monday, from his computer in Pinner, near London, the 12-year-old announced the launch of “Weird Whales,” an NFT project featuring 3,350 programmatically-generated pixel whales. Each whale, with “traits” ranging from top hats to tobacco pipes, could be “minted,” or purchased at random, for 0.02 ETH (~$40 USD). Ahmed coded the project with help from his father Imran, a developer who introduced him to programming when he was five years old.

Within 9 hours, the project sold out, resulting in approximately $160k USD of sales. As of writing, transactions in the secondary marketplace have surpassed $1.5 million. “Weird Whales somehow blew up. I did it as a test, but somehow it went viral on Twitter,” Ahmed said. 

His father admitted he had prepared his son in case they had failed to sell. “The first batch he did… he didn’t sell any of them. I didn’t want him to be too disheartened.”

When Twitter users noticed the project and began buying up the digital whales, that view quickly changed.

Weird Whales was inspired by “CryptoPunks,” an NFT avatar project by Larva Labs that has seen sales of individual “Punks” go for up to $11.8 million at auction houses like Sotheby’s.

Soon after Ahmed’s project sold out, however, doubts began to emerge about his identity. Some users contended that he was an anonymous imposter, given that his young age was a unique selling point.

When Ahmed woke up to the comments at 5 A.M., he knew he had to clear the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). Using his Twitter account @ObiWanBenoni, he quickly posted a thread stating, “Yeah, it is me.” He then followed up with a YouTube video that featured him sitting at the computer with Weird Whales on-screen. 

“I went downstairs and checked the website. And then I checked Twitter, and there was this FUD, and I did not know what they were talking about because I was sleeping,” he told ONE37pm. “And it was about how someone thought it was identity theft, and some thought I wasn’t a real person, but this person pretending to be me.”

While Ahmed was initially upset that users doubted his identity, he considered the suspicion reasonable. “If I were in that position and there was this 12-year-old kid that launched an NFT project, had sold all the NFTs, and made 80 Ethereum, I would speculate a bit as well.” He clarified that there was no bad blood. “All the people that believed the FUD got back to me and said they were sorry.”

At first glance, Weird Whales is not a novel artistic feat. Critics, for example, have pointed out that Ahmed based his NFTs off an online image of a pixel whale. He is not shy about facing those claims. “I knew it had to be pixel art because I’m not really an artist—it had to be easy for someone like me to do. So I looked up ‘pixel whale,’ and it came up with multiple images—different people using the same pixel whale design.” He added, “The site said this could be used by anyone. So I thought I could use it myself.”

The art, however, was never the main point. Instead, Weird Whales was the culmination of a young programmer’s journey into the NFT space. It began on July 9th, when Ahmed joined the Discord server of another project called “BoringBananasCo.” He messaged the co-founder, Vishesh Sood, for advice on how to code a generative project. Because Sood’s own project was designed to be open-source and teaching-based, he happily obliged.

“What I initially thought was that it would just be a really great learning experience for him. So he didn’t think that much about marketing, or the art, or anything like that,” Sood, who goes by “Vee” online, said. “It was like, how do we get him to have a complete experience of launching a collectible product, because as a 12-year-old, that’s just something incredible to have done.”

Yet, despite the project’s modest ambitions, Weird Whales made mighty waves. “I was just playing around with code and testing. And then I remember looking at the website and the ‘sold out’ message had shown and that was really the turning point,” Ahmed emphasized. Sood chimed in, “He was just learning, and we wanted to support that.”

Now, three days later, Ahmed has had time to reflect on the experience. “You’re never too young to do something,” he told ONE37pm. “I could have said, ‘Oh, adults are doing this.’ But I found interest in it. And after this launch, I’ve seen similar people around my age, and I’m willing to help them succeed in their dreams.”

Categories
Culture News

This Week in Comic Collecting: The Best Masters of the Universe Books

So much of this hobby and industry is driven by nostalgia. It’s that unexplainable emotion that takes you back to a time that is easy to romanticize. It’s why so many of us, when we finally reach adulthood, spend a lot of our money attempting to buy back our childhood. It seems like the comic market is no different. Kids who grew up in the 80s want GI Joe and Transformers, while kids from the 90s love Spawn and Power Rangers. 

This sentiment has existed in the hobby for years. This week, Hollywood will try to tap into that nostalgia with a major film and a show release. Today, Snake Eyes hits theaters and Masters of The Universe: Revelation lands on Netflix. We already addressed some Snake Eyes books to be on the lookout for, but since I imagine a lot of you will be indulging in some He Man this weekend, it felt only right to bring you to Eternia for a top 5 Masters of The Universe books to look out for.

5. He Man and The Masters of The Universe #1 – Dave Wilkins Variant (2012 DC Comics)
9.8 Price: $3500
DC Comics

This is “THE” variant to get for MOTU collectors. Yes, there are some other valuable modern variants, but this is the grail for many MOTU fans. Skeletor covers always seem to perform better than covers featuring He Man, and this cover is a prime example of that trend. Wilkins is also an iconic artist who has stepped away from doing comic art over the last several years—minus a few exceptions. 

One of those exceptions is a return to MOTU with a brand new cover for Dark Horse Comics new series by Kevin Smith to go alongside the Netflix Series. Wilkins provided art for a Revelation Exclusive Variant from Wanted Comix. If the $600 that the 2021 book commands on the open market is too rich for your blood, you can still grab the Wanted Comix Variant for $21.95 on their site.

4. Masters of The Universe #1 (Image 2002)
9.8 Price: $220
Image/MV Creations

Masters of The Universe has a storied publishing history, having been published by DC Comics, Marvel, Image and Dark Horse over the years. This #1 issue from their IDW run was the forgotten child among #1 issues for many years, but that is largely changing. 

There are two main things this book has going for it: an awesome early cover from cover art superstar J. Scott Campbell and a preview of an upcoming Image series featured in the back of the book. That series was the smash hit and new Amazon Prime animated series Invincible. While that preview may have nothing to do with MOTU, it is an appearance of Invincible that predates Invincible #1.  

For those reasons alone, I expect collectors to continue to seek out high grade copies of this book. It is the most affordable on this list and not one to sleep on. 

3. Masters Of The Universe #1 (1986 Marvel Comics)
9.8 Price: $600
Marvel Comics

While not the first Masters of The Universe #1 to exist on the market, this is possibly the most popular as it kicked off the iconic MOTU Marvel run that spanned 12 issues and is a centerpiece for MOTU comic collectors. 

Star Comics was an imprint of Marvel that focused on properties that were geared toward a younger audience—such as Alf, Care Bears, Kid and Play and Muppet Babies. Among those series sits this 80s classic, which remains the one piece of Star IP in demand today. 

2. Masters of The Universe #1 (1982 DC Comics)
9.8 Price: $750
DC Comics

As I mentioned earlier, there was a previous #1 issue for MOTU collectors to chase, and that is this one right here from DC Comics. DC was a part of the creative force that brought us the initial story elements that gave life to this iconic toy line. 

While the 1986 Marvel counterpart lasted 12 issues, this mini series lasted just three, but can be extremely tough to find in the wild these days. Combine the reignited fandom of this IP with the fact that these comics were essentially published as a compendium for kids who were playing with the toys; collectability of the comics themselves was a bit of a secondary thought, if one at all. Hard grade copies can be tough to find and prices of this issue have been rising in recent months. 

1. DC Presents #47 (DC Comics 1982)
9.8 Price: $2,325
DC Comics

The no-brainer number one entry on this list is this issue from the popular DC anthology series, DC Presents. This series was used to showcase one-off stories, often pairing up unlikely characters or spotlighting unheralded ones. This issue does both as it features Superman and He Man. The issue gives us the first comic appearance of He Man as well as Skeletor. 

This issue was originally used to build awareness for the toy line and has always been popular with collectors. For years you could find copies in the wild ranging from $15-25, but those days are becoming a distant memory as Masters Of The Universe: Revelation excitement has sent this one skyrocketing with raw copies selling for a couple hundred and a 9.8 costing over $2k. 

I still think this is a book with meat on its bones. Will there be a live action film at some point? Is this just the beginning of MOTU’s return to prominence? Time will tell, but I am banking on nostalgia. I love investing in these properties. When people shop for items they are nostalgic for, price often becomes a secondary factor and when that happens, there is usually some ROI to be made. 

I am loving writing my weekly columns here at ONE37pm! Bringing comics and comic book investing to a new audience is my passion. With that in mind, catch me next weekend in Chicago for the National Sports Card Convention where I will be hosting CBCS Live from the main stage of the convention bringing comics to NSCC. 

Categories
Culture News

ONE37pm’s ‘From Scratch’ with Jeff Staple is Here

ONE37pm’s latest series has finally arrived. From Scratch focuses on innovators in their lanes who have built up their brands—as you may have guessed—from scratch. Each episode will focus on a new creator and reveal details about their creative process and how they brought their vision to life.

The very first episode of the series features Jeff Staple, streetwear icon and founder and creator of the brand, Staple Pigeon. Jeff’s career spans decades at this point, and the mainstay of sneaker culture has collaborated with the likes of Nike, Beats by Dre, Adidas and more. His Nike Dunk from 2005 is—to this day—one of the most sought after and expensive pieces in the sneaker game. The man is a legend.

Jeff Staple embodies the ethos of From Scratch perhaps better than anyone. In the inaugural episode, he talks about how he settled on the pigeon motif, which has become inseparable from his reputation as a designer. In his early days hustling on the streets of NYC, he began to develop an affinity for pigeons scrambling for crumbs every day: “All the time, I’m seeing these guys, pigeons, everywhere, 24/7, doing the same thing I’m doing. […] You’re me. No one likes you, everyone hates you, but you out here eating somehow.” He goes on to joke: “Wait. Could the flying rat be my mascot?” And thus the Staple Pigeon was born.

They spend part of the episode diving into the Pigeon Dunk, which is one of the most iconic dunks in the history of streetwear. Especially in light of the revival of dunk hype over the past few years, the sneaker was ahead of its time.

Staple provides insight into his creative process in the current moment and addresses the contemporary state of streetwear. They also explore a massive collaboration of Jeff’s this year: the Perspective Pigeon x Staple Pigeon collab. When Gary first debuted his Perspective Pigeon drawing, fans of Gary and Jeff alike drew the connection, blowing up their phones. They got on a call immediately and the rest is history.

From Scratch aims to highlight the mechanisms by which creators build their identity and find success with their vision. No one demonstrates the From Scratch mentality better than Jeff Staple, who built his empire, literally, from scratch. Watch the inaugural episode above and stay tuned for more.

Categories
Sports Strength

5 Weird and Wonderful Sports to Watch During the Tokyo Olympics

The Olympics are a destination for our greatest athletes and also our strangest—while the Simone Bileses and Katie Ledeckys of the world may monopolize the spotlight, they’re a minor part of the spectacle. Look beyond the shimmer of mainstream favorites like gymnastics or sprinting or swimming and gorge instead on the rich buffet of weirdness: here there be dancing horses. With the Summer Olympics officially underway after their longest hiatus since World War Two, here are five events that are destined to become your new favorite sports.

Speed Climbing

Swimming is nice and all, but there’s not a ton of romance in splish-splashing back and forth in a straight line while gasping for air. Do you know what has romance to spare, though? A race to the sky. Although speed climbing is just one component of the larger sport climbing program, it’s undeniably the most exciting, with competitors scampering up a 50-foot climbing wall, ascending side-by-side as they vie for ethereal supremacy. The best climbers summit the wall in about six seconds. Making its Olympic debut this year, speed climbing represents a new racing frontier, one freed from the shackles of the X-axis.

Handball

There’s probably a reason that handball hasn’t ever caught on in America, but it remains a mystery. Whereas other Olympic sports are relegated to obscurity because they’re inaccessible (the aforementioned dancing horses) or complicated (rhythmic gymnastics) or torturous (marathon swimming), handball seems like the creation of an enterprising P.E. teacher. A cross-section of basketball and soccer, the game has a simple premise: two teams of seven players try to yeet a fancy little dodgeball into their opponent’s goal. The game is fast-paced as teams quickly alternate ends of the court, hurling the ball at frightened goalies. The throws are calibrated with finesse and power, beauty and fury. There are worse ways to procrastinate than to disappear down a handball highlights YouTube rabbit hole; the rest of the world should pray that Patrick Mahomes and Jacob DeGrom never decide to do so. 

Badminton

Badminton is whimsical tennis, the wiffle ball of racquet sports, if you will. If tennis is a protracted land war between exhausted combatants, badminton is its ditzier little sibling. The tennis ball is replaced by a shuttlecock, which flutters more than it zooms; big heavy racquets are substituted for little racquet faces perched on a giraffe-necked handle. But unlike tennis, where the sheer power of the players can stifle rallies before they begin, badminton is non-stop action. Rallies are long and frantic as players scramble after the happily floating ‘cock while trying to outwit their opponent. This isn’t your grandparents’ badminton.

BMX Racing

In recent years, bike riding has been co-opted by middle-aged dads who need a hobby on the weekends and don’t pull off a spandex bodysuit as well as they think they do. BMX racing, in turn, offers a more hardcore alternative to idly pedaling down uninterrupted stretches of level road. The concept: American Ninja Warrior, but on bikes. Each race pits eight riders against each other as they’re forced to navigate a dirt track packed with moguls, jumps and hairpin curves. Like a Dan Flashes shirt, the reason this sport is so interesting is because these courses are soooo complicated. 

Modern Pentathlon

Most Olympic sports have a very clear purpose. The 100 meter dash reveals the fastest person alive; gymnastics shows who can do the most perilous flips; weightlifting determines which person is the strongest. Modern Pentathlon, though, seems to be purely based on vibes. Composed of fencing, horse jumping, swimming, and laser-running (a combo of pistol-shooting and running), the modern pentathlon is what happens if you put the Olympics on shuffle. There’s no discernible purpose for its existence—besides, of course, finding the best horse jumper, who can also run and swim really fast while also being an accurate marksman who can fence—and that’s the beauty of it. 

Categories
Gaming NFT

This Week in the Axie Infinity Market

In this edition, we look at the past 7 days of the Axie market and recap the highlights from one of the biggest platforms in the history of NFT gaming. 

Over the past week, Axie Infinity overcame a gargantuan amount of server issues as they grew past 500,000 players. The number of players was so intense that they had to hire new engineers just to maintain and expand their current system. Now is a good opportunity to look back on the market and spot trends through a period of time when players couldn’t even participate. Too many players is a great problem to have for an industry that many gamers haven’t even heard of. As more players, money and attention pour into Axie Infinity, we will be able to track the markets and see if it trickles into other NFT games. It’s also possible that Axie Infinity can stay ahead of the pack and continue to dominate the NFT gaming landscape. 

Market Volume:

As of this writing, over $137,000,000 has been traded over the past 7 days—shoutout ONE37pm. To contextualize this figure with something crazy that happened this week, this sum could have bought 4 seats to space with Jeff Bezos. Good luck getting the song Rocket Man out of your head now. 

The market continues to follow the trend of seeing Axie transfer volume per hour going up since before the beginning of the summer. Higher transfers per hour can be correlated to more players joining and getting the requisite three Axies to start playing. Speaking of needing to get three to start, it’s important to look at the floor prices. As people breed and flip the Axies, they continue to list them for sale, pushing the prices down. The absolute cheapest or lowest price of Axies is what we call the floor. The lowest price(s) is called the floor—groundbreaking, I know. 

One interesting trend this week is that the floor price of Axies appears to be dropping. It has dropped to approximately $250 an Axie, with some even breaking below $200. This is much different from just a few weeks ago when the lowest price was in the $350s, but this is by no means a prediction of where the floor will go. 

Notable Axie Sales:

While no Axies were sold for a massive figure like $800,000 this week, there were still some notable sales in the past 24 hours alone. 

Several were sold for over $10,000. 

SLP:

In order to breed your Axies, you need to spend the in-game currency SLP, which can be earned in-game or bought/sold on crypto markets like Binance. 

While the price has dipped since its all-time high of $0.41, SLP has enjoyed a nice rally back

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AXS:

Another barometer of the Axie economy is their governance token AXS. Users who hold these tokens can vote to shape the direction of the game. Also, they can stake this token to vote and earn more AXS. 

Over the past week, AXS has tumbled from $28 to $16, but has recovered back to $25

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Land Sales:

The floor for Axie lands continues to increase with the lowest land as of this writing at $7,800. This marks an interesting trend, one in which the price per Axie decreases but the lands slowly creep upward. It’ll be interesting to watch once land has a use case later this year.

Overall, the Axie market has continued to grow commensurately with the game, with no signs of slowing down. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the servers get expanded. 

This has been this week’s Axie Infinity market recap. If you want to see more Axie content, be sure to follow along on ONE37PM!

Categories
Sports Strength

Chris Paul’s Legacy: A Recap of the 2021 NBA Finals

For a while, at least, things were going surprisingly great. After 16 exhausting seasons and 102 television commercials–and after the Phoenix Suns’ playoff bracket cracked open like a walnut—Chris Paul found himself two games away from his first championship. In Game One, he bedeviled the Milwaukee Bucks, manipulating their defense into switching a hopeless big man onto him and making them regret it. In Game Two, he quarterbacked one of the greatest team shooting performances in NBA Finals history. In Games Three, Four and Five, he was badgered to the outermost corners of the known universe by Jrue Holiday. And in Game Six, he slunk off the court with tears in his eyes. 

Watching a title slip away is the cruelest outcome for Paul, but it’s also the most logical. Although he has firmly ensconced himself amongst the greatest point guards ever, his career has been one of all-consuming competency and gnawing inadequacy. No one has played such flawless ball with such tepid results; after this Finals loss, he’s the only player to have blown four 2-0 series leads. This isn’t to say that he’s a choker, just that he’s limited in ways his peers aren’t. 

At the most basic level, the difference between the prophecy-fulfilling Bucks and the vanquished Suns lies in the physical differences of their respective stars. In Giannis Antetokounmpo’s hands, basketball looks simple. Whether he’s a “hooper” or not, Antetokounmpo is almost always bigger, stronger or faster than the guy guarding him—often, he’s all three. Against the Suns, he was at his rampaging best, averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists and winning Finals MVP; his 50 point, 14 rebound, five block master stroke in Game Six is an instantly iconic performance. He may not have developed a deep bag of countermoves and counter-countermoves, but that’s because he doesn’t need one.

When he’s on the court, the inherent cat-and-mouse game between offense and defense is rendered obsolete—his permanent plan of attack is to pile-drive his way to the hoop and the defense’s only reasonable response is to panic. Accordingly, there’s no point in learning the finer points of foul-drawing chicanery when opponents crumple from a single blow to the chest; it’s a waste of time to snake a pick-and-roll when you can simply snake your giant arm beyond the reach of any defender’s contest. Lesser, shorter players can whinge all they want about how it takes no skill to be seven-feet tall, run, and just dunk, but that criticism ignores a central truth: being seven-feet tall, running, and dunking is the ultimate skill. No matter what question the Suns’ defense posed, the answer was always Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Whereas Antetokounmpo is one of the world’s most startling athletes, Chris Paul is roughly the size of your kinda tall friend. Once injuries dejuiced his legs, he maintained his Point Godliness by evolving into one of the smartest and most skilled players to ever live. Every decision and move that Paul makes on the court is informed by an awareness of his physical limitations; his continued success is an act of defiance against his own body. Too slow to blow by defenders, he’s infused his dribbles with a slippery economy, gliding to his spots without any profligate movement. Too small to challenge big men at the rim, he has become the greatest mid-range shooter this side of Michael Jordan. Here is basketball as extreme couponing—small gains and microskills compiled into a giant stockpile of greatness. As such, Paul has become basically the perfect basketball player by necessity.

In this sense, Paul’s climate-controlling style leaves no margin for error. His success depends on his ability to drain difficult shots and maximize every advantage; in the last four games of his season, he could only maximize most of them. Compared to his torrid playoff run that spanned from the second round through the first two games of the Finals, Paul shot the ball a little less often and a little less well; he racked up slightly fewer assists and more turnovers.  Still, excepting an on-court blimp fire in Game Four, he played extremely well, even as the balance of the series shifted against him in subtle yet fatal ways. 

In Game Six, Paul controlled the game until he couldn’t. He led the Suns with 26 points and scored with remarkable efficiency; he created 16 assist opportunities, although only five of them were converted. But during the game’s final seven minutes and 38 seconds, he didn’t even attempt a single meaningful shot; he finally succumbed to his own overmatchedness while Antetokounmpo took over.

During this season-ending—if not season-defining—stretch, Paul struggled to advance the ball against Jrue Holiday’s hellhound full-court defense, sapping any tempo from the Suns’ attack as clumsier teammates were delegated with initiating the offense. He was skittish off the dribble and spooked by Milwaukee’s collective length as he passed out of shots that he normally would take. Unable to create an advantage against the Bucks, he passively followed the script of the game and turned into a cardboard cutout of himself. The hidden cost of refusing to make a bad play is that sometimes you don’t make any play at all—and the hidden tragedy of Paul’s career is that his singular commitment to greatness will never be good enough.