IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.
We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.
You may think that a person who travels the country advising people on how to sort out their lives has a decent life of their own. But as Michelle Goodman writes, that’s not always the case.
(Narratively, approx 12 mins reading time)
During one particularly disastrous talk I gave to a chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I took the stage only to realize I’d brought the wrong speech. I had agreed to pontificate on how self-employed professionals could stay organized. Only in my haste to leave my hotel room, I’d brought my speech on how writers needed to diversify their skill set. Flustered, I tried to improvise, shuffling through my printed pages for some semblance of a relevant talking point.
Ever heard of Bir Tawil? It’s a tiny piece of land in Africa that’s ruled by… no one. This article details the trek it takes to get there, and what happened when a man called Jeremiah Heaton decided to claim the land for his own.
(The Guardian, approx 31 mins reading time)
…what he was not prepared for was an angry backlash by observers who regarded him not as a devoted father or a heroic pioneer but rather as a 21st-century imperialist. After all, the portrayal of land as “unclaimed” or “undeveloped” was central to centuries of ruthless conquest. “The same callous, dehumanising logic that has been used to legitimise European colonialism not just in Africa but in the Americas, Australia, and elsewhere is on full display here,” noted one commentator. “Are white people still allowed to do this kind of stuff?” asked another.
In the wake of the Erin Andrews (above) trial, where a sports journalist was compensated after being stalked, female sports reporters speak out about the sexual harassment and sexism they’ve faced in their careers.
(Sports Illustrated, approx 29 mins reading time)
“I don’t have a lot of say in where I stay or what hotel chains my company uses,” said Burke. “I do remember feeling sad and scared after what happened to Erin. I travel with Band-Aids to put over the peepholes. I prefer to join a coworker at the hotel restaurant or bar so strangers don’t approach me as much. There’s a noticeable difference when I eat or drink alone. I don’t like hotel rooms on the first floor. I don’t like rooms by the elevators. Depending on the length of my stay, I don’t get maid service because I don’t want anyone in my room except me.”
A new album of Jeff Buckley’s early recordings is out now, so there’s no better time to read what some of his collaborators have to say about the supremely talented musician.
(The Guardian, approx 9 mins reading time)
Another night he played at Bunjies in Soho: it was mobbed, and there were so many people still outside. So I booked a second gig for him to play at a different venue once he’d finished at Bunjies, because of the demand. I’ve never done that before, or since. Essentially, though, Jeff was just a human, with human needs. He played Glastonbury in 1995 and completely forgot about sunblock on a blisteringly hot day so got completely sunburned. He looked like a lobster.
In Kevin Bales’ Blood and Earth, he writes about the blood, sweat and tears that goes into making your mobile phone. He traces the journey such products take from the mines of the Eastern Congo to the palm of your hand.
(Longreads, approx 48 mins reading time)
As we climbed the hill from the landing field, I took my cellphone from my pocket, out of habit more than anything. I assumed it would be useless here, but then watched as the little bars built up on its screen. No electricity or running water, no paving on the roads, and good luck if you needed a doctor, but incredibly I had a signal. “This is why I am here,” I thought, “I can’t live without my phone, and people here are dying because of it.”
Dr Sandra Lee is a dermatologist who’s fascinated with people’s skin – and with helping pop pimples, laser tattoos and remove cancer. But the aspect of her job which involves popping pimples, cysts and blackheads has seen her popularity soar on Instagram. Yes, people really like watching spots being popped…
(NY Mag, approx 17 mins reading time)
At first, she was wary of posting anything with too much “ick factor” — giant blackheads, say, or explosive cysts — for fear that she would upset the gentle people of the internet. However, her online fans didn’t seem to mind the ick; in fact, many of them relished it. Some fans reported that their mouths inexplicably watered when they saw a particularly juicy pop; others claimed that they found the videos so soothing that they used them as a sleep aid.
…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES….
The Goree All Girl String Band were a US sensation back in the 1940s. They weren’t your average band – they were convicted criminals, who learned to play instruments and formed their own group.
(Texas Monthly, approx 44 mins reading time)
Today, when music historians write about the first female stars of country music, they mention the popular cowgirl singer Patsy Montana; the bluegrass vocalists Maybelle and Sarah Carter, of the Carter Family; Louise Massey Mabie, who was heralded as the “original rhinestone cowgirl” when she sang for NBC radio programs in New York in the late thirties; and the Girls of the Golden West, two sisters who claimed to be from Muleshoe but were actually Illinois farm girls. Perhaps because the Goree All Girl String Band never made a record or went on a national tour, the group does not even rate a footnote from the historians.