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Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Michael Freeman

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.

1. Understanding Obama

Michael Lewis does his best to find out what makes Obama tick, and what being president does to a person (Vanity Fair).

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” Obama said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

2. The exploitation of fashion models

Former model Jennifer Sky recounts her experience in the wake of New York Fashion Week – and argues that models need a trade union (Guernica).

We were six girls to a two-bedroom/one bath and were charged over two thousand dollars a month each. Bob DeNiro would walk past our window and wave. Leo DiCaprio would try to kiss us in the clubs at night. Hugh Grant would want us to take rides with him in his white limousine.

3. Playing tabletennis in China

When Christopher Beam moved to China, he thought playing ping-pong would be the perfect way to integrate. This is what happened. (GQ)

When they demand to see a one-dollar bill, I thumb one from my wallet and point out George Washington. “He’s America’s Mao,” one of them informs the others. They ask me about the U.S.—mostly the prices of things, like iPhones—and I tell them as much as I can before they stop listening and start curiously stroking my arm hair.

4. The story of New York’s projects

Mark Jacobson visits the iconic, infamous housing projects – which may be on their way to extinction (NYMag).

In 2005, Pink Houses Crew made news for knocking over jewelry stores and leaving battered bodies on the shoulder of the Van Wyck Expressway. Late-night gunfire remains a staple. Said one former tenant, “It’s like Saturday night and blam—a shell crashes the window and gets stuck in the ceiling. My sister called NYCHA ten times to get it out.”

5. Chess and the cheaters

Dave McKenna on the people using technology to fake their way into tournaments – and how the sport is fighting back. (Grantland)

When he spotted something fishy about the way the player consulted his personal digital assistant, Getty moved in for a closer look. After Moore’s 28th move, Getty halted the match and asked Smiley to show him the PDA. Smiley pulled away and turned off his device.

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6. Life as a TaskRabbit

Brad Stone tries out the brave new world of outsourced chores – by auctioning himself out for work (BusinessWeek).

I’d won the right to weed Steve’s yard with a $40 bid on TaskRabbit. As the sweat drips down my back under the hot East Bay sun, I suspect that I sold myself short. My bid, placed after clearing the site’s mandatory criminal check, was the lowest of several. Steve concedes he got a bargain.


In October 2008, Paul Reyes wrote for Harper’s about the long days he spent cleaning out abandoned houses – houses whose owners had been forced out by the mortgage crisis.

“We went to one house,” Hector said. “These people lived like cockroaches. They left everything, but nothing worked! Useless. The dogs had shit everywhere. In the laundry room, there was about three feet of clothing on the floor. And when we went into the garage? Same thing. It took us four days to clean that house.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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Michael Freeman

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