Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Shutterstock/Tatiana Belova
7 great reads

Sitdown Sunday: The circus family that went on the run

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

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. On the run

How a circus family went on the run after animal rights activists tired to rescue their elephant.

(The Guardian, approx 23 mins reading time)

When the family was at home, their “daughter” lived in an outdoor pen of about 500 sq metres – the size of two tennis courts – surrounded by an electric fence. To give Dumba exercise they would lead her into an adjacent patch of oak forest where she could forage and wander. Visiting the Kludskys in June 2018, the journalist Albert San Andrés found that the neighbours were delighted to have an elephant next door – their local “diva”, as one put it – and children would come out from the nearby town to see her. But the Kludskys told Andrés that animal rights activists were making the family’s life hell.

2. Murder Inc

Music writer Dean Van Nguyen looks at the Murder Inc Records empire, right before its spectacular collapse. 

(Dean Magazine, approx 12 mins reading time)

Undiluted confidence was the way of Murder Inc Records back in the early shots of the 21st century. The label put together a run that made everyone involved feel they could walk on water. Strutting from the front was Irv Gotti, CEO and co-founder, who adopted the name of his company from a national crime syndicate formed in the 1930s and presented himself as the Don of a mafia-style organization. Gotti enjoyed being photographed in a huge overcoat and fedora hat; sometimes be could be spotted with a $50,000 jewel-encrusted medallion swinging from his neck. The way Irv centered himself into his company’s image made Puffy look understated. 

3. The Real Zola

When Zola started a long Twitter thread in 2015 that chronicled a story about a trip to Florida that turned into a nightmare, she had no idea that eventually it would be turned into a movie. Here’s her story.

(Vulture, approx 31 mins reading time)

After a five-year wait, the movie will premiere at the end of this month. So for her, this night isn’t just a foray back into her old life but a celebration of things finally, finally coming to fruition. An occasion for which she put on an Easter Sunday lilac wig, selected a going-out top that pushed her titties up to high heaven, slid her feet into heels that wouldn’t force an early end to the night, posted a callout on Instagram (“if ur in ATL&wanna come out tn, DM me”), and got ready to rage.

4. The Gates

The divorce of Bill and Melinda French Gates is entering its final stage. 

(Vanity Fair, approx 6 mins reading time)

There was a time when Bill Gates was seen as one of the most evil people alive; typing his name into an early internet search engine returned results for terms like antichrist. People cheered when Microsoft initially lost its famous 2001 antitrust case, after Gates himself was grilled by David Boies. But since then, Gates has embarked on a 20-year public relations effort to frame himself as a good-guy geek deeply excited by new technologies and leading the effort to fix the ills of the world. 

5. The app that monetised doing nothing

The Calm app has made millions upon millions of dollars – all by encouraging us to do nothing.

(The Atlantic, approx 13 mins reading time)

Calm promises to give the anxious, the depressed, and the isolated—as well as those looking to be a bit more present with their family, or a bit less distracted at work, or a bit more consistent in their personal habits—access to a huge variety of zen content for $15 a month, $70 a year, or $400 for a lifetime. For that, its investors have valued the company at $2 billion—roughly as much as 23andMe, Allbirds, and Oatly—making it one of just 700 private start-ups to hit the 10-digit mark. Now flush with venture capital, Calm is in the midst of becoming a full-fledged wellness empire: It is producing books, films, and streaming series, as well as $10 puzzles, $80 meditation cushions, and $272 weighted blankets

6. The curious rise of Yashar Ali

Ever seen tweets by Yashar Ali and wondered why he’s so popular? This article is quite the ride.

(Los Angeles Magazine, approx 21 mins reading time)

To his 800,000 Twitter followers, Ali’s aching sentimentality won’t come as a complete surprise. They know that this 41-year-old scourge of the internet—the political-operative-turned-social-media-muckraker who took down Sharon Osbourne, hobbled the cabinet chances of L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, canceled food writer Alison Roman, and helped crush Harvey Weinstein—is actually a big softy. At least when it comes to elephants. And orangutans. But when it comes to everybody else who ends up in his Twitter account’s sights—A-list celebrities, media bosses, and politicians (especially the ones he’s become intertwined with personally and financially)—he’s a force to be reckoned with, emerging over the last five years as one of the most feared and powerful voices on the web.


Jonathan Koch was a well-known Hollywood executive when he started to feel incredibly unwell one day. His mystery illness was soon life threatening.

(LA Mag, approx 63 mins reading time)

His own story was a classic reinvention tale. Fresh out of college in 1987, Jonathan had driven his Toyota Celica from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles with little more than $300 and a half-eaten Hostess snack cake. His car would be stolen two weeks later. After a stint as what he called “the worst nonworking actor in town,” he tried real estate, talent management, even game show development. Jumping ahead two decades, he was now nimble at creating compelling content.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel