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sitdown sunday

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

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

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. Mocking is catching
Jay Rayner caught up with Psy and experienced first-hand how his life has been changed by a song that has now been watched over 700 million times on YouTube. (The Guardian)

The track, shamelessly mocking the pretensions of people who falsely associate themselves with the fashions and styles of the sprauncy Gangnam district of Seoul – a kind of South Korean Beverly Hills – has been called a “force for world peace” by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Not bad for a bunch of dance moves involving a wide-legged strut as if riding a horse, hands crossed at the wrists as though gripping the reins, followed by a whipping gesture.

2. Losing the thirst for Hirst
Andrew Rice wonders whether those who paid for pieces of art by Damien Hirst are ever likely to get their money back, and whether they ever should have paid such money for it in the first place. (Businessweek)

Hirst made no apologies for delegating the actual work to young hourly-paid assistants. Warhol may have made his famous silk screens in a loft studio he called the Factory, but Hirst owns an actual factory: a 97,000-square-foot converted plastics plant in the English town of Stroud. His company employs hundreds, including metalworkers, taxidermists, and other specialists. “People forget that, you know, factories don’t only make dog food,” Hirst said in a video produced to promote the spot paintings exhibition. “They make Ferraris as well.”

3. The draw of Corfu
Thomas Hodgkinson looks back at L Ron Hubbard’s grand plans for the island, and how it all went wrong. (The Spectator)

It’s quite hard to find out reliable information about the inner workings of such an organisation, but Scientology appears to operate under a strict disciplinary structure. Or was it only that way then? It seems clear that crew members who messed up were subjected to ‘overboarding’: made to walk the plank. Sometimes they were blindfolded. It would have entailed a drop of 30 or 40 feet. And the Ionian sea can get pretty cold in winter.

4. Learning to fly
Carl Hoffman meets a man who wants to change how we travel. His spaceship and electric car are only the start. (Smithsonian)

Musk walked away with some $180 million and could have taken his newfound wealth and played bocce on the deck of a yacht or tried for the next big thing on the Internet. Except that Musk, put simply, is a little bit weird and always has been. What appears brash self-confidence is simply precocious intelligence and a strangely literal mind mixed with a deep urge to change the world. “Most people, when they make a lot of money don’t want to risk it,” he says. “For me it was never about money, but solving problems for the future of humanity.” He does not laugh or crack a smile when he says this. There is no hint of irony.

5. Staying strong
Molly Hennessy-Fiske writes about the story of Davien Graham, who was shot, paralysed and faced the man that did it. (The LA Times)

Davien’s mind raced: Don’t panic. Watch the barrel. Duck. Suddenly, he was falling. Then he was on the ground, looking up at the church steeple and the cross. He heard more shots, but stopped feeling them. A chill crept up his legs. Davien watched the sedan disappear down the street. He saw the boy he had bought the Twinkies for and other children spilling out of a nearby apartment building. He was having trouble breathing. He felt sleepy. He tried to raise his eyelids to see if the shooter was returning. He knew gangsters don’t like to leave witnesses.

6. Unapologetic
Jude Rogers writes about Rihanna, the publicity that surrounds her, and how none of it bodes well for the future. (The Quietus)

Two mornings every week, I teach at a London university. Last year, I asked a few of my female students, in their late teens and early 20s, what they thought of Rihanna and Chris Brown recording together again. I asked some more the same question this year, and many of them thought it was fine. Ri-Ri had forgiven him, and they had moved on. Then I asked female friends of my own age, and a few older than me. They couldn’t fathom why a woman who had been beaten up by her boyfriend would gloss over the issue so publicly. In private, yes, possibly; in public, not so much.


In 2009, Tom Junod wrote in Esquire about one of the most infamous pictures from 9/11. Who was the falling man?

From the beginning, the spectacle of doomed people jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Center resisted redemption. They were called “jumpers” or “the jumpers,” as though they represented a new lemminglike class. The trial that hundreds endured in the building and then in the air became its own kind of trial for the thousands watching them from the ground. No one ever got used to it; no one who saw it wished to see it again, although, of course, many saw it again.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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