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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
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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. Skin deep
Hunter Oatman-Stanford documents the rich history of sailor tattoos, and why their traditional designs are making a comeback. (Collectors Weekly)

Body art was particularly well-suited to the transient and dangerous nature of life at sea. “These sailors were traveling the world, and wanted to bring back souvenirs from places they had visited,” explains Eldridge. “Aboard a ship, you don’t have much room to carry fancy souvenirs, so you end up getting tattoos as travel marks.”

2. All that glitters
William K Rashbaum, Wendy Ruderman and Mosi Secret detail the curious case of Taiwan native Dr Cecilia Chang, who lived a lavish lifestyle in the US as a dean of St John’s University in Queens and fundraiser extraordinaire. All, however, was not as it seemed. (The New York Times)

Dr. Chang used donor money to pay $20,300 toward her son’s law school tuition and to buy him a car, prosecutors said. The university even paid for veterinary bills for her son’s small dog, which once bit a graduate student so severely that she required hospital treatment, the student testified. Other students who worked as chauffeurs and housekeepers for Dr. Chang in Queens testified that she had made them wash her underwear and cook for Steven, who was known to lose his temper when the food was not to his liking.

3. Life, on $2 a day
Gabriel Thompson visits Fresno, in California’s Central Valley, where the poor are getting poorer.  (Mother Jones)

Its population has nearly doubled over the past three decades, which means more competition for minimum-wage farm and service-sector jobs, and a quarter of the county’s residents fall below the federal poverty threshold. With fewer than 20 percent of adults 25 and up holding bachelors degrees, there’s little prospect of better-paying industries flocking here.

4. Growing up and looking back
Michael Hobbes reminisces about the people he went to school with, and how the decisions they made impacted on their lives. (Rottin’ in Denmark)

Adrian Maeda was a squat, round-faced classmate of Tim’s. Every time I try to picture him, I think of the kid from ‘Up’. He used to walk with his legs far apart, and the last time I saw him I stood there with my hand out as he sort of swayed toward me. I remember that he was both a small-time drug dealer and a genuinely nice guy. I knew Adrian had died, but only in the ‘I heard’ sense. I wasn’t in contact with anyone who was close to him, and I didn’t know anything about the circumstances. Tim was a pallbearer at Adrian’s funeral.

5. Making reality TV a reality
Charles Homans profiles Thom Beers, the brain behind some of the world’s most popular reality TV shows. (The New York Times)

Beers’s particular genius is realizing that the sphere of aspirational television could be enlarged beyond the mainstays of wealth, talent, youth and celebrity. That Americans wanted to step into not only the lives they might never live but also the lives they walked away from generations ago. “The stories we’re telling are guys’ versions of romance novels,” says Nancy Dubuc, the president of A&E Networks, who commissioned “Ice Road Truckers.” “People think about leaving the confines of the cubicle, or wherever they may be, and see the same traits that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had growing up. It’s very nostalgic.”

6. The comedian’s comedian
David Kamp catches up with Martin Short, the comedian who once felt left behind, but now looks like he’s going to win the race. (Vanity Fair)

Short’s funniness has earned him an exalted place in show business. Tom Hanks’s first-ever glimpse of the comic in person came “at somebody’s big wingding birthday party more than 20 years ago,” he recalled, discussing the origin of one of his closest friendships, “where I was standing in an anteroom, on the way in, and I caught sight of Marty standing on top of a chair, telling a story, shouting over laughter. I was like, Who’s the loud guy?” The answer, Hanks would soon realize, is The guy whose material kills even in the toughest of rooms: the ones offscreen, where nobody but pros are watching.


In 1995, Rick Bragg wrote a piece in The New York Times about Howard Wells, a small-town sheriff who had just caught a double-murderer.

Someday the Smith case will be in law-enforcement textbooks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has already asked Mr. Wells to put down in writing the procedures he used in the case, as well as any useful anecdotes from it. But the story of how he, with the help of others, was able to bring the investigation to a close in little more than a week begins not with anything he did but with who he is.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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