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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Sitdown Sunday: The tragic death of a dystopian

Grab 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. Journey to the North

Northern Ireland Belfast Photo Gallery A man walks past Loyalist paramilitary mural in the Shankill Road a predominantly loyalist area in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Source: Peter Morrison

Leah Finnegan visits the north of Ireland – it’s always interesting to read a piece about the north written by someone who’s not from there. What do you make of her observances,:do you agree or disagree with any of them?

(The Outline, approx 7 mins reading time)

It was a raw day and my friend and I asked if we could stop at a nearby shop for tea. Kevin said sure but awkwardly hung back when we went inside; the shop was in a Protestant neighborhood and he didn’t want to be seen entering an establishment in what was still considered enemy territory. We grew very fond of Kevin even though we could only understand about every fifth word he said (a Dubliner later told us that people in Belfast talk “as if they had marbles in their mouths”). Some of Kevin’s claims seemed dubious, like when he told us that Belfast had the best hospital for heart transplants in the world, or that King William was a good fighter, “even though he was bisexual.”

2. The tale of the two women named Lisa S Davis

Lisa S Davis had a long list of times when another Lisa S Davis got pulled over by police, or was called to court. She started to think someone was stealing her identity. But then the two women met, and the story became more about how people of different races are treated in the USA.

(The Guardian, approx 21 mins reading time)

Five months later, after receiving a report that I “may have been criminally impersonated”, I trudged from my rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope to traffic court in the Bronx and told the judge, an avuncular fellow with a ring of gray hair: “I never got this ticket. That’s not me.” He looked at the name on the ticket: Lisa Selin Davis. He looked at the birthdate. Mine. Then he shook his head. “It’s just a busted headlight,” he said. “I’m dismissing it.” He ignored the whole “That’s not me” part, the criminal impersonation part. And so it kept happening. For years. Someone would get tickets and they would go on my record.

3. Being a black Power Ranger

Irwin family at Toy Fair at Javits Center NY Source: John Barrett

Power Rangers isn’t gone – in fact, it gets around 1.5m viewers a week in the USA. Far from what you might assume, it’s a forward-thinking show, with a diverse cast along the race, gender and sexuality spectrums.

(The Undefeated, approx 46 mins reading time)

The women performed their own stunts and went toe-to-toe with their male counterparts, leading to young girls to make up more than 40 percent of the show’s audience after its first season. The TV show appealed to a diverse audience, and dodging stereotypes in the new film, Ludi Lin, who is Asian, is a shirtless male hunk who also raps. “The fact that it was a diverse cast,” said Walter Jones, the original Black Ranger, Zack Taylor, “it gave everybody a possibility of being that hero.”

4. PissPigGrandad

Brace Belden is a punk-rocker-turned-florist who snuck into Syria in an attempt to take up arms against the Islamic State. All the while, he regaled people with tales of his experiences on Twitter. But now he’s on his way home – and here’s his bizarre story.

(New York Magazine, approx 31 mins reading time)

Belden had put himself at the heart of one of America’s most vexing foreign-policy concerns. The battle to eradicate ISIS from Syria, on the heels of a similar campaign in Mosul, Iraq, involves a dizzying array of interested parties, from the Assad government to Russia. The YPG, which barely existed before 2011, had been so successful in battling ISIS that the Pentagon wanted to give the Kurds and their allies more support to aid the assault on Raqqa, but Turkey, which considers the YPG a terrorist organization, has strongly objected to the idea.

5. Death of a dystopian

Source: The Gray State/YouTube

Libertarian David Crowley was making a film called Gray State, which was supported by people including conspiracy theorists and survival groups. But in January 2015, he and his family were found shot dead in their home. Were their deaths committed by government agents? The truth, says this article, was much sadder.

(The New Yorker, approx 34 mins reading time)

Dan Luttrull served with David in Afghanistan, but he hadn’t spoken to him in a while. Then, late one night a few days before Christmas, “I was sitting on the computer, drinking, and I got a message from him,” he told me. They discussed the Army, their lives, and “Gray State.” “He was drinking absinthe, and I was drinking whiskey and beer,” Luttrull said. After about two hours, Luttrull said that he was ready for bed, and David asked him to delete their exchange. “His exact words were ‘If you’re truly my brother and my friend, you’ll do it. I promise you’ll understand soon.’ ”

6. Leaving ultra-Orthodox life

This fascinating article looks at what happens when young adults decide to leave their ultra-Orthodox communities in modern-day New York, and who helps them.

(New York Times, approx 25 mins reading time)

So once they leave, if they leave, they learn how ill equipped they are for survival outside their home neighborhoods, and that has a lot to do with the ways that ultra-Orthodox communities are valuable and good: the daily cycle of prayer and school and learning; how people share goals about family and values; how neighbors support one another during times of need. Once that’s gone, and all a person has is her mostly Judaic-studies education and little familial support and no real skills, life gets scary.

… AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Donna Summer dies at 63 The late Donna Summer Source: JONAS CUNHA

This 2010 article from Vanity Fair brings us the fascinating history of disco, with people like Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor giving the true story of what went on during its glory days.

(Vanity Fair, approx mins reading time)

Felipe Rose, *singer, the Indian in the Village People (“Macho Man,” “Y.M.C.A.”):* I danced for money in a notorious after-hours club called the Anvil. I was told that it would be a bunch of guys, [some] naked … and I couldn’t patronize with the clientele. My hair was long, and being half–American Indian, I was in tribal gear. I’d braid my hair, wear my fringed jacket, the native choker.…I was like a small urban myth in the Village.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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