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Dublin: 8°C Friday 15 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: Meet the rising star of Germany's Far Right

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. Baby, he was born to run

Music Bruce Springsteen Source: Gregorio Borgia

One of the most talked-about books this year is the recently-released memoir by Bruce Springsteen. This thinkpiece looks into what the book tells us about being a man, and how Springsteen examines his own masculinity.

(Vulture, approx 15 mins reading time)

Springsteen is an iconic American white guy, associated with totems — guitars and highways and leather jackets — obsessed with Steinbeck and Elvis and obsessed over by male scribes from David Remnick and Eric Alterman to Leslie Fiedler. In his memoir, Springsteen unexpectedly lays bare the contradictions, complexities, and downright artifice on which his very public version of manhood has been built. Which is important, in part, because so many of his fans are women.

2. Transparent

The series Transparent – about a transgender parent – has a whole host of trans people working on it. Here, they talk about their experiences and how the show is breaking ground.

(Vulture, approx 30 mins reading time)

Prior to Transparent, I wasn’t out in the industry. I learned to compartmentalize my life. I booked jobs as what we call “stealth” — I didn’t disclose being trans, and I didn’t feel fulfilled. And then a trans girl was murdered in Harlem where I lived. She died a block from my house. Her name was Islan Nettles. She was catcalled and beaten to death. It shook me to the core. And it was right around the time that Orange Is the New Black hit. [Orange actress] Laverne [Cox] was a friend of mine and she took me to an LGBT acting class. It was my time first talking about my fears openly in a room full of people and figuring out how to get out of that stealth world.

3. The Instagram eyebrow

If you’ve ever browsed Instagram and wondered what the images you see it on say about society today, you’re not alone. It turns out that something as simple as how people’s eyebrows appear in their Instagrams can give clues to what generation they’re from – and how taking Instagram photos has changed our ideas about beauty.

(How We Get to Next, approx 10 mins reading time)

The Kardashians certainly helped bring contouring — a visual sculpting technique formerly of Old Hollywood and, more recently, almost exclusively the province of drag queens — into common parlance. Like the Instagram brow, contouring can be severe, a look crafted to be photographed, not deconstructed. It is a performance of one’s own face, one that can be turned up louder and louder until the face has almost stylized itself.

4. Trump’s debating skills

The first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was earlier this week – and this piece gets to the nub of why some consider Trump’s contributions just “incoherent rambling”.

(The New Yorker, approx 8 mins reading time)

Obviously there was something cheering and even comforting in the reality that Trump had “lost.” But there was something disturbing in seeing Trump once again being normalized by being made part of an ordinary contest in coherence and “presentation” and “preparation.” In truth, that was the least of it, because what was really outside any norm of decency was what he thought even after you had dutifully distilled away the incoherence and the manic improvisations.

5. The new star of Germany’s Far Right

Germany Berlin Elections Source: Markus Schreiber

Frauke Petry is the leader of the far-right party Alternative fur Deutschland, and she’s a phenomenon. This profile explores who she is and what her popularity means.

(The New Yorker, approx 60 mins reading time)

 In April, the Party said that head scarves should be banned in schools and universities, and minarets prohibited. Party members called for a referendum on whether to leave the euro; for the expulsion of Allied troops, who have been stationed in Germany since 1945; and for school curriculums that focus more on “positive, identity-uplifting” episodes in German history and less on Nazi crimes. Most contentious of all was the declaration “Islam does not belong in Germany.”

6. The prince of fashion 

Michael Chabon took his fashion-obsessed teen son Abraham to Paris fashion week, and the journey became a process of discovery for both of them.

(GQ, approx 30 mins reading time)

From the moment he became himself, what made Abe different—from his siblings, from classmates, from most of the children who have ever lived—was the degree of comfort he felt with being different. Everybody wants to stand out from the crowd, but so few of us have the knack, and fewer still the stomach for bearing up under the crush of conformity. It was always Abe’s rare gift not just to stand out, and bear up, but to do those things with panache. And the way in which he expressed his difference most reliably, and with the greatest panache, was through dressing up.


shutterstock_298472477 Source: Shutterstock/areeya_ann

The history of contraception is – trust me – fascinating. And this piece, which gets into why there is a dearth of options for men, is a must-read.

(Priceonomics, approx 20 mins reading time)

“Scientifically, we know how to create a ‘male Pill,’” Djerassi asserted. But Djerassi also thought that he would never get to see it, because the economics of pharmaceutical development would inevitably get in the way. Some of the more promising scientific discoveries about male contraception are decades old, but were never developed into public products. Because of a combination of legal, social, and biological factors, male contraceptive technology hasn’t been able to attract the necessary research dollars.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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