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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: What it's REALLY like living in the Playboy mansion

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. The Black Route

Mideast Syria Rebel Training Source: AP/Press Association Images

Thousands of people flee Europe each month across the ‘black route’. The Washington Post follows one family on their perilous and arduous journey from Aleppo to Austria.

(Washington Post, approx 26 mins reading time, 5309 words)

On a steep hill ahead, the gaudy glow of red neon burns. That’s Macedonia and the casino town they need to avoid. Gangs armed with guns and lead pipes roam the woods, beating and robbing migrants. There are corrupt police on the route. Heat-seeking cameras. Mountains. Wolves.

2. Lithium saved my life

shutterstock_140803288 (2) Source: Shutterstock/Johan Larson

Jaime Lowe writes about her 20-year struggle with bipolar disorder, and how she doesn’t ‘believe in God, but I believe in lithium’.

(New York Times, approx 22 mins reading time, 4593 words)

Despite the fact that people have benefited from its use for millenniums, how lithium works upon brains is largely unknown. ‘‘It has so-called trophic or fertilizing activity on the brain — that is, it stabilizes membranes,’’ says James Kocsis, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and an expert on lithium. But the actual mechanics are a mystery.

3. Why I’m leaving America

Ferguson Federal Report Source: AP/Press Association Images

Gary Younge has to leave America – because he just can’t live there any more.

(The Guardian, approx 35 mins reading time, 7189 words)

If I had to pick a summer to leave, this would be the one. Another season of black parents grieving, police chiefs explaining and clueless anchors opining. Another season when America has to be reminded that black lives matter because black deaths at the hands of the state have been accepted as routine for so long. A summer ripe for rage.

4. Finding the fugitive

Appalachian Trail Sign Source: Photographer Name

Bismarck was hiker well known on the Appalachian Trail. He was also accused of embezzling $8.7 million, and was one of America’s most-wanted men. So he disappeared for six years.

(SB Nation, approx 44 mins reading time, 8900 words)

Veteran hikers, encountering newbies, sometimes asked, “Have you met Bismarck?” It was a way of gauging just how experienced a hiker was, how long they had been on the trail and how well they fit in with others. If you knew Bismarck, your boots had many worthy miles already worn on their soles.

5. The man behind Magic Mike


This is the weekend of Magic Mike XXL, but the story of the guy who wrote the film is also fascinating. The debut was based on Channing Tatum’s life, and initially wasn’t meant to be written about at all.

(Grantland, approx 19 mins reading time, 3910 words)

But even in their first brainstorming session, the story idea at the top of the list was something based on Tatum’s experiences as a stripper in Tampa, back when he was just 18. The actor had been cautioned by his PR people to keep that time in his life quiet, but he recognized the cinematic possibilities. Then footage of him performing surfaced in Us Weekly, and his past became public.

6. Life in the Playboy Mansion

Really Awards Source: AP/Press Association Images

Holly Madison has written a memoir about her time living at the Playboy Mansion. And it transpires that behind the smiles, there were many, many dark moments.

(Buzzfeed, approx 17 mins reading time, 3419 words)

In the whole transactional experience, there hadn’t been any discussion about whether she wanted to have sex with Hefner. Does she consider it to be nonconsensual when she looks back on it? “I think everybody just assumed because I was there and making it clear that I wanted to be a girlfriend that I knew something went on,” Madison said. “And I knew something went on. I’m not stupid. But none of the girls would ever really admit to it or talk about it.”


shutterstock_264970904 Source: Shutterstock/OFFFSTOCK

In 1992, David Telstar was accused of plotting to kill his ex-wife and her parents.

(LA Times, approx 10 mins reading time, 2000 words)

As law enforcement authorities tell it, David’s plot was the last desperate act of a man whose charm and good looks masked evil intent. He was arrogant and greedy, they allege, and embezzled $1.6 million from Desiree before fleeing to Europe. In a court hearing Monday, prosecutors turned over copies of tape recordings and other evidence they say will prove that Telstar offered another inmate $100,000 to kill those who could blame him for the crime.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by>

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