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.Time and tragedy

Janet Reitman and Rolling Stone magazine courted controversy this week with a cover story about alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. A soft-focus photograph of a floppy-haired Tsarnaev used on the front cover raised the ire of those who accused the magazine of glamorising the suspected terrorist, but the story examines what led to the teen’s arrest following the tragic event.  (Rolling Stone) (Approx 11 minutes reading time – 2242 words)

People in Cambridge thought of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – “Jahar” to his friends – as a beautiful, tousle-haired boy with a gentle demeanor, soulful brown eyes and the kind of shy, laid-back manner that “made him that dude you could always just vibe with,” one friend says. He had been a captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin wrestling team for two years and a promising student. He was also “just a normal American kid,” as his friends described him, who liked soccer, hip-hop, girls; obsessed over The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones; and smoked a copious amount of weed.

2. Discotastic

Linette Lopez explores the rise and fall of disco, how it emerged in New York City’s black and Latino gay communities but once it gained mass appeal was swiftly brought down by those who once loved it. Lately, Lopez has noticed a resurgence in the love for disco, and a change in how it is perceived. Are the days of disco dawning once more? (The Big Round Table) (Approx 26 minutes reading time – 5334 words)

After Stonewall, the gay community would demand to be heard. That new demand intersected with a new movement in nightlife culture. Space was cheap and sound systems were getting bigger. The jukebox was out, the DJ was coming in. More space. More sound.  That meant more people to dance. And gay people wanted to dance. They started this revolution because they were hungry for it. Those who had the desire and the time to learn how to command these new tools for mass revelry had the opportunity to become the vanguards of something truly different. This was a time when DJs, nightclubs, and parties were made from circumstance.

3. The story behind him

Jordan Zakarain introduces us to Ryan Coogler, who at the age of just 27 has won major awards for his debut film, Fruitvale Station. But it transpires that his life story is also a fascinating one. A youth guidance counsellor, he has shown remarkable determination and drive from a young age. (Buzzfeed) (Approx 11 minutes reading time – 2362 words)

Fruitvale Station, which won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, is about the last day of Oscar Grant’s life. Grant was the 22-year-old Oakland kid who on New Year’s Eve 2009 was shot and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer in a guilty-until-proven-innocent power-trip scuffle that was caught on cell phone video and sparked local riots. Grant, played in a star-making turn by former Friday Night Lights standout Michael B Jordan, had been in and out of jail and was trying his best to get his shit together, with a mother (played by Octavia Spencer), girlfriend (Melonie Diaz), and young daughter he adored waiting for him on the straight and narrow path.

4. Fight with life

Steve Russell is a staff photographer with Canadian newspaper The Star, and his photo essay about Lewis Wheelan, a young man who became a triple amputee after being hit by a power line, is a sobering read. Following Wheelan’s premature death, Russell looks back at his relationship with the badly scarred young man. (The Star) (Approx 4 minutes reading time – 838 words)

Maybe I didn’t take the picture that day because I saw in Lewis myself 15 years earlier. A student-athlete who was working a crappy summer job in Northern Ontario. The difference was Lewis’ summer job changed his life forever. On his second day of work clearing brush from under hydro lines, he was injured when a tree was cut nearby hitting a power line, landing on him and arcing three times hitting him with 7,200 volts and setting the brush around him on fire. The injuries left Lewis with severe burns and he had three limbs amputated.

5. Woody and women

Davie Itzkoff writes about Woody Allen’s female characters: women who have been the focus of many of his films, women who have connected with viewers in different and unexpected ways. Allen attempts to explain why he writes his characters the way he does, and why the male characters “are usually inferior”. (New York Times) (Approx 9 minutes reading time – 1935 words)

“People have criticised me for being narcissistic,” Mr Allen said one June afternoon, over iced tea at the Bemelmans Bar of the Carlyle Hotel. “People criticised me for being a self-hating Jew, that’s come up. But not being able to create good women was not aimed at me very often.” Mr Allen may not wish to recall it, but his movies have also drawn charges of chauvinism and sexism, by detractors who have said they frequently depicted women as neurotics, shrews and prostitutes.

6. Life in three acts

Tess Viegland always knew what she wanted to do (or pretty close to it, anyway). So what happened when she decided to leave her dream job? For starters, her colleagues asked her ‘what the hell are you doing?!’ And then her friends asked her the same question. So here, she explains what the hell she was doing, and why. ( (Approx 21 minutes reading time – 4279 words)

I travelled the country to write about money for The New York Times. I took my microphone anywhere and everywhere that would have me. I got to visit and see places and people nobody else gets to go or meet. You guys — I had fans. Yeah. I had fans. People who would recognize me in elevators just by my voice. Perfect strangers who thought I was awesome and had the coolest job in the world. Who doesn’t love that?! And after 11 years of that… 11 years at Marketplace… I walked away. What. The Hell. Are you doing.


According to its author Gay Talese, this is “the most honest sports story ever written”, and centres on Floyd Patterson. The writer meets the boxer in 1964, at the age of 29, and the fighter reveals an incredible amount about himself: how he doesn’t see himself as courageous, how he approaches his fights, how he deals with the public. Raw and honest, this profile gives much even to readers who aren’t interested in the sport. (The Stacks) (Approx 41 minutes reading time – 8252 words)

“I often wonder what other fighters feel, and what goes through their minds when they lose,” Patterson said, placing the cups of tea on the table. “I’ve wanted so much to talk to another fighter about all this, to compare thoughts, to see if he feels some of the same things I’ve felt. But who can you talk to? Most fighters don’t talk much anyway. And I can’t even look another fighter in the eye at a weigh-in, for some reason.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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