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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Sitdown Sunday: Lost at sea for 438 days

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Before and after
Before and after
Image: AP/Press Association Images

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 rehabilitation of Michael Phelps 

shutterstock_147475457 Source: Shutterstock/Mitch Gunn

Decorated Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was charged with drink driving, and wound up in rehab. It was just one of the signs that things weren’t going well in his life. But now, it looks like that’s changing.

(Sports Illustrated, approx 51 mins reading time)

Phelps’s support team began to discuss the possibility of him checking into a treatment facility. To this day, no one close to Phelps will say that he has a drinking problem, although none dismiss the perils of drinking and driving. “He has a unique and challenging life, and he was clearly struggling,” says Carlisle. “This was an opportunity for him to finally learn some of the tools he needed to deal with that life.”

2. From muscular dystrophy to mother

shutterstock_153578870 Source: Shutterstock/Alexey Losevich

Camilla Kjelden Nielsen has muscular dystrophy, but she hasn’t let it stop her having the family she’s always wanted. This photo essay looks at her life.

(Narratively, approx 5 mins reading time)

She always wanted to experience the joy of motherhood, and having a family changed her thoughts about her disease. A few years ago the thought of being in a wheelchair permanently terrified her, but now she feels differently: if the wheelchair will give her more energy to be around her three girls, then she can sit.

3. The troubled teen boot camp

shutterstock_113875279 Source: Shutterstock/hikrcn

A tragic incident at a boot camp in Mexico has highlighted the dangers these camps can pose. This tells the story of Bruce Staeger, who was brought from his house in the middle of the night, made to wear a pillowcase over his head and taken to Tierra Blanca Ranch. It was a journey that led to his death.

(Rolling Stone, approx 33 mins reading time)

To cope, some boys made a crude form of hooch out of canned fruit, bread and sugar, and tattooed themselves using ballpoint-pen ink and cactus needles. Others tried to run away. A boy named Jordan Almanza tried twice, once stealing a hacksaw to cut off his handcuffs and shackles, but every time Chandler and his staff hunted him down. “There was no way out,” Hatton says. “You could either run and fucking die of dehydration, or just end it yourself.”

Queen's reign in pictures Source: Family Handout

In 1993, black teenager Stephen Lawrence was killed by a gang of white youths. But it took 20 years for his family to get any justice.

(GQ, approx 46 mins reading time)

Despite the repellent nature of the crime, the police botched the investigation, and failed to pursue several tip-offs regarding the identities of the likely perpetrators. Although five teenagers were arrested two weeks after the murder, a barrister later advised the Crown Prosecution Service that there was not “a cat in hell’s chance” of convicting the boys. Ultimately, the CPS discontinued its prosecution.

5. Mafia silence

Goodfellas Heist Revisited Source: AP/Press Association Images

Vincent Asaro helped to pull off the Lufthansa heist of 1978, but the first thing he thought about was: Protect the family. This longread looks at what his Mafia trial has taught us.

(New York Times, approx 17 mins reading time)

The case, which went to the jury Monday evening, has depicted a Mafia life from a time when the organization still ruled New York, drawn from testimony, recorded conversations, wiretapped phone calls, court filings and F.B.I. surveillance records going back 40 years. Vincent Asaro was brought down in his old age by a violation of the codes he so embraced; his is the story of the disappearing New York Mafia, and of a disappearing way of life.

6. Lost at sea

Man Rescued From Ocean Source: AP/Press Association Images

Salvador Alvarenga went fishing off the coast of Mexico, but got lost in a storm and disappeared. It turned out that for over a year, he had managed to survive while lost at sea. This is his incredible story.

(The Guardian, approx 24 mins reading time)

Dark clouds stalked overhead, and after days of drinking urine and turtle blood, and nearly dying of thirst, a storm finally bore down on the men. They opened their mouths to the falling rain, stripped off their clothes and showered in a glorious deluge of fresh water. Within an hour, the bucket had an inch, then two inches of water. The men laughed and drank every couple of minutes.

… AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Source: Atlantic Records/YouTube

She has a new single out, so why not take a moment to appreciate Missy Elliott with this 1997 piece that asked if she was about to transform music.

(New Yorker, approx 23 mins reading time)

Missy talked about the lyrics she’d written for her song “The Rain,” which was already on its way to becoming a hit: “One minute I’m talking about weed, the next minute I’m talking about a man—like that. Closer to life and closer to how my mind works.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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