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Sitdown Sunday: How police censorship shaped Hollywood

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/sirtravelalot

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. Did I miss anything?

What it’s like emerging from a 75-day meditation retreat in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.

(New York Times, approx 5 mins reading time)

He learned of Boris Johnson’s hospitalization — and his recovery. He learned that meatpacking plants had emerged as pockets of infection and death. He learned that his cousin had met her new love interest on a social-distance dating website. And that there is now such a thing as a Zoom channel devoted to ecstatic dance.

2. Hot spot

How La Rioja, a small Spanish town, became one of Europe’s worst Covid19 hotspots.

(The Guardian, approx 21 mins reading time)

Viewed through this lens, rural towns seem like the bucolic, Zoom-connected work centres of the future. I understand how tempting it is to slip into such reveries. During Spain’s coronavirus lockdown, I have been living near Candeleda, a town in the province of Ávila, 100 miles west of Madrid and similar in size to Santo Domingo. I have enjoyed mountain views, flowering meadows and pure, fresh air. But I am also now familiar with the eerie experience of isolation within a normally tight-knit community. City friends are envious. In some ways they are right to be, but in others they are decidedly wrong. Nobody is safe from a global pandemic. Santo Domingo is proof of that.

3. Postcard from Co Cork

Author Arnold Thomas Fanning writes about how the pandemic has forced him to slow down, and what that taught him.

(A Garden Among Fires, approx 5 mins reading time)

Still, the feeling of being overwhelmed remained – tasks feeling too difficult to complete or achieve, everything taking too long to do. Working from home presented its own challenges: the home office was becoming overfamiliar, the house, stifling and claustrophobic at times. I began to experience an ongoing anxiety, irritability, and later a discomfiting anger and mild depression. Something would have to give if I was to navigate and adapt to this time of pandemic.  

4. The case for reparations

Given the week that’s in it, let’s return to this much-shared Ta-Nehisi Coates article from 2014 about slavery and the case for reparations.

(The Atlantic, approx 67 mins reading time)

When Clyde Ross was still a child, Mississippi authorities claimed his father owed $3,000 in back taxes. The elder Ross could not read. He did not have a lawyer. He did not know anyone at the local courthouse. He could not expect the police to be impartial. Effectively, the Ross family had no way to contest the claim and no protection under the law. The authorities seized the land. They seized the buggy. They took the cows, hogs, and mules. And so for the upkeep of separate but equal, the entire Ross family was reduced to sharecropping.

5. Protest in Brooklyn

What happened during a night of protesting in Brooklyn.

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(The Ringer, approx 10 mins reading time)

We were somewhere in Crown Heights when we heard the shouting on Monday night. My friend, a reporter for The New York Times, and I raced toward the gathering on a pair of bicycles. I lived in this neighborhood when I first moved to Brooklyn and am familiar with its streets. It was much quieter then. Happier, too. As June dawned, it was engulfed, as were so many neighborhoods in so many cities across the nation, in protest—another concrete oasis evolved and outfitted for outrage. The protests were for George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minneapolis last week after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. 

6. Cocaine dealing in a pandemic

The world may have stopped, but cocaine traffickers haven’t.

(OCCRP, approx 12 mins reading time)

But OCCRP reporters have found that the world’s cocaine industry — which produces close to 2,000 metric tons a year and makes tens of billions of dollars — has adapted better than many other legitimate businesses. The industry has benefited from huge stores of drugs warehoused before the pandemic and its wide variety of smuggling methods. Street prices around Europe have risen by up to 30 percent, but it is not clear how much of this is due to distribution problems, and how much to drug gangs taking advantage of homebound customers.


From 2016, this piece looks at how police censorship shaped Hollywood. It takes in TV (The Wire) and film (Dirty Harry and Die Hard) along the way.

(Washington Post, approx 20 mins reading time)

So as Simon began work on “The Wire,” he made an extraordinary offer. To get time with O’Malley, he bought a lunch with the mayor at a charity event and took O’Malley and the mayor’s chief of staff to Sotto Sopra, a plush Italian restaurant tucked into one of the city’s iconic rowhouses. Simon explained just how dark “The Wire” would be. And he told O’Malley that if the mayor preferred, he would set his critique of the drug war in another city. “I don’t have to do it in Baltimore. I can do it in Philly, I can do it in Cleveland, I can do it anywhere”…

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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