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Sitdown Sunday: The mystery of Michael Flatley's film Blackbird

Settle back in 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. Hook-ups

Emily Witt broke up with her partner, and joined the app Feeld – the queer, open-minded cousin of Tinder.

(New Yorker, approx 30 mins reading time)

The app is popular with nonbinary and trans people, married couples trying to spice up their sex lives, hard-core B.D.S.M. enthusiasts, and “digisexuals,” who prefer their erotic contact with others mediated by a screen. It is a place to be yourself, or to play at being someone else. On Feeld, I’ve seen self-identified lesbians who want to have sex with men, men who desire lesbians, and “heteroflexibles.” In a setting sometimes described as “non-normative,” there are asexuals, cuckold fantasists, kitchen-table polyamorists, eco-sexuals, and collectives of men offering group sex to single women. 

2. Candi Staton speaks

An interview with the talented singer (Young Hearts Run Free, You Got The Love), whose work has been sampled many times.

(Longreads, approx 16 mins reading time)

Staton had experienced the terror of the Ku Klux Klan years earlier, back home in Alabama, where her mother used to tuck her under a bed when Klan members rumbled by in pickup trucks, armed with smoldering torches. Now Staton — who would befriend and tour with Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and The Staple Singers — was in Mississippi, where 581 lynchings were reported between 1882 and 1968. “In those days,” she’d recall years later, “you didn’t know what to expect. That song — ‘strange fruit, hanging from the poplar trees’ — came to mind whenever a police officer stopped you. Especially more than one.”

3. The best albums of 1972

Cork DJ Jim Comet details the best albums of 1972, a time when some absolutely incredible music was being made.

(The Examiner, approx 7 mins reading time)

I remember the day, 1978, walking from Blackpool into town to Golden Discs by The Statue to buy my first album. Went to the B section, found Bowie, and browsed through them hoping that it was there. It was. Took it home, went into the front room, and put it on the turntable. The needle dropped onto the first track. The simple drum intro then that voice – “pushing through the market square” – and boom… my world changed. 

4. Chagos Archipelago

The British government removed 2,000 people from these islands in the Indian Ocean – here’s the story of what happened, and its long impact.

(The Atlantic, approx mins reading time)

The short version: For many years, the archipelago was a faraway administrative appendage of the British colony of Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa. When Mauritius sought independence, in the mid-1960s, Britain decided to keep Chagos for itself. It did so primarily to sequester one of the atolls, Diego Garcia, for use by the United States—part of a global American ambition, at the height of the Cold War, to establish military outposts in strategic places… The catch for Britain was that under international law, the archipelago could be separated from Mauritius only if it had no “permanent population.”

5. Out!

What’s it like to be a tennis empire? Here’s a look inside their world.

(The Guardian, approx 28 mins reading time)

In recent decades, officiating has been professionalised and electronic systems have been introduced to minimise human error. Remove the disagreements over line calls, the thinking went, and conflict would disappear. But it hasn’t worked out like that. When I spoke to Bernardes, who began officiating in 1989 and has umpired five grand slam finals, he told me that he, too, had expected that technology would eradicate confrontations with the players. It’s actually been “the opposite”, he said. “It seems like the guys are more frustrated with themselves because they now cannot blame the line umpire who made that call.”

6. ‘Hello’

A look at an online fraud industry in Southeast Asia, where trafficking victims are forced to work in industrial-scale scam centres.

(Vice, approx 25 mins reading time)

“I have never gotten a wrong message on my U.S. WhatsApp,” she told VICE World News from her Boston home. “I thought it was legitimate. I came back and said, ‘Sorry, wrong number.’” That three-word message, delivered as a courtesy to the individual on the other end, would prove the most costly she’s ever sent. Within two months, she would lose more money than the average American earns in a lifetime. “I met my scammer on October 15, 2021,” she said of that Friday exchange. “All said and done, I lost about $2.5 million.” 

… AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

During the week, it was confirmed that Blackbird, the debut feature film directed by Michael Flatley, is to be released in September. Here’s a piece from 2018 that looks at the reason why people are very intrigued about it…

(Entertainment.ie, approx 14 mins reading time)

The day the poster was released online, I rang around to the usual suspects on the Irish film distribution scene to see if anyone was handling its release. No joy. Not unusual at this point, but I was determined nonetheless. So I began to dig into who was actually producing ‘Blackbird’. WestOne Entertainment were one of the listed producers, and after a quick bit of Googling, I found myself on the phone with one of the producers who told me that a press campaign would be mounted in the coming weeks.

Note: The Journal generally selects stories that are not paywalled, but some might not be accessible if you have exceeded your free article limit on the site in question.

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