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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 21 July, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: 'Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard?'

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

shutterstock_571944292 Source: Shutterstock/Ilkin Zeferli

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. From chaos to calm

If you’re criminally disorganised, then you could take a leaf out of Zoe Williams’ book and try this time management advice. She’s right about something simple like just putting your wallet into your coat pocket in the morning can have a big impact.

(The Guardian, approx 13 ins reading time)

“For the first quarter-century of life, I lived in chaos,” she says. “I lived out of piles. I was always late for everything, a real time optimist. Not even time-conscious. People used to lose things in my house – they’d take off their shoes and not be able to find them when they left.”

2. All that you carry with you

Alice Driver’s photo essay of life in the migrant caravan is essential reading.

(Longreads, approx 5 mins reading time)

Volunteers in Mexico peel oranges, and as you watch you are reminded that you have not eaten all day and that your mouth is parched. They wield the knives delicately, and you watch the thick peel drop onto the table, waiting for them to hand you a piece. You feel thankful for the people who prepare your food and donate diapers to your children. They tell you that all people are made of one blood, and you nod your tired head in agreement.

3. The time bandits of Southern California

This is the story of a ring of thieves who stole millions of dollars’ worth of luxury watches in the US – and the special agent who brought them down. 

(GQ, approx 30 mins reading time)

Quickly he learned that these robbers had burst into a jewelry store, not a gun store. Still, he was intrigued by the daytime smash-and-grab. Two men had used sledgehammers to break cases, a third helped them scoop out the contents, and a fourth threatened the terrified employees with a semiautomatic weapon. They all escaped in a Chevy Tahoe.

4. I was a Black Nazi skinhead

The incredible true story of a Black man who pretended to be Italian in prison – and became a Nazi skinhead to survive. After 17 years in prison he renounced his fascist ways and is Black and proud.

(Narratively, approx 9 mins reading time)

On the first day, a kid asked me, “What nationality are you?” “I’m black and white,” I said. “You can’t be both.” At the time, I thought he was insane, but he understood prison culture. Everyone there is on a side, and if you don’t pick one, then it’ll be picked for you. In my case, you can’t necessarily tell what side I’m on at first glance. Could be black, Hispanic or white. And so it began.

5. The Watcher

Want to read a really creepy story? Here’s one for you. It’s about a family who thought they bought their dream house, but then started getting very creepy letters…  

(The Cut, approx 50 mins reading time)

657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.

6. Becoming Anne Frank

Many of us read Anne Frank’s diary while we were young – but how did she and her story become so famous?

(Smithsonian, approx 19 mins reading time)

Concealment was central to the psychological legacy of Anne Frank’s parents and grandparents, German Jews for whom the price of admission to Western society was assimilation, hiding what made them different by accommodating and ingratiating themselves to the culture that had ultimately sought to destroy them. That price lies at the heart of Anne Frank’s endless appeal. After all, Anne Frank had to hide her identity so much that she was forced to spend two years in a closet rather than breathe in public. And that closet, hiding place for a dead Jewish girl, is what millions of visitors want to see.


In this article from the 1960s – reprinted 10 years ago – John Sack of CBS News wrote about his time covering M company, who were headed to Vietnam.

(Esquire, approx 22 mins reading time)

“Dust! … Dust! … Dust! … All of them!” Milett said, hurling himself from locker to locker and giving each the fingertip test, a furious Pancho Gonzales forehand. “This is a court-martial offense! You aren’t ready for inspection!” he screamed—and suddenly his face wasn’t purple, his skin wasn’t bedsheet tight, the Sergeant was no longer angry. He laughed. He had realized, this whole thing was ridiculous—ridiculous, that a man should present himself for inspection with his footlocker dusty. 

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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