Some cracking reads this week, some quite dark, some wonderfully uplifting and the usual nonsense in-between.
As the sun set on a Saturday in early February, Mubarak Angalo, a farmer in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, was riding in a pickup truck with two friends. They had spent the day at a market, selling vegetables, and were returning to their village when they heard a low droning sound overhead.
Out of the Darkness — Accountability for Torture — Medium
THE CIA USED the music of an Irish boyband called Westlife to torture Suleiman Abdullah in Afghanistan. His interrogators would intersperse a syrupy song called “My Love” with heavy metal, played on repeat at ear-splitting volume.
Excerpted from The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook. Out now from WW Norton & Company. One day in 1992, a demo tape addressed to Denniz Pop, a 28-year-old DJ, arrived at a Stockholm-based music company called SweMix.
Patti Smith on Time, Transformation, and How the Radiance of Love Redeems the Rupture of Loss
That transcendent transience is what beloved musician, artist, and poet Patti Smith explores in M Train (public library) — a most unusual and breathtaking book: part memoir, part dreamscape, part elegy for the departed and for time itself.
The Story Behind Bob Beamon’s Miracle Jump And The Only Photo That Mattered
The man who took one of the most famous photos in Olympic history wasn’t a professional photographer.
The death and life of the great British pub
The Murphy family, John, Mary and their adult son Dave, were preparing to spend a 33rd Christmas as landlords of the Golden Lion pub in Camden, north London when they heard the rumours.
Of Hegemonic Hoverboards and the Power of Power-Laces: Living in Back to the Future II’s 2015
As Marty McFly walked out of the alleyway and into the town square, he was distracted not by the flying cars whizzing by high above but by a robotic Texaco attendant. Then he was attacked by a holographic shark.
They were identical twin boys, Wyatt and Jonas Maines, adopted at birth in 1997 by middle-class, conservative parents. Healthy and happy, they were physically indistinguishable from each other, but even as infants their personalities seemed to diverge.
How an F Student Became America’s Most Prolific Inventor
“It’s really a one-person sort of vehicle,” says Lowell Wood, right after he offers me a lift back to my hotel. His brown 1996 Toyota 4Runner, parked outside his office building in Bellevue, Washington, has 300,000-plus miles on the odometer and looks it.
Do People Actually Wear Pajamas?
With the arrival of cooler weather comes the resurgence, in catalogs and department stores, of that most dubious of offerings: the two-piece set of pajamas.
How Jellyfish Exhibits Became Underwater Dance Clubs
Infinite blue in action. (Photo: Dan90266/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 2.0) Jellyfish are, with all due respect, incredibly weird. They’re 95 percent water, and spend their lives being pulled to and fro by currents.
Refugees who changed the world
(CNN)They are destitute, desperate but determined. Thousands of them flee their homes every year, risking lives in unseaworthy boats or packed truck beds. The cinematic icon and legendary cabaret singer rose to fame in Germany in the 1920s.
Why too much choice is stressing us out
Once upon a time in Springfield, the Simpson family visited a new supermarket. Monstromart’s slogan was “where shopping is a baffling ordeal”.
Cirque Du Soleil Style Aerial Dance Gains Popularity In Phoenix Area
There’s a new form of “dancercise” sweeping the Valley that’s guaranteed to leave you hanging. The art of aerial dance isn’t for everyone. But studios around the Valley are making it available to anyone, and you don’t even have to run away and join the circus.
The Hollow Earth Is Filled With Giants, Germans, and A Little Sun
Giants, Germans, and paradise all await within the Hollow Earth. (Rainy Season in the Tropics by Frederic Edwin Church) Ah, the underworld. From time immemorial, people have believed that there is another world lying just beneath the surface of our planet.
Please don’t call me A Girl Called Jack. I have something to tell you.
First published in the New Statesman on 20 October 2015. I love a Google alert.