Long Reads: Cannabis, domestic abuse, prisons and Timbuktu

From a moving long read video about the medical use of cannabis, to the end of the fabled city of Timbuktu, these are the Long Reads of the week…


My dad was James Brown. I saw him beat my mum – Yamma Brown (Vulture)

An excerpt from Yamma Brown’s book, she takes us through her childhood, listening to the thumps and bumps as her father beat her mother. She ponders how this effected her and influenced her decisions throughout her own life, and why when it happened to her in her own marriage she merely accepted the treatment. This is a pertinent time to read/write a book like this, as it documents why women stay in abusive relationships. Particularly after the Christy Mack affair and the fallout from the recently-leaked footage of American Football player Ray Rice punching his then-fiance now wife, Janay Palmer, in an elevator before dragging her unconscious body out. Victims of domestic abuse have recently begun opening up about why they remained in an abusive relationship, after people questioned why Palmer hadn’t left Rice and even appeared at a press conference with him where she criticised the reporting of the event by the media and defended Rice.


How gangs took over prisons – Graeme Wood (The Atlantic)

A fascinating and extensive examination of Californian prison gangs, Wood’s piece discusses the political nature of the gangs, how they interact with each other, and the violence and crime inside prisons. However, it is the little tidbits that really bring the story to life; for example, that prisoners no longer use cigarettes for money and instead use stamps; how they hide razor blades in their mouth in case of a fight and the methods they use to help hide stuff, up their…well, you know.


Life in Timbuktu: How the ancient city of gold is slowly turning to dust – Alex Duval Smith (The Guardian)

This article takes us through the city in its current diminished state while providing a look at its former glory days. Money quote – “Timbuktu is teetering on the edge of existence also because of human neglect, war and greed. Under-development and corruption are the co-conspirators of desertification. The city is not only garrisoned physically, it is mentally sanded in.”



All Winter – Peter Ellis (Narratively)

With debate raging in Australia at the moment about the medicinal use of cannabis, this long read couldn’t be more pertinent. Well – less a long read and more a short watch as it’s a five-ish minute video about a US family trying to help their much-loved child – even in a way, via the medicinal application of cannabis, that is still considered controversial. For now.

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