LR: Friends for hire, Meinhof’s legacy and the lost African city

Jesus may have risen, but hopefully you’re still in bed reading TBS Long Reads, which this week features the legacy of Baader-Meinhof, friends for hire and ancient Benin.


The incredibly true story of renting a friend in Tokyo – Chris Colin (Afar)

I am comfort eating now because this has depressed me far too much. The article, as the title suggests, centres around the “friend for hire” industry in Japan:

“Every day in Japan, it seems, some weird new appetite is identified and gratified. There are cats to rent, after all, used underwear to purchase, owls to pet at owl bars. Cuddle cafés exist for the uncuddled, goat cafés for the un-goated. Handsome men will wipe away the tears of stressed-out female office workers.”


The tough legacy of Ulrike Meinhof – Sean Williams (Latterly Magazine)

Ulrike Meinhof was co-founder of the Red Army Faction, a left-wing political group who committed various bank robberies and bombings in Western Germany in 1976.

In this article, Williams dissects the complex attitude that Germany has toward Meinhof and Western society has towards radical women. He suggests that their choices to follow a life path, however bad/immoral it may be, is due to the influence of a man. Right.


Story of cities #5: Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace – Mauna Koutonin (The Guardian)

This is an entry in a great history series on ancient cities. Benin was the capital of a pre-colonial African empire located in what is now southern Nigeria. Despite its size – the walls were at one point “four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops,” and opulence, barely anything remains of Benin today. If you’re anything like me you will love hearing the line “barely anything remains of Benin today,” or “lost civilisation.” I think it stems from bring raised on Indiana Jones and The Mummy.

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