Good morning. I’ve been thinking about lust for life: the things we do to savour it, mark the passage of time. (Like reading our weekday Morning Mails and Afternoon Updates, you say? Yes, very much that.)
Today’s dispatch covers a range of ways we anchor ourselves in the moment – from morning rituals to lurid art to end-of-life conversations. Put your feet up, savour your coffee, read about them all.
Have you ever wondered …
1. What caffeine really does to your body
Did you know that the world drinks 2bn cups of coffee a day? Did you know a typical americano contains more than 100 “biologically active ingredients”? Me (long black), I knew neither of these things. But now I do, because this piece answers an exhaustive number of coffee questions (is it good for you? what’s the best way to drink it?) and offers useful facts such as how long caffeine takes to kick in (10 minutes) or hit peak levels in your bloodstream (45 minutes).
Hot tip: Many people (me) give themselves a coffee curfew (no long blacks after … midday! 2pm!! 4pm!!! After-dinner espressos at weekends only!!!!). One sleep coach suggests, gently, that this is kind of dumb. His advice: “It’s about keeping it nice and level, with no big ups and downs.” This probably applies to most things.
How long will it take to read: four minutes – or, less time than you should leave your French press to brew before plunging.
2. ‘The king of St Kilda!’ Australia’s Robert Crumb
After a sold-out run at the Melbourne international film festival last year, Pub is now on national release – a documentary about Fred Negro, the infamous Melbourne artist behind the street press comic of the same name. Andrew Stafford looks back at his raucous legacy, and a very different era in the city, one of “ratbags and raconteurs”.
Andrew Leavold, the documentary maker, says: “There are Dada-esque and surrealist elements to [Negro’s] work, there’s also mad pop art, collage and satirical elements that are worthy of Swift. But if you choose not to see that, it’s just a bunch of puerile scribbles.”
You Am I’s Tim Rogers, ditto: “If you can’t look past the cocks and balls and tits and … see the humanity behind it, well, maybe you’re the pervert.”
Pick a side!
How long will it take to read: three minutes.
3. This mortal coil
Ranjana Srivastava’s columns can make for sobering reading, but they generally leave me feeling optimistic. Even when illuminating flaws in the healthcare system (topical), the scenes she shares from wards or consulting rooms make her point with humanity and grace. This week, the oncologist described the delicate web of conversations that need to take place when someone is terminally ill. What happens, she asks, if doctors – under so many other pressures – are assumed to have no time for these important moments?
Striking a chord: So many readers in the comments have shared their personal experiences, hopes and fears – intimate perspectives from care workers, family and patients themselves.
How long will it take to read: two minutes for the main piece – but, as mentioned, the comments are well worth some extra time.
4. Tara June Winch on happiness
My colleague Kris Swales went deep on happiness last week, I know – but to build on the foundations laid by my esteemed colleague, I want to point you to this lovely, slightly aching piece from the author of The Yield, about what makes her happy.
Especially this bit: “When I’ve tried to grasp the concept of my happiness, it falls from the hand like sand, but the sun-hardened, unsealed sugar type of sand, an almost-form rendered formless. It’s like I can see the thing, consistent happiness, but I lose the will to hold it gently enough. I get in its way … as if I’ve been trying to arrive at a moment in time where I’ll be peaceful, where I’ll have answered the emails, become a good friend, have met all my deadlines, when my family is perfectly healthy and content and where I’ve commanded a balance over my life. But its destination is only a mirage on the horizon that I’ve been trying to reach either by bordering on burnout, or curled under a mound of blankets, willing the world away.”
How long will it take to read: a bit over three minutes, more if you factor in thoughtful pauses.
Have a listen: This week, our editors talked about why they commissioned this series – it’s a nice behind-the-scenes look at what we learned when we got the country’s best writers to sit down with this complex subject. Winch’s effort gets a special mention.
5. ‘The fanatical pursuit of elegance’
Speaking of joy (and mortality, actually), I’ll leave you with this gallery. Last week marked the 28th anniversary of the death of Stervos Niarcos, a DRC pop star and one of the country’s most famous dandies (locally known as sapeurs). Fantastically dressed mourners paraded up Kinshasa’s main boulevards and gathered in the cemetery to celebrate their style “pope” – carrying flowers, swirling capes and holding up traffic. Not a “read” per se, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and there are 17 here.
How long will it take to read: as long as you want. I could look at these for hours.
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