Friday, July 11, 2003

Magazine Me XXXVIII

Last night, the August 2003 issue of Details magazine almost restored my faith in a periodical I've had trouble pinning down for more than a decade. While I breezed -- breezed! -- through the current issue of Men's Journal paying attention to next to nothing, the current edition of Details is quite impressive and interesting.

Despite Details's contention that it's not oriented toward gay men -- while Men's Journal is published by Wenner Media, a company chaired by a gay man -- its sexual orientation continues to confuse me. On the cover, Tobey Maguire is touted to take off his tights. Whitney McNally dissects gays and guidos, claiming that the Italian stallion and Chelsea boy are indistinguishable. (p. 32) Augusten Burroughs touches on the risks of checking out other men's endowments while standing at the urinal. (p. 60) And Lee Smith considers whether the Taliban were gay. (p. 62). Yet people continue to debate which side of the bed Details sleeps on.

What impressed me? Steve Kurutz blurbs It's a Man's World, a new book from Feral House celebrating pulp adventure magazines. (p. 40) His quickie Q&A with editor Bruce Jay Friedman is a nice thing to see in the usually ho-hum, edge-free magazine. Jeff Gordinier's page-long look at what he -- and others, it turns out -- terms "dadrock" is a welcome consideration of "music performed by aging rock stars; also, music that is strongly influenced by groups from the '60s and '70s." (p. 49) Go back to school, old school. And local literati Pagan Kennedy queries "Can a Car Run on Corn Oil?" in her profile of alternative fuel advocate Justin Carven. (p. 84) Another nice, on-the-edge piece for Details.

That said, it might be Kevin Gray's feature, "The Bone Collectors," that clinched the deal for me. (p. 140) His extremely well-photographed (by Reuben Cox) article about a team of U.S. soldiers and scientists exhuming corpses in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia resonates well with my reading Mary Roach's Stiff. In fact, I need to recommend the article to her.


To Esquire's credit, its August issue also pushed some buttons. First there's the Q&A between Paul Giamatti and cantankerous comics creator Harvey Pekar, whom Giamatti portrays in the forthcoming movie American Splendor. (p. 22) Best quote from Pekar: "I didn't hold it against you that you played an orangutan." Dirty monkeys. Then there's this little item:

Best Execution Scene
"Her mantle trimmed with ermine -- she had worn a royal fur to the last -- was removed. Then she took off her headdress herself. ... She knelt and, for decency's sake, tucked her dress tight about her feet. Then one of her women blindfolded her.

"Immediately, before she had time to register what was happening, the executioner swung his sword and her head was off." -- from Six Wives, a new book about the fate of Anne Boleyn and five other wives of Henry VIII, by David Starkey (p. 20)

I might have skimmed past that had I not been reading Stiff. Funny how you see stuff you're not looking for just because it's on your mind!

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