Monday, April 25, 2011

Magaine Review: "Men's Journal: Live The Interesting Life"

Years and years ago, in the time of a fitter body with no gray hair and some disposable income, I looked at a couple of issues of Men's Journal. I wasn't impressed. It seemed to be aimed at the mythical super stud man's man. The guy who could and did travel anywhere, could and did anything, and had plenty of money to burn to make it all happen. To a certain extent it is still that way, though the feature articles the last few months have hooked me as a reader.

My oldest son, Karl (aka Thundercatsnyy online elsewhere) got a great deal on this magazine a little over a year ago. I skipped reading the issues as the came because of my previous experience with the product. Then sometime last summer came the issue with a feature interview on  Brett Favre and I had to read that. After I read that article, I found another piece of interest and pretty soon I was reading that issue cover to cover. A couple more interesting issues followed that one and I got hooked.

The same is true for the April 2011 issue. Certain items are always present with categories such as “Notebook” that in this issue featured brief articles on skiing Glacier National Park’s back country, exploring the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico and a very interesting piece on Buck Showalter, the former New York Yankees and Texas Ranger skipper who is now a manager for the Baltimore Orioles among other items.  I was one of those that felt Buck should not be fired by the Rangers and time has not changed my opinion of a man that was chastised repeatedly in the local media after he was gone for being too hard on his players. That may play in to why Buck has not gotten the credit he deserves for what happened with the Rangers last season despite his placing many of the pieces into place during his tenure.  

“Mind and Body” is back with small pieces on how to train for a triathlon 10 weeks , healthy packaged snacks,( yes , they really do exist though you may disagree with their suggestions) among other things.  This section always has a lot of exercise and cooking tips and this issue brings more of the same. I usually glance over this section and find nothing that will work for me in my current health situation. 

The always present “Style” section is back with the male models wearing what is considered to be fashion against the back drop of equipment from various distillers in the Hudson Valley of New York.  I never see anything in this section that appeals to me. Of course, I am the wrong demographic so the fact this section is an epic failure for me does not matter. When they start putting models (preferably ones that look like real guys I would hang out with) in cheap jeans and shirts, I will start paying attention.

Of course, the usual ads for fancy watches, various cars, insurance, health products, etc. along with short letters to the editor and small tidbits of information appear scattered throughout the magazine. Considering the point that this magazine is all about getting out in the world and doing things (depicted by exercises, places to go, etc.) the tobacco ads are an ironic touch. Also ironic, to me at least, was the inclusion of several ads for erectile dysfunction medications. Considering the demographic, one would think that the majority of readers would not need such products.

The features are what make the magazine for me when they are not doing Hollywood stuff. One can count on a tie in to whatever movie is deemed “hot” these days in every issue. The April 2011 issue continues this with a feature about Jake Gyllenhaal, leading man of the new release “Source Code.” Of course, he is a man of action befitting the magazine and his history is detailed through text and photographs showing him doing a variety of actions in a variety of places with a variety of people.  Makes James Bond look like a slacker.

Years and years ago, back in the seventies when I was a snot nosed lad (as opposed to the pot- bellied barely walking with a cane snot nosed Dad of today) I was fortunate enough to get to spend a lot of time in the parks thanks to my parents annual excursions and weekend trips. We spent a lot of time in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming among other places when I was a kid. I'm not sure which I liked better. The raw beauty of the Tetons or the explosive power of Yellowstone. I have not been back in thirty years. In “Ghost Park” writer Paul Solotaroff charts the destruction of Yellowstone as well as a large surround area in the mountains of the Western United States. Warming temps, ongoing drought, and the deaths of thousands of acres of forest land as well as other problems could create “the next outback.” This is a scary and very sobering article told through compelling words and pictures.

That is followed by a piece showing several photographs taken by Edward Burtynsky detailing man's effects in China in the US. From the massive damn construction project on China’s Yangtze River and the Nanpu Bridge Interchange in Shanghai to a plane boneyard at Davis –Monthan Air Force Base in the Arizona desert the article tells the take through large pictures and accompanying text.

All that leads into a feature celebrating their picks across the country for the best places to live, lots more ads and a couple of filler pieces, before this issue comes to a close with the survival skills of the world’s oldest man at 114.

Those who fit the demographic for this magazine will enjoy it the most. You need to be a self- starter, adventuresome type, hip and cool, with plenty of money to burn and a driving need to be perceived special in terms of fashion, cooking and your overall life style choices. 

If you are overweight, gray haired thinning out, dead broke, that has no ability or desire to travel, and your preferred fashion is comfortable clothes that may or may not have holes in them, you may be me under another name and this deal is not for you. But, that is okay because you can read the feature pics as well as some other stuff here and there and then nod knowledgeably when the twenty something mentions something in the magazine.

The secret to being cool is to fake it. “Men’s Journal: Live The Interesting Life” will help. 

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

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