In Praise of the Men’s Magazine

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“The Special Qualities of a Modern Institution”
Written by Rick Trottier – RJT Images
In the span of my lifetime, much has changed beyond any recognition. I remember rotary phones and party lines, UHF/VHF airwaves television and AM radio being the methods of communicating and gathering information about the world around us. Those things seemed so very advanced in comparison to what my grandparents and great grandparents had access to but now they seem so primitive and quaint, although I must admit a certain nostalgia for nearly all of those simplistic forms of technology and media. Over the decades since my birth, how we shopped and what we enjoyed for entertainment has changed in ways unimaginable. We used to patronize local stores in the early days of supermarkets and before malls were even seen, and rode our bicycles to places where we could play pick-up games of all the sports we loved since organized sports were also still in their growing years. We read comics, got bottles of soda from the local general store after a game of baseball, caught a cheap movie at the downtown 2nd Run theatre and enjoyed chances to go fishing at local water holes when time from school and chores allowed. Certainly much abides from those days as well and not all has disappeared. The nature of the sports we played, the basic structure of education and the underlying edifice of our Nation and our Society remain fairly recognizable, but small segments of our lives have shown surprising continuity as well. One of them that was well on its way to becoming an institution, has survived the many vicissitudes and threats brought on by the changes in technology and basic living interests of Americans, is the Men’s Magazine. I recall with very wistful reminiscences how Men’s Magazines were a hidden but oh-so desired treasure of my later childhood, how they proliferated during my teenage years and how ever since then, they have ridden the waves of the currents of cultural tastes and technological turmoil to still be a part of the landscape today.
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The entire reason for the existence of the Men’s Magazine stems from the understanding that as much as we’d like to be Paragons of Virtue in the eyes of Upstanding Society, men have a wide variety of interests from the very refined, to the mildly infantile, to adolescently rambunctious to the most intellectually sophisticated. In most cases, these disparate callings were totally exclusive and not likely to be tastes that overlapped. What you considered, discussed and enacted with fellow Rotarians was not likely to be fodder for rollicking talk at the local pub. The articles that dappled Popular Mechanics were not the kinds of things a man always wanted to enjoy when he pulled out his old comics from childhood and surreptitiously read them. An evening at your niece’s dance recital was not something akin to when you went out to enjoy a night with friends consisting of cards, cigars and Crown Royal.
You can read more of this article in our November 2016 issue of ModelsMania